After four hours of awesome improv at the Improv for Gamers workshops, we sat down to play some Archipleago. After a bit of discussion we opted for English Manor Houses. What started as a Jeeves sand Wooster vibe, quickly when to a dark Downton Abbey.
The story was a tight one, I think because (and this is based off my previous experience feeling a bit undirected) we pushed for some urgency up front, and because we were still warm from improv games so we were ready to be vulnerable, push for our destinies, and reveal our true intentions.
- John – Mrs. Prudence Westerfield. A widow and ward of Westerfield manor. Her daughter and heiress Presicilla was of age to marry and secure their future. Destined to marry her daughter against her will.
- Milo – Clyde the butler of Westerfield manor. Fiendishly loyal to the Westerfield family because his own life was in debt to the last Mr. Westerfield. Destined to give up his life to protect his ward.
- Julie – Jenny the assistant to the cook in Brinkley manor. In love with the lord of the house Viscount Aaron Lunceford. Young and innocent. Destined to make a fortune to support her lover.
- Sean – Viscount Aaron Lunceford. A posturing lord who was made the pretense of wealth but was horribly in debt. Terrified of his uncle (lord of Scottham manor) finding out that he was broke. In love with Jenny. Destined to lose his manor but gain his true love.
Other characters of note:
- Earl Terrance Lunceford – Aaron’s disapproving and stern uncle.
- Alice (Harding) Lunceford – Terrance’s wealthy american wife.
- Bob Harding – Alice’s brother, a rich Montana land owner with an offer for the English Gentry.
- Priscilla – Young heiress, daughter of Prudence, and a free spirit who just wants to live life.
Notably we made all eight characters as “people that need to be in this kind of setting” and then picked the ones to play based on what drew us and how they formed relationships with the other characters. This left us with a wealth of interesting NPCs to bring in throughout the story. All but Alice saw quite a bit of action.
Based on the problems we saw people had, we picked these as our elements:
- Social Status
The Play is the Thing
We started with a garden lunch at Brinkley manner with the Westerfields coming to visit. This was a scene with all of the player characters present and it allowed us to establish several thing right off the bat.
- Aaron wanted Prudences money to help him invest in Montana land (and hopefully get him out his debts.
- Jenny wanted Aaron to forget about his financial obligations and marry her.
- Clyde wanted to protect the Westerfields interest, which meant keeping Aaron away from any upstart servants.
- Prudence wanted Aaron to marry her daughter Priscilla to secure their family fortune and status.
And yeah, things spun out from there. Priscilla didn’t want to marry Aaron. Aaron was indebted to the Westerfields, and things pushed to the point of desperation until Clyde decided to betray one Westerfield in order help another. He stole money and send the now landless Lunceford with his wife to be and the heiress, away from Prudence, lest she marry her daughter off to the even more despicable Mr. Harding.
Actually, playing Bob was quite delightful. We traded who got to do it, but him representing new money, and total disregard for for the English social mores. He was also the impetus that pushed a lot of the action. Truly the external threat.
At one point we were using the map to represent the marriage license between Aaron and Priscilla and I literally tore it to pieces. Yay!
Shots from after the game
Thoughts on this game
Pushing for destinies, establishing situations up front, and really using the Archipelago “say this” actions really helped with pacing, momentum, and drama.
We hit all four of our destinies! Woot!