An In Depth Study of the Horrors of Working at Your FLGS


Well-Known Member
So I decided to join in on a writing contest over on Sufficient Velocity just for the heck of it and thought I might as well post here to get some feedback on the story prior to the deadline of April 30th. 

You’re at work, like any normal day, and happen to look out the window as you head to the break room for a second cup of coffee. What you see makes you stop in your tracks: What is it?
The story is fairly short and the rules basically said no fanworks, science fiction, fantasy, adventure, etc...  Basically, an attempt to get people out of their groove.  This, of course, prompted protests because people like their grooves-- they're typically comfortable and well-worn, easy to walk down.  This story was prompted by a chance comment that was made in response to people attempting to weasel around the limits.  I liked the concept enough that I thought it was worth a short story (just over the bare minimum for the contest actually.)


Tales of a Torrid Tabletop Romance: An In Depth Study of the Horrors of Working at Your FLGS

Disclaimer:  Despite the prompt, the "you" here is not based upon myself.  The views that the protagonist espouses within this story are in no way, shape, or form my own-- other than coming from my head, of course.  Which might be damning enough.


People ask sometimes whether I was over in Iraq or Afghanistan.  My answer usually depends upon the audience.  If it's a girl, admittedly few and far between though more common in the past few years, I'll sometimes put on a mournful expression and let her draw her own conclusion.  It's a better excuse for the pock marks cratering my face than poor hygiene when I was younger and I'm told I have the thousand yard stare down cold.

It works sometimes, though more often than not the end result when the truth comes out is disgusted offense at my lack of patriotic fervor and respect for the people with the guns.  My last girlfriend found it funny though.

Needless to say, I was not in fact a soldier.  I wasn't even in the reserves and the closest I've come to a gun was watching a couple hundred action movies.  I can tell a few tales of horror that would rival battlefield stories in my opinion, however, though it may take a certain type of individual to appreciate the mental scarring they inflicted.

An example?

Well, the most recent was probably last week.  I was heading to the break room for a second cup of coffee when I--

What?  What kind?  How would I know?  It's not like I drink the stuff, it just makes for an awesome looking River Styx in this model I made for a Trojan-- Ok, never mind, I'm getting off topic.  Look, I never said I wasn't complicit in some of horrors that I've experienced, did I?  Let's just drop it.

So I was walking out of the back room, when I happened to glance out the window and I had to stop outright.  We have a lot of regulars here, you know?  And they range the gamut from the good looking boy next door to the stereotypical overweight slob.  

Steve is kind of middle of the road.  Wife that actually comes to games with him sometimes and he's kind of casual about things.  Just likes to take a break from the desk job with a night of casual gaming with his friends: board games, D&D, or anything else that happens to gather their attention.

I wouldn't give him a second glance most of the time.  But today was odd because when I looked out the window, the guy was red and all I could see of him was his head.  Now when I say he was red, I don't mean paint.  I mean this six foot tall, heavyset guy was blushing so hard you could pretty much feel the embarassment radiating through the window.

A couple moments later, I was, yet again, scarred for life as I found out exactly why he looked like he was going to burst a blood vessel.  

Steve's a pretty big guy, like I said earlier.  The reason I couldn't see anything more than his head through the window turned out to be that he was walking around on his knees.  In heeled boots.  His wife's heeled boots, in fact.  I had just seen them on her a week ago, though she almost certainly wouldn't be wearing them again.

I'm honestly not sure why that grabbed my attention first, because the rest of the picture was at least as outlandish.  For one thing, the guy was wearing a very poorly fit dress.  One of those jobs with the white puffy shirt and the laces and apron and things?  It was green I think, or maybe brown and it was one of the reasons his face stood out.

Then you got to his head and the thin veneer of normalcy that was already lying in pieces on the floor was ground into powder.  Steve has longish hair and typically wears a beard, nothing too extravagent, but it was gone and replaced with... well, we'll be generous and call it make up.  At that point, the ribbons braided into his hair and the twin ponytails barely registered.

I had to turn away at that point, to minimize the mental damage if nothing else and I noticed his wife.  Amanda was actually almost as tall as Steve, a couple inches short at most, and taller than me generally, particularly in the heels she wore routinely.  From what I understood she had been teased a lot for her height as a kid and decided to embrace it as an act of rebellion against cultural norms or something.

I certainly never complained, because they made her ass look amazing.  Not that I would ever say that out loud-- Steve's a pretty easy going guy, but there are places you don't go with another guy's wife outside your own head.

At the moment though, she was pretty far from her normal sexy high heeled self-- she was wearing boots and a clearly antiquated suit that made me think of Napoleon or something.  Her shoulders were padded to a ridiculous degree and her rather modest boobs were pretty much invisible.  It was the pointy ears that gave away the game though and made me realize exactly what Steve was supposed to be portraying.

Unlike her husband, Amanda seemed to be taking things in stride and was giggling at her husband so much that I thought she was going to trip as they made their to the table with the rest of their gaming group.  Who were on the floor.  Literally rolling on the floor laughing, which exceeded the not exactly restrained reactions of the other patrons by leaps and bounds.

I suspected they might have something to do with Steve's apparent decision to begin cross dressing as a female dwarf.  Certainly I at least, would not be rolling around on our carpets for anything short of rubbing in an absolutely heinous lost bet.

"I hate you all so very, very much."  This statement by the erstwhile "maiden" did not do anything in particular to stem the tide of hilarity, but it did rather confirm my assumptions that this wasn't a choice.  I will admit to perhaps a few chuckles at the comment, though when Steve turned his glare on me I just held up my hands and tried to look innocent and harmless.  And to be fair, the truly horrific events of that night had yet to occur, though I was about to get hints of them very shortly.

Unfortunately, despite the train wreck quality that made me want to keep watching this play out, a gaggle of kids all in the mood to buy crack-- sorry, Pokemon and Yugi-oh-- invaded the store at that point and I was kept occupied for quite awhile.

Some day I may venture to explain the many battles that I have fought against the forces of youth and squeaky voices and the scars they have left behind.  Today though, is a different story and I was dealing with an IED that had shattered my psyche rather than terrorist fanatics looking to capture and convert.

By the time I was able to turn my attention back to the true horror of that night the group had gotten themselves under control and gaming.  It was apparently a murder mystery or something of the sort.  Representatives of rival families seeking to heal a rift that would spill into internecine warfare between the elves, dwarves, and apparently gnolls for some reason.  

All very standard for that sort of thing, but it was at least a break from the standard wander through a dungeon kicking in doors.  So it kept my attention as I tried to ignore the dismembered goat in the room that was tempting disaster.

I started getting hints about how bad it was going to be when Steve's character finally addressed his wife as "Romeondyl" though and she followed up later to ask if "Julietna" could assist her with a Heal check on a body they had found.  No, they were not being subtle.

It didn't take long for the mystery to be solved and war averted, only for the game to continue with an obvious take upon one of Shakespeare's finest.  I will spare you the horrific details, for even now they are seared into my mind, but let us just say that it played out not unlike the original all the way up to the kiss.

If it weren't for the fact that "Friar Lawrenbo" (a late addition to the cast when Tom had gotten his gnoll killed fighting the original wight murderer) cast neutralize poison on Romeo and pointed out that a single dagger thrust only does 2d4 damage even with a successful coup de grace, it might even have come off correctly.  The actions prompted more than a few complaints from the Steve and Amanda though, who had apparently been planning this for some time, but I thought they were only getting their just desserts for having put us through that in the first place.

I received my own comeuppance for my cruel thoughts moments later, however, as the DM pointed out slyly that this meant the campaign would just have to continue next week.  This immediately placated Amanda and prompted protests from Steve.  

So yeah, that was the most recent example.  Now you might be laughing about it now, but just wait until the dreams start.  After all, a dwarf kissing an elf?  That is clearly against all the laws of man and Ainur!  Disgusting.

I had to leave when she started trying to persuade him to attend round two dressed up again complete with cat calls from the other store patrons-- I had already lost at least a limb to the first explosion, it was time to cut my losses and call it a night.  Besides, I needed more coffee.  The River Styx had dried up and my own group was going to be there in like 10 minutes.

Author's Notes
I said:
  If it's the kind of thing you'd find on SV normally, don't go for it. If something happens to be set in a fantastic world, but is themed around, I dunno, a Romeo-and-Juliet plot between an elf and a dwarf, I'm not going to be a hardass and deny it to you.
Assuming the "you" in the prompt is literal and involves your own workplace, then I want to know where I can go to work and look out the window to see an elf and a dwarf making out. :)

"Tales of a Torrid Tabletop Romance: An In Depth Study of the Horrors of Working at Your FLGS"
I felt I had to write this up just for the hell of it.  I started it shortly after I made that comment and finished it up today.  I'm not entirely happy with the punchline, but it works well enough I suppose.

I do rather like the fact that I managed to go the entire story without ever actually naming the protagonist though. :)