When I first discovered tabletop roleplaying, I was already an avid reader. Part of what attracted me to the hobby was the fact that, while it was a game, it was based on these big, fat books. People were required to, and rewarded for, reading them. It gave me something read, in addition to the science fiction anthologies, collections of horror short stories, and fantasy novels that I was already hooked on. It sparked an interest in other material.
Because of roleplaying games, I got into all sorts of things that I might not have discovered otherwise. It got me into reading history, and biographies, and mythology. It turned me on to mystery novels, hero pulps, and classics of literature. I studied other cultures, and geography, and all sorts of religions and political systems. Sometimes my interest was to better understand a game setting. Sometimes it was so to be more prepared to run a game in a certain genre, time, and place. Mostly it was because I found a topic to be interesting or entertaining, and I wanted to know more.
Why Reading, Writing, and Rolling
By the time I picked up my first roleplaying game I had also developed aspirations toward being a writer. While roleplaying doesn’t absolutely require you to write, it certainly seems to encourage it. Characters have back stories, which my friends and I would write out in tremendous detail and at great length. Settings have rich histories, and monsters have ecologies, and magical items and futuristic technologies have their own lore. It certainly triggers the creative urge. When I learned that a few famous writers based books on their own roleplaying experiences, I felt a certain vindication for all of the short stories I’d written featuring my own player characters, and a sense of validation for all of the detailed notes I’d collected on the campaigns I’d run in the hope of turning them into novels someday.
Reading, writing, and roleplaying are all part of continuum for me. You read the books, you write characters, settings, and adventures, you roll dice and tell stories together with friends. Then you read some more, to fill in the knowledge gaps or find fresh inspiration. You write some new things for the game or based on it, and you head back to the table to share and conspire with your group. Read, write, roll, repeat.
Telling Stories with Friends
Most roleplaying games aren’t designed around the way stories are created and told. A lot of people will argue that it’s not the job of a game rulebook, even though the game is based on acting out characters and telling stories. They like the tactical aspects, the bits that stem from the hobby’s wargaming roots. Their point of view and preferred style of play is absolutely valid, and more power to them; that I want something different from my roleplaying experience doesn’t make them wrong.
Some will point out various indie games that do put story firmly at the center of the experience, and a lot of those games are awesome; I play and enjoy a few of them myself, every opportunity that I get. Just as there are books published for every taste and interest, and just as there are many methods of telling stories, there are wide varieties of roleplaying games. This is just one of them. It’s intended to fill a specific niche. It’s not the last word on any topic by any means, but will hopefully become part of the ongoing conversation.
This book has a threefold mission. The first is to encourage a love of reading. Not just game manuals and genre material, but everything under the sun that interests you. Turn off the device, and spend more time with the written word. Gain a greater appreciation of your favorite stories by understanding a little more about how stories are created and told.
The second is to foster an interest in creative writing and storytelling. It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing for publication or for your own amusement. You don’t have to aspire to be a professional author, or even share what you’ve written with anyone else. You can just have fun exercising your imagination. This book is structured to double as a beginning volume on writing as well as a game.
Finally, I want this book to facilitate a creative and collaborating tabletop roleplaying game experience. Any genre, any setting, any idea, can be expressed using the unique medium of tabletop roleplaying. The rules of ReadWriteRoll are simple and open to interpretation precisely so people can exercise their imagination with as few limits as possible. It’s your story, after all. You should be able to tell it your way.
You can purchase ReadWriteRoll at DriveThruRPG.