Yes, and? Or what gaming has taught me about storytelling

I belong to a gaming group I dubbed the Overthinkers. We meet irregularly and play a wide assortment of games. Poker, Setback, various version of Fluxx, board games that can involve fighting Elder Gods (Hastur, Hastur, Hastur! See, nothing hap . . .) or traveling around the world retrieving relics and collecting Fortune and Glory.

D&D is probably our most popular role-playing game (aka RPG). Four out of six of us so far have put on the DM hat. Currently, it’s myself. Last night, however, because it took everyone a while to be in the same place at the same time, we started putting characters together for Fate (by the wonderful people at EvilHat), which recently completed a Kickstarter. 

We’re putting together an adventure in a future world where the galaxy is run by an Empire that is  trying to  quell a rebellion before it gets out of hand. We have an interesting assortment of characters. A suave dashing covert operator who is fantastic with guns, but horrible with hand-to-hand. A paranoid who was recently liberated as a cosmetic lab test subject. A space pirate. An arms smuggler who runs a casino. A ninja so unobtrusive, few people remember they saw her, unless she pulls out a weapon (this last would be me).

Part of the character building besides concepts, skills and aspects of our personalities was putting together some back story where our characters have met one another. We started with a few sentences about an adventure our character had. Then the game master, with unholy glee, shuffled our stories and handed them out to different players. From there, we would write ourselves in as a supporting character in a quick adventure.  My ninja ended up being rescued by the covert operative, aiding in the paranoid’s escape and convincing the space pirate that a certain area of space was off limits.

An exercise like this taught me, once again, the value of, ‘Yes, and?” Instead of rejecting a concept outright, take it and run. I was ready to discount one one of the stories because it wasn’t in my concept of my character (her name is Onyx). When I realized the error of my ways, I apologized. The Overthinkers are a good-natured group, thank goodness.

When I started writing Bloody Murder, I started with a character concept, then started playing, “What if?” What if someone who always thought she’d lived a startlingly normal life learned some things about her past she’d never suspected, and got involved in a murder. 

This weekend’s gaming session, and also running a game of D&D has given me a chance to feed off of other people’s ideas, and I think has opened up my mind a little bit. Hopefully, I”ll be able to bring it into current and future stories. 

Even the creative mind can have limits. It’s good to push them.


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