21st Century Brontë #20 by Brontë Bettencourt
Campaigning a Novel
Since the launch of my Dungeons and Dragons campaign in early October, my players have engaged the world in surprising ways. In the first few sessions, one of my players chose to travel to a city that I had only a vague outline for. I needed to rapidly generate ideas as the player traveled in order to keep him entertained and the story moving forward. I invented several impromptu characters due to players inquiring about directions to a brothel, or information on the calendar year, or other details. I’m grateful for the world building practice, even if I will, probably, never use brothel information for YA fiction.
Since life is hectic these days, I have decided to try working through my novel as this very role-playing campaign.
I am required to scrutinize the campaign story’s events in order to make sequential sense to six individual players; one player is sure to notice a flaw due to any laziness. A Dungeon Master can only theorize what actions the individual players may or may not take.
There are extraneous elements that won’t necessarily be included in the novel.
But that’s why I’ve orchestrated the main quest so that the group must follow Ellie, a vital NPC since she’s the protagonist of my story.
Because of her, the eclectic cast of players have banded together to accompany her on her journey to reunite her family. The direct contact with her informs me about whether she is an effective protagonist. I’m also gaining insight on the array of responses that readers would have to her and my cast of characters.
So far I have acquired six fans for my novel. Yay me!
Thanks to D&D, new life has been breathed into the project that I’ve been stuck on, despite the fact that these characters haven’t left me the hell alone.
Last time I wrote about D&D, I brought up the issue with unlikable likeable characters, and whether it’s worth writing a story that no one will read if one is not willing to follow the narrator.
Since then, the player in question has become a unique character who, though rough around the edges, is now working alongside the party while remaining true to those flaws. Most of the players by this point have assimilated into a functioning unit.
But the character who is now in question isn’t a player’s creation, but mine; in fact this character is a pivotal force in my series. He is supposed to be an inherently good character but in the campaign he has been acting against the intention that I want.
In the most recent campaign session I devised a courthouse scene where the characters had to present evidence before government officials, in order to clear the name of a woman who the players deemed innocent. One of the players called my character out before the entire court due to his anxious behavior. He acted against the group’s intentions, placing a target over Ellie’s head and upping the difficulty of the campaign down the road.
This character is Ellie’s brother.
The more I learn about him the more uneasy I feel since I haven’t had an unknown variable in my series for years. But I can’t apologize for his actions because I can sympathize with his motivations, even if it goes against my protagonist. And I shouldn’t have to apologize for how the story wants to be written, even though it might not be the ending that I originally intended. If anything, these complications have added to convoluting a clear cut goal. A villain doesn’t fight for a cause to be evil but because he believes the cause is right.
I’m using the villain term loosely since this character hasn’t gone out of his way to inhibit the party. But the players were definitely thrown off by the happenings at the trial, and they have learned to be afraid of whenever I’m grinning, since that means pending torment for them. But overall, being a DM doesn’t mean that I know everything; I’ve also signed up for this crazy campaign.
No one gets out of here without surprises about our identities.
Brontë Bettencourt (Episode 34) graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelors in English Creative Writing. When she’s not writing or working, she is a full time Dungeon Master and Youtube connoisseur.
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