What Brought You Here?
In our family, the ‘talking skull’ has become somewhat of a motto – or, more accurately, a proverb. Upon hearing the story we immediately understood it and the phrase “I did a talking skull today” became an unfortunately common utterance.
The story is of African origin, but I paraphrase it here:
A hunter came across a skull in the desert. He looked down upon it and thought aloud: “What brought you here?”
The skull replied: “Talking.”
The hunter was amazed! A talking skull! He immediately ran back to the village and told the king of his discovery. “In all my years,” said the king, “I have never heard of the dead speaking.” The hunter insisted it was true and the king instructed his guards to go with the hunter to discover if what he was saying was true. The king gave further instructions that if the hunter was lying, he should be struck dead.
So the hunter took the king’s guards to the spot where the skull lay. He asked it: “What brought you here?” It did not reply. He told it: “Speak.” It did not. All day he tried to get the skull to speak but it would not do so. Finally, as the sun began to set, it was clear that this ordinary looking skull was not about to start speaking. The guards immediately cut off his head and rode home.
The skull turned to the hunter’s head and asked: “What brought you here?”
The hunter’s head replied: “Talking. Talking brought me here.”
There are over 40 different variations on the ‘talking skull’ story and each of them spin their moral towards different interpretations of the tale. As is the way of stories, what you take from it is whatever you find in it. For us, it’s all about talking yourself into a situation in which you have doomed yourself. Often this is related to situations in which we talk ourselves into and then, all too late, realising just how much work is involved in making it happen. This is often the way of ‘great ideas’. We’ve all had them. “It seemed like a good idea at the time” we say afterwards when we are up to our ankles in it.
For Nimrod, especially, the talking skull of the story represents a journey from his earliest days at a gaming convention when he would respond “How hard can it be?” when faced with having to fill in for an absent GM for a scenario he hadn’t read for a system he had not run. This became a matter of talking his way into running more and more games at conventions to finally taking up the challenge of creating a card game. “Sure, how hard can it be?” It’s been a long road, but just as the game looks to be finally released, we found we had so many other games ideas that we said to ourselves: “We really should set up a games company and get these published.”
After all, how hard can it be?
So, what brought us here? Talking.