Players: Bay, Martin, Johnstone, Martin (possibly Michael?) and Adrienne (Facilitator)
Many things changed over the course of this game. The Earl and the King, initially enemies, came to understand one another (and work together - for the greater good). The Princess fell out of love with the Knight and took the Seið's teachings to heart. The Seið's relationship to the King diminished, but her connection to the Gods granted her a new apprentice. The Knight moved from trusted almost-son of the Earl to beloved of his daughter to face-down dead in the swamp. And Brandmar went from a fading land at peace to one ravaged by war.
Five players take on the roles of a King, Seið (female magic-user), Princess, Knight and Earl in a setting where the King's domain is threatened and everyone is trying to make their own destiny while not upsetting the tenants of the Ancestors. How the characters relate to one other is clearly specified (eg the King loves his daughter but is worried about her stubborn heart; the Knight is the Earl's spy in the King's court). The character isn't wholly specified though and the players are encouraged to muse over some questions about their character's personality and motivations. Play progresses through scenes in which characters rotate through being in the spotlight. When one player's character is in the spotlight, the player to their left acts as an Event Guide and the player to their right as a Theme Guide; helping to enhance drama and flavor respectively. All players are encouraged to use key phrases that help build out the fiction and keep everyone on the same page. Conflicts are resolved through cards that detail how a situation will unfold for the spotlight character: 'Yes, and...', 'No, but...' etc. After two characters are somehow removed from play, the game transitions into epilogues.
- We never used the 'Do it differently' phrase. Even in the initial test-drive in a different setting and after I emphasized that it was totally cool and no one would get hurt by it and it would just make the story better. We still never did it. In hindsight there are a couple of things I would have called it on on myself (eg the use of death-magic on the tree). I guess it's only partly that people don't want to hurt other people's feelings. I think it's also true that you don't always know that an idea will be problematic until a little later in the game. Also, no one did anything so wildly inappropriate for our tone that it was obvious we should use it.
- Could maybe have used even more theme-guiding? Event guides were very diligent in making sure things kept moving and bringing in their element if needed. It's possible there's a temptation to check out a little after one's spotlight scene is over.
- Not sure how well this would work with 3 players. It was so good to have all the interlocking relationships.
- We got a ton of mileage out of 'More Details', 'Please clarify' and 'I'd like to add something'. Enough so that I felt some carry-over into my next game. Very helpful - for all games I think. Especially the clarify one. It happens so often that we're willing to let things slide, hoping they'll become clear eventually. Usually in story-games though, no one's got some master plan with all the answers - so everyone is probably experiencing the same confusion you are regarding whatever seems unclear.
- I think we used Stay with it once, maybe twice, and it was definitely worth it. The details were valuable and wonderful.
- We used the cards pretty rarely. In discussion after the game it was suggested that maybe we're all veterans of letting bad things happen to our characters. Could well be the case.
- I pushed to have one guy not kill his character because I wasn't ready for him to be out of the game - but we over-ran our time anyway and I think I should have kept mum. Did we draw a card to see whether he recovered or died from the poison? If not, we should have. I think the cards are probably the best way to determine life/death situations - otherwise the game might never end.
- What a total douche-bag the knight was. He had such great lines.
- How the King tenderly stroked the plants in the Garden in passing! So sweet.
- The Gardiriki going to war after the Earl's death! Was perfect!
- The Seidh's insistence that men were pawns to be used in one's own personal game.
I loooved this game. My fellow players were amazing. Can't wait to play it again!
Talk about what you played or link to posts you made elsewhere.
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