Wizard loves RP. Wizard loves narrative. Wizard should probably stick to her medium.

Let’s face it, guys. Even if this hobby of ours is predicated on interactive narrative, that doesn’t make us expert in the art of storytelling. It’s far too easy to turn these collective dreams of ours into “you had to be there” stories. Nor am I exempt from the problem. For every relatable fireball wizard there’s an underwhelming kobold sherpa. For every tragic character death there’s the bizarrely sensual coo of the middle-aged white dude sex pigeon. When you’re a gamer, there’s a special alchemy that happens around the gaming table. And as bright as those memories shine in a group’s collective mythology, they don’t necessarily carry over to verbal communication.

This has much to do with context. If you’ve got to start your stories with, “I was a wizard, and my buddy was a warlock, but the jerk at our table was this oversexed other warlock who was creeping on our cleric (played by a female), who was the GM’s ex-girlfriend and also my roommate,” then my eyes have already glazed over. Social intricacies and character relationships and the idiosyncrasies of game systems all figure into THE POINT of our stories. And when your tale is so overloaded, it’s easy to lose the Trees of Brevity amidst the Forest of Wit. In an odd way, I think this explains part of the charm of Handbook-World. Our stock  and trade in this comic is generic dungeon fantasy. Anyone who’s ever hurled a plastic platonic solid knows what a missed trap or a rules lawyer looks like. When you get too special-snowflake though, you begin to lose your audience.

And so, while Wizard lacks the art of the anecdote, I wonder whether you guys can do any better? What is your favorite gaming story? Is it instantly relatable? Do you have to spend undue time with the setup and the context? Or can you get to the narrative meat of your tale before interest has waned? And more generally, what makes a good “no shit there were were” gaming story? Am I right in my “brevity” assessment? Or does that lead us to the bizarre realms of “be me / be not me” storytelling? Sound off with your best tales from the table down in the comments!


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