Impractical Applications (A Half-Conversation Examined)

Earlier this week, I held forth on half-conversations, a form of partially narrated conversation in which the perspective only encompasses one side of the conversation. I rather enjoy the things, and have found several occasions on which to play with them.

One of the easiest cases for me was in a game I was playing in. We had what could reasonably be described as a Situation, at the very least—world-threatening evil, extreme urgency, all very epic—and my character wants to take advantage of a communication network we’d set up over the earlier major time break. (…which, yes, did boil down to us having invented the cell phone, though for visual reasons the in-world term for this variant was ‘the chime’. It makes more sense in context.) Either way, we’ve just collected a number of new allies who aren’t on the network, but one of our associates has plenty of loose chimes, so we want to set the new allies up with the devices. And it falls to Tuyet to try to make the connection.

At this time, though, our GM was very, very stressed, so I volunteered to just add some color myself. He told me what the answer would be, so I began talking. (Note that while I’m doing this, postlet by postlet, the rest of the group is making their own arrangements. Play by IM has its advantages.)

“Oh, come on, pick up already”, plus a little snarking about that. It’s an emergency, of course people aren’t picking up on the first ring. The person on the other side presumably answers, and she starts making her request, both the items and the location to which they’re to be delivered.

A couple short pauses follow, during which I assumed the person on the other end to be asking questions. “Yes, with the automatic code translators, ones that can be used completely untrained, yes. What do you expect me to do, dump the tone sequence into their heads?” (This makes more sense when you consider that the original chimes were rather like wireless cell phones, and that later models converted vocal input into the chime-codes and/or back.)

At this point, something else comes up in the main conversation that requires her attention, and she says, “Please hold a sec, I need to use another line”, switches abruptly (having geomantic dominion over the place that marks the hub of the chime network, she can do that), relays a quick “Can you tell your friend to…” request to her younger sister, then switches back. “Sorry about the delay,” she continues; her conversational partner presumably gives her an affirmative, and she interrupts her apology to ask “How soon can you get them there? Really? Can you maybe shave a couple minutes off of that?”

“….all right, good, thank you, we’ll send someone to pick them up. Yeah, you too. I suggest you get the factory locked up as soon as you’re finished. M-hm? Yeah. Yeah, sad to say. Keep an eye out, all right? Thanks. Oh, yeah, yeah, I’ll do that. Gotta go. Bye!”

This sequence, logically enough, ended the conversation. It’s pretty easy to guess what sorts of things might have been between the sentences. “Be careful” after the first, for instance. The bit after the factory is a lot more vague; I’ll admit, even I don’t remember what it was she was responding to. And then there was the last, the “yeah, I’ll do that”; that, it turned out, was turning around and saying hi to one of her teammates, a member of the same House as the person on the other side of the chime (established by the fact that while the first thing she did once the chime was off was tell one of her other contacts where he could pick up the communicators, the second thing, mere seconds later, was telling one of her teammates that the person on the other end said hi.)

The nice thing about conversations like this is that if you’ve got a pretty good idea what you’re doing, they’re easy to improvise; this one can’t've taken more than ten minutes from start to finish, and was six from first post to last.

Leave a Reply