Roll for Story: Tabletop Roleplaying Games as a Tool for Storytelling Education

Open Access
Yoder, Caleb Kenneth
Area of Honors:
Interdisciplinary Digital Studio
Bachelor of Design
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Andrew T Hieronymi, Thesis Supervisor
  • Simone Osthoff, Honors Advisor
  • tabletop rpg
  • storytelling
  • creative
  • writing
  • rpg
  • d&d
  • gaming
Since tabletop role-playing games (RPG) were first introduced in the late 70s, they’ve played an important role in gaming culture. Dungeons and Dragons, the first commercially- available tabletop RPG, was influenced heavily by Tolkien’s high-fantasy world, and has influenced a multitude of video game RPGs since (Gilsdorf). The pencil and paper gameplay of this genre may seem dated in the face of cutting-edge VR, but they still contain a crucial freeform element that video games have yet to replicate. The creation of an engaging Dungeons and Dragons experience requires a certain set of skills from the Dungeon Master (DM), a player who serves as narrator, rules referee, and generator of the story. Through my personal experience with the game and research, I’ve found that many of the skills required of the DM overlap with the skills necessary for effective storytelling in other media. These skills include, but are not limited to, the understanding of concepts such as pacing, worldbuilding, improvisation, stakes, chance, theme, and character development. This project proposes that tabletop RPGs have the potential to serve as a pedagogical tool for learning storytelling concepts. The form of the project is a video series, published online, which uses the medium of film and animation to provide developing creative writers with a basis for using tabletop RPGs to improve their creative writing.