Greetings Adventures! I am Variant J (he/him) and the Chief Executive Officer of Variant Ventures.
Collaborative storytelling has been an interest of mine as far back as I can remember. In the beginning, before I had learned to read or write, I would act out elaborate stories and plays with my toys and dolls. I would referee games of “make-believe” with my friends, and we would spend long summer afternoons taking on the invisible forces of evil. As I grew older I traded backyard heroics with internet message boards and chat rooms, which allowed me to collaborate with a larger and more diverse cast. And then one day someone introduced me to their table of friends and a tabletop roleplaying game called Dungeons and Dragons. I spent the next several hours exploring a home made world as Jiggins McKenzie, the powerful half-ogre monk.
I wish I could say I immediately fell for the hobby, but in truth I left the session feeling that perhaps D&D (and by extension, TTRPGs) were not a viable means of telling and sharing stories. As I have since learned, my reservations were more with the table I was playing with than with tabletop role-play itself. Years later I would find myself sitting around a table with a new set of friends and discovering the true joy that is storytelling through TTRPG. Some of those friends are also introducing themselves on this blog.
One of my goals for writing this blog is to help new or experienced game masters promote the kind of table I wish I had found when I first approached the hobby. I have spent several years sharpening my creative blade both in the space of a player and master, and while I do not pretend to know everything one can know about collaborative storytelling, I have come across some universal truths and advice I would love to pass along. I will be discussing the importance of communication amongst the table at all levels. I will touch upon how forming bonds with your party, and with the game master leads to an overall higher quality experience. I will also provide advice on developing personalized content (frequently referred to as indie, or home brewed).
In addition, I will spend some time discussing charity and ethical theory, as I believe that the heroics of the table can extend to the world around us. (Click here to see Variant Venture’s List of Charities we support, and here to see our Code of Ethics.) When the mood strikes me, I may even post some silly short stories or literary work, if for no other reason than to promote the propagation of storytelling.
I truly believe that collaborative storytelling and tabletop role-play can make the world around us a little bit brighter. I hope that we can all learn how to communicate with one another, and learn how to bring out the best in each one of us both in the dungeon and in our day to day lives.