Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Learning to write for RPGs

If you are in college or have access to a college the best writing course you can take for writing roleplaying material is technical writing as opposed to creative writing. This is because much of writing for roleplaying games involves explaining technical concepts both clearly and concisely. The same techniques apply to descriptions of locales within a setting.

If you don't goto college or have access to college courses then look on amazon and bookstore for books on technical writing.

Working with Tim of Gothridge Manor is a major influence on my writing styles but the other major influences are the technical writing course I had to take in college and the fact that I am responsible for release documentation at my work. For example
Please note that customers should run a strip of metal through their male pittsburgh machine and measure the amount of metal it bends up. The customer then should check that the distance of their male pittsburgh seam in the software reflects that measurement.

If not enough metal is bent up the path of the male seam on heel on a radius elbow cheek piece will be longer than the female seam on the radius heel piece. When joined, the heel will then come up short.
From Blackmarsh
0616 Ruchill Burn runs through a 50’ deep gorge for over a half mile. During the Bright Empire, magic-users established a conclave here to harvest the viz found within the cliffs of the gorge. Two centuries after the empire’s fall, the conclave was abandoned. The cliffs are honeycombed with several levels of the conclave. Many of the levels span both sides of the gorge with bridges connecting them. Not all of them are safe.


Ameron said...

I have a background in both creative writing and technical writing, and I have to agree that it's the technical writing skills that I find most helpful when I'm writing for my D&D blog, Dungeon's

Most technical writing is direct, systematic, and even cold (deliberately so). It takes a lot of skill and practice to know when to insert emotion and editorial. A gaming blog that's just mechanics might contain excellent writing (especially if the author is a technical writer), but without some kind of personal touch or opinion it's less likely to get a lot of repeat visits.

Dan of Earth said...

Coincidentally, one of my undergraduate degrees is in technical writing. I've found it useful in a lot of contexts. Not just for my academic writing but also for RPG writing.

Unknown said...


I'm Richard Ashley. I run the site We have a segment called: Plundering the Vault.

Once a week we focus on articles from other Role Playing sites. Each week is a different site. We re-post the article with plenty of click backs to the site were the archive came from. This way the various authors out that get a reminder out there that their sites are other sources of information. .

At the end of each article we have something like this. It would be personalized to your site.

Special thanks to (insert name here) for allowing us to reprint this article. He/she/they offers game master tips at his/her their website, the Drop by right now to get the latest(insert specifics about your site).

Would you be interested in having your site be plundered? :)

Richard Ashley

Unknown said...

Apologies. I failed to leave a contact.
rca310 -at- gmail

Carter Soles said...

@Rob: Could you recommend a good technical writing manual or textbook for a novice?

Anonymous said...

I think it's a balance. You can't have all fluff and you can't have all crunch. But I think the common fantasy author is too verbose, too fluffy, and could gain something from a technical writer's perspective. It's especially important for DM materials that aren't going to be read by players - these need to be as useful as possible. You need to inspire the DM too, but it's not AS important.

Roger G-S said...

Rules writing is technical writing, yes. But RPG module writing mixes in a good deal of creative description. And interactive environment design is a third skill, very different from traditional fiction plotting.