As many of you know, the annual Game Chef contest is up and running! Since this year’s theme is Shakespeare, I’m really excited about putting something together.
I’ll be posting notes and ideas as I think of them here to the blog. Your comments are definitely welcome, as I’ve only got another week to put this short RPG together!
My game is called “The Play’s The Thing.” Here are my answers to the Three Questions:
1) What is my game about?
The Play’s The Thing is about the dramatic conflict between the Playwright and Actors when producing a Shakespearean play. While it may seem to the audience that a finished play is merely actors reading lines, anyone who has been a part of a production knows that the rehearsal process is as much about what the Actors add as it is about what the Playwright has written.
In my game, the players portray Actors who have been called by the Playwright to rehearse a Tragedy, Comedy, or History. The Actors must follow the style, plot, and lines they are given, but will, of course, attempt to improve the play by offering their own suggestions and improving as often as they can get away with it.
The Playwright wishes to see his work brought to life by the Actors, but is bound by their egos, desires, and failings. He must inspire them to greatness, but cannot let them derail the entire show.
2) How does my game do that?
My game captures the divine, messy art of the theater by focusing on the contest of wills between the Playwright and the Actors.
At the opening, The Playwright lays out the general plot of each Act of the play, assigns Roles to the Actors, and gives each of them a few lines that they must say during a scene. The Actors, with mechanics for Logos, Pathos, and Ethos, may make changes to the story as it is being told, adding new Conflicts, Props, and Characters to make the play more interesting and their characters more important.
The Playwright may reject any changes to his or her play, but runs the risk of losing control completely. Too many rejections can lead to one of the Actors taking the Playwright’s chair and making more sweeping changes…
3) What behaviors does my game punish or reward?
My game rewards players for playing their Role in keeping with the type of play selected by the Playwright. Each joke in a Comedy or misunderstanding in a Tragedy will earn “Kudos points” from the Playwright that can be used to make changes to the narrative. Thus, those who play along with the Playwright will find that they can influence the story, and those who fight the narrative will be held captive by it.