I have a sense of humor that a lot of people don’t get. Not only is it a little bit quirky, but I often make rather obscure references to things that not a lot of other people know about. Even when I’m not joking around many of the things a reference can baffle other people.
I don’t know if you can relate to that, but very often when people like me start playing role-playing games we discover other people that get those obscure references. We start to realize that we are not alone in our interests and are areas of knowledge. We find a place where it is OK to be a nerd, in fact it’s cool.
I’ll be honest, these days I like a more serious game and prefer to keep things as in character or focused on the fiction as possible. I’m not a fan of constant joking around and constant references to geek pop culture. That said, with some discretion and flair a well-timed reference can be a thing of beauty. Subtlety is important, and the best obscure references are those that may or may not get caught. When they are, it is pure magic. I’ll give you one of my favorite examples that happened just recently.
In our Mythos Mythras PBEM game we are on our second set of characters, this time in 2020. The scene begins with our intrepid investigators held in a classroom with an entire building on lockdown after a grisly murder. Anthony’s post sets the stage, and near the tail end of the long and detailed e-mail is this gem of NPC dialogue overheard by our characters.
“I will speak to the ones in 322 next. Look lively now, officer. You need to bring them to me one at a time, without discussing anything with them, and without letting them interact with anyone on the way to and the way from the interview room. Understood? Officer Gates will coordinate this with you. He will give you the signal to bring the first suspect and he will take them to the post-interview waiting area. Now: repeat what I just told you.”
I’m not sure that was the most obscure reference possible, but I grinned as soon as I saw Anthony’s post, because of course it was a veiled reference to the “don’t let him leave the room” scene from Monty Python’s Holy Grail. Subtle, in the background, but hysterical nevertheless. A well executed tip of the hat to classic gamer humor.
Little things like that in game or even in out of game conversations go a long way towards building camaraderie and adding another layer of fun to the experience. Just as long as you don’t go overboard. Like spice, a little goes a long way