Dungeons and Dragons 3D Printed

Since July 2018, I’ve been running a Dungeons and Dragons game at my library. As a Digital Services tech, I’ve been trying to add digital content to the game wherever possible to make the game run smoother or to feel more immersive.

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A few weeks ago, I decided to 3D print a set of medieval and viking houses to create a village where the players were heading. At the moment, the players had found themselves in an alternate dimension where the world was engulfed with water and there was very few spots of land left. They’d just battled a creature known as the Yuan-ti, which are serpents that were once humans and now believe that they have a right to rule unchallenged.

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My players had mentioned to me that they wanted more of their character’s backstories to play a role in the game. So, as you can see from the grid paper and 3D printed items above, I began to put together a recreation of a town from one of the player’s backstories.

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Such as the medieval cottage and the viking huts. (At the library, we have Makerbot Replicator 2s and print with PLA.) The files for the buildings I found on Thingiverse, and the characters I had 3D printed were from Shapeways and Heroforge.

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This was the map when it was nearly complete. The town of Dellam is a piece of land that is slowly being swallowed by the rising oceans. Varis, an elfin ranger, brought the party here from the mountain where the Yuan-ti battle had happened.

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Of course, as what often happens, the characters decided to chase down a ship the Yuan-ti were using to escape. At this point the players had not seen the 3D printed map just yet.

So, there I was, drawing out an impromptu grid-map of two ships–one manned by the Yuan-ti and the other steered by NPC Varis and the players. They did manage to chase it down, wage a battle, and defeat the enemy. (Eventually their pyro-sorcerer unleashed a series of fireballs that sunk the enemy.)

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And that’s when they sailed into port, to the 3D printed village of Dellam. A mostly swamp terrain that is slowly sinking into the ocean.

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And what now? What comes next? The players enjoyed the ocean battle so much that they are now talking about commandeering their own ship. So, as you can see, I am 3D printing them one.

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And will sign off this post with a carton from the 80s:

Author Event at the Richmond Public Library

For you local folks, I’ll be doing an author event at the Richmond Public Library on October 3, from 4-5:00PM. Topic: Writing Dungeons and Dragons-style.
If you have the time, it would be great to see you there. Please consider registering!

You’ll have a chance to try out some of the techniques I use for crafting a story. And here are a few of the things I’ll be discussing:

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Dungeons and Dragons and Creative Writing

Over the next few months, I’ll be running workshops that connect Dungeons and Dragons to writing creatively.

Writing Your Story Dungeons and Dragons-style

Whether you write contemporary tales or fantasy epics, the popular game of Dungeons and Dragons can make you a better writer. See how modern writers have been influenced through creating characters, maps, and collaborative storytelling to work through tough plot points!

At the end of this workshop, you’ll have the tools to say goodbye to writer’s block forever and get that novel written and polished.

What does that mean, exactly?

When I was 14 years old, I ran a weekly D&D game with my friends and had to come up with stories–sometimes on the fly. The purpose of D&D is that you have a storyteller, known as the Dungeon Master, who narrates the story to the players. This includes the setting, plot, and non-essential characters. The players are the ones who tell the Dungeon Master what the essential characters do–and as any writer knows, your characters can often screw up your intentions for the plot.

So now, many years later, I have been playing D&D 5th edition as a player and messing up the well-thought out plot my Dungeon Master has created. For the last month, I have been running my own game at the library as storyteller for a group of teens who continuously challenge me as a writer. There has not been a game where the teens haven’t forced me to rewrite the story and to accept the path the characters (whom they play) want to take.

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The teen D&D game uses apps.

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We also use 3D printed characters!

How does this translate into writing?

To create a story as a Dungeon Master, I had to write and create the following things:

(1) A map of the world where the story takes place.
(2) Maps of all the towns the characters may visit.
(3) Histories of the world and of the towns. Plus, of the spaces the characters may travel between towns.
(4) A plot that would get the characters (acted out by the players) to want to go from Point A to Point Z.
(5) Sub-plots that those characters would experience along the way. (Points B to Y.)
(6) Non-essential characters (played out by me) that would challenge the players. Some are friends, some are foes. Some who are friends, turn out to be foes. Some who are thought to be foes, turn out to be friends (the players had quite a bad turn here when they thought they were rescuing a farmer’s daughter from cultists, only to discover they were freeing an evil werewolf’s daughter from a group of warriors and wizards who could have saved her. Notice the past tense there…)
(7) Constant writing and rewriting of the plot week-to-week, and sometimes during the game, when other ideas surface either through the players or through my own ideas.

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The adults also play D&D at my library!

Those seven steps are essentially what it takes to write a book. And I’ve used this technique to write several books of urban fantasy, apocalypse, and contemporary tales.

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Last of these covers for Rancour and One-Eyed King!

I’ve taught workshops before where we played D&D to inspire our stories. I even created my own “Apocalypse Survival” role-playing game for classrooms, which I did for a few years while the apocalypse still seemed like a far-fetched idea.

How about you? Do you use Dungeons and Dragons (or other role-playing games) to inspire your writing? If so, I’d love to hear about it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stranger Things are Happening at Richmond Public Library

I haven’t been very active lately (busy with school!), but I have written a short post for the teen blog my library hosts. Check it out!

Hint: It has to do with Dungeons and Dragons!

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Dungeons, Dragons, and Dreams

Conan pup

Conan at four months

It’s been a month and a half since I lost Conan. For awhile, I thought things were getting easier and I started perusing dogs on shelter sites because I miss having a dog around. Then the dreams came.

The first one I was at a party. A friend arrived (I don’t know who), and they brought Conan. In the dream, it turned out that I had given him up to a friend and they were allowing me a visit. I couldn’t stop apologizing to Conan.

The second one I was at a shelter. I was looking at dogs, when I found Conan. In this dream it turned out he wasn’t gone, I’d just accidentally left him at a shelter. I was so happy to find him again.

What these dreams taught me is that I am not really wanting a dog again (yet), I’m wanting Conan again. My searching through adoptable dogs was me looking for one that might be Conan. None of them are.

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The above photo is my party of adventurers (I’m the monk ). I’m not sure what connection this has to my dreams about Conan, except that Dungeons and Dragons is a place I go to once a week where I am surrounded by friends who make me smile and help me forget for a bit the world that weighs on me.

I once claimed that Dungeons and Dragons had saved my life when my appendix became infected during a game. Now, dealing with life without Conan, Dungeons and Dragons continues to save me. It allows me to be creative, to escape, and to spend time with a group of friends who make me laugh and smile.

People ask me all the time, “How are you?” and I say, “Fine.” It’s true, I am, because when grief hits again it will do so in a wave when I’m not expecting it. Such as on my way home from work, when I suddenly feel happy about walking Conan when I get home. Or first thing in the morning when I expect to see Conan at the foot of my bed. Or when I vacuum my suite and there are no dog dishes to move out of the way. Ask me then, and I am not fine. For those tiny, fleeting moments, grief takes over.

Grief isn’t always about being sad or depressed. Sometimes, grief is about appreciating the moments that made you happy when the one you lost was still with you. So, when I’m asked, I will say, “I’m fine” and that will be an honest answer. But if you do catch me when I am not fine, just remember that it is a fleeting moment. An important moment. A moment I need.

If you want to help me, grab a set of polyhedron dice, and let’s play a game of Dungeons and Dragons.

NaNoWriMo

For those of you who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it stands for, “National Novel Writing Month.” The goal is 50,000 words in the month of November, and you can track your stats by signing up on their website.

So far, I’m not doing so well, at least in regards to hitting the target of 1700 words a day that I would need in order to meet that goal. The first few days I fought a cold and a few school assignments (and yes, I would use the term “fought” in regards to those assignments). However, today I have written a solid 1,000 words and am enjoying this story that I’m creating for the project. (At this point, I would have to write 6,800 words today to get caught up to my goal.)

So why continue if I’m that far behind? This is the first time I’ve done NaNoWriMo, but since friends have raved about it I decided to give it a shot. I’ll be honest–I went into it not expecting to succeed. In fact, I expected to fail miserably of the 50,000 word goal. So, again, why do it? Because it’s not just about hitting the goal. It’s about writers encouraging writers, experimenting with crazy ideas, and mostly about creating good writing habits. That last one I have lacked since my life turned to other pursuits.

I’m feeling as though school is well in hand, as there is less time to look forward to than there is to look back on. I have my dream job–and it’s going swimmingly. And, it’s winter so there isn’t a lot of opportunity for road trips. I’m ready to start writing again and putting some of these ideas in my head down on paper. (Or on the computer, if I’m more accurate.)

NaNoWriMo is all about that. It’s about my own goal, and ending the month with a writing schedule that gets my books written. And so far, that’s going well. And if you’re on NaNoWriMo, connect with me there! I’m under the name jmez.

What is it that I’m writing for NaNoWriMo? My concept is basically Dungeons and Dragons meets Escape from New York:

Tharbadon, an elfin bounty hunter, has been taken hostage by Med Corp. They have tasked him with finding an escaped doctor who has a cure for a plague that is spreading throughout the world. Tharbadon would not normally take on such a mission, except that Med Corp has implanted in him a capsule with the virus–set to go off in 14 days. They will only remove it in exchange for the doctor.

And here are a couple mock covers for the project. Just to keep me inspired:

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And what music is on this idea’s soundtrack? A little Scorpions, for one:

How Dungeons and Dragons Saved My Life

It was a pretty typicaldungeons2014 Sunday evening. A rogue elf, a human ranger, a human barbarian, a half-elf paladin, and me – an elvish monk – battling creatures deep in a vampire’s crypt who was possibly aligned with our mortal enemy. I started off in battle admirably, even punching through the skull of a tentacled water creature and back-flipping onto a ledge several meters up. After that, I was rolling nothing but fours and sixes against creatures I should have taken out without a sweat.

There’s a belief among gamers that your connection to your dice influences your rolls. As I continued to rack up the worst rolls of my gaming history, I realized I could no longer ignore one important thing: my gut was having spasms that was making it difficult to breathe. This had to be why I was rolling so terribly.

Unfortunately, those spasms were happening out of game and not from the Dungeon Master to my character. At first I did what every male is taught from infancy to do: suck it up and wait to see if it goes away. The trouble is, I enjoy breathing. A lot. And it was getting harder to do, so I overcame decades of societal influence and broke up the game by stating, “I’m having trouble breathing. I think I need to go home.”

I’d learn later that our paladin and host, Kolja, at first thought I was playing my character. No one knew the pain I was feeling because I have a ridiculously high pain threshold – even for a third level elfin monk. I don’t like people worrying, so I acted like all was good until I couldn’t anymore.

“Do you want to lie down? Do you need some air?” Kolja asked.

I considered both those things as a sharp pain hit my gut, feeling not unlike the fourteen poison darts that had struck the paladin just moments earlier.

“I need to go to the hospital,” I muttered and headed for my jacket and shoes.

Both Kolja and Sarah, our ranger, followed in close pursuit. After all, our number one rule has been to never break up the party. They asked if I needed a ride, but I thought I could drive myself. Since that conversation is a blur in my memory, I’d say I was in no condition to drive.
Kolja slipped into his hiking boots, whisked me out the door to his car, and we were at the hospital in less time than it had taken Von Blaten, the vampire we’d been hunting, to teleport through the mirror on Pirate Island to his underground lair where my monk was just earlier rolling fours and sixes.

At VGH, over the next 36 hours, I’d discover that I had appendicitis and it needed to come out. (I’d also discover that after fasting for that long soggy hospital toast and a boiled egg tastes as yummy as the best cut of prime rib at a gourmet restaurant. Another post for another time.) My most important lesson, besides that appendicitis sucks and that keeping a smile and good humour makes a bad situation better, was that I have an incredible Scooby Gang that rushed to help me without my needing to ask. Lee, Marcie, Sarah, Rob, and Kolja – thanks for stepping up when I needed it. And to everyone else who texted, emailed or signed the card at work (including all my regular customers) thank you for keeping my spirits up.

Of course from a gamer’s point of view I realize that had I not been playing Dungeons and Dragons that evening I probably would have ignored the pain, taken a Tylenol, and attempted to sleep it off. The infection would have gotten worse, and I may not have played my monk to fourth level.

Yes folks, we now have proof that Dungeons and Dragons saves lives.