Archive - Jun 16, 2005

Nobody Invited Your Brujah

« June 2005 »

Update to yesterday's column. It has now resolved to fifteen Senators, all Republicans, who have failed to co-sponsor the anti-lynching bill, and it was Bill Frist (the "doctor" who "fucked up" Terry Schiavo's "remote" "diagnosis" and said she could see), who changed the resolution from a roll call vote to a voice vote, against the wishes of the bill's authors. I've said it before, but it bears repeating. Republicans aren't necessarily racist, but they can't get into or keep power without the help of racists, and they're perfectly comfortable with that.

Memo to Nerds: It's time to BE A BETTER NERD.

As always, I must instruct those new to the series, especially the grumpy people, to read the Be-A-Better-Nerd Manifesto which should address many of your knee-jerk concerns.

Now, it's time to address one of the most important nerd conundrums of all time. When, exactly, is it appropriate to bring up your RPG character and his or her exploits in a social setting?

The simple and easy answer, of course, is NEVER. But since this simple, easy answer is seemingly lost on a huge number of nerds, any number of which could interrupt your pleasant conversation at any instant with the words "natural twenty", obviously some kind of comprehensive, column-filling guide is called for. So let's look at some common mistakes that are made in this area, and learn from them.

Let's say you're in some sort of social situation. A party, perhaps. A gathering of co-workers, even. And someone else in the group recounts a real-life tale that, point for point, almost PERFECTLY maps to the situation your Gangrel* found herself in just last Saturday. Not only that, but your adventure ended with what you consider to be one of the funniest capping lines in role-playing history, the kind of thing you're sure even non-role-players would appreciate. What do you do?

You shut your stinking Funyunhole, that's what you do. Because odds are, you're wrong about how apropos your anecdote you'll be, you're wrong about how funny the capper is, and you're wrong about how much the people will appreciate it. And even if you're right about all these things, you're still gonna make us all look bad.

When you counter a real-life story with an example pulled from a rich fantasy world of your own creation, you give everyone the impression, true or otherwise, that you HAD TO, because you have no real-life experiences to relate. Not to mention that even to people familiar with RPG's, your system, your house rules, your characters, and your campaign are all unique contexts that other people don't share, so you'll end up explaining all kinds of pointless crap, extending the story, slowing it down, and making people think you're even MORE delusional than you actually are. So just don't.

Oh, and if you're in a meeting at work, and even remotely considering saying something about your RPG when someone asks you for an example of "teamwork", put a fucking wallet under your tongue. Please.

OK, so let's say you're at a gathering with a bunch of OTHER role-playing nerds. You're wandering around, and you come across a knot of people all discussing their shared campaign. Is it then OK to launch into the daring deeds of Gryfynshywk The Paladin? No, it is not.

This would be roughly equivalent to hearing some people discussing, say, the most recent episode of Survivor, and you thus thinking it'd be a great idea to give them all an impromptu recap of last week's Degrassi: The Next Generation. It's just awkward. Different genres. Different stories. You can't just jump in and expect instant recognition and camaraderie just because you've all got d12's.

OK, then, one final scenario. You're at a get-together, maybe even in one of those pan-nerd stores that sells comics and toys and has tables in the back for the dice queens. And a bunch of people are discussing the same game you're playing. And, after you indicate that you play in the same game setting, with a similar scenario, they point-blank ask you to regale them with tales of your adventuring prowess. Surely, then, it's OK for you to proceed, yes?

MAYBE. This is a trick question, as it fails to take into account your surroundings. Specifically, it fails to address whether or not I'm in earshot. If I'm not, then go right ahead. I give you permission, nay, CARTE FUCKING BLANCHE, to tell everyone in a 20 foot radius about your cyber-samurai and how he infiltrated the Corporation's mainframe with a level one deck and a pack of gum.

If you're not sure whether I'm in earshot or not, though, best to play it safe.

*I can't explain all of them, lest I turn the bottom of these columns into their own Wikipedia.