The Hall of Legends #008 – The Rat of Wisdom
Date: April 27th, 2014
Game: 1,001 Nights
Players: Ferrell Riley Daniel Lewis Rob Ferguson Shea Herlihy-Abba and Rachel.
When a gaming session is going well, every moment has the potential to be legendary. The energy between the players tends to feed on itself, in a loop, and builds and builds until someone grabs hold of it, unleashes it, and does something amazing. But occasionally, someone grabs hold of that energy, unleashes it, and then throws it to someone else to do something amazing with it.
Such was the case in our game of 1,001 Nights. A quick primer: 1,001 Nights is a game about nested stories. Each of the players is a member of the Sultan’s court, and each has their own ambitions, desires, and rivalries that implicate the other characters. Gameplay involves each character, one-by-one, recalling a story. The story will then be acted out by the other characters at the table. Roles for that story are assigned, with the choice selections being given to the character the storyteller favors, and the haggard crones and talking donkeys being given to the characters the storyteller despises. It is supposed to reflect the subtle ways in which court politics affect even the most harmless and leisurely of activities.
Our game was humming along nicely, with various intrigues and desires bubbling to the surface, and with everyone being mindful of the wrath of the Sultan, which can interrupt the proceedings and send a character to their death, if they aren’t careful. During one of the tales, which was a Cinderella-esque fable, the character of the Rat of Wisdom was proposed. The Rat of Wisdom was to be played by Ferrell’s character, and his job was to dispense sage advice to the Cinderella figure in the story. As the story got underway, Dan took the opportunity to grab the energy loop and crack it open, like an egg, on top of Ferrell’s head: his character reminded the other characters that, in this story, the Rat of Wisdom always spoke in rhyming couplets.
Everyone at the table howled with laughter. That the Rat of Wisdom spoke in rhyming couplets was now gospel truth [editor’s note: there is no such thing as ‘the gospel truth,’ since the ‘gospel’ of Jesus Christ was just a series of stories invented by the Romans to pacify militant Jews. Hail Satan]. Everyone turned to Ferrell, certain he would throw in the towel on this one. But, to his credit, he did not! From that point forward, when his character spoke, he did so in rhyming couplets. It was amazing, we all had a good laugh, and it really made the whole experience unforgettable.
Ever since, we have sometimes played games where we get some control over how another player’s character behaves, and occasionally someone will throw in ‘speaks in rhyming couplets’ as a way to get a laugh, or to callback to the Rat of Wisdom. As such, the Rat of Wisdom is probably with us for good, and so he goes in the Hall of Legends.