Tuesday, September 1, 2015

On War Stories

Something I have noticed about ACKS, talking about ACKS, is that my previous ACKS group really likes telling ACKS stories.  I take this as a compliment of the highest order.  The trouble comes when they ask me "Tell the morlock story!  And Kroner's story, and Carcophan's story!"

I knew a guy, at my previous job, who was a really good oral storyteller.  His control of pacing, hand gestures, facial expressions, and posture were excellent.  Many hours of productivity were lost to his influence.

I am not that guy.  Oral storytelling is not something I've ever really practiced.  I know my pacing is off; I tend to rush the conclusion.  I'm not conscious of my gestures and expressions, and I probably tend to go into irrelevant detail.  It's something I recognize that I'm not great at.

Worse, having listened to a few D&D stories in my time, I can safely say that most D&D stories suck, and outside of self-indulgent blogposts (that you, dear reader, are free to skip at minimal time-cost as soon as you realize it's a story) I tend to avoid telling them.  There are a couple reasons most D&D stories suck:
  • Most D&D stories are pretty predictable.
  • Most D&D stories involve characters in which the audience is uninvested (but in which the storyteller is highly invested).
  • Details about the characters and worlds in which the audience is uninvested matter to the story, so the storyteller has to talk about those details, which makes stories long and boring.
ACKS stories, fortunately, are a little different.  They're predictable on their own terms, but if you're in a group of people telling D&D stores, "and then everything went wrong and all the henchmen died" is not the ending most of your listeners were probably expecting.  Most of the ACKS stories that we tell (the Morlock Massacre, the Teleport Debacle, the Sword of Slaying, Hao-Dee, the Albanian's Demise, the Chest of Spectres, the Perils of Yellow Mold, and the Basement of Spiders) are also pretty short and don't require much in the way of backstory and context.  This is a good thing!

It occurs to me also that of those, I've only written a few up here.  Maybe I ought to put more up (in short forms with little background).

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