July 4, 2001
Roles Reversed - By Rapscallion
The door to the clanhall creaked open, flooding the interior with the last
vestiges of light from the setting sun. Several of the people that were
huddled around the firepit blinked violently as they tried to figure out who
"What the..." spluttered Azakan as he stood in the entrance. He stared around
at the desks and tables littered with papers and quills and then stared at the
people sat around the firepit. "Arranging a few trading expeditions are we?
Or are you lot having a town meeting without me?" he asked suspiciously.
"Az?" came a voice from the far side of the circle.
"Yes?" replied a familiar voice to the right.
"Not you, Aznle - Azakan. Going to have to be careful with abbreviations
I guess," came the original voice. The owner stood up and walked closer so
Azakan could see who it was. Rapscallion, for it was he, coughed nervously
as he continued. "We're just having a game here, no harm done. We'll even
tidy the place up when we're finished."
"A game? Great - I've got a spare deck, Trellorian Whist?" Azakan asked
hopefully. Rapscallion looked somewhat embarrassed as he shook his head.
"Er, no," he started to explain. "it's a fairly new game called 'Role
Playing'. Just a quiet game between friends, you know?"
"Really? So, just how do you play it? Is it anything like herobattles?"
"Only in the vaguest sense of the word, I think," replied Rapscallion.
"You see, what you do is work out a character and write down its
attributes..." he continued, speeding up his explanation at Azakan's derisive
sniff, "... and you have someone in charge of the world that the character
is in and you have to overcome challenges and stuff." Azakan blinked
violently as he tried to understand the concept.
"So... you write down what you are and then what?"
"Well, Whitebane is currently the RL Master and he says what sort of things
we come up against, we say what we're going to do about them and he decides
what happens with the help of some dice and the rules." Rapscallion pointed
to a rather dog eared ream of paper which had been bound together down one
side to form a makeshift book. Azakan wandered over to where it sat on a
table and inspected the cover.
"'Da Roolz'" he read aloud. "This was the last bit you wrote - tired after
doing all the rest I assume?"
"Indeed," lied Rapscallion quickly. "You see, I got the idea a while ago after
a rather nasty misportal, and I've tried it out with a few clannies and
townies. It rather grew." Several of the gathered friends seemed to be
avoiding Azakan's gaze for some reason. Shrugging, he started to flick through
"So, what sort of quests do you undertake? Perilous ones, no doubt." He
squinted at the cramped and spidery writing inside, but it made little
sense from what he could see.
"Er, sort of. You see, you're playing as a member of a futuristic society in
big cities and things." Rapscallion stared at the floor, apparently
"What's all these lists for? Looks like some sort of equipment?"
"Oh yes," said Rapscallion as he padded over. He pointed at a few items on
the page. "That's a double breasted suit, and that's an umbrella of rain
protection, and that's a valise and..."
"Which zone does it all load in? What mob?"
"Oh - the zone is the "Shopping Arcade" and they're found in the same room
as the Tailor."
"Got a walkthrough? Tough mob?" asked Azakan hopefully.
"Er, not really. What you have to do is earn yourself some money and give
it to him..." replied Rapscallion miserably. He knew what was coming next.
"Give someone money? What sort of quest is this?" roared Azakan in anger.
Several of the players hid their faces behind sheets of paper and peeked out
"Nonono - it's not real," pleaded Rapscallion desperately. "It's a game,
see? Different rules and all that?" Azakan seemed to be slightly mollified,
but glared back at him.
"And what does this 'double breasted suit' do for you?" he demanded.
"Rechargeable sanctuary spell? Decent armor?"
"Er, it gives a plus ten bonus to impressing prospective employers," whimpered
Rapscallion with tightly shut eyes.
"Really?" Azakan sounded impressed. "New one on me - how do you play it? I
need to write down some... attributes you said?"
"I have a spare character sheet right here," announced a relieved Rapscallion.
He thrust a slightly beer-stained scroll at Azakan and fumbled around for
"What do I write down here, then?" Rapscallion handed him a few dice and let
him roll them, explaining as he went.
"Now you have to roll for vocation - that's what class you are, right? Ah,
you're a Double Glazing Salesman. Right, that means you have to track people
down in their houses and sell them things to improve their homes, right?"
Azakan nodded rather slowly. "Whitebane? Get a scenario ready for him
please?" He motioned for Azakan to join the circle around the fire.
"Sure thing," said Whitebane cheerfully. "Right, your name is?" he
"Azakan - have you forgotten?"
"No - in the game. You need an outlandish name like Jim Smith or Bob Jones
or something like that." Azakan screwed up his face in disgust.
"Ewww - they sound weird!" he exclaimed. After a moment's thought he
ventured, "George McDonald?" It sounded outlandish enough and everyone
else seemed to nod encouragingly. "So, what now?"
"You have been sent out to sell double glazing by your employer," began
"What? Work for someone else? I'm a hero and work at my own whims!" shouted
"Shhh, calm down. Game, remember?" reminded Rapscallion quickly.
"Oh yes, I had forgotten. Carry on." Whitebane nodded and continued.
"You are standing on the street you have been told to canvass for sales.
There are several houses each with a door. What do you do?"
"Pick the locks, open the doors and cast Farsight inside," nodded Azakan
"Sorry - no magic allowed," warned Whitebane. Azakan blinked. "Different
world, right? Anyway, you walk up to the door, but it's open and a house
owner is standing there, watering the porch plants. What do you say?"
"Remember - you have to sell them some double glazing," hissed Rapscallion.
He tried to smile encouragingly.
"Er, I say, 'Wouldst thou perchance desire some glazing of the double,
my lady?'" replied Azakan slowly. Whitebane nodded and looked around for
a particular sheet of paper. He smiled as he located one with many small
tables on it and pointed meaningfully at the dice. Azakan took the hint
"Let's see, you got a five. No suit of customer impression, what's your charm
and tact rating? Uh-huh - no modifier there. The house owner looks at you
and says, 'Sorry, but I don't want any.'"
"I draw my dagger and backstab her, then loot the corpse, sacrifice it and
check the tweaks on the equipment. Do I have to roll to see if I get an orb?"
"You don't have a dagger," replied Whitebane. "The house owner sees you
looking at her dangerously and runs inside to slam the door. You hear the
door being locked and she shouts out through a small slit, 'Go away or I'll
call the police'. What now? By the way, the police are a bit like the Guards,
right? They can kill you on sight if you give them reason."
"Well, an altar won't be that far away I'm sure," sniffed Azakan dismissively.
"Er, there's no resurrection in the game. When you're dead you are.. dead and
you have to start a new character," interjected Rapscallion.
"Pah! That doesn't sound so realistic to me," declared Azakan, although he
settled down to the challenge. He'd never been one to shirk the fight!
After being set upon by two angry husbands and a rather feral tomcat from
three more houses (courtesy of the dice), Azakan finally took Rapscallion's
whispered hints to visit the Shopping Arcade ("Bit like a zone") for some
new and better clothing. Against the best advice of his fellow players, he
failed to consult the latest fashion magazine and selected a rather dated
outfit from the racks which caused a negative modifier on service from the
Tailor. It took some time to explain the concept of credit cards, but
eventually the idea of paying for things later sank in and Azakan started
to enjoy himself.
"Right, Aznle, your turn," announced Whitebane. Azakan looked a little
crestfallen, but held his peace. Maybe there would be some hints to aid
his own quest there.
"Right you are," Aznle said smiling. She blinked a couple of times and
sat quietly, staring into space. Azakan was baffled.
"What's with the silence business?" he whispered to Rapscallion.
"Aznle rolled and got a painter's model vocation," he whispered back.
"Involves a lot of keeping still and quiet. She's really good at it -
she's level twenty eight already."
"Level? How do you mean?"
"You start at level 1 - a bit like the new adventurer's guild, right? If
you do well in your vocation you get up a level or two. If you progress
from level one double glazing salesman you may get better things to sell,
like pyramid schemes or even door to door brush sales. Aznle's gone through
a lot of levels really quickly. Her nude scenes were amazingly well
done - got her a lot of credit."
"Nude scenes? You mean she..."
"Only in the game. Sshhh - look at the way she stares absently, a true
mistress of her art." Azakan scratched his head, but sat quietly and
watched. It was fascinating in its own way.
"Next player please," announced Whitebane as Aznle shook herself back to her
normal state. "Bethica? You're in high speed pursuit of some teenage drivers
that you suspect have been drinking. Azakan? Bethica's got a police - Guard -
character. They're in chariot like devices, right?" Azakan nodded and
listened with fascination as Bethica called in reinforcements ("Like
clantalk?") and eventually cornered her quarry. The dice were produced
once more and the teenagers were cornered by her and her colleagues ("Like
clannies") and stopped at gunpoint ("Like wands"). They would be going
before a judge ("Like a god, but without the bangs and flashes") and would
probably end up in jail for some time ("Like frozen, right?")
The next player turned out to be Menthen who was something called a Stock
Broker ("Like a trader without a wagon or freight or mount, understand?").
He'd managed to get something called 'inside information' ("Like valuing a
catastrophe") and many dice were rolled to see just how useful and
profitable the information was. From the looks of concern as the last dice
were rolled, Azakan deduced that it was a close run thing, but Menthen came
out on top of his dealing. With a broad smile he funneled his gains into a
secret offshore account and was overjoyed to gain another level (and
another credit card), whatever those were. Still, Azakan joined in
the congratulations as Menthen gained the rank of 'Swindler'.
Skottie grinned as his turn was announced. "I shall begin to explain the
applications of calculus," he said brightly as Whitebane consulted his
"He's a teacher - bit like an Avatar, right?" whispered Rapscallion.
"He explains things to young characters and he's already got to deputy
principle - bit like coleader."
"Really?" Azakan was impressed. "How does he get levels?"
"Well, the more his 'pupils' learn the better his school - a bit like a
training clan - does in the published leagues - a bit like clan rankings.
He's not in the biggest school in the district, but it's got more funding -
like a loan from the gods, but you don't have to pay it back, right? - and
is expanding a lot. He's got a new sports center - like more clantown rooms -
and another school has already tried to headhunt - poach - him. They
offered him three credit cards, but he's holding out for more.
Eventually Skottie managed to gain his pupils' attentions with the aid of
the overhead display ("bit like mindlink for a herobattle") and break up a
fight between two boys ("like a duel in the arena"). He attended an awards
ceremony ("great tactic - he's used the strong coffee of wakefulness! A bit
like a refresh, yes?") and helped arrange some items for the school play
("A bit like the things I write for the Mudslinger. What do you mean you
don't read it?").
"You know," Azakan whispered to Rapscallion as they worked out who was
next, "This is fascinating, but I'm starting to get a craving for some really
unhealthy food. I'm a hero and I'm not supposed to need to eat - what's
going on here?"
"You'll get used to it, it's entirely normal. We usually send someone out
for deep fried snacks every couple of hours or so." Azakan glanced around
at the piles of food containers and tried to make a calculation or two.
"So how long have you been here?" he asked hesitantly.
"Since the third Day of Justice," replied Rapscallion, ticking off some
fingers and thinking.
"That's three whole days!"
"Last month's third Day of Justice," admitted Rapscallion with a shrug.
"You wanting deep fried Banelar or Spectral Man-Hound?"
"Either or both, whatever, but can you make sure there's some Fizzy Bubbles
with it?" replied Azakan with an airy wave of his hand. "How long did it
take you to write all this up? It's so unreal it feels true."
"A couple of solid weeks, truth to tell. Had to get it down quickly as it
was all from a weird misportal I'd had - I may have mentioned it. Looks
like Arias is next. He's the head of a global conglomerate - bit like a
Arias' character barely survived an attempted boardroom coup and a hostile
takeover by a rival company. "He's done well, but he'll be weakened for
next time. Bit like a clanleader being told what to do by other clanleaders
and a banking all rolled into one if you know what I mean." Azakan could
only nod slowly - it made a certain sense, but he couldn't have explained it.
Ysabell sat up straight for her turn. "I'll continue digging for another
five minutes then have a break for a cigarette," she announced brightly.
"Digging?" hissed Azakan for he was perplexed.
"She's a navvy," Rapscallion explained quietly.
"What - sits at junctions and directs people around? A boring, but worthy
task, I suppose." Azakan smiled as he was on familiar ground.
"No, not really. A navvy digs up roads to mend them - a bit hard to explain,
but you know the potholes we bounce over when trading? Her character mends
them." Azakan frowned, but nodded slowly. "She's managed to gain a lot of
respect from her fellow workers by holding up a lot of traffic - like
caravans of covered wagons - for just one repair. Sssshh - Whitebane's
Whitebane rattled some dice and consulted another table. "Your request
for supplies was granted," he announced ("Bit like praying..."). "You've
been awarded three more barricades and five hundred more cones." ("Bit
like traps, I guess...").
"Wooo!" grinned Ysabell. "That's enough to block off another lane -
yes?" Whitebane nodded thoughtfully. "I'll block the next lane off and
then I think it's time for lunch," she announced brightly.
"Good move - it's a bit like a trading mob faction, but even though it
doesn't attack it's more vicious," Rapscallion explained to Azakan.
"Back to Azakan," announced Whitebane. "So, George McDonald, you went to
the street next to the one you'd failed on. You have nearly reached the
limit on your credit card so you need to make some sales. Again there are
houses with door and pathways. What do you do?" Azakan smiled - a
challenge again. For some reason he felt a yearning to advance so he too
could sell those quality brushes from door to door.
"I go up one path and knock on the door," he replied confidently. He'd
been taking careful note and had managed to work out how he should behave.
"The door opens," Whitebane began as he rolled some dice. He peered at the
dice and frowned. "Instead of a human there's a snarling, large dog, foam
dripping from its teeth. What do you do?"
"Er... I draw my - no, cannot do that. I cast - no, not allowed." Azakan's
face drained of color as he started to panic - failure was not usually
"It tries to bite your leg."
"I kick at it - can I do that?" Whitebane nodded and reached for a table.
Azakan reached for the dice. The dice clattered and the sheet was consulted.
"The dog has your shoe in its mouth and is scratching it badly."
"But I paid extra to have the polish of customer charming applied!"
protested Azakan. "Right, I try and shake it off and run from the house."
He grabbed the dice and threw them with rather too much force. Three sixes.
"Oooooh! Special table," announced Whitebane ominously. "Roll again
please." Azakan frowned, but did as he was bade. "Hmm, a five and two
sixes... You run into the road and are hit by a passing vehicle..."
Whitebane rattled the dice and consulted them. "... driven by officer
Evans here," he finished, pointing at Bethica who blew him a kiss.
"I take it I have no green potions? Thought not. How badly damaged am I?"
Whitebane consulted another table and looked mournful.
"Nasty," he muttered. "You have three broken limbs, bruised ribs, a nasty
gash across your forehead..."
"Rather like paling visibly," noted Rapscallion helpfully.
"...and a broken fingernail," finished Whitebane. "You've got a temporary
loss of 20 to your girlfriend attracting rating, but it may be a gain if you
get a really fancy scar from it. When Rapscallion wrote this table out
I don't know what he was thinking of, but some scars can be quite
beneficial." Rapscallion grinned weakly and shrugged.
"I'll call for medical assistance," declared Bethica cheerfully. More dice
"The medical services were in the area, it seems," announced Whitebane
with a smile. "They arrive on the scene quickly." Azakan looked around
as Rapscallion pressed a small square of card into his hand.
"What's this? Are you part of the cleric equivalent?" he asked.
"Oh no. Level 30 Shyster, Alan Thompson, at your service. Ambulances chased
by appointment." Rapscallion stuck his pipe between his teeth and puffed
cheerfully. "Stick with me, my lad, and we'll take the police department
for as many credit cards as you could ever want!"
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