The Game Of Roses 6: Start the examination

“Now civil wounds are stopp’d, peace lives again:
That she may long live here, God say amen!”

The Life and Death of Richard the Third (V.5)

I’ve just knocked out some thoughts here to have somewhere to put them. There’s a lot of good, a bit of mixed and a bit of not so good.

Good.

1) Tabards. This was not your physically immersive experience. Every character had a
tabard in their faction colour, with their character name on the front, and these
worked out pretty well. Feedback like “At some point in the day watching half a dozen
determined Gloucester faction sprint across a field …” is interesting. You could
identify groups at a distance in a way which would have been much harder without them.
Names are that problem writ large, and having them on the front of a tabard made it at
least possible to identify characters, especially for the crew. However, it’s also true
that even with names written on their tabards, students still used out of character
names as identifiers, which was a bit of a shame.

2) Lanyards. These were also useful, and especially for crew. “You need to find a
bishop” “How?” “Pink lanyard” was a common conversation. However, and in retrospect,
given there was no easy means of removing bishoprics we could have used lanyards a
little less, perhaps adding a sybo for bishop to the tabard, or a hat maybe.

3) Three runs. Invaluable. We had three very different runs, and without that I suspect
our educational outcomes would not have been so dramatic. “I’m actually quite proud of
my first Richard, who didn’t quite crack under the stress, my second Richard, who
arrested every Tudor he could lay his hands on and executed most of them, and my third
Richard, who set more realistic goals and achieved all of them.” says it all. The fact
we had three runs and three kings tells students – if nothing else – that history is
simply the outcome that happened, and that it needn’t have been that way.

4) Structure. “How do I do that?” from a Margaret Beaufort is a line that sticks in the
memory. Once they knew how to get things done, they got on and did them. We probably
should have been clearer on how the various houses of power worked to the crew, so they
could comunicate it out, but to be honest we didn’t really know ourselves until it
developed during the game and nailing it down would have lost us some of our player
agency. The three different groups of bishops certainly imposed themselves on the rest
of the world to a greater or lesser degree.

5) The teachers. Without trusted and well-known people to turn to, I doubt the students
would have been so comfortable. A strong advocate for the game who knew their hisory
inside out kept us on track. In many ways – this was Duncan Rowe’s game and he was
simply awesome.

Mixed.

1) Modern times. Having younger children as the princes had a real impact. Of course,
the teenagers are modern teenagers and were affected differently by our princes, but it
underscored that those two characters were agents in their own right, not simply pawns.
I suspect the news they were claimed to be bastards was not quite so impactful as it
might have been. That said, the legitimacy of the bishop’s claims was a point of
debate, rather than simply being dismissed as irrelevant. He was retired to Somerset
and stripped of his position by the convocation on one occasion, for example.

2) Balance. I am not sure about this one. Game balance is overratted in lrp is my
belief. However, given we were using winning as a motivational tool, we needed to think
about it a bit more. Rotating the groups balanced it out, but next time we’d treat the
Buckinghams and Tudors as a pair, I think.

3) Arrests. Different Richards used the power of arrest very differently, and I think
on balance we’d not change it. The Richard who used it most ended with narrow military
victory over a range of rebels, but an understanding that his reign would not have
lasted much longer given the strength of the potential forces against him in his _next_
battle.

4) Crew numbers. We had the right number: one per faction, one per house of power,
three ambassadors, one spare bishop, a papal legate, two fighters, and four floating.
(One to look for the princes, one to provide pastoral care for the students, and two to
provide advice to the rest of the crew.) Twenty one. That is a lot of crew, and it
doesn’t include site crew. That has implications as to how much effort was required to
make the game happen.

Not so good.

1) Winnaz. It was really useful to tap into competitive spirit, but it had its
disadvantages too. think in retrospect, we shouldn’t have given scores after each run.
You could see some shoulders sink. Added to that the score structure – faction goals
are what gets you “points”, and personal ambition only breaks ties and I think we de-
vaued the personal ambitions a little too much. I think I’d lobby to change that next
time.

2) Characterisation. We had plans to do more coaching on “How to roleplay”, but they
fell through and we didn’t do enough there. I am not sure _how_ we could have done
more, but we should have. Maybe more on Status, maybe more on familiy relationships
ahead of time, maybe a single-word characterisation for each role… Could do with some more thought. However – “acting” was an element of the event we know the students were not looking forward to, and maybe we got all we could.

 

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