Friday, August 6, 2010

In Which I (Respectfully?) Disagree with Another Blogger

Over at The Tao of D&D, Alexis posted an article entitled Creativity And Breast-Feeding, in which DMs are told in no uncertain terms to quit buying gaming stuff and make up your own already.  Keeping up with new games is characterized as a "dependency problem", and the people who do it are "weak".  Given that I recently made the first post in a series about making published adventures your own, you're probably right if you suspect I don't agree.

Ask yourself: What can I steal from this for my game?
Let me ask you this: when was the last time you heard a guitar instructor say "Don't listen to anyone else playing."  Have you ever heard an author say "My secret is that I don't read at all"?  You think the best chefs never eat anyone else's food?  Hell no.  And there's a very good reason why: when you stop getting creative input, you start to stagnate.

What I know about creativity I learned from the best-known author in the English language and that is this: steal everything.

I wish I had thought of that when I was deciding what to call this blog, because that's what it's all about: finding stuff that's interesting to you in some way and stealing it for your games.

So I'm going to tell all you DMs out there reading this: ignore Alexis.  That post might have been a kick in the pants to get you to wake up - in which case it served its purpose admirably - but now that you are thinking about it, go ahead and buy modules.  Buy new games. Play new games, especially if you're not sure you will like them, because you'll learn more by stretching your experiences than you will by retreading the same stuff over and over. Read books - fiction and nonfiction both.  See movies.  Read about other people's games.  Play in other people's games.

And while you're doing all that, ask yourself: "What can I steal from this for my game?"

Think about what made you notice that thing - distill it down to the essence.  Soon it will become second nature - you won't be able to see things without asking yourself that question.  Keep track.  Start putting ideas together in different ways - especially the ones that don't seem like they'd fit at first, because they will, eventually.  After a while you'll have a notebook full of ideas that you might never get to.  You might develop a case of "DM ADD".  You might even develop a case of blogging.  But once you get started, you're not going to stop.

And now that I've told you all that, I'll tell you one more thing: ignore me, too.  There's no single path to creativity.  What works for either of us might not help you - but go ahead and try both.  It's not like you're going to get any less creative by trying different things.

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