Narrative Telephone: Tales of a Quarantined Nein Ring Circus

[image description: black and white image of travis willingham screaming against a patterned teal background used for many of the images related to the critical role series “narrative telephone”. image copyright critical role (fair use).]

If you haven’t watched all of Critical Role‘s pandemic-defying tour de force of ridiculous entertainment known as Narrative Telephone then you are missing out, sweet summer crash panda of the 2020 apocalypse. There are two whole seasons of these shenanigans, appropriately dubbed “Round One” and “Round Two”, and they get more and more extra as an eternity in quarantine goes on.

Not sure what it’s all about? Well, some of you oldsters may remember a little game we played before the interwebs existed, known as “telephone”. This was back when telephones weren’t something you carried with you everywhere you went, because they were hard wired to your house. They were also notoriously unreliable. So, as you might know if you attended elementary school in the 1970’s, the game went like this:

Someone, perhaps the teacher, or a student chosen by various means such as drawing straws or by popular vote, would come up with a short message. They would then whisper that message into the ear of the first recipient, who would then whisper it into the ear of the one next to them, and so on, until everyone in the classroom had received the message–or some version of it.

The last person would then recite the message as they had received it to the entire classroom, and everyone would have a good laugh comparing it to the original message, which it always deviated from in various ways, and sometimes wildly.

Well, just imagine your favourite nerdy D&D-playing voice actors attempting a version of that game, only with each of them getting a turn in telling a short story on video, which the next player only gets to watch once before attempting to re-tell it to the next player after them. What ensues is utter chaos and hilarity that at times can be almost difficult to watch.

It is perhaps the end of each session, however, as everyone gets to view everyone else’s previously recorded narrative in succession, witnessing for the first time (as the audience already has) the gradual (or sometimes not so gradual) deterioration of the original narrative, that is the most fun and rewarding part of all. The cries of “Oh no!” from players as they realize just how badly they inadvertently butchered something that started out so beautiful are priceless.

Anyway, don’t take my word for it. Check out the first installment here, and see if you don’t get hooked right from the start:

Narrative Telephone Episode 1: Pumat’s Scroll

Published by striderlee

Dungeon Master, homebrewer, foodie, bibliophile, and fantasy author. He/Him

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