Friday, October 31, 2008

Playing the role

I have a friend.

Well, I have a lot of friends (I suppose) but this particular friend is someone I have known for nigh on 30 years (gosh). I met him at the Manchester University D&D Society and we've been playing table-top role-playing games since that time. We have a group that's met almost once per week for the last 20 years and played a multitude of games (mostly not D&D as it happens).

In 1987 I had the bright idea of starting a live role-playing game company. So we did (along with my wife and others). It lasted about 7 years but we always loved live role-playing. There's nothing sordid about this, we're talking about running around the countryside having mock-medieval adventures complete with magic and sword-play. Like re-enactment, only it's enactment, it's improvisational (although the adventures are scripted the players have no idea what will happen - a bit like murder mysteries).

This is all, in fact, relevant to Halloween. I'm coming to the point soon.

So my friend Steve (let's call him Steve because that's his name) likes to do things proper on Halloween, so he dresses up his house, has a graveyard in the garden, a smoke machine, atmospheric effects, lots of skulls and such like. And then he dresses up and scares all the kids that come trick or treating (some of them not so little).

Ths evening was the first evening in all these years I've had a chance to join in. I love it. You get the costume on and you're in character - an ogre in my case - I scared dozens of kids this evening, Brilliant. My daughter, who is a professional cackler (she's done two semi-pro pantomimes as the witch), let rip with her superb cackles which do not damage her voice (she could give masterclasses).

Even the boy, who was not even in a scary costume, managed to scare a few by simply emerging unexpectedly from the shadows. The wife, who also loves the dressing up, wasn't feeling too good so gave it a miss this year.

But it wasn't just us: we had two skeletal pirates, a Countess Dracula, a superb Death - and that was just the adults. The kids were brilliant too: a Corpse Bride (who kept insisting that her husband was buried in the graveyard, she was 10 I think), zombies, mini-witches all decked out in quality costumes. And even sweet little Summer dressed as a witch, she was about 2. That's what you get for being born into families of live role-players: decent costumes and a willingness to play the role.

We had a brilliant time, and so did the kids that came to visit. Steve, as a skeletal pirate, had this line "Come and get your treat, if you're brave enough". And the memorable "I'm not brave" came wavering through the dark from some young girl ... but she was, and she got her treat. Other phrases like "this is the best house ever" and "better than Alton Towers" came back to us. Steve's house is always the talk of the neighbourhood for the next week.

Next year we're thinking in terms of a castle frontage. I'll pop some pictures in tomorrow.

I haven't had so much pure fun in years.

What's on the turntable? Quiet as the grave.

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