1001 Nights: A Game of Exotic Stories by Meguey Baker is a perfect excuse for friends to pleasantly and consensually awaken one another’s senses. Even before embarking on the rules proper, Baker recommends a space filled with incense and soft music. And this is just the very beginning. Put in some prep and this session will weave your senses of hearing, touch, taste, smell, and sight into a magic carpet that carries you above the desert of everyday life.
Optimally, three to six friends will gather to tell stories in the Sultan’s court. You will play both courtiers spinning yarns and characters who populate the other courtiers’ stories. Through these narratives, courtiers can say what they cannot say otherwise. These are stories with hidden agendas. You might tattle on another courtier that you envy. You might express secret love. You might call a superior the fool that he is. Ah, the subversiveness of story. Devious, delicious.
The game is soaked through with admonitions to appeal to the senses, a rulebook brimming over with imagery. After giving tips on the structure of these stories, the author emphasizes advice about the power of one’s language in these tales: “And, you would do well to keep the five senses in mind, using shape and color, weight and texture, sound and scent and flavor to describe your role in the story.”
During character creation, you are to consider all five senses. In fact, all five are listed on the character sheet with space provided to flesh out your character by composing one descriptive sentence per sense: I have the voice of the wind (hearing), My eyes burn like the desert sun (sight), My nose points me to truth (smell)…
And many, many sonorous names are provided for players to pick from, all monikers that convey mood. How about calling your character Hasad, Mustapha, Aziza, or Najla? Perhaps you feel more like a Gifar or a Malika or a Morgiana. The names roll off the tongue, adding to the exotic atmosphere.
You are also supposed to dress your character in a signature garment. I am partial to the pill box hat called a tiquiyah, but I might just as easily choose to wear a kaftan, a taksirah, or a sirwal. Each of the garments are briefly described and seem easy enough to construct without a ton of effort. Make it a dress up night.
A menu is provided in the book as well. Imagine sitting down in your costume and nibbling on dates, figs, baklava, tabouleh, raisin wine, lamb, and pomegranates. Fancy yourself telling a story surrounded by babaganoush, zalata, honey candy, and pistachios. Again, delicious.
Even the dice play a part in the sensuality of the session. A collection of all sizes, shapes, and colors of our favorite randomizer is to be placed in a bowl, a respresentation of gorgeous gems.
1001 Nights is sure to bring mind, body, and friends together for a gourmet night of gaming.
Pete Figtree is a teacher, a father, and a gamer who runs the Ruthless Diastema Blogcast, a proud member of the Geeky and Genki Network. He strives to maintain a life of ruthless gaming, learning, and living and is inspired greatly by both punks and monks. His blogcast’s tagline expresses this mission: Loading the Dice for a Meaningful Life.