Renewed Focus, Honing Your Craft

By RJ on 2 April 2023.

Even when I take a break from behind the screen, drift away from my ever-growing world of Eldar, and sucked into the sometimes blinding reality of daily life, I strive to improve my leisurely craft. It's why I might ponder about the innards of the game I run or the structure of my setting while I sit in endless traffic. It's why I speak in comical voices to my daughter when I read her stories during lunch or in the early hours of the morning. It's why I write these articles, why I spur my mind for ideas to help others when I cannot find the inspiration to create solely for myself.

So what do I focus on improving and how do I do it?

Ponder About Your D&D Game

Our daily lives are filled with thought. However, I've been trying more and more to streamline certain aspects of sections of it to alleviate stress in others. For example, I might remove unnecessary steps in a process at work, automating them in some instances or solving the question permanently in others. Another example is the tabs my browser opens in the morning: one tab for email, another for my calendar, a third for my queue of tickets, and a fourth for my personal production board. All these simple time savers and brain helpers allow me to think and do others, more interesting things at the end of the day. Importantly, they let help me ponder & create.

That's advice chunk number one: iterate on constant tasks that require thought until they no longer require thought. This immediately saves your brain some power and allows you to use it for your virtuoso sessions later in the day.

The next chunk is plainly in the header of this section: simply think about your game. There are surprisingly plenty of times to do this in normal life. Here is a concise list for both you and me.

  • Next time you grab your phone to scroll social media, think about your next session. What's something unexpected you could drop into it?
  • As you're driving somewhere solo, expand on a player character's narrative. Is it being addressed? Have you highlighted it recently? What's special about them?
  • On your next run or walk, turn down the music or podcast and create the next major conflict for your campaign or adventure. Which characters might be connected to it already? Who or what will be the big bad evil thing? Where will it take the group? How can you foreshadow it?

For most of us, the most effective change is a swap from watching some of the undisputed cutest cat videos in existence at best and arguing with a fellow human on the internet at worst to putting that mental energy into crafting something memorable. It seems easy. It seems worthwhile. So why wouldn't we do that? Well, many of us (including me) are attached to the ease of information and community provided by our phones. They allow us to find what we want when we want to find it. They connect us to others and allow us to gain insight into what they think without the need to engage in true conversation. Truly, it's all convenient.

Fight the urge for simplicity. As with any run, any weight-lifting, embrace difficulty and challenge; it will improve the end product. I know, a comparison between exercise and worldbuilding and running the game. Wild but appropriate. Choose to think about what's happening in your next game or what you can build in your world instead of delving into the trap of social media.

Practice in Weird, Effective Ways

Not all practice needs serious thought behind it. Truly, all it must be is effective. Try out a few of these simple but effective techniques to practice your Dungeon Master abilities or worldbuilding mind.

  1. Incorporate a real-world location into your homebrew setting.
  2. Read to someone or talk to yourself in a nonplayer character's voice.
  3. Try out the mannerisms of a new NPC at a public place with others: restaurants, stores, parks, et cetera.
  4. Relate a relevant situation in your ongoing campaign to a situation occurring in your actual life.
  5. Flip through a random fantasy book and stop at a page at random; read the page and find a way to tie what's happening in the moment to your world or adventure.

While I can promise all of these techniques are effective and help inspire or improve your creative mindset, they are also a tad peculiar. Even so, they are good to do in all situations, unless you plan on practicing the bodily movements of a mind flayer or beholder in the middle of a grocery store. Please refrain from this advice chunk if that's the case.

Of course, don't discount tried methods, too. Reading through game books will improve your grasp of the rules and how to use them effectively. Reading actual books, fiction or nonfiction, will widen your pool of knowledge to pull from for creation, narration, and reaction to your group's antics. Reading articles containing advice like this one, others found across RJD20, and other creators like Sly Flourish will point you in the right direction or provoke thought. Watching videos or listening to podcasts can also help your game, whether synthesizing written advice in an easy-to-digest format or inspiring your own vocal cords with a brand new voice to add to your repertoire.

Connect Your D&D Game and World to Something More Than Yourself

Countless people force themselves to turn their hobby into a business. While that's completely unnecessary, I think it's because they are trying to accomplish something very particular: they want to grant greater meaning to their hobby. They might care about it deeply, but they want to show it to others, to prove its worth. Unfortunately, a scarce few profitable worlds. Many, though, can pull in others to care about their creation. That's what you should aim for!

Even outside the game, talk to your players about it. Show them you care about their characters, their role in the world, and the setting as a whole. Discuss what's going on in other areas and what future tales might unfold. Sometimes, they might give input or ideas in this out-of-game medium that could truly spiral out your ideas for the adventure at hand.

Speak with your family and friends about it, too! There's no need to keep it contained to those who traditionally enjoy D&D, either. How else do you thrust new players into the hobby? While everyone sits silently on the 9:30am Monday morning meeting, leap into the antics of your latest D&D game. I can already hear the exclamations, visualize the confusion on Zoom: "You did WHAT!? You said WHAT? How could you do that in a GAME!?"

Usually, my passion for the game and my own world pours into every conversation. I get excited. The others get excited. The people who don't understand D&D get confused. We all have a good time. Plus, once I relay these stories to others, some become invested. They ask about my game, my world. Both parties look forward to discussing "the latest in Galen".

Showcasing and discussing your stories with those you care about helps you remember why you enjoy D&D. It also connects them in a way to your world and might even convince them to give the hobby a go. At times, these light conversations might inspire you to accomplish heavier tasks, like finally starting that dead campaign again or driving home a certain character's importance to the plot.

Lessons Learned

We all lose focus on our D&D games and worlds. What matters is how we renew said focus, how we improve ourselves as Dungeon Masters, Worldbuilders, and Players during those breaks in play. Remember the following:

  • Think about your game constantly. How can you improve it? What cool thing can you do next? Which character can you highlight?
  • Hone your craft in weird ways. Read your kid their next story in the voice of the villain. Pick a page from the Bible and relate it to your campaign's current situation. What could go wrong?
  • Connect both your game and world to other people. This invests others into your hobby, pushes you to continue building on it, and might even get new folks to play.

If you enjoyed this week's article, check out the last one about taking breaks from our D&D campaigns. It happens to all of us.

Related Articles

Want More RPG Tips & Tales from RJD20?

As always, thanks for reading. Please send all inquiries to or leave a comment below.


  1. Nice read, very insightful as always, thanks for the great content keep it rolling!

    1. Of course, thanks for commenting! Next week's article is already good-to-go.