There is no better distraction than a centaur with an impacted bowel!

2007 August 19
by Vanir

The stupid ranger, Dante, and I went to Gen Con this weekend, and it was there that I introduced them to the event that basically revitalized my Gen Con experience: Nascrag.

For those of you unfamiliar with the event, it is a competition in which teams of 6 play D&D. But it’s not like the D&D Open. There are monsters to fight and puzzles to solve, but in this event you are also scored on roleplaying. And you are encouraged heavily to think outside the box and ham it up heavily. And they’re a little nuts. In exactly the way that I enjoy!

To wit: I played an old man who used to be a powerful knight. Some roleplaying goals I was scored on included:

  • wanting to die a warrior’s death
  • being disgusted by magic, but still trying to patch things up with my son who is a talented sorcerer (with a raging penchant for the kind bud)
  • making up war stories and sharing them in-game with my old war buddy Jules the cleric (played by our own Dante)
  • making fat jokes about the druid

In case it wasn’t already abundantly clear, the settings are somewhat more humor-based than your standard D&D, but it doesn’t get in the way. A lot of fantasy analogies to pop culture creep into the stories, and they’re really damn funny. (In one adventure, we were IM’ing LonelyElf15, who would only speak to us in 1337).

The puzzles are of all varieties, but my favorites are the ones that require performances. It really gets the players involved and out of their shells. For instance, we all had to play charades to figure out the words to a passphrase. And another time, we had to talk to an important NPC so we all had to sing to get into a talent competition he was running. It was at this time that I, in my Scottish accent, declared that “mah old friend Jules and I here will be performing a duet!”, and I received a look from Dante that was a mixture of shock, fear, and death. I attempted to fire up my random thought generator and start singing something, but he beat me to the punch with a reference to a war story I had talked about earlier in the evening. And by this, I mean he started violently shaking his fist and yelling “STONE GOLEMS! STONE GOLEMS! STONE GOLEMS!” And I was shocked for a moment but I, again in a Scottish accent, started yelling “SHOOT THEM IN THE GENITALS! SHOOT THEM IN THE GENITALS!” This continued for a moment to shocked and amused looks from everyone at the table, and then we stopped. But not before I threw up the horns and yelled “PUNK ROCK!!!!”. With a Scottish accent. I have known Dante for almost two full decades, and never in my life did I ever expect the man, when pressed for a musical decision, to go for hardcore death metal.

As for our group, it was the stupid ranger, Dante, myself, my old roommate Ryan, my work friend Ryan (who we referred to as “WaRyan”), and this guy whose name I never knew but he had an awesome UNIX-beard. And, well, I’m afraid our team, “Carnal Bardic Knowledge”, didn’t make it past the first round of play (of which there are 3) this year. I did get listed as an alternate player and got drafted into another team, and so I had the pleasure of playing round 2 with team “Skull in a Bag” who were some very nice guys from Iowa City. My new team ended up getting listed as alternates for round 3, but they unfortunately did not call on us. Regardless, I had 8 hours of unbridled excitement and fun, and it was still the best $4.50 I’ll spend all year.

Nascrag basically rewards roleplaying the way I think it ought to be. The characters and scenario were full and rich, and offered me the opportunity to let go and do some crazy shit while still not disconnecting from the game. That takes some good writers and some very talented DM’s. I love it, I’ll be playing again next year, and I wholeheartedly encourage you all to join me! Players should go to see some very talented people let go and roleplay their characters to the hilt. DM’s should go to see what happens when you let them do that. (P.S. the answer is MAGIC. 🙂 )

One Response leave one →
  1. SirGeekelot permalink
    August 20, 2007

    Nascrag was awesome. I look forward to next year where the story and the characters will be fresh.

    We have an entire year to think about our team name and motto, so lets make it something special.

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