Alright, I can’t keep this to myself any longer. There is a terrible secret that I have to confess. Please don’t look down on me for this. You see, I wasn’t always a writer. I was – and still am! – a tabletop gamer.
I first became a tabletop game in 1980. You have to understand that I was young and very easily influenced then. My initial exposure was from an advert in the back of a computer games magazine – one of those that had programme listings you typed in by hand. The ad in question was for a company called Games Workshop, offering three games for £20. But these games were not computer games. These games were roleplaying games: games to be played with dice, pencil, paper, and (so the blurb claimed) imagination. As there were three games, three of us banded together and scraped up the requisite cash. Then we bought a postal order, posted it off with the coupon and waited.
About two weeks later a parcel arrived for us. We tore it open and pulled out three boxes: Basic D&D, Runequest and Traveller. Each box contained manuals on how to play the games, complete with type-formatted text and tables. We were, to put it mildly, perplexed. How could these be fun? But, we had spent our pocket money for the next two months and we were determined to find out what was going on with these things.
It soon became clear that these books were not just words and numbers. They were a means of codifying worlds of fantastic beings and strange treasures; guides on how to settle disputes were settled fairly, if not necessarily amicably. They sparked something in us. For a glorious few years, we became Bronze Age heroes, valiant explorers of space and time, and slayers of dragons. Even better – we became creators of worlds.
But, as inevitably happens, we went our separate ways and outgrew our adolescent fantasies. Well, I didn’t. I kept playing. I found new friends who had also been drawn into these shadow worlds of the imagination. Together we honed our skills. We learnt how to create memorable characters and how to build new worlds. We learnt how to create epic adventures. We read books and shamelessly stole ideas from them, proudly flaunting our thefts and not caring if we were found out. But, most of all, we learnt how to tell stories.
I am still a gamer. I still sit around a table with my friends, eating snacks (admittedly low-fat and low-sugar now), drinking beverages (tea rather than fizzy pop) and rolling strange dice (we still compare our collections). But, I have managed to parlay the skills I learnt from gaming into skills for writing.
You see, gaming has taught me how to create rounded and believable characters. It has taught me how to detail locations. It has taught me how to create plots that will stand up to being poked, prodded and generally tested to destruction. But the stories I tell are now meant to be read rather than played out.
So, that’s my dreadful secret about how I became a writer. What’s yours?
OMP Admin Note: John Nedwill is a writer, OMP Network member, and a regular #OneMillionProject Blogger. His work can be found on Wattpad.com and in the One Million Project’s Short Story Anthologies published in February 2018.
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