Bricks in The Road To Hell: A Cautionary Tale of Accidental Roleplay

2008 September 8
by Vanir

Last night, I was playing some Fable 2 Pub Games before bed. I’m not all that crazy about the game, but it’s a good timekiller if one is just looking for a little braindead entertainment. Most of the reason I play it is because the controls consist of pushing one button or another, and when you’ve got a baby in your lap that’s all you can use. I didn’t preorder Fable 2 to get a free copy, and I would certainly not pay 800 Microsoft points for the thing — but fortunately a nice lady at Gen Con had a big table full of free vouchers for the game so I didn’t have to. I’ll probably be picking up Fable 2 at some point after it comes out, but there are also a lot of games coming out in which I need to play a little plastic guitar, and my budget is currently limited.

At any rate, I suck at pretty much every game in the thing. Fortune’s Tower is my preferred vice. It’s basically a cross between Solitaire and Deal Or No Deal. The way you play goes as follows:

  1. You place a bet.
  2. Your cards literally burst into flames, and you lose all your money.
  3. Occasionally, something will happen that gives you just enough hope to get cocky and think you can win your money back. Then go back to step 2.
  4. Repeat.

If you buy Fable 2, your gold (or debt) can transfer to your character. The game has now started to remind me that excessive debt may have “in-game consequences”. I started last night 14,000 in debt, and I started to get on a winning streak. I started to feel hopeful about my character’s future, about my ability to play this game, about avoiding the loan sharks’ wrath! It was about then that the tables with the more expensive betting limits started opening to me, and the wave of good feelings I was riding convinced me that only good things made out of platinum would come of this.

Two hours later, I realized something very important. I had inadvertently started roleplaying during a game of chance. I created a character in my mind that didn’t even exist yet, and gave him hopes and dreams and a credit rating. I desperately wanted him to succeed, and got caught up in the moment. And now I am 70,000 chips in debt. The good news is that I have 5-star gambler rating, and I can borrow LOTS of chips. The bad news is that my poor character is probably going to need new kneecaps. Oh god, you can have a family in Fable 2! Are they going to come after my wife and kids and…. *choke* MY DOG? I vowed then and there to train my character as fast as possible so I could defend my family and lands from these scoundrels, while paying my debt honestly through hard work.

I’m thinking very hard about leaving my debt as is and allowing my character to inherit it just to see what happens. In short, the game itself was boring but I had fun in my own little fantasy world — and I would have probably done the same thing regardless of whether a “real” RPG was coming out associated with it or not.

The moral of the story here? To put it Yoda-style: Adversity leads to conflict. Conflict leads to drama. Drama leads to story. Gambling leads to depression. Which is not hard to roleplay when you’re 70,000 in the hole.

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