Howard's eyes peered creepily over the screen toward the others at the table. His voice was artificially low as he intoned "You move further into the dungeon, the damp floors scraping under your boots. The long hallway is lit haphazardly at best by flickering torches. Most of them have long since extinguished. Everybody roll d6."
"Four," announced Sheldon.
"Two," said Raj.
Leonard winced. "I rolled a one."
A sinister smile creased Howard's lips as he rubbed his hands together. "You hear a click as a shower of arrows hail down on you take…"
"I'm a rogue," objected Leonard. Shouldn't I be able to roll to find traps or do a reflex save or something?
Howard grumbled. "Fine save for half damage."
"Thirteen," announced Leonard.
"All right," Howard sighed, "half damage. Take… six…"
"Divided by two."
"…three points of damage."
Leonard shrugged. "All right."
"Somehow, you manage to duck through the onslaught of arrows with only minimal damage. Ahead, you see the hallway come to the end at a solid oaken door."
"I check for traps," said Leonard. "Eighteen."
"No traps, but the door is locked."
"Open lock," Leonard said. "Fourteen."
"You hear a solid click as the lock pulls aside and the door swings open."
"Nobody said they were opening the door," objected Raj.
"On the other side you see twenty five angry goblins running toward you," Howard said without pausing. "Roll for initiative."
"I am afraid I must object," Sheldon objected. "Raj is right, nobody said they were opening the door."
"Look," sighed Howard, "I'm running this game. When you run a game then you can nitpick about who said what about opening doors."
"I knew I should have made myself the dungeon master," Sheldon said with a matter of fact calm.
"Roll for initiative," Howard persevered.
"Seven," Sheldon sighed.
"Sixteen," announced Raj.
Leonard stared at his die. "Fourteen."
"Fourteen?" gasped Raj, unbelieving, "But with your dexterity and all your feats you get like a plus ten to initiative."
"I rolled a four," said Leonard simply.
"All right Raj, what are you doing?" Asked Howard.
After a moment, Leonard glanced up at his friend. "Raj? Oh I see. Hi, Penny. I'll go get Raj a beer."
"Penny, take a seat," suggested Howard. "We can roll you up a quick cleric. The guys could use someone to heal them."
"Clerics heal?" asked Penny. "I thought they just went around preaching."
"Preaching is an unfortunate side-effect," allowed Sheldon, trying not to think about his mother. "See, this is why we should update to fourth edition. We can have a warlord to heal without worrying about gods. Or a bard."
Penny grimaced. "No thanks."
Raj took a sip of his beverage before announcing "I'm moving forward, engaging the front line. Attacking the goblin directly ahead, hopefully cleaving through to the left. I got a twenty-six."
Penny furrowed her brow. "That die doesn't have twenty-six sides."
"He has bonuses to hit for his class and feats and his magic sword," Leondard explained.
"Roll damage," instructed Howard.
"Lightsabers don't make any sense," Sheldon announced out of the blue.
"Lightsabers?" Leonard asked.
"They create a laser like effect, when they are activated there's no reason why they'd stop after a few feet. They should continue indefinitely or until acted upon."
Leonard shrugged. "They wouldn't be very effective as sword-like weapons if they worked like that."
"I fail to see the relevance of that observation," Sheldon said. "It would be more effective if my shoes magically tied themselves or if I could teleport in to work without the inconvenience of sitting through traffic or enduring your company."
"No offense taken," noted Leonard drily.
"Well of course not. Why would you be offended?"
Howard and Raj, meanwhile, had sorted out the slaughter of the first two goblins on the field. "The goblins move forward," Howard announced.
"I'm not going to have initiative on any of them?" Leonard whined.
"I'm getting a beer," Penny announced.
"I'm standing far to the rear," Sheldon pointed out, "do any of them reach me?"
"A couple…" Howard answered.
"Let's see," Howard mumbled, "Several surround Sir Kartikeya…"
"Raj named his character after the Hindu god of war," Leonard whispered to Penny.
"Miss. Miss. Hit. Miss…"
"What is more," Sheldon continued, "they shouldn't be able to parry one another. It's light. Two flashlights don't go around blocking one another's beams."
"It's not physics, it's storytelling," explained Leonard with no real hope of persuading his roommate.
"Leonard, everything is physics."
"Look, Grand Moff Tarkin himself calls the powers of the Jedi a religion. It's not a mechanical device as much as it is a focus for the force power of the one wielding it, so there's no reason it would need to follow the rules that would apply to light. Why do you think only jedi ever use lightsabers."
"Han Solo uses it on the tauntaun," pointed out Raj.
"Can we focus on the game?" asked Howard. "Sir Kartikeya, you take eight points of damage. Great Sheldoni, you take two. Leonard, you manage to dodge all of the attacks directed at you…"
"I guess I'll throw a dagger," said Leonard. "Sixteen…"
"You can't just wave around the word 'force' and expect science to just go away," insisted an appalled Sheldon.
"You still haven't read Terry Pratchett, have you?" asked Leonard.
"Is he published in any peer-reviewed journals?"
"He writes fantasy. I loaned you my copy of Good Omens last year."
"I haven't managed to get past the front cover," admitted Sheldon. "I just can't help thinking what my mother would think of a witch's prophecies being 'nice' and I have my own issues with them being 'accurate'."
"Anyway, Pratchett has sometimes made offhand references to 'narativium' particles, how his Discworld operates according to the laws of narrative causality. Things happen because that's what makes for a good story and that's the most powerful scientific law."
"Well that's preposterous," gasped Sheldon.
"Oh, but the powers of the one true ring are perfectly logical," observed Raj.
"Was that sarcasm?" Sheldon asked.
"That was sarcasm," verified Penny.
"I mean," Raj persevered, "invisibility makes no sense from a scientific standpoint. Light wouldn't bend around you like that. And if it did then you yourself wouldn't be able to see any more than others could see you."
"Could be psychological invisibility," allowed Leonard reluctantly.
"I cast sleep," announced Sheldon. "Targeting the back of the goblin hoards to maximize potential targets while keeping my friends out of the area of effect."
Howard nodded. "All right… looks like… nine of the goblins drop their swords and crumple to the ground in deepest repose."
"Wait," interrupted Penny. "Leonard and Raj…"
"Sir Kartikeya," corrected Raj.
"Leonard and Raj," repeated Penny, "each take out one or two goblins at a time, but Sheldon waves his hand and he takes out nine of them? How is that fair?"
"I'm a wizard," said Sheldon simply. "Magic is far more powerful than mere weapons. It's actually quite an apt metaphor for the distinction between theoretical physics and lesser disciplines."
"Back to me?" asked Raj.
As Raj explained his next maneuver, Penny turned to Leonard. "So this is it? You just take turns saying that you swing your sword or cast your spell and… that's it?"
"Well no," said Leonard slowly. "There's also treasure. And interaction. Really it's a social thing more than anything."
"This is you being sociable?" Penny clarified.
"Well… yeah I guess. It's… it's better than it sounds. Or looks. Or… really role playing is like acting."
Penny arched an eyebrow.
"You take on a role, you interact with others as your character would. It's essentially improvisational theatre except without an audience."
Penny considered. "All right I'll give it a try. Cleric you say?"
Leonard smiled. "Yeah. It's not all healing. You also have spells and stuff. Plus if you play up the religious angle you can really annoy Sheldon."
Penny nodded. "I think I could learn to enjoy that."