John folded his hands in front of him. “Okay, I get that. I don’t really want to relive the teenage years, if you don’t mind. They were bad enough the first time around to last me a lifetime.” He threw his hands up in the air as the punchline to his joke.

“Too soon?” asked Dave.

“I don’t think anyone gets out of their teens without some scars,” said John. “But all that means is I don’t really want to play a teenager. Let’s say I’m playing a twenty-something who’s away from home.”

Dave shrugged. “That’s a good enough starting point. What about family?”

“I don’t necessarily want to bother crating a family right now, but let’s say they’re alive and I’m just away from home,” said John. “Having an all-dead family is kind of a tired cliche. Let’s say they’re happy and healthy and I was just kind of a pill.”

“Did you have a falling-out?” asked Dave. “Was it your father?”

John gave another half-chuckle. “No, that’s another tired cliche. Let’s say I moved out. Didn’t want to go into the family business. I wanted to go, I don’t know, adventuring or something.”

“What a novel idea.”

“Don’t give me any help, here.”

“Whatever. Fine I’ll give you something to work with,” Dave stared at the air in front of him for a moment, thinking something to himself, while John looked on curiously. After several moments Dave said, “Let’s say the family business was shepherding. It isn’t the most glorious of tasks, but maybe your dad was like, the shepherd equivalent of a cowboy.”

“That sounds cool. Why wouldn’t I want to do that?”

“Do I even have to explain? You’re stuck protecting sheep.”

“Good point.”

“Okay, so your dad was out there, protecting sheep, and your mom, I don’t know, maybe your siblings are all shepherds too. A whole pastoral-life-thing, the lot of you.”

“I’m getting a picture. So, really kind of low on the social totem pole. How did I scrape together enough money to go adventuring?”

“That’s up to you. Maybe you stole it?” said Dave, raising an eyebrow.

“Killed a hero and took his stuff?”

“There’s a thought. You could be all like, what’s-his-name.”

“I have no idea who you might possibly be referring to. That could be anyone in the history of the world or fiction.”

“No, you know who I mean. The squire who went with the knight. He killed the dragon, but then the other guy killed him and took all the credit. Except the other way around. This guy killed the beast, and you took the credit for it by killing him.”

“I don’t know if I like the moral implications of this story we’re creating.”

“Then don’t play a moral character. You could be a thief.”

“Actually, that could explain why I left home. Maybe I stole some sheep.”

“Or maybe you failed to stop someone else from stealing some sheep.”

“Oh, so like, I decided that when the sheep were taken, I wasn’t going to do anything about it? Maybe it wasn’t worth it? I took my shepherd’s crook and I threw it on the ground?”

They both laughed.

Dave waved his hands in the air, “Yeah! Just like in the video! You were like, ‘Man! I don’t want to watch your sheep! They stink!’ And you threw your shepherd’s crook on the ground, and it just, like, exploded into ridiculous fragments all over the place.”

“Just because?”

“Just because,” something about reiterating the idea made it that much funnier.

“On the grass?”

“Of course!” said Dave.

“I threw the crook on the grass and it exploded into fragments,” said John. He tried and failed to conceal the enormous grin spreading across his face.

“It’s a fantasy game man, roll with it.”