My RPG Sessions Do Not Generate Fiction
My RPG sessions do not generate fiction, at least not in any meaningful sense for the more common meanings of fiction. As I run sandbox campaigns, they don’t even play out pre-written stories as (railroaded) adventures. I mention this because there are a fair number of people in the RPG community who see roleplaying games as a form of fiction. Perhaps when these folks play, their games do generate stories that the average person would consider decent fiction. Mine, however, do not and never have. I have not considered “generating fiction” to be a goal of any RPG I’ve ran or played in since the mid-1970s when I thought it would be possible to take the events of my campaign and turn them into a novel. It did not work — and not just because it turns out I’m terrible at writing good fiction.
My games simply do not generate “fiction” any more than my life generates a “biography.” My life does generate an ordered series of events that someone could use to write a biography from, but simply living my life does not produce a biography, just that chronological list of (mostly very boring) events.
Likewise, my games do generate a series of imaginary (and hence “fictional”) events that someone with skill at writing fiction (e.g. short stories, novels, plays, screenplays, radio plays, etc.) might be able to turn into something the average person would consider “fiction.” However, it would be a lot of work because, like the series of real world events that make up my life, the events that happen in my campaigns seldom come with anything like the standard plot structure used in fiction (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution, etc.) and they have all sorts of events that don’t go anywhere useful, are never resolved, or even aren’t connected to anything else that happens in any meaningful way. Characters appear and disappear without rhyme or reason and often do not develop in useful for fiction ways.
Therefore, I’m sorry to disappoint those who believe that simply playing a tabletop RPG generates fiction. In my campaigns, it does not generate anything more than a list of (often not very connected or complete) fictional events that even a great author would probably have trouble turning into anything but a poor story. I have no interest in restructuring my campaigns and style of play to make it easier to turn that series of fictional events into good fiction any more than I would want to restructure my life to produce a series of events that a biographer could easily turn into an interesting biography.
What about your campaigns?
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