Wednesday, 25 March 2009

[Actual Play] Getting my wife to play role-playing games.

I couple of years ago, after much convincing and demonstration, I got my wife Jenny to play in one of my role-playing games. She had expressed her displeasure about role-playing games before but on seeing that my friends from my hobby were more reliable and were ‘better’ friends than other acquaintances I have she relented. I did write this report at the time but didn’t post it anywhere as I didn’t have my blog up and running at the time.
Unfortunately the group at the time finished due to illness so that was the last session. When I restarted the campaign with a new group, Jenny was a little bit reluctant to join in from the start but for the last session she has now rejoined.


From September 2007

I had planned that HeroQuest session at the time, to take place with my home group, to be a skirmish-type game based on the Battle Of Dwarf Ford. However, my wife Jenny expressed an interest in taking part, something she had normally refused to do in the past. On the few occasions I had asked her to play or even if she was interested in learning what it was all about, she had said no. I hadn’t really pushed the issue; she had come with me to a few RPG conventions but looked on them as a trip away rather than joining in with the hobby itself. I had a smaller group for this session so Jenny did feel a little more comfortable with that for her first time. Jenny joined the other two players, my brother Russell and our friend Mick, people that she knew very well.



I spoke with her about what kind of character she wanted. She didn’t want anything from any of the HQ books as she hadn’t read up on them and thought that she would be at a disadvantage. She preferred just to come up with the name of her character and make the rest up as the game went along.
The as-you-go-method, perfect!

Her character was ‘Tristina the Mystic’, a woman with ‘hidden powers’. I quickly cobbled together a ‘Mystic’ keyword for her and allotted her thirty points to spend on nine more abilities, skills, followers, or items.

So instead of the skirmish scenario I had planned for the session I decided to go with a less-martial episode instead. I had the player characters escorting one of the Earth-priestesses to an inter-tribal Spring Festival that included a scared ceremony to awaken Voria and end the winter. Each of the local tribes put forth a candidate to participate in several contests to win the honour of becoming the ‘Maiden of the Flowers’ and hopefully successfully conclude the ceremony and end the icy grip of winter for another year. As this was going to be a big meeting with a festival atmosphere it was also hoped that the heroes could pin down some of the tribal leaders and get them to commit to help with the up coming battle with the Lunars.

They travelled to the site in the Colymar lands without any problems, picking up a fellow traveller, Thargan who helped them learn the finer points of Colymar treachery. Jenny seemed fine talking to this character played by me as her character, though she did talk in the third person. It was at her invitation that Thargan joined them on the journey though it was the other players that pointed out that he might not be trustworthy so to keep a watch on him.

They arrived without incident at the site of the ceremony, a large meadow located on a small hill near Apple Lane. They set up camp in the last available spot, next to the Balmyr tribe and the Colymar tribe. The other local tribes’ camps where situated around the edge of the meadow, only the contestants were allowed to set foot on the meadow during the festival. What shocked the heroes were the presence of not only the Telmori, the wolf runners but also a small delegation of Lunars! They had a small enclosure, heavily guarded, next to the Colymari camp. The Colymar and the Lunars had made a temporary peace treaty and as hosts to the festival had invited the Lunars to join in. This had obviously caused some resentment within the other visiting tribes, so much so that some of the northern tribes were noted for their absence. Those that did attend cast dark looks towards the Lunar camp; the mood was ugly.

However the festival was started by a small blessing ceremony by the Colymari hosts. Once this ‘Time of the Blessing’ commenced no blood could be spilt on the ground. Everyone at the festival was bound by this blessing while at the sacred site. If any blood was to fall upon the earth then not only would the spring ceremony fail but everybody’s’ land would stay in the icy grip of winter.

The following day each of the contestants was presented to the ensemble, each of the tribes had one ‘champion’ each. Though the heroes had escorted the Ilmori’s contender, Tristina also decided to enter the contest to be ‘Maiden of the Flowers’. Jenny didn’t need asking if she could enter her character in the contest, she just thought it would be a good thing to do.

The local champion of the Colymari, and the one tipped to win the contest, was Apple Blossom. The other major contenders were Snow Drop from the Malani Tribe, Wolf Thistle from the Telmori, Sunflower from the Alda-Churi, Wild Thorn of the Culbrea, Dark Flower of the Torkani, Wind Bloom from the Balmyr, and Blue Bell from the PCs clan, the Ilmori. To keep the ‘flower’ theme going in the names Tristina went with the name Mystic Rose.

Of course things turned bad when the Lunars showed up and camped on the site as well - apparently at the invitation of the Colymari hosts [remember that this is set in 1565, way before the lunar invasion of Sartar]. They also put in a contender, called Moon Orchid, into the competition.
Now Jenny was aware that the Lunars are the 'bad guys' of the campaign and also that one of the reasons of the trip down to the festival was to get help for the battle against the Lunars. She was a little bit shocked that they had turned up and was also beginning to be a bit wary of the Colymari.

The rest of the game dealt with the three days of contests, one contest per day. The first contest is singing, the second dance and the third is beauty. One of the other player characters, Russell's Edgewed, was chosen to be one of the judges so he was fairly busy and Mick's character Stefan, was looking into the plots and schemes of the Colymar, the Lunars and the rest of the tribes.

In the end the contest had three main contenders at the end: Mystic Rose, Blue Bell and Sunflower. Apple Blossom and Moon Orchid were cast out of the competition due to cheating as uncovered by the PCs.

Jenny decided to help Blue Bell, who was from her own tribe, instead of taking the crown for herself. That meant the final ceremony went very well and spring returned with a vengeance. Voria appeared and blessed the lands of the Ilmori and the other tribes that still had contestants in the contest.
Also the PCs were able to get many of the tribes on their side after meeting the leaders in a secret summit so the session ended well.




Jenny did seem to play well though did need some prompting to contribute to the story. She later told me she wasn't sure whether she could interrupt me or the others while they were talking. She was happy to play her role and was content to take part in the decision-making parts of the story.

With the change of the campaign and the restart of it she wasn't confident in joining the game. But now I have my kid sister, Amy join in on the new campaign my wife Jenny has also joined in the game again. 

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