Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Darmok and Jalad at Tonagra

When I was a little kid, one of my earliest memories was of my brother telling me stories as I went to bed. My older brother is a sick bastard, and would tell me stories about his two favorite things at the time: demonic possessions and Vietnam. But I didn't mind. I liked hearing the stories.

Even before role-playing games, I did quite a bit of oral storytelling as a kid. I remember my friend's brother (also named Ed), he wasn't allowed to watch the Friday the 13th movies. So I'd recite them to him, telling each one of them as if I were one of the survivors from the film. When I was around 10 years old, I created my own spin on the Smurfs...called the Busy Bodies...and came up with several episodes' worth of stories to tell my sister. And throughout middle school, a favorite at sleep overs was "The Girl Game," where my friend would tell me who they had a crush on, and I'd run a little impromptu RPG-ish adventure about that friend overcoming various obstacles to eventually be able to date that girl.

When I look back, I realize now that oral storytelling has since become one of the longest-running activities of my life. It hasn't been until recently that I've taken ownership over it. All my life, I've been trying to parlay my passion for oral storytelling into writing, to varying levels of success. But the truth is, I like oral storytelling more than any other form of storytelling. Mainly, because it's interactive. Even if you're not playing a role-playing game, reciting a story in person, directly to another person or group of people, is an intimate activity. It connects you to the listener. It allows you to infuse a story with your own personality. The emotional payoff, to me, is more valuable than any amount of acclaim or compensation, monetary or otherwise. Indeed, I'd even say storytelling is my main form of communication with my fellow human beings. I'm like one of those aliens in that episode of Star Trek (that's where the title of this entry is from).

So looked at in this light, I think it's obvious what my draw to role-playing games is. It's just unfortunate that more people don't do it. But then again, you do it everyday, right? You talk to someone, you tell them a story about your day, the person listening says "here's what I would have done...." That is a role-playing game. You likely do it every single day of your life. So the next time I announce a public meetup for a role-playing game, sign up!

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