2010-08-23 : The Drifter's Escape is Amazing

I haven't played it, although all signs point to it being very good. Whatever! The stories are amazing.

The Drifter's Escape, stories by Jake Lehman, game by Ben Lehman.

Somebody said to me once in connection with The Drifter's Escape the phrase "hobo stories," and an image came into my mind, and I thought I understood what The Drifter's Escape was all about without having read it. I was all, "it's, y'know, all about hobo stories, and the man, and the devil." I pictured something like Carnivale, gaudy, faux-momentous, inert.

WRONG. Wrong wrong all wrong. I couldn't have been more wrong. I didn't have a CLUE.

The stories are deft and provocative. They're about us, every day; they're about how I feel about things when I'm not thinking about them. They're about America. They're about what I wish for and what I've accepted in my life instead, and which am I content with and which would I do over?

Meg was trying to get something done and I kept interrupting her. "Oh my GOD you have to hear this paragraph," I said, a bunch of times. "It's SO GOOD."

By chance or whatever, I have a bunch of people in my life who are cool older women, librarians and educators, thoughtful, literate, and friendly toward roleplaying without ever having tried it. I always want to show them our games, but my games are too, y'know, garish-horror-nerdy-juvenile. Now I know!

1. On 2010-08-23, Rafu said:

This is, for all its simplicity, a good review. One which finally convinced me to buy that book.


2. On 2010-08-23, Ron Edwards said:

I like all the stories, but I *really* like the one which starts with the big flowers, about the two guys who find the isolated farmhouse. Plus about that last story, I want to know how Jake managed to eavesdrop on my hitch-hiking experiences in Colorado back in the early 1980s.

I've played the game. I really like it. It does deserve thoughtful, group-specific play - much like In Wicked Age and Sign In Stranger, for the same reasons.

Best, Ron


3. On 2010-08-23, Anna Kreider said:

I was lucky enough to see it before anyone else since I did the illustrations. :) After I got the first draft, I kept doing that to Kit too. "OMG! You have to hear this!"

I actually read the entirety of The Letter to him out loud. Because I couldn't stop saying "OMG".


4. On 2010-08-24, Joe Mcdaldno said:

The part where the skeleton gets carried off in piece-by-piece, as he blathers on inanely... SO GOOD.


5. On 2010-08-24, Ben Lehman said:

Thank you. I really love the stories, too.

"Not like carnivale" is a wonderful compliment. :D


P.S. Ron, I think that's my favorite, too. It varies, though.


6. On 2010-08-24, Vincent said:

So hard to choose a favorite. The one about the letter has been the easiest for me to tell people about, and the one where he hitches a ride with the skeleton trucker, but the one with the giant flowers frightened me best, and the one where they stop at a farmhouse for food and then walk on with the dog gave me goose bumps.


7. On 2010-08-25, Paul Czege said:

I agree. I really enjoyed reading a couple of the stories out loud to Danielle.

My favorite is the one with the yellow dog: Norfolk and Southern.

When I told Ben it was my favorite, he asked me why. I said, "It's fantasy, without being fantasy. The idea of happening upon a woman who can set a table for at least fourteen drifters. Including three pies. It's a fantasy of the soul."



8. On 2010-08-27, Tim Koppang said:

The one about the woman is easily my favorite, by far.  And I've read them all—some twice.

The one about the woman is great for two main reasons.  First, by the end of the story, you have a heartbreaking sense of loss, felt empathetically, for the woman.  As a reader, I knew exactly how someone might become a drifter.

Second, the Bible quote about losing a sense of the land, and the isolation that it brings is pitch perfect.  Fucking great.  I went and did a comparison of that passage in four or five different Bible translations after I finished that story.  I think it taken slightly out of context for the sake of the story, but it works.  It's a great quote that really hit home for me on a large scale.  The woman then brought me back down to the human scale.


9. On 2010-08-29, Jake Lehman said:

Dude, I looked up that bible quote, too and decided it was an instance where the mistranslation has such a ring of truth it becomes legit on it's own. Assuming that God wrote the Bible, it's interesting He used such changeable media - since the room ambiguity makes for imagination is essential to language - it's a snake instead of a staff.

Thanks for reading and commenting, y'all.


10. On 2010-08-30, Vincent said:

Jake! I get to tell you personally (if not in person): congratulations. They're really good stories.


11. On 2010-08-30, Jake Lehman said:

Well, I'm glad you think so. Writing fiction is so weird - you   don't know what is going to connect with a person until it does - so I'm glad those stories worked for you. And thanks for the encouragement.


12. On 2010-09-09, talen said:

Thanks for the review. However, as I am completely unfamiliar with the game, I'd be interested in something more detailed. An example of actual play, or a short excerpt from the stories, etc

Does anyone here know of such a thing? I couldn't find a real preview of any sort at the publisher's site. This sounds wonderful, but I can't afford to buy it without knowing a teensy bit more about it.



13. On 2010-09-09, Nate said:



14. On 2010-09-09, Ron Edwards said:

A late-stage playtesting discussion:

Author's announcement, description, and discussion:


15. On 2010-09-09, Ben Lehman said:

My favorite game:


16. On 2010-09-09, Vincent said:

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