When I was at university, some chums of mine persuaded me to give this thing called fantasy role-playing a go. So I turned up one night to find my friends huddled around a table, making up some kind of interactive story while staying in character, throwing dice and making pencil markings on a piece of paper. I gamely tried to play along, but I never quite got it, and after I was somehow injured, I opted to play the part of the best friend who gets left behind to deal with the hoarde of enemies coming along and never to be heard of again.
Fast forward to last night, when I watched Dara O’Brian (the man for whom the phrase ‘genial Irish comedian’ was invented) spend a weekend with some live-action fantasy role-players before crafting a twenty-minute stand-up routine just for them. Watching his befuddlement, confusion and baffled reactions to the proceedings was highly amusing and rather mirrored my own reactions – and I at least have a vague awareness of what goes on in fantasy role-playing sessions.
Part of me suspects that fantasy role-playing would be much more fun if you just took out the orcs, elves, warlords and ditched the rather heavy costumes and weapons and replaced it with a more modern setting. In the age of retro-childhood, modern fantasy roleplaying could be a huge hit amongst people wanting to escape their humdrum lives for the weekend.
Having said that, due to my tenous grasp on reality at the best of times, I won’t be going to any fantasy role-playing games any time soon. Part of me would love to watch them from afar, and perhaps lose myself in the game – but most of me would just be very very uncomfortable at having to wear silly costumes and brandish foam weapons.