XP: Love in the Time of Sied

25 May


Love in the Time of Sied is a gentle refocusing of Archipelago for a Nordic/Viking epic saga. My infatuation for Archipelago is, by this point, well documented, and frankly, LitToS makes no improvement on Archipelago. The text includes some odd statements and presentation at points, which was a little perplexing. But, it comes with a ready to play scenario that is reasonable easy to jump into. So, if you are looking for Archipelago without needing to do quite as much set up, this would be a fantastic choice.

For the most part, the strengths of LoiToS are the same as Archipelago. The game gets out of your way and gives you only the tools you need to tell an awesome story in a functional way. It’s easy to shoot from the hip and get awesome results each time. The weakness of the text are generally non-existant once you get to actually playing.

We had kind of a situation on our hands when we started: we had only three players instead of five. This is not ideal, and required some careful juggling of the other roles in order to optimize our results (King, Knight and Siedkona is what we went with and it worked sooo well). We opted to take some time to a history building and Key Phrase introduction exercise since we had so few players. I was a little unsure of this at first (feeling that the one reason I would play LitToS is so we didn’t have to do this), but we had time, so why not?

This included one player asking another a kind of leading questions about this history of the realm. While the player answered we used the Key Phrases to fine tune it to  our tastes. This was done in a kind of narration style and not a role-playing style. We ended up with a synopsis of the history and an outline of their mythology.

And the way it intersected with our play was brilliant. It was so easy to make intuitive and consequential moves in the narrative. Our game only lasted six scenes, but they were super tight, brought major developments each time, and honored the previously established fiction so thoroughly that we were surprised again and again how beautifully interwoven or story was. It was a peak experience and possibly the most satisfying game I’ve played at RSG ever.

It’s really tough to pinoint what makes these peak experiences happen. The game was flexible and builds in calibration of tone and expectations. All three of us were on our game as storytellers and gamers. It was noisy. We started pretty late and had a long break. We were down two players. The text is weird. Only one of us was any kind of familiar with the culture in question.

I’m inclined to say that a light dusting of complication as we had helped to keep us alert, on our toes and focused on making it a good experience. When you have to take every opening in the story in order to make it a good experience, well, you keep a better eye out for those openings, and you take them. Whatever it was, we had a simply amazing game.

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