Twelfth Night, or, What You Will

A great image for Twelfth Night by Underground Shakespeare

A great image for Twelfth Night by Underground Shakespeare

    That face of his I do remember well;
    Yet, when I saw it last, it was besmear’d
    As black as Vulcan in the smoke of war:
    A bawbling vessel was he captain of,
    For shallow draught and bulk unprizable;
    With which such scathful grapple did he make
    With the most noble bottom of our fleet,
    That very envy and the tongue of loss
    Cried fame and honour on him. What’s the matter?

First Officer
    Orsino, this is that Antonio
    That took the
Phoenix and her fraught from Candy;
    And this is he that did the
Tiger board,
    When your young nephew Titus lost his leg:
    Here in the streets, desperate of shame and state,
    In private brabble did we apprehend him.

Not really game-related, but I’m a bit of a Shakespeare fan. Not any sort of expert or student of the art, but a casual fan who enjoys reading, listening to, and watching the plays of the great Bard.

Like many gamers, I imagine, my favorite History is Henry V and my favorite Tragedy is Hamlet. However, I haven’t met a lot of folks who name Twelfth Night as one of their favorite Comedies. It is certainly mine. And, to heap blaspheme upon heresy, I happen to enjoy Trevor Nunn’s film adaptation of the play not only more than any other Shakespeare film, I enjoy more than most other films, period.

From Gustav Dore's illustration of Dante's Inferno

From Gustav Dore's illustration of Dante's Inferno

A passing knowledge of the various classics can, I think, make playing and refereeing games much more vibrant and enjoyable. So many great lines, so many dramatic (or funny) moments, so many compelling characters and stories are all there, ripe for the picking. Used almost word-for-word or only as inspiration, the great stories of ages past can enrich any role-playing experience. And I don’t mean the pulps from the early part of the 20th century, though those, too, are obviously a treasure trove waiting to be looted.

Inspired by Conan the Barbarian or John Carter of Mars? Even Wagner’s “The Ring Cycle”? Of course, you are. We probably all are, at least a little bit. But inspired by the likes of Shakespeare or Sophocles or Dante? Though the spirit of their work permeates nearly everything that came after, maybe there’s some good material to be had by directly pulling it from the source.

We just watched Twelfth Night again this evening, and I thought I’d share. Hopefully, you can look at some things in a slightly different way and pick a few tidbits to spice up your own game.

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