"I still can't believe I let you ultranerds talk me into this" complained Alfa, who is usually too busy hanging with the "cool" kids.
"Whatever, by next decachron you'll be begging to bring your 'cool' friends to play Dungeons and Dragons with us," said Juliette, "and we're gonna say no." She made a sour face.
"Okay let's get started," said Charlie, the somewhat overweight fellow at the head of the table, peering into a holoscreen that was only visible from his angle.
"Our story will take place during the golden age of American civilization, during the presidency of, ummm, Bieber the First" Charlie was making some details up as he went, after all, none of them would really know or care if President Bieber the First had reigned in the year known as 1884, or 1984 or 2064 or 2124.
"It's just a typical summer evening in the small suburban town of Crumpton, in the American state of West Concordia," continued Charlie, the Game Master. The three experienced players looked at eachother excitedly -- everyone knows that the most mundane day in pre-decline America is guaranteed to be more exciting than the dull life aboard space station LJI-9-B5.
"West Concordia is currently at war with neighboring Kansas, but Crompton is far from the border and life goes on as normal. You are all in a bar called the Last Chance on a, uh, Tuesday night."
"Okay what's a Tuesday and what's summer?" interrupted Alfa in an exasperated manner.
"Summer is a period of Earth's rotation around the star," patiently explained Mike, whose brown hair was pulled tight in a ponytail. And "Tuesday" is one of the seven days of the earth-week, you know, like ten chrons in a decachron but they have seven and they all have names." he paused because it looked like Alfa was about to get up and leave "look, look, it doesn't really matter, Charlie is just throwing in details for the story but you don't need to know this stuff."
"Fine, but man how did anyone keep track of time with such a complicated system?" asked Alfa.
"Oh that's barely the half of it" said Victor, the skinny one, "there were 24 hours in a day and 60 minutes in an hour--"
"Okay, okay. Can we continue?" broke in Charlie. "So you're all in the bar. There's television boxes on walls displaying the latest sportsing. You find yourselves sitting together at the bar. There's a level one lawyer named Elvis" here he nodded to Mike, "with a kevlar vest and a briefcase full of grenades; Victor is a cowboy from Cleveland named Barack. He has his trusty energy-blunderbuss as well as a lassoo. His horse is parked outside. Juliette is a barbarian soccer mom named Uma from the wild norths of uh 'Canada.' She has a proficiency in flame throwers but had to leave it in her minivan because of the bar's 'no flamethrowers' policy. The minivan is parked out front. She also has a soccer ball in her inventory.
And Alfa you are a professional athlete named Ashton. That means you have really high strength attributes, but because professional athletes had a tendency towards domestic violence you'll have to do a saving roll every time you talk to a female, if you roll a one you randomly do something violent."
Alfa was smiling about this, so Juliette jabbed at him with "oh I think that sounds like him anyway."
"Hey!" objected Alfa, and Juliette jokingly put her arms up to shield her face defensively. Everyone laughed.
"Hey if she's a soccer mom does that mean she has a kid?" asked Alfa.
"No, uh, I did but he became a werewolf"
"I'm going to assume this conversation is happening in game" commented Charlie irritably, drumming his fingers. "So Ashton the professional athlete is currently hitting on Uma at the bar" he narrated to make it official. Some snickering ensued.
"In addition to you lot, there's a chimney sweep, a computer programmer, and two terrorists drinking at the bar to your right and to your left there's a reality television star and three pirates.
"I'd like to look at the quest board" Mike informed Charlie. Everyone knows there's going to be a quest board in the bar.
Charlie smiled, glad someone was going to move the story forward. "There's a note tacked to the board. It says 'WANTED: four bold adventurers to journey to Dreslin City to bring back the McGuffin Device. Will be rewarded with 1,000 gold and an artifact."
"Sounds like a plan!" announced Victor, "Barack asks the chimney sweep if he'd like to go on the quest."
"Barack hasn't looked at the posting, only Elvis has" chided Charlie.
"Charlie is a such a stickler" Victor confided sulkily in Alfa.
"Elvis tells Ashton, Uma and Barack," Mike said dutifully.
"But on your way back you bump into one of the terrorists!" announced Charlie with relish. "They both brandish their AK-47s (a rapid firing mechanical projectile weapon) and begin shooting indiscriminently!!" Charlie gazed into his holoscreen, only the green glow against his face was visible to the others. "You all perform saving dodge rolls and hide under the tables except Ashton." Charlie paused but saw Alfa was looking completely at a loss so he punched some more things into his screen and then announced "...but you instinctively grab a barmaid and use her to shield yourself!"
"I shoot one of them with my blunderbus!" said Victor quickly, as if quickness in real time was important.
Charlie peered into the green holoscreen and then declared "you miss." Adding a moment later "your shot destroyed a manticore head mounted on the wall. You'll have to pay for that later
"Ummmmm... Uma sneaks up to them under the bartop." offered Juliette, wishing she had her flamethrower.
"I caste countersuit, transfer of liability to the pirates!" declared Mike excitedly.
Charlie peered into the green and then declared "it works, the terrorists turn their attention to the pirates. One pirate is hit and receives 17 hitpoints of damage. The chimney sweep is killed in the crossfire. The reality television star is hiding behind a table in the middle of it, making hysterical commentary for the cameras. The camera crew are all attentively filming. The action"
"I say we all get out of there!" declared Victor, sounding as panicked as if he were actually there.
"Yeah, let's all run out the door right now" agreed Mike calmly.
"The bouncer blocks your exit, you can't leave, you haven't paid your bar tab." said Charlie imperiously. "The pirates burn CDs and throw the burning CDs at the terrorists inflicting 12 and 15 hitpoints of damage respectively -- 'CDs' are thin metal disks which contain data for computers," Charlie added for Alfa's benefit. "The terrorists continue to fire with their AK-47s inflicting damage on all three pirates and killing one of them."
"Pay tab!" exclaimed Victor.
"You need twenty gold. You don't have it."
"Oh for the love!" rejoined Victor.
"Caste 'salvage rights' on the dead pirate." declared Mike on behalf of his lawyer character.
"You gain thirty gold, a pirate hat, a 'Starbucks' coffee card, and a turkey" announced Charlie, who had forgotten the name of the kind of bird pirates were supposed to have.
"Pay tab" said Mike, calmly as ever.
"And now we all run out the door!" said Alfa, momentarily forgetting he was to cool to look excited about things like this.
Charlie tried to hide a smile. "Okay you're outside. As you leave you hear the bartender yell 'you owe me a manticore head!' over the gunfire. Where do you go now?"
"Juliette, I mean Uma, has a minivan right?" asked Alfa, still immersed in the scene.
Everyone looked to Alfa as he enthusiastically directed the action.
[To be continued??]
As I mentioned in my brainstorming post, I haven't actually played D&D ... so I blame any inaccuracy on developments over the next few hundred years. ;) anyway, the point of this bizarre little story is just how bizarre it would look to us if our current life was seen as a fantasy setting, and some day, it will be just that remote.