I follow this blog for the obvious reason, and I kinda wonder if I’m on the right track here; I play dungeons and dragons, and I decided I would make stats for my characters similar to that format and “roll” out a fight. Is this a good idea or not?

If you’re honest about the rolls and don’t cheat for your characters (re-rolling to get the desired results) then it can be a really great snapshot of how things can sometimes go wrong even when your characters are perfectly prepared for the situations that they’re facing. It can also be useful for reminding yourself, as the author, that fights involve two people or more, not just one. Which means that you need to be paying attention to what characters other than your protagonist are doing.

The downside to RPG systems is that a character you might use in an RPG with your friends and a character you create for a story are two different things. This is something we plan on talking about in the future. RPGs put the emphasis on the player to create the most overpowered jackasses possible and then reward them for it, but you can’t do that in a novel. If you do, you’ll essentially end up with a Mary Sue and a story that doesn’t work.

So, using an RPG for character creation relies on a certain level of honesty. You can only give stats that are character appropriate, not power gaming ones that will be best for your character in the long run. This means that from a D&D standpoint, the characters for your novel will come out looking subpar. This is fine, because they’re not for a D&D game. However, if you are someone who plays D&D often this may be difficult to look at because it’s all wrong.

The best solution I’ve found to this problem is to create a stat block for the character at the beginning of the story and a stat block for them for where they are at the end of it. And, you know, never use these characters in any D&D game ever.

Other than that, go to town, have fun, see what shakes loose. It’s a great way to help you develop an awareness of the uncertainty that comes with combat and a good reminder that even when your character is overpowered someone could still possibly knife them in the back.

General gaming good. Power gaming no.

I hope that helps!

-Michi

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