It seems like there are psychologists and doctors clammouring to come up with inventive names for the various learning disorders and attention disorders that plague children and society in general these days, but of all the afflictions that deserve sympathy, there seems to be one out there that has yet to be given a name or its own special ribbon to raise awareness.
What I am talking about is Imagination Deficit Disorder.
Maybe it is just one of the advantages of growing up disadvantaged that I learned to make-believe and make do with sticks for swords and cardboard boxes for castles...and sometimes an imaginary player-character or two to flesh out the fairytale. I sometimes wonder if kids still did that sort of thing after I had grown up, or did virtual-reality games take the place of playing pretend? Have young people lost their ability to suspend disbelief and furthermore lost the ability to make it up as they go along?
Here is a sample of what I am talking about.
Our little party of adventurers have found themselves in a rather bustling little medieval trade village in a place very much like Sweden. They have sackfuls of looted gold and treasure, and are all in need of better weapons, armour repairs, and maybe a bit of entertainment. As chance would have it, and strictly by accident, we end up in the medieval equvilent of the red-light district. The game master throws out a plot hook and the players eventually take the bait and find themselves involved in a turf-war among three proprietors of three brothels. To make a long story short, our eventual plan involved sending one of the party to solicit a "lady" and make a reconnaisance of the questionable proprietor's establishment.
But first, a bit about the player. I've known him for nearly a third of my life and for most of his. He's a young adult now, but I still think of him as my kid brother. I'd never speak badly of him, but he's more random than any random nonplayer-character you've ever met. He joined this particular adventure campaign in progress and took over one of the NPC hirelings in the party.
So into the den of temptresses he goes..and is offered "exotic pleasures from the far corners of the world". He says nothing. The proprietor offers him several girls to pick from, and still he says nothing. Finally, a girl is chosen for him, and she leads him off to somewhere more private to talk..or something. Still, he says nothing.
"Is this your first time", she finally asks him after getting nowhere with her attempts to coax from her client any particular desires or inclinations.
The poor boy goes as red as a beet and makes the time-out sign. "What do I tell her?", he asks the GM.
I suppose in retrospect I should have had more sympathy for a kid who in reality is trying to act the part of a celtic archer having dialogue with a prostitute being played by a fifty-year-old man, but I could not help it.
"Imagine you are you.", I said. "A hot girl is asking you if it's your first time. You...say... YES!!". Then I remember to add "Unless you know something about you that we don't".
So, maybe we have a bit of work to do on his imagination therapy. I really hope that resorting to live-action roleplay and costumes will not be necessary. Some horrors are simply too inconceivable to contemplate.