Writer’s Block as a DM


Sometimes we as Dungeon Masters can hit a brick wall on how we want bosses and worlds to be named, sound, and look. Everyone gets writer’s block every now and again, but there are things that can help ease the process and maybe even get those creative juices flowing again.

Write what you know. Most of us are familiar with some concept of Medieval fantasy, whether it be from games we played, books we have read, or shows we watch. If you take inspiration from these things that you are familiar with it can help reignite the flames of creativity. You will be surprised how easy things will become when you don’t try to step outside the box too much on what you want in your world.

What would you want to see if you were a character? Take this question to heart. You are not writing for yourself, but you are writing for others that will be encountering these things in your world. What would you want to see if you were in their shoes? What are things that you can imagine that would be in this world? If you have played previous games before then remember things you encountered in those previous games, but if it is your first time playing D&D this may be a bit more challenging.

Writer's Block as a DM - Critters RPG: Unofficial Critical Role FansiteName your bosses, and personify those names. If you are having problems with what to call your major bosses, take into consideration that if these are infamous evils they will have been given a title that personifies what they are. You can use words from other languages and their meaning if you wish, or you can give them a name and description that personifies what they stand for. An example of this is a name like “Xixica the Tainted.” What would you be able to determine from this name? Well, “Xixica” may suggest a demonic female, due to letters used and spelling, and “the Tainted” may suggest that she has been corrupted in some way. Maybe she was a regular tiefling until she came across some dark magic that imbued her with extraordinary powers. You do not need to tell the characters the full name of the boss, this can be strictly for your benefit. However, if you do decide to give out the full name as your players go looking for this boss, that can further showcase how infamous this boss is.

Try to consider the worst possible, average, and best possible outcomes. Your players will give you a variety of responses to what you throw out there. On some level you will have to foresee as many possible actions as possible. This can probably be the most daunting task because no matter how well you plan, there will still be times that the players do something completely unexpected or the rolls will just be in their favor. If you divide the 20 numbers and their modifiers fairly evenly you can cover your bases pretty well. Keep in mind that a Natural 1 will be the worst situation plus some kind of loss, debuff, or damage and a Natural 20 will be the most epic, most legendary action possible. There are some DMing guides that come with Fumble Charts for Natural 1 combat situations and Critical Charts for Natural 20 combat situations if you would like to pursue that route instead.

Brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm.There is nothing wrong with having a bunch of drafts of the same thing. Also, there is nothing wrong with doodles and notes before your draft is finalized. Brainstorming helps in many situations that involve creative writing, and DMing is no exception. The more side notes you make about characters and situations the more ideas come flowing, and sometimes you will find two interesting concepts that would like to blend into one. When Steven Spielberg was creating the infamous Darth Vader he brainstormed ideas. He narrowed it down to two concepts:  one was the words for Dark Water and the other was Death Invader. He decided to go with “Darth,” which meant “Dark,” and dropped the “in” from Invader and that is how his name came to be. Just like Spielberg, the more choices you give yourself, the more options open up for you to put in your world.

DMing can be daunting, but don’t let it stress you out too much. There is something magical about when your characters have a good time in their world which you created that makes it all worth the brainpower and hours which you’ve put into it. Writer’s block hits indiscriminately, but these tips can help you get back into the swing of creating that world. If you have any other suggestions, feel free to respond with them so that all of our fellow Critters can benefit!

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