Dedicated to tabletop gamers everywhere. Please leave the misogyny to fantasy, and help make your gaming circles welcoming and inclusive to all.
"C'mon, Jule, you've got to come," whined Julie's boyfriend of eight years, Isaac, hovering in the doorway of their condo's small, well-maintained bathroom.
"No way," Julie responded flatly, as she carefully applied a new bronze eyeshadow to her left lid. Next up was to decide what shade of eyeliner to add to it to really make her eyes pop.
Except that Isaac was still talking. "You haven't made it to one Ladies' Game Night since they started. You said last week that you'd try to come to this one!"
Had she? "Isaac, that wasn't, like, an ironclad promise or anything. Jenna invited me out to see this band she likes that's playing at the Venture, and I want to go." Eyeshadow now applied, Julie took a moment to check her hair again - dark, wavy, and currently styled in a bob that took more careful effort than it appeared.
"You go out with your friends all the time."
"You go out to play your miniature games and stuff all the time, too!"
Isaac crossed his arms. "I went with you to Sophea's birthday party last month."
This was true. Jenna and Sophea had been pestering Julie about how they never saw Isaac any more. Julie was almost certain that they did not miss his geeky, awkward company, and that this was their subtle way of probing Julie about the health of her relationship. She knew that they talked behind her back, wondering why she and Isaac hadn't even got engaged after eight years of officially dating, five of co-habitation.
She'd dragged Isaac off of his skinny ass and brought him to the party, with the result that he'd gone off on a twenty-minute rant to Sophea's athletic, politely bemused boyfriend about some new Warhammer army he was painting, then complained to Julie the whole car ride back about how parties were boring and there was nothing to do except make small-talk and get drunk.
"So you owe me one," Isaac continued. There had been a lot of keeping score in their relationship lately. For the last year or two, at least. Or three.
"Guess I'll have to keep owing you."
"C'mon, it's important! They host this game night so couples like us can share our hobbies and stuff. It'll be a lot of newbie-friendly games, I promise. And there'll be plenty of other girls there."
"Isaac, leave it, okay? I've tried your games lots of times, and I just don't like them." That'd been years ago, when they'd just met and Isaac's hobbies had seemed playful and cute. Looking back, her memories of sitting in on roleplaying game sessions and interminable, evening-long board games were not fond ones.
"Look," he pressured, "what time's this band on, anyway? Like nine o'clock? Game night starts at seven, so come play for an hour and then if you really want to, you can take the car and go meet Jenna before it starts. I'll bus back."
It was clear that Isaac was not going to shut up about this. Julie snapped her makeup case closed with, perhaps, a little too much force. "Fine, I'll come with you for one fucking hour, okay? Then I'm taking off."
Isaac smiled broadly, looking satisfied. "Sure. If you still want to."
They found street parking and walked the last two blocks through the crisp August air, Isaac striding along with a small padded case of miniatures swinging from one hand, and Julie hurrying to keep up on her heels. They were admittedly low, but still not designed for frigging hiking.
Julie had been torn about what to wear. She'd be meeting Jenna at a bar later and wanted to look good for her girls' night out, but the idea of hanging out at Isaac's nerdy game club all dolled up made her skin crawl. She'd met herself halfway, wearing nicely-fit jeans rather than the skirt she'd been intending. They showed off her curves... she was thin and on the short side, but still had a nicely rounded butt... without being too sexual. And up top, a low-cut white blouse that always drew men's eyes down between her shapely breasts... but over that, a light, brown jacket. Zipped all the way up. And that jacket was staying the hell on until she got to the Venture.
They reached the entrance to the Counterfactual Historical Wargaming Society, an unassuming door between two ground-floor businesses (laundromat and paint shop), that led directly up a narrow staircase to the second floor. Apparently the group had been in this space for fifty years. The name used to be appropriate, since the group was formed by what Isaac called "grognards," old white dudes into historical wargames, like reenacting the Battle of Waterloo on a sand table or whatever. Since then, the focus had shifted almost entirely towards fantasy games, RPGs, and European board games. Julie hated that she knew this information by heart.
Julie had dropped off or picked up Isaac nearby on various occasions, but never been inside. It was bigger than she'd imagined, although that wasn't saying too much, since she'd pictured some sort of tiny bunker dominated by a single large table and the body odor of its occupants. Once up the stairs, a short hall split off into three main rooms filled with tables of various sizes, each visible through large glass windows; there was also a bathroom, the door propped open with a brick. A single grungy-looking toilet and a sink. Wonderful. Banners that read "Welcome to Ladies' Night" hung prominently on the back walls of each room, partially covering posters of men with extremely large pauldrons shooting or stabbing a variety of unlikely-looking beasts.
They were a little late, in part because of Julie's clothing deliberations, and the event was in full swing. People were grouped up, intensely focused on boards, cards, tiny landscapes. Julie saw that the demographics had not shifted much from the grognard days. Still a lot of middle-aged white guys. (Julie was 29 and still young, thank you very much; and her skin was a smooth, pleasant mocha, an inheritance from her father.) On average, these guys took up some space and so did their beards, though Julie saw a few examples of Isaac's type of stick-thin nerd as well.
As promised, however, there were almost an equal number of females present. Young, attractive women, in fact - there were quite a few fresh college-age types, and the rest didn't look that much older at a glance. Julie suspected that she was on the upper end. Nor were they just dressed in geeky t-shirts - they were wearing their own dresses, blouses, and cute tops as they pushed counters around on the tables.
"They're all those guys's... girlfriends?" Julie asked dubiously, as she and Isaac hovered in the hall and scoped out the scene.
"Nah, not always," boomed a cheerful voice, as Cliff bore down upon them. He was tall, somewhat muscled for an older guy with greying hair. "Daughters, sisters, friends, co-workers, you name it. We're just trying to get some of the fairer sex in here." He winked at them.
Julie had met Cliff before - Isaac had had him and a few others over to their place for games when the CHWS had been unavailable for some reason. They'd set themselves up in the dining room, and Julie remembered feeling Cliff's eyes on her every time she dipped in and out of the kitchen for various errands.
"Hey, Cliff," greeted Isaac.
"Glad you two could finally make it this month," Cliff continued. "We've been telling Isaac how he really needed to come to Ladies' Game Night."
"You've never been?" questioned Julie. Isaac spent enough time here, she was surprised there was anything he missed.
"No," said Isaac. "You're not allowed to come without a..." He hesitated, searching for a word.
"Guest." Cliff finished. "Wouldn't be fair to have the place filled mostly with guys trying to leer at a handful of ladies, eh?" He handed them each a bottle of water, which Julie shoved in her purse, and name tags, which were already filled out. Julie's had both her own name, and Isaac's, in parenthesis, underneath.
"Jeez, it's like you own me or something," Julie commented witheringly. Nevertheless, she slapped it on her coat immediately, hoping to leave Cliff's company ASAP.
"Nah," Cliff responded calmly, his big smile still in place. "Tonight we all get to share the pleasure of your company." Another wink. "Now let's find you a game."
Julie checked her watch. She'd been there three minutes. Fifty-seven to go.
Cliff led them into the largest game room, and directed them to a table where two other players were setting up a playing area, arranging the board and various carefully-placed markers and piles of counters. It was apparently the only game that hadn't started yet.
Isaac and Julie introduced themselves as they sat down. Their fellow players were Kylie, a trim, peppy young brunette dressed in a tank top and jean shorts, and Johan, who had about twenty-five years and 200 pounds on her. They introduced themselves as "friends." Julie had many questions, but decided to swallow them.
The game was called Small World, and reminded Julie of Risk, a game she'd been roped into playing long ago as an "introduction to wargames." Presumably as a test to see if the prospective wargamer could endure the tedium. This one was slightly better, with each player taking on waves of fantasy creatures conquering a brightly-colored fantasy land.
It was actually interesting enough. The major irritation was that this was one of those games where all there was no hidden information, and the resources you had were open for everyone to see. And Johan would not stop giving suggestions.
"You should come in on the upper-right corner," he'd point out to Kylie. "That way you can grab those two plains and have a chance of taking the mountain at the end of your turn."
"I didn't see that!" Kylie exclaimed. "You're so smart, Johan!" Then she'd look up at him with a disproportionate amount of impressed gratitude, and do whatever he suggested. He might as well have been playing for both of them.
Johan didn't hold back his advice on Julie's turns, either. By the fourth round of the game, her patience was frayed past the point of being polite. As soon as the words "You know, you could..." passed Johan's lips, Julie snapped back "You know, you could shove it up your ass."
Isaac glared at her, but Johan only gave a slight smile and gave Julie an appraising look. Kylie piped up. "He's only trying to be nice! You know, a lot of us girls have trouble keeping all the rules straight and stuff, so the guys try to help us out."
"You've come before, then?" Julie asked, dryly.
"I come every Ladies' Game Night," Kylie chirped. "Sometimes more than once!" She giggled.
What? That didn't make any sense to Julie. But then, Kylie didn't seem to be the sharpest knife in the drawer. Whatever.
"Well, if I'm going to play a game..." which Julie was absolutely regretting already... "I prefer to play for myself, okay?"
"Whatever you like," Johan answered, mildly.
Julie turned her attention back to the board state, but found herself unable to focus on planning her army's next invasion route. Maybe she was still upset over Johan's domineering advice-giving.
She stood and pushed in her chair. "I'm going to the bathroom," she announced, bluntly. "Isaac, you play my turn." Isaac agreed.
She didn't really need to go, but she returned to the main hall and bathroom area. It was good to get out of the crowded game room anyway; she was starting to feel slightly warm.
The door of the bathroom was closed, and a couple men were waiting in line, on their phones. Julie looked at the walls. Various sign-up sheets, old event announcements, and a monthly calendar-style schedule were tacked up. "Ladies' Night" was highlighted in large and colorful letters on today's date. The only event listed earlier in the day was "Ritual," whatever game that was.
Eventually she returned to the game room, where the atmosphere seemed to be livelier than before. She heard lots of laughs, both booming and feminine. She noticed saw a cute bespectacled girl make what appeared to be a lucky roll and do a little impromptu wiggly dance of joy that highlighted her taut young curves, as the men at her table watched riveted.
Julie looked away, and found her group's table, right under one of the "Welcome to Girls' Night" banners. That was strange - hadn't the calendar said "Ladies' Night"? She frowned, but the thought was pulled from her mind as she returned to the table and assessed the strategic situation.
"Hey, what happened to my orcs? Did you lose them all?" Julie glared at Isaac, who flinched, then rallied.
"I put them into decline," he explained. "Your new race is Pillaging Giants. Look, I got you thirteen points last turn."
That was a respectable number. Her pile of tokens was noticeably larger than it had been when she'd left. Despite herself, Julie's competitive streak was pleased, and she didn't object when her next turn rolled around, and Isaac explained how her Giants worked and how she might use them best. She could sort of see where Kylie was coming from - there was nothing wrong with getting a little help. As long as everyone was clear that she could make her own decisions if she wanted to.
A few more turns passed around, in which Julie stepped back somewhat and let Isaac give her more suggestions. She had to admit, he was good at this. Maybe she hadn't been appreciating his good points enough lately. Watching the focus in his eyes as he surveyed the game board, his intensity was actually kind of attractive. Honestly, even Johan, with his calm confidence in his moves, struck her as sort of pleasantly masculine.
Maybe she was just horny. Julie found her thoughts wander as she sipped her water, unusually conscious of the round, hard neck of the bottle rubbing up against her lower lip. Maybe when he got back from the concert, she'd wake Isaac up, turn him over in their bed, and ride his hard cock like a...
She was snapped back to attention as a whistle sounded. All eyes turned to Clint, who was standing on a low platform at one end of the room.
"Hi, everyone," he began. "Good to see so many returning faces enjoying some games tonight, and so many new faces, too. If you're new, you might not know that we try to have people mix groups and get to know lots of different partners each night. As such, wrap up your game wherever you're at. Then go find another table." He winked. "If you've met someone you really clicked with, don't worry. The night is still young, and we'll have plenty of time to play."
"He makes it sound like speed-dating," Julie commented, as they started totaling their points.
Isaac made an odd face, but Johan easily replied, "Don't worry, nobody's going to ask for your number."
Kylie had come out on top, which produced a flare of indignation in Julie. Maybe she could have won too, if she'd let [i]her[/i] smart boyfriend call all the shots. But they just said brief goodbyes, and the two pairs parted ways.
"Up for another game?" Isaac asked, slightly anxiously.
Checking her watch, Julie saw that it was just slightly past 8:00. "I don't know, Isaac," she said, "I've been here an hour, like we agreed."
"It's okay if you just start it," Isaac pressed. "Nobody will mind if you have to leave early."
Julie hesitated. "Fine," she agreed. She'd intended to jet off as soon as she could, but the Venture wasn't far; she could leave at 8:30 and meet up with Jenna in plenty of time. Besides, she was feeling much more relaxed than she had been earlier. And it wouldn't hurt for Isaac to be a little more in her debt, right? "I'll pick the game, though."
Scanning the room, and the games set up at each station, Julie recognized the distinctive hexes of Settlers of Catan. She knew how to play that one, from back when she'd been making an effort to enjoy Isaac's hobbies. She and Isaac worked their way through the jumble of people.
They were soon joined by another two pairs: Keith and Grace, a younger Asian couple; and two white folks maybe in their late twenties, a rotund man named Frank and Angie, a zaftig woman who was, quite frankly, stacked. Julie considered herself extremely low on the Kinsey scale, but more than once she found her eyes gravitating towards Angie's pale breasts, which were displayed to full effect by her corset and low-cut top.
Julie wondered exactly how big one's hooters could get before one started getting back problems. She wondered just what men liked to do to those tits - jam their hard dicks in between them and savagely fuck them, slap them around so they jiggled, weigh them down with clamps while they swung down like a cow's udders while she was getting fucked from behind...
She wondered why the fuck she was fantasizing about rough sex while they were setting up Settlers of fucking Catan.
As hexes were getting shuffled, Julie tried to distract herself by glancing at the side of the box, which is when she made a discovery.
"Hey, this game says two to four players. There are too many of us."
"Oh, that's normal for the second round of games," Keith explained. "We'll do teams."
Julie scooched her chair closer to Isaac, and the little wooden houses and resource cards that were being dealt out in front of him, but Keith laughed.
"Not with your boyfriend. We're going to switch it up. Mind lending her to me, Isaac?"
That seemed kind of weird. Was it weird? They hadn't even asked her. Shouldn't they have? She looked to Isaac to see his response.
"it's fine, man," Isaac replied to Keith. A harsh edge entered his voice. "Flirting with other guys at the club is what she wanted to be doing tonight anyway."
"I..." Julie didn't know how to respond to that. She felt that she'd usually have bit Isaac's head off for a comment like that, but somehow she didn't have it in her. Besides, Keith actually was pretty cute. He had piercing eyes, and looked like he spent more than thirty seconds a day on his hair, at least. She'd let him enjoy her company for a bit.
The girls rotated clockwise, leaving Julie with Keith, Grace with Frank... a study in contrasts, in terms of size... and Angie with Isaac. The partners' chairs were pushed right next to each other so they could see their team's resources more easily. They felt a little weirdly close, but maybe that was just her?
The game started, but Julie was having trouble tracking it. She was pretty sure she and Keith were orange, but she wouldn't have sworn to it. She could feel Keith's warmth emanating from her side, although they weren't touching. Quite.
Julie shrugged off her jacket and hung it back over her chair, revealing her distinctly flirtatious ensemble underneath.
"I'm hot," she offered by way of explanation, as the men glanced her way.
"Indeed you are," Frank commented, jovially. "Congratulations on bringing such a sexy partner, Isaac. It's our pleasure to have her here. Building a road, by the way. Your turn."
"Thanks," Isaac replied. "Yours lives up to the stories, too." Julie noticed, belatedly, that Angie was clutching his arm so tightly that she was practically giving it a titjob.
Julie might have responded to that, if she hadn't felt Keith's hand on her knee and confidently gliding higher.
With an effort of will, she rose to her feet, dislodging his hand. "I've gotta go to the bathroom."
She fled to the hall, leaving Isaac's matter-of-fact "You just went," behind her.
She felt a little better out in the hall. Probably she had just been overheated - she didn't usually freak out during a boring nerdy board game. And now that she thought about it, her bladder was indeed full; the price of staying hydrated. The door to the bathroom was open, so she went right in.
Then she froze, because a man was standing up against the right-hand wall. At first she thought he must be at a urinal, but her mind quickly registered that there was none. Instead, there was a head wrapped around his hard cock, belonging to a girl kneeling on the floor, tank top pulled down to trap her arms at the elbow and expose her perky breasts. The girl was Kylie.