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Title: Weekend will find many enmeshed in 'the Game'

Source: Rochester Post-Bulletin, July 18th, 2009

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Weekend will find many enmeshed in 'the Game'
Sat, Jul 18, 2009 PB Online

By Matthew Stolle

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN 

More mead!

In a faraway land, near a region called Pine Island, a forest that some regard as magical will be the scene of a mysterious transformation.

Ordinary men and women will begin to cast off their modern-day identities and take on the roles of warriors and magicians, bards and thieves, monsters and healers.

Battles will be fought, spells will be cast, and damsels will be rescued. The cries of "Hear ye! Hear ye!" and for more mead will be heard.

About 40 people will be getting medieval over the next two days in a bit of role-playing fun that participants call the Game.

"It's very much letting your imagination go and just exercising it to the fullest," said Jan Fischer, whose 40-acre property will be the site for this weekend's frolic. "Anything can happen."

The game begins not only with the wearing of medieval costumes but thinking thoughts like the medievals did. How is that done? Fischer says the best way to prepare for a weekend of inspired lunacy is to watch that most authoritative of movies on medieval behavior, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

"If you haven't seen that recently before you come out here, you have to do that to understand the silliness that will go on," Fischer said.

This is the fifth straight year that the Fischers -- Jan and his wife, Phyllis -- have hosted the role-playing event, which started out as family reunion of about 17 people and has grown to 40 people.

Fischer, a one-time IBM employee who is now retired, says he has taken on different roles during his years of live-action role-playing. He once played a character known as Seed. Fischer calls him a precursor to Johnny Appleseed, but instead of wandering the land with a bag of appleseed, Seed passed out walnuts.

"He was a little addled," Fischer added. "If you asked for his money, he gave you a walnut."

This time, Fischer plans on playing a magician he calls Mage Chatterbox. The only problem is that Mage has been rendered mute by a spell cast on him by angry headmaster. So, to cast his own spells, he has to use flash cards with the spells inscribed on them.

Improvisational games like the one that will take place this weekend take time to prepare for.

Fischer said a safety orientation is given to the participants before the game starts. A basic storyline is devised by game designers that sets the stage for the weekend fun. People under 18 can play as long as they're accompanied by an adult.

Fischer understands that medieval role-playing might not be everyone's cup of tea, but he thinks most people could benefit from indulging and unleashing their imagination.

"Somehow reaching adulthood means you stopped using your imagination, which means you make a lousy writer. You definitely make a lousy artist. And this is a chance to get those juices flowing again, and it gets to be hilarious," Fischer said.

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