The Game Of Roses 0: After-event report

“I personally thought that the War of the Roses trip was probably the best school trip I had ever been on.”

I’ve just got back from running a lrp event unlike any other I’ve been involved in*.

Please excuse the purple prose in the next bit – it’s from the event pitch and it’s a bit… Much – but it says what it aimed to do.

“Game of Roses is an educational lrp game, where players take the roles of various historical personalities so they can explore the motivations of those who influenced the story of England in the last years of the Was of the Roses. A cohort of 6th form history students will be introduced to the people of 1483, and explore different possible outcomes to the war through the interactive medium of live roleplay.”

“On the Saturday, the events of 1483 will be explored three times in game form, with education sessions in between. In each exploration, every student will take the role of a historical figure of the period, and seek to achieve that character’s ambitions through semi-structured improvisation: live roleplay. As a result, they will learn more about the historical record of events, and more about the motivations of those who shaped the story of the time. Each exploration proposes a different personality for Richard of Gloucester, and what results in each is down to the students, as the historical characters they portray take the actions that decide…

Who wins, who dies, and is there any middle ground?”

36 6th form students, in six factions, each faction with a set of outcomes in order of preference, each character with a personal ambition and a lever to mover the game on. Ambitions were things like: get a marriage arranged, get a war declared, get a better title, get a book dedicated to you. Levers included: marriagable offspring, a vote in parliament, membership of the convocation of bishops. So the game was about using your lever to get your ambition and your faction’s goal – which was usually about who was king, and who lord protector. Each of them with a faction coloured tabard, so you could spot grupings from across the field, and with their character’s name on the front so you always knew who they were talking to. Each of them with a lanyard for each title they had, so you could swop’em round and count the size of their eventual armies and brief a couple of reenactors to fight for a bit, and then the one in the losing side’s livery to lose so everyone knew who’d won – and getting to be one of those fighters and fighting with a metal sword for the first time ever.

And bloody hell, the students were ace. They absolutely definitely got it, engaged, and involved. The hard eyes of a Margaret Beaufort getting her son Henry Tudor his rightful Duchy and wife. A shout across the field: “Get to parliament. It’s kinda an emergency” as one of a trio of cool kids was inside fillibustering her heart out while her mate hurried up the third on her way back from the loo – so they could have a political enemy attainted and those lands passed to an ally.

Three runs, three different kings surviving each one. Win.

The first run’s Richard of Gloucester having one of his his nephew’s uncles murdered on his way in, then bewailing the fact “They all hate me”. And then draggging Edward V from sanctuary in Westminister Abbey, taking him to the tower and and having him murdered before Edward’s brother was crowned King Richard III.

The second’s Richard of Gloucester arriving on the field without either nephew’s uncle _or_ Edward V, *both* of whom he’d had executed within seconds of the start of the game who _then_ went on to execute all but one of the Tudors for treason, leaving Bishop Morton alive to return with a Tudor army and overthrow him. Both Richard of York _and_ that Richard of Gloucester being crowned at the same time, and _that_ Richard III narrowing beating the _other_ one in battle.

The third’s Gloucester arriving having murdered _no-one_ and managing Edward V to the throne under his Lord Protectorship, by using the bishops to declare any evidence of the prince’s illegitimacy baseless.

I could froth about this for ages…

My co-conspirator-in-chief and I are going to polish the various briefing docs up and a it, and them see how to publish.

Thanks to everyone who crewed and helped out, and to Matt and PD for lending us a field with a lot of tents in.

* No foam swords, no combat system to speak of, no attempt at realistic costume, same scenario run three times, educational outcomes explicit.

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