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How Dungeons and Dragons Can Help Your Writing (Even If You Don't Play!)

So, a little confession to start out this sporadically inspired post: I've played a little D&D. I don't claim to be a hardcore connoisseur by any means, but yesterday while looking through older versions of the Monster Manual I came to realize that most Dungeons and Dragons manuals could be used as precious resources for any writer of fantasy, adventure, horror, or even sci-fi if you wanted to take things a little further. (And, yes, even if you don't play the game!)

The manuals themselves are great--most are hardcover and come loaded with incredible illustrations--but even the less flashy class handbooks can bring you valuable knowledge and inspiration when creating any characters that are or can relate to the abilities of clerics, druids, wizards, paladins, rangers, etc. etc. etc. (no but really, those are only a few.)

There are even multiple editions of the Tome of Magic, dedicated to detail, that will remind you of all things to take into consideration if you are creating your own magical school or society, or want a fleshed out list of magical items or spells to browse to get your imagination running in the right area of the cosmos for your own story.

As a horror writer, my favorite of these books to get lost in would most definitely be the Monster Manual(s.) These literary treasure chests contain pages upon pages of fascinating lore, skills, and tendencies of everything from aboleths and ethereal filchers to gargoyles and harpies and Hell hounds and night hags and everything in between. I love comparing notes between the different editions especially, because each one will have a slightly varied illustrated version of the monster, to keep things exciting and to remind the player (or writer) that really, the details are open to their interpretation.

I never considered crossing the D&D/horror-writing streams until one fateful afternoon in which I read a single paragraph about a particular monster, then ended up having an entire novel outlined by the time night fell. I'm still currently in the process of drafting it, but I think it's definitely safe to say that it is the most inspired of any idea I've had, and it's all thanks to that radical Monster Manual.

*dreamy sigh* Oh, Dungeons and Dragons. You are like an energy drink for the imagination.  

Amy Lukavics

Amy lurks within the forested mountains of Arizona. When she isn't reading or writing creepy stories, she enjoys cooking, crafting, and playing games across many platforms. She is the author of Daughters Unto Devils (Harlequin Teen 2015) and The Women In The Walls (Harlequin Teen 2016).

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  1. I still have my Monster Manual from my high school D&D days! Okay, it was my brother's manual, but what does he want with it now? And YES I have paged through the Manual, looking for likely monsters needed to populate my stories.

    Fist bump. High Five. Or whatever is cool now. (I played D&D. I wouldn't know.)

  2. love this post but don't tell my husband; )

  3. love this post but don't tell my husband; )

  4. love this post but don't tell my husband; )

  5. D&D was my first big writing teacher. I hardly use it anymore, but on occasion I'll flip through the Dungeon Master's Guide simply because it's cool.

  6. So happy to see fellow D&Ders in here! Also, the DM guide is another wicked rad one that I should have added to the post. Would make for yet another great writing tool, regardless of if you're a player or not!

  7. This is so true. It works with other gaming companies like Whitewolf too. Pretty much any tabletop roleplaying handbooks can help fantasy writers with ideas about magic systems, creature creation, and MC abilities. I hope other fantasy writers have caught on about that. It'll save them so much sweating over where to get inspiration.

    Thanks for the post!

    1. SO TRUE, and thank you for adding that. The magic is not contained only within the D&D brand!!!

  8. OH MY GOODNESS! I love that you posted about using D&D as source material! I think people that don't play genuinely don't realize what an enormous treasure trove of inspiration it is. There are so many different campaign settings to choose from, and so many class handbooks, so many bestiaries, and spellbooks. They even have all those books like Book of Vile Darkness and Book of Exalted Deeds that give you everything you could want to flesh out your villains and heroes. Their website (and forums) offers tons of content too, and those adventure hooks could be invaluable for starting off a story.

    I love that you're using the Monster Manual to beef up your horror story! Having read through a lot of the MM variations from 1st to 4th editions, I know there are tons of creepy crawlies that would be perfect for novels. I'm really curious how you'll make them come to life. :)


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Item Reviewed: How Dungeons and Dragons Can Help Your Writing (Even If You Don't Play!) Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Amy Lukavics