As You May Or May Not Know

“Los talentos” and Fantasy Heartbreakers

Posted on: December 13, 2010

(Written on Sunday Nov 14, 2010)

I went to see Los Talentos last night, the play by Agustín Mendilaharzu and Walter Jakob. I was told I was especially going to like it and it was true: the main characters are twentysomethings who are a cross between intellectuals and nerds.

The first time I watched “Kill Bill 2” I jumped out of my seat at the scene where the characters discuss Superman and superheroes. In a story so full of references and homages, a superhero one felt like a puzzle piece taking its place. It was an element that engaged me in the ultimate way; that made feel the world of the story was part of my own background. Last night I felt the same during one scene.

The main characters, Ignacio and Lucas, have just come out of a fight about Lucas writing a poem. (Though they both often write poems they always do it as a form of parody; Lucas has dared to write a real poem.) Ignacio is one of those guys that interpret the rejection from the others as a measure of one’s own superiority; who shelter themselves on parodies and “bizarreadas”; Ignacio is a dick. Lucas, on the other hand, does want to engage with the world, but doesn’t care to learn its lexicon. Lucas retreats into his own symbologies and closed systems and is unable to make himself understood.

A third friend completes the trio. Pedro is the center of the scene I mean to discuss; in the cross between ‘intellectual’ and ‘nerd’ he’s more of the latter. Pedro wishes to “do something about” the shared fantasies they’ve built the past several years. He shows up with dozens of folders, labeled by hand, and declares that some day “you two will thank me for saving all of this”. Inside the folders there are cartographies for made-up places, home-made tabletop games, constructed languages. Pedro proposes using the Internet to publish the material in some way.

But hold: the play takes place at the beginning of the 2000s. None of the characters has ever heard about blogs (though Pedro foresees them, in a way), nor about what is now called the “Web 2.0”, the network of services of user-generated content, like YouTube, deviantART, Facebook, Twitter, Second Life.

None of these are yet a reality, so Pedro’s friends laugh at him as he continues to list possibilities. And that’s where the ultimate puzzle piece comes: Pedro mentions “roleplaying games”.

In my experience, the group dynamics of this trio of friends (so captive by inertia) appear often among people like hobbyists or art students – “art” in the broad sense, be it film, literature, or theatre. But it is among roleplayers that they give rise to a specific phenomenon: the Fantasy Heartbreakers. “Fantasy Heartbreakers” are, in the recent terminology for the studies of roleplaying games, are games with a medieval theme designed by amateurs, with the intent of “fixing” the classic Dungeons & Dragons by implementing house rules. In general they’re attempts to professionally publish an “original” setting, which is actually heavily based on the setting provided by D&D, with changes that only make sense to that specific group of players-turned-authors. Fantasy Heartbreakers fail: the potential readers are player groups themselves, with their own house rules, their own settings. With time, the real alternative to D&D turned out to be the games that engaged the players into coming up with their own rules and settings.

From my point of view, that will be the fate of Pedro’s idea, whether it revolves around roleplaying games or not. But here’s the thing: I’m all for it. I think he should begin to publish and not look back. Because if the three friends were able to fill up ten folders of raw material, there has to be at least half a folder of genius in there. And half a folder is enough to begin with. Half a folder is worth it.

Because Pedro’s plan of publishing on the Internet, and Lucas’ “real” poem, are roads that lead to “others”. The outside people, the rest of the world. It’s like the three friends are running in circles and two of them come up with ideas to leave by the tangent; extending, not denying, their current course. As for the other friend? In the play, he systematically rejects these two ideas and many more. He’s one of those… dicks.

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  • Emmanuel Rios Pacheco: 4 años después. Si jajaja soy de la plata, ya estoy entrando en tu blog. Saludos!
  • santiveron: :D thanks a lot emmanuel! you certainly made my day. by the way, have you checked my blog in spanish? asociacioneslicitas.wordpress.com porque supon
  • Emmanuel Rios Pacheco: I haven't seen that book in ages! You brought back some very pleasent memories, neither Marcos nor I thought that story will made it into the book, ba

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