Fear the Boot, a podcast offering advice and general commentary on tabletop role-playing games (RPGs) is an excellent production not only for gamers, but for writers. (For those unfamiliar with RPGs, here’s the cliff notes: one person, often called the Game Master or GM, plots out an adventure for the benefit of players who represent characters in the plot. Players make decisions about their characters actions/reactions and the GM serves as both storyteller and referee. Perhaps the most well-known RGP is Dungeons and Dragons, but there are dozens more in many genres.)
So, prospective authors, what can Fear the Boot offer you? While many RPGs can be described as “dungeon crawls” where characters do little more than fight wave after wave of monsters, other RPGs unfold much like an excellent book or movie, with intricate plots and well-developed characters. The hosts of Fear the Boot are enthusiastic supporters of the latter type and gear their advice toward GMs who want to run games with complex plots and realistic characters and situations. While they do not offer advice on the mechanics of writing (i.e. no grammar help here), they do talk at length on what makes a game succeed. They cover the basics of backstory, setting, character development, and pacing. Of course, they don’t address these topics with instruction specific to written tales, but in the form of “here’s what works” or “here’s what we like best” – it may not be a checklist for authors to follow, but it’s still insightful and, even, a refreshing break from conventional writing-targeted programs.
As far as the general elements of great storytelling, Fear the Boot covers it all from character creation to identifying the difference between vital details and unnecessary minutae. As of spring 2011 they were up to 227 episodes. While gamers might want to just subscribe through iTunes, authors should check out their website and investigate the ‘regular episodes.’ To glean the most from this podcast, scroll back to older episodes and start at the beginning.