I may or may not have mentioned before how important RPGs have been to my writing process. Don’t just write me off as one of those people who just writes lousy stories based off of their Dungeons and Dragons campaigns, though. That’s not me at all. Rather, what I’m referring to is my tendency to come up with interesting story ideas when I’ve been sitting around playing our pen-and-paper-game-du-jour. Sometimes these ideas are related to the game that I’m involved in, but more often I find that the mindset I get into when I’m really into a game is also conducive to coming up with interesting ideas that I can then expand upon with an eye towards writing something substantial.
Part of what makes RPGs such a good jumping-off point for story inspiration is that they often feature mythological creatures which can be borrowed in one way or another for a story. This borrowing, of course, usually leads me down a long, winding path of links on Wikipedia as I look up more information, essentially getting some of my story written for me without my having to do much except for a bit of virtual legwork.
I could go on at length about stealing for fun and profit, but the guys at Writing Excuses just did that for me, and I don’t think that I can really improve upon what they have to say on the subject.
I’ll close out by saying that, while playing RPGs gets my mind ticking towards writing, I’m not everybody. The main point is to expose yourself to as many different influences as you can. What RPGs have in their favor is their tendency to mash lots of aspects of different cultures, especially the folklore of different cultures, into one place, making for a diverse slice of different creatures and concepts to get you sitting with your preferred writing implements and working on a story.