If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
From Quill to Keyboard – An Old Bard’s Reflections
Hello and welcome to the inaugural post of the “Insight Check” series. For those who have journeyed with me this far in my musings and tales on “The Old Bard”, thank you. For the new faces, I extend a hearty welcome.
The “Insight Check” series is designed as a reflective exploration, a deep dive into my experiences, observations, and lessons learned from the world of tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGs). Its purpose goes beyond merely recounting the narrative beats of my campaigns or giving you a blow-by-blow recount of my most epic battles. No, the “Insight Check” is a richer brew. It is where I take a step back from the rush and tumble of adventuring life to ponder, to analyze, and to share the deeper insights that this wonderful hobby of ours provides.
From philosophical essays on the art and soul of role-playing, to guides on character development and world-building, ‘Insight Checks’ features resources aimed at enhancing your perception of RPGs. Here, you’ll also find reviews of books that have shaped the genre and novels that have captured the spirit of RPG adventuring.
In these posts I’ll also list some original intentions for the site after I created it and how things have changed slightly and how I have adapted.
In essence, the “Insight Check” series is my attempt to encapsulate the wisdom I’ve gained from my TTRPG journey so far. It’s the place where I invite you to sit by the virtual fireside, to share in my reflections, to learn from my mistakes and successes, and perhaps even find something that sparks a new insight of your own.
In other words, “Do you grok what I’m telling you?”
Although this initial post may seem vast in scope, it’s important to mention that each of these sections merely serves as a foundation for more comprehensive explorations in the future. Each theme—from my experiences with various RPG systems and balancing the many roles of life, to the evolution of my organizational practices—will ultimately become the subject of individual “Insight Check” posts. This series aims to delve deeper, affording us the chance to examine every aspect in further detail. This inaugural post simply sets the stage, giving a preview of the depth and breadth of discussions to come. Therefore, consider this your invitation to accompany me on this journey, as we together unfold the complex and enriching world of tabletop role-playing, one subject at a time.
Moreover, to give you a taste of the insightful discussions to come, this inaugural post also includes a brief summary of each upcoming “Insight Check” post, offering you a glimpse of the title and a concise overview of the topic. This way, you’ll have an idea of the rich and varied themes we’ll be exploring in this series, and hopefully, find subjects that resonate with your own tabletop role-playing experiences and interests.
As I began penning down this inaugural post in the early hours of a Saturday morning, around 3:30 AM, I was brimming with ideas, reflections, and anecdotes to share. You may be wondering why I’m up at such an ungodly hour, but that’s a story for another day. However, as the dawn broke around 6:30 AM, it dawned on me too that the scope of these insights was growing beyond a single post’s capacity. What I initially conceived as one comprehensive post had organically grown, demanding a dedicated series to adequately explore each topic. Consequently, I decided to transform this burgeoning post into a series of subsequent posts.
Many of these blossoming posts will happen rapidly as I’ve already spent a significant amount of time nurturing them while working on this initial write-up. Others, however, will require more time to cultivate and will therefore show up gradually over time. Here is what you can anticipate in this insightful series:
Perception Checks – The Precursor Series
A retrospective exploration of the foundational series that started it all. It delves into the unique qualities of the “Perception Check” series, highlighting its function as a lens to identify and magnify RPG’s nuanced complexities. This post emphasizes the series’ role in developing a discerning eye for RPG resources, from revealing lesser-known details to providing informed recommendations. However, the insight extends beyond mere observation, as it contrasts the perceptual emphasis of the “Perception Check” series with the deeper analytical and reflective understanding offered by the “Insight Check” series. Expect a journey of discernment, analysis, and personal anecdotes that seeks to offer both wisdom and entertainment. Stay tuned as we further unravel the interconnectedness of game elements, their impact on the gaming experience, and the lessons learned along the way.
Investigation Checks – Deep Dives into the RPG World
I’ll go into some details about my Investigation Check series which represents my concerted efforts to critically analyze and review specific RPG resources. The primary objective here is to furnish readers with comprehensive assessments, guiding them towards worthwhile investments, and cautioning them against fruitless expenditures. When I embark on an Investigation Check, it isn’t a superficial or one-off usage of a resource that prompts the review. Instead, it’s based on repeated and thoughtful utilization, evaluating its merit over a period of time, and determining whether it brings significant value to the table. However, there might be exceptions to this approach. In cases where a resource has proven to be an outright disappointment after a single use, compelling me to consider it a squandering of resources, I may feel compelled to write a post about it to advise others.
“Well… That was Interesting” – A Chronicle of My Solo and Collaborative Play Sessions
A meticulous narrative of my gaming journey, starting from my first D&D 5E solo campaign and extending into diverse RPG systems like Dune RPG, ALIEN RPG, and Pathfinder 2E. The posts aim to provide detailed insights into the mechanics and unique aspects of solo play within these systems, serving as practical case studies for readers interested in similar pursuits. The series is not only a way for me to share my experiences but also a tool to reinforce my understanding of each RPG system. It highlights the importance of effective organization in maintaining coherence in these complex narratives, paving the way for exploration of effective organization strategies in RPGs.
The Organization Quest – Notes, Journaling, and Digital Tools
In this post, we’ll explore the importance of organization in the RPG journey, primarily through the lens of my D&D 5E solo campaign. Initially confined to the analog world of pen and paper, I gradually recognized the need to embrace digital tools to manage the complexities of my campaigns. However, I also acknowledge the enduring charm of analog gaming, aspiring to conduct an entirely analog game in the future. The post shares my blend of note-taking and journaling techniques, featuring tools like Notepad and Onenote for recording important campaign elements, and the Digital Character Sheet in D&D Beyond for character management. Ultimately, it emphasizes the necessity of comprehensive note-keeping for an enriched RPG experience.
The Role of ChatGPT in My TTRPG Journey
This post delves into my experiences with using AI, specifically ChatGPT, to enhance my tabletop RPG (TTRPG) experience. I’ll share insightful anecdotes on how ChatGPT has become a valuable tool in various aspects of my TTRPG journey, from creating intricate narratives and intriguing characters, to providing immersive dialogues and game mastering guidance. The post will reveal the transformative impact of AI technology on the TTRPG landscape, highlighting how ChatGPT not only improved my gameplay but also revolutionized my approach to game preparation, storytelling, and improvisation.
A reflective exploration of my experiences using Midjourney AI in my TTRPG sessions. This post showcases how this advanced AI tool has been utilized to generate vivid visualizations for my diverse characters and complex game environments. I highlight the ways Midjourney AI has helped bring my imaginative world to life, enhancing the immersive quality of my games. Insights into the creative process, along with specific examples of these visualizations and how they have shaped the narrative and gameplay, are shared, illustrating the transformative impact of technology on the traditional tabletop RPG experience.
Caffeine and Content Creation – Early Mornings at Denny’s and Late Nights at Starbucks
An intimate glimpse into my unique content creation process. This piece elaborates on how I utilize early mornings at Denny’s and late nights at Starbucks as critical components of my creative rhythm, breaking away from traditional gaming environments. I share how the ambiance of these settings, combined with the hum of activity and the companionship of caffeine, stir up my creativity and foster innovative ideas for my TTRPG campaigns. From brainstorming character concepts over breakfast to outlining gripping narratives under the soft glow of coffee shop lights, this post discusses how changing the scene can enhance the creative process. I go on to further detail how these unconventional creative hours have become valuable havens of focus, fostering both productivity and imagination in my content creation journey.
Soundtracks of Adventure – Finding Musical Inspiration in TTRPGs
In this Insight Check I’m going explore how my passion for tabletop role-playing games has intertwined with my creative endeavors in music. I’ll delve into how the themes, narratives, and atmospheres within my TTRPG adventures have sparked musical inspiration, influencing the creation of various compositions. Whether it’s a melody inspired by a character’s journey or a composition capturing the ambiance of a fantastical setting, discover how I bring my TTRPG stories to life through music. I’ll also outline my future plans for integrating my TTRPG passion further into my musical craft, teasing upcoming projects that promise to merge the realms of gaming and music even further.
Crafting the Perfect Atmosphere – Environments for Gaming and Creativity
I this post, I will take you on a tour of my personal gaming spaces and other environments that have been instrumental in amplifying my gaming and creative journeys. This insightful discussion will delve into how I craft my home gaming area to boost immersion, productivity, and creativity. Furthermore, I’ll reveal other locations that inspire me and how different environments can impact the overall gaming experience and spark creative ideas. They will touch on the importance of environment in enhancing focus, fueling imagination, and providing an escape into the fantastical worlds of tabletop RPGs.
Character Creation – The Art of Becoming Someone Else
The Art of Becoming Someone Else delves into the transformative journey of stepping into diverse personas in TTRPGs. Initially exploring the impact of character names and repetition, the post pivots to the significance of unique backgrounds, motivations, and quirks in character creation. The essence of becoming a character isn’t just about superficial traits, but an understanding of their deep-seated values, fears, and aspirations. This immersive approach to character creation not only provides a catalyst for unexpected plot twists, but also adds complexity to the overarching narrative, fostering a sense of agency and personal investment. The post emphasizes the role of individual motivations in shaping collaborative storytelling experiences, contributing to a more vibrant, consequential game world and enhancing the overall TTRPG adventure.
My TTRPG Library – A Trove of Resources
I’ll present a comprehensive look at my burgeoning library of tabletop RPG resources, illustrating the growth and diversity of my collection in a short time span. I will provide a glimpse into my collecting habits, acknowledging the addictive thrill that accompanies the acquisition of new gaming materials. I’ll offer an in-depth analysis of how these resources have been instrumental in enhancing my TTRPG journey, contributing to my gaming narratives, enriching the complexity of my world-building, and aiding in character development. The post promises to be a passionate exploration of the intersection between the joy of collection and the practical application of these resources in the realm of TTRPG gaming.
Mastering the Mechanics – TTRPG Systems Collected
In “Mastering the Mechanics – TTRPG Systems Collected,” I will delve into the diverse array of TTRPG systems I’ve accumulated and the process of learning and playing with these systems. The post will detail my experiences with various systems, highlighting the unique mechanics, intricacies, and gameplay styles each one offers. This will include an exploration of how these different systems affect gameplay dynamics and shape storytelling opportunities. Furthermore, I’ll share insights on the challenges and rewards that come with mastering new TTRPG systems, discussing how this wide-ranging experience has influenced my gaming philosophy and enhanced my versatility as a player and game master.
The GM’s Chair – Experiences and Reflections on Game Mastering
An intimate look into my journey and passion for game mastering. Sparked by the sight of a fellow TTRPG enthusiast crafting a dungeon, I found a profound desire to experience the same level of creativity and engagement. Through brief solo gaming sessions, I have taken strides towards becoming a game master, learning to create immersive worlds and hone improvisation skills. The post encapsulates the anticipation of hosting a grand adventure for friends and the joy of crafting complex narratives. Being a game master, as I will explain, transcends game orchestration—it’s about creating memorable experiences through shared storytelling. How I look forward to the rewarding journey of stepping fully into the role of game master.
Balancing Act – Juggling Family, Work, Music, and TTRPGs
Here I’ll share my personal strategies for maintaining harmony between my family life, professional obligations, musical endeavors, and avid interest in tabletop role-playing games (TTRPGs). I’ll provide an intimate look into how I manage my time and responsibilities while continuing to engage deeply in their TTRPG passion. I’ll go on to delve into the key practices and routines I’ve developed to ensure none of these important aspects of my life suffer due to negligence. Whether it’s setting specific times for family, designating slots for work, allocating moments for music creation, or scheduling regular TTRPG sessions, I’ll discuss how this structure helps me stay organized and maintain a healthy balance. This post will highlight the importance of this balance in sustaining my diverse interests, demonstrating that it’s possible to fulfill responsibilities and follow passions without compromising on either.
Community Connection – Engaging with Other TTRPG Enthusiasts
In the forthcoming Insight Check post, “Community Connection – Engaging with Other TTRPG Enthusiasts,” I will delve into my interactions and bonds formed with fellow tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG) enthusiasts. I’ll share experiences, ranging from discussions about game mechanics and strategies to exchanges of creative ideas and storytelling methods. I’ll discuss how these connections have deepened my understanding of the games, sparked new ideas for campaigns, and offered fresh perspectives on character development and narrative design. The post will also showcase how these interactions have led to enriching personal experiences, strengthened my engagement with the TTRPG community, and fostered a sense of belonging. Through this post, readers will gain insights into the value of community involvement in enhancing the TTRPG experience.
Learning from Legends – TTRPG Mentors and Influences
This post will be a reflection on key individuals who have significantly shaped my TTRPG journey. This could range from well-known TTRPG designers, influential figures in the TTRPG community, to seasoned players within their personal circle. I will share insightful anecdotes and lessons learned from these mentors, including their philosophies, game design approaches, and storytelling prowess. I’ll also highlight some less conventional, yet profoundly impactful creators who have added value to my TTRPG experience. Readers can anticipate a discussion that will reveal the influential undercurrents that have shaped my perspective, style, and passion in the realm of TTRPGs.
TTRPGs and Mental Health – The Therapeutic Value of Role-playing
The forthcoming Insight Check post, “TTRPGs and Mental Health – The Therapeutic Value of Role-playing”, will dissect the intersection of TTRPGs and mental well-being, underpinning the therapeutic value of engaging in role-playing games. I’ll share my personal experience on how immersing in the world of Dungeons & Dragons and similar games has positively impacted my mental health. The discussion will encapsulate the psychological benefits that come with TTRPGs, including creative expression, social interaction, problem-solving, and the cathartic experience of embodying different personas. A special focus will be on my motivation to delve into Dungeons & Dragons as a tool for psychological wellness. The post aims to offer an insightful exploration of the less-discussed, but profoundly impactful, mental health aspects of participating in TTRPGs.
Pushing the Creative Boundaries – Innovations and Experimentations
This post will delve into my adventures in applying innovative ideas and experiments within my TTRPG sessions. The discussion will illuminate both the triumphs and tribulations, showcasing successful innovations that enhanced gameplay, as well as less successful attempts that offered valuable lessons. It will explore my unique approaches in narrative development, character creation, world-building, and integrating technology, among other aspects of the game. By analyzing the outcomes and the lessons drawn from these trials, I aim to convey the importance of creativity and risk-taking in enriching the TTRPG experience, and how these elements serve as catalysts for growth and improvement in the realm of role-playing games.
TTRPGs through Different Lenses – Exploring Various Genres and Themes
Here I’ll explore my experiences across a multitude of genres within TTRPGs, ranging from fantasy and sci-fi to horror and beyond. This post will delve into the rich tapestry of diverse settings, plotlines, and character archetypes that each genre offers, and how they contribute to the overall TTRPG experience. I’ll detail my learnings from venturing into these different territories and how these diverse experiences have expanded my narrative toolkit, enriched my understanding of world-building, and intensified my immersion in the games. Furthermore, I’ll examine how TTRPGs provide a unique avenue to engage more deeply with the genres and themes I love in literature and film, allowing for interactive exploration and a deeper connection with the material.
The Art of Storytelling – Weaving Epic Tales in TTRPGs
In this Insight check, we will explore how TTRPGs have significantly influenced and honed my storytelling abilities. I will delve into the transformative power of role-playing games as a creative medium and share some memorable stories from my own gaming experiences. From epic battles to unexpected plot twists, we will journey through the captivating tales that have unfolded at my gaming table, highlighting the unique collaborative storytelling dynamic that TTRPGs offer. Join me as we uncover the secrets behind crafting immersive narratives, fostering character development, and creating memorable moments that leave a lasting impact on players and their characters alike. Get ready to embrace the art of storytelling in the world of TTRPGs.
Adventures in World-Building – Creating Immersive TTRPG Settings
In Adventures in World-Building Insight check, we will embark on a journey through the realm of world-building in TTRPGs. Drawing from my own experiences and lessons learned, I will share the joys and challenges encountered when crafting immersive settings for role-playing adventures. From designing intricate maps to breathing life into vibrant cultures and societies, we will delve into the aspects of world-building that I find most rewarding. Along the way, we will explore the hurdles faced when balancing consistency and creativity, and how overcoming these challenges has fueled my passion for casual reading, reigniting a desire for exploration and inspiration. Join me as we uncover the art of creating immersive TTRPG settings that transport players to extraordinary realms of imagination.
Beyond the Game – The Impact of TTRPGs on Everyday Life
We will delve into the profound impact that TTRPGs have had on various facets of everyday life. I will explore how my involvement in role-playing games has nurtured and enhanced essential skills such as problem-solving, empathy, and creativity. From honing strategic thinking during intense battles to embracing the perspectives of diverse characters, we will uncover the ways in which TTRPGs have shaped my approach to real-world challenges. Join me as we examine the far-reaching influence of these immersive games, discovering how they have transformed not only my gaming experiences but also the way I navigate and engage with the world around me.
Slaying the Dragon – A Secret History of Dungeons & Dragons
In this Insight check, we will embark on a captivating journey into the hidden annals of Dungeons & Dragons through the lens of the book “Slaying the Dragon” by role-playing game historian Ben Riggs. Join me as we delve into the secret history of TSR, the company responsible for unleashing imaginations with Dungeons & Dragons. Unveiling the tumultuous path that led to TSR’s downfall due to disastrous management decisions, we will explore the gripping narrative of how their bitterest rival ultimately became their savior. Discover the untold stories, behind-the-scenes struggles, and the rollercoaster ride that shaped the iconic game and the industry itself. Brace yourself for a thrilling glimpse into the triumphs and tribulations of the legendary game that forever transformed the world of tabletop role-playing.
As we come to the end of this post, I find myself inspired to continue these Insight Checks, delving into the captivating world of TTRPGs and sharing my experiences with fellow adventurers. The exploration of topics such as notes and journaling, character creation, game mastering, storytelling, world-building, and the impact of TTRPGs on everyday life has been a fulfilling journey thus far. However, this is only the beginning. The vast realm of role-playing games offers countless realms to explore, stories to unravel, and insights to uncover. I look forward to embarking on new quests, diving deeper into the intricacies of TTRPGs, and sharing my discoveries with you.
And of course, it’s now just over 6 hours since I started this post this morning! I’ve stubbed out 20+ others with my thoughts and have had several pots of Coffee.
So, until our paths cross again, may your dice roll true, and your adventures be filled with wonder and excitement. Keep an eye out for future Insight Checks, as we continue to explore the limitless horizons of the TTRPG universe together. Happy gaming!
Additional Things To Ponder
These Insight Checks will also include a section at the end such as this. Where I’ll provide links on, well…. Things to Ponder!
- Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons & Dragons
- Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana: A Visual History