Language Flash

This one was fun guys, you should totally join in–post your response to yesterday’s prompt in the comments!

It was my second night on a stool in the new bar. Well, the bar wasn’t new, it was just new to me. And judging by the drapes on the wall of the basement, the ratty rugs, and the leaking bean bag chairs, nothing about this place had been new for a very long time. It didn’t much matter though since it was run out of the basement of a friend of this guy’s and they just served free booze to all their friends. Occasionally people would chip in when they had the money, but mostly the alums from their school kept the booze stocked so the underclassmen didn’t have to pay to get drunk.

I know this sounds all kinds of sketchy, but it’s not, promise. It might have been a lot sketchier except that the entire contingent of patrons was comprised of complete geeks who were much more interested in swapping stories of their latest experiment or LARPing game than getting in the pants of some freshman girl.

And that really seemed to be all that they talked about. Never classes, or work. And it was only occasionally what brew they had going in their test tubes. More likely than not, you’d walk in the back door and down the tight staircase (if you’re over six foot, watch your head) and trip into a conversation about game mechanics and combat.

“Don’t you remember those ‘zed? That game was wicked. I thought for sure you’d have been dead but you’d buffed your regen counter to the point that no one could get a kill shot! And then you were up and took all those poor NPCs out and they had no idea what hit them.”

“I know! But you were really brilliant as the General. Too bad you had to be an NPC, stupid work getting in the way of a perfectly good 10 day. You should have been there, cutting your usual swath through the undergrads.”

“They should develop a mechanic for distance play, for people like me who have to work from fuck-nowhere Canada every week.”

This was LARPing–Live Action Role Playing. To be clear, we’re talking about people who get together, write complicated plot lines and character bios (up to 70 or so) and then run a live game that can take anywhere from 2 hours to 10 days where students and alumni are running around the school firing nerf darts and disc guns at each other, forming alliances, solving puzzles, and generally freaking the hell out of exchange students.

It took me a few conversations to actually understand what these people were talking about: ‘zed referred to the enemy characters in a particular game kind of like zombies; NPC was non-player character or basically just a person wandering around without personal game objectives and were there to move the plot along; mechanics were how the game functioned since you obviously couldn’t actual kill your classmates; buffing your stats meant doing something to get creative with the mechanics in your favor. Luckily, I was a girl who enjoyed gaming, so I could understand a lot of what they were talking about in a general sense since a good majority of the functionality was taken directly from those tabletop and console type games. But then you run into odd subjects, like the love mechanic.

You can’t very well have two people who don’t actually know each other get their characters to seduce each other for information. Particularly with just how socially awkward these geeks were. Maybe some lubed up frat boy could have handled it, but not these kids. So mechanics were introduced to handle these situations, such as backrubs.

“Do you remember Kai? God, I was such a man-whore. I was seducing all these women to get the formulas and I had kind of staked out this one classroom for the mechanic, but then their commandant found out and stormed the place? The look on their faces when they came through the door with their guns out and saw her totally face planted on the table while I went to town on her back, that was hilarious.”

“Well you do give good backrubs.”

And they all talked about this as if it was the most normal, mundane events. Like you or I might talk about what happened at work, or rehash a game of flag football. Except they talk as though they are those characters. The reference to Kai? That was his character’s name. But they just keep talking as if he and Kai were interchangeable and the events of the game truly happened. And the conversation flowed smoothly and quickly through game after game while they got drunk.

I know I drifted in and out of the conversations; I didn’t have any knowledge of the games they had played and I found their complete suspension of disbelief a bit uncomfortable, even as a writer, so I would occasionally just stop paying attention. A phrase here or there would jump out and I might sometimes ask for more clarification on a point of reference or a game, but for the most part I just nursed my drink in the corner.

It was at one of these times that I noticed a slight change in how they were talking that caught my attention. It sounded like one of their friends had gotten hurt in one of the games.

“Yeah, he’s doing fine now, got some good scars for it though.”

“Wait, so, did this actually happen?”

“Ha! Yeah. His girlfriend stabbed him seven times while he was asleep, he woke up, got the knife away from her, then restrained her until the cops got there. Kind of hilarious.”

“Didn’t she have a crossbow in the mail, too?”

“I know! Completely inept and no patience. The crossbow would have been way more cool.”

“Seriously. If he had been dating one of the girls from our school, she would have gotten the job done right on the first stab.”

There was a round of agreement from the crew at the bar and I just sat back into my dark corner again, seriously rethinking some recent romantic decisions.

Screen grab from the movie Role Models