I was brainstorming some topics to cover in the tabletop RPG realm for this blog when I was swiftly reminded of a project I undertook in college. As you may or may not be able to tell, I like to consider myself a pretty creative person. My two major fields of creativity are through writing and acting, two things I've kept up with ever since I was a child. What's rather cool is that they can be combined in the art of play-writing, which is an art-form I absolutely adore.
My first play was a musical based off of Green Day's "21st Century Breakdown" album that was aimed to discover the narrative of the rock opera and create something that was a little deeper and more satisfying than the musical created for "American Idiot." Those that read it really rather enjoyed it, though looking at it now, there's not much I can do with it and the dialogue is in sore need of updating and revising.
Anyway, back to role-playing, I actually wrote a play in college based around a group playing Dungeons and Dragons. It is one of the most personal things I have ever written, projecting some of my ideas about the stereotypes and opinions about the hobby and injecting a lot of my own experiences into little nuanced bits and pieces. Every character is a splinter of me in some way, shape or form, some taken to extremes, some explored at a different angle, some completely reversed. It's basically a love letter from me to the hobby, dripping with the blood of my soul.
For those of you who would like to read it and tell me what you think, I'll put a link on this post to a place where you can look it over. I'm not really doing this to be self-promoting, nor am I really looking for any hard criticism. I just want to share a labor of love that may even ring a few bells in your own role-playing experience or make you think about certain things a little more.
Click me to read "Dungeon"
If you don't want to go through the process of reading through a college-level, fifty-odd paged play, I will put up some notes from my outline here for your perusal and hopefully you can glean some of the guts of the play from that.
Thesis: Dungeons and Dragons is a game of masks. Everyone gets one. By wearing them, one can see into a world of fantasy composed entirely of the thoughts, desires, and dreams of those playing. When the masks are taken away and reality seeps back in, those involved are forced to ask the question: “Which world is the dungeon?”
World: The world that explores this thesis is the basement of a teenage boy. Though never shown, it is smack-dab in the middle of a seemingly exemplary suburbia. Outside of this space, the world appears to be perfect, and have perfect inhabitants. Beyond appearances, it is actually the opposite, a land where one is not able to be themselves fully, a place that needs escape. In this basement, that world is broken temporarily, allowing another world to be witnessed, inhabited by the ghosts of “What I Want to Be” or “Who I Really Am” or “Where I Want to Be.” These ghosts cannot exist or move without characters from the first world giving them life, and die immediately when they leave.
(AN: Keep in mind this is all artistic metaphor and stuff.)
Issac Silverman – In the outside world, Issac Silverman is a puppy held on a tight leash. However, this puppy isn't energetic, yippy, free. He's held tightly by his collar, and has been for far too many years, never allowing the puppy to become a man. When he enters the space of the play, he's let off of the collar and seeks to be the master of those he finds, but must constantly wrestle with the call of his own master and the fact that he isn't fully grown, despite pretending he is.
Josh Williams – In the outside world, Josh is a golden statue on a high pedestal. His pose constantly changes, depicting a star athlete, a great student, the perfect boyfriend. There are many who admire this statue, watching him closely, almost too closely. Some search for a stain, others try to make sure that he remains unblemished. When he enters the space of the play, he steps off of the pedestal, sheds the golden skin, and is allowed to breathe and live. However, he brings one of his onlookers with him, who is forcing him to wear that golden skin in a place of escape.
Francis Jones – In the outside world, Francis is a boy. His hair is short. His clothes are masculine. He has a penis. He likes girls. He likes sports. He likes blood, guts, dirt. The world has told him that he is a man. The world has shown him what a man is supposed to be, and he has obeyed. When he enters the space of the play, Francis is a woman. She has cast off everything that the world has told her to be, and has become what she's always wanted to be. She has a vagina. She likes boys. However, she is constantly reminded that the world, and the audience, sees her as a man, and defines her as such.
Kimberly Whisp – In the outside world, Kimberly is a ghost. People seem to see her, sometimes, but she's almost always faded from view. She doesn't walk like people do; she floats along with whatever occurs in the space around her. Sometimes she's heard, but always she squeaks. Squeaking is how ghosts speak in the outside world. It is all that's expected from them. Though they are alive, they are images of the people that died sometime in their youth, but yet live. In the space of the play, Kimberly is alive and ready to embrace all of the beauty of living, of freeing the girl that died years before. However, everyone in the outside world still sees her as a ghost, and treats her as such.
Mrs. Silverman – Mrs. Silverman is not allowed to enter the space of the play. Rather, she is a constant dwelling force in the outside world that is a reminder that the space of the play is a separate place. Once upon a time, Mrs. Silverman was a puppy on a leash, but that puppy eventually became a dog on a leash, and had puppies of her own. She doesn't know any different, and never got to experience any world beside the one outside. Therefore, she tries to control and drag back any who have tried to break the boundary. She is Cerberus.
Jade – In the outside world, Jade is a gem. She's green with jealousy of all of those that surround her, and therefore, must be adorned with all of the gold possible because she cannot recognize that she is a gem on her own. Only by looking into a reflection of gold can she see herself as a gem. Therefore, she has attached herself to the golden statue. She is a visitor to the space of the play and is able to see the strange ghosts that inhabit that place, but she is overly concerned with looking back into the outside world and into that golden reflection to see the gem. She is Lot's Wife and Job's Wife combined.
Brock – In the outside world, Brock is an infection. He is able to spread to whatever type of victim he desires, through words, through looks, through violence, through manipulation. Once the infection hits, it starts to consume, taking everything for itself, multiplying, and living through the bodies of others. Eventually, it leaves one body and jumps to another, leaving the victim beaten, bloodied, bruised, and irreparable. Unfortunately, this type of infection is incredibly attracted to ghosts. Brock enters the space of the play to take what is slowly being dragged away from him, evolving from an invisible virus to a behemoth. Brock is Bill Sikes.
Act 1: Paradise
The first act will establish both worlds and those who inhabit each and walk the line between them. We will meet Issac Silverman, who is running a game of Dungeons and Dragons for his friends: Josh Williams, Francis Jones, and Kimberly Whisp. Josh brings Jade, his girlfriend, to the game, showing her what it is like. We will also meet the ghosts, the characters of the three players of the game, who represent “Who I Want to Be” for Kimberly, “Who I Really Am” for Francis, and “Where I Want to Be” for Josh.
Things proceed well, for a while, but the outside world keeps trying to seep in and interrupt. Eventually, Jade, a member of the outside world, breaks away due to disgust, followed by Josh, and the group takes a break from the game.
Act 2: Imprisonment or Freedom?
The second act will show how sinister the outside world can be, and the reaction of our characters to the confrontations presented. Issac will break his leash. Josh will melt down the statue. Francis will embrace his identity. Kimberly will solidify, and fight off the infection. Through this process of change, the outside world bears down evermore. The characters must then choose which world they want to inhabit for eternity after.
End of Outline Excerpt
I hope you guys enjoyed this look into a creative project that I'm really proud of. Let me know what you think if you read it! If you didn't enjoy any of this stuff, here's a funny picture.