Friday, 5 February 2016

The Imagination is a Muscle

In a recent episode of Geek's Guide (which I thought was largely nonsense, but entertaining enough), the interviewee observed that the imagination is something that has to be exercised - imagining things is something you can get better at.

I agree with this. It got me thinking: if you have to exercise your imagination - if it's a muscle as much as your triceps or glutes - then why not do more formal imagination training? Here are my patented daily routines for becoming a better imaginer.

Imagination Maintenance

This is for use during busy periods, illness, or for beginner imaginers to get into the habit. Roll up as many D&D PCs as you can in five minutes (using 3d6 for stats, in order). Just do the dice rolls. Then spend 10 minutes coming up with a name, personality, class, and distinguishing feature for each one. Do six sets, with five minutes rest in between. Increase the number of sets as your speed and fitness improve. Allow yourself one day of rest a week.

Imagination Circuit Training

The key to proper circuit training is rotating through between 4 and 8 different exercises without resting in between. A standard routine might run as follows, with each 10 minutes for each set, repeated three times.

  1. Imagine a new monster. Give it stats.
  2. Imagine a new NPC wizard. Equip him with treasure and two assistants.
  3. Draw the top level of a dungeon.
  4. Pick four monsters at random from a bestiary of your choice and give them each a replacement ability for an existing one. 
  5. Invent a new magic item.
  6. Invent a new spell.

A more advanced routine could be as follows, allowing 15 minutes for each set and three repetitions, advancing to five as fitness increases.

  1. Pick four monsters at random from a bestiary of your choice. Invent a society comprising those four monsters.
  2. Create a mini-hex map of six hexes.
  3. Create a random encounter table for a type of terrain.
  4. Create a d30 table for a means of randomly determining something of your choice.
  5. Think of a new PC race or class.

High Intensity Interval Imagination Training (HIIIT)

Alternate 40 seconds of high intensity imagining with 15-20 seconds of low intensity imagining and continue for as long as desired (not longer than 30 minutes and not less than 4 minutes). High intensity imagining consists of thinking of something entirely new (e.g. a new monster, map, NPC, etc.) Low intensity imagining involves tweaking something which already exists (e.g. altering a spell, class or monster). This is not advised for amateur imaginers or beginners, as it might lead to brain strain or more serious injuries. 


  1. You know, there's something to this. My fantasy head had been langusishing for years until I discovered the OSR. I'd describe it as a rude awakening.

    Recognising the limits of my thinking, I'd been vainly attempting to match...just ideas of the quality I regularly saw around these parts...and failing.

    That said, my creations are better than this time last year, never know.

    I really can't wait for everyone to get a load of Sune Duun, the Brown Land.

  2. Aha! Now I have to go write up the Imaginer class.

  3. I actually want to try this. I know my brain feels like it's been unfocused and languishing so this might be helpful for me. Thanks!