In the spirit of #rpgtheoryJuly, I’m using this #Greenwoodnesday to talk about the role of visual aids in game development. That is to say, how I find visual aids help me to clarify my design in my own skull, even if they might not make it into the final game.
To that end, I present to you, the Game Warden’s Coat of Arms:
A little over two years ago I put together a tentative bibliography for #LincolnGreen and posted it on G+. My intent at the time was to update it as my research drew me to wondrous new sources. But, as you know, G+ isn’t the best place to store something you intend to return to over the course of several months or years. So this #Greenwoodnesday I have plucked the original post out of G+, brushed it off, updated it a bit, and placed it here.
This is post is very much a living document that I will update from time to time with more sources as I either stumble across or recall them. When I can, I shall add notes to explain each inclusion and to rave about how they shines.
If you have any suggestions for good material on Robin Hood, medieval outlawry, or bold adventure, feel free to share them in the comments below!
➸ The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle.
➸ Robin Hood, A Mythic Biography by Stephen Knight.
➸ Robin Hood (Myth and Legends) by Neil Smith.
➸ Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody.
➸ The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley.
TV & Film
➸ Robin Hood from Disney, and the clear inspiration for both the Wolves’-Heads and Scamps traditions in the game.
➸ Robin & Marian so good.
➸ Robin of Sherwood TV series and inspiration for the Children of Herne tradition in the game. Highly recommended.
➸ The Adventures of Robin Hood the 1938 film featuring Errol Flynn—those costumes!
➸ Robin Hood the 1922 film featuring Douglas Fairbanks—those sets! ➸ Crossbow from the depths of 1987. It’s about William Tell rather than Robin Hood, but that would be no stretch for the game and I could include it for the theme song alone! ➸ Fact or Fiction, episode 4, “Robin Hood.”
➸ Sabbatum by Rondellus.
➸ Legend by Clannad, the soundtrack to the Robin of Sherwood TV series, and thus inextricably tied to the mystical elements of this game.
➸ Tunnels & Trolls from Flying Buffalo. This one’s a bit hidden. It’s more of an inspiration for the design philosophy.
➸ Misericord(e) by Emily Care Boss.
➸ IronClaw, Usagi Yojimbo and Myriad Song from Sanguine.
➸ Prince Valiant: The Story Telling Game Coins! In truth, aside from the coins and adventurous spirit, these games don’t have a ton in common.
➸ Fantasy Wargamming edited by Bruce Galloway.
➸ Torchbearer by Thor Olavsrud & Luke Crane.
➸ Apocalypse World by D. Vincent Baker, because of that damn Read a Sitch move.
➸ Amazons also by D. Vincent Baker, much of which I have pauperized in #LincolnGreen.
Like any folklore still surviving in modern popular culture, the Robin Hood legend has been retold in almost innumerable ways. Some of these ways are brilliant and nuanced, allowing you to explore your own relationship with its themes and morals. Some are brimming with romance and swashbuckling action, that quicken your heart. Many traipse along in levity, lending you excuse to wallow in the pure joy of adventure. A few drift into dark, mysterious places that raise your gooseflesh. And one is directed by Ridley Scott.
It is not my intention to make all of these possible through #LincolnGreen, but there are two takes on the legend from the past 50 years that I absolutely want to include: the anthropomorphic and the supernatural. This #Greenwoodnesday we’re going to highlight some key features of these two traditions. Read More
What follows is an old G+ post from November of 2014, from the earliest stages of #LincolnGreen design. I’m rescuing it from the depths of G+ largely for archival purposes. In the two-and-a-half years since I originally wrote this, much has changed in how all this information is presented to the players. The fundamental principles remain the same, but I’ve broken them up into oaths, questions, and gests, and spread them throughout the game so that they are touched upon at several times and in many ways, rather than just at the very beginning.
So enjoy this glimpse into the past and design process, but know that it is currently out-of-date.
Over the last two weekends, I’ve had the pleasure of running some #LincolnGreen playtests at both Metatopia and JiffyCon East. Both went quite well. The Metatopia one was a bit shorter and more of a highlight reel of the mechanical bits of the game, but it laid the groundwork for the JiffyCon one. For instance, I’m in love with using Robert of Loxley as the big villain (particularly because fuck that deposed nobleman bullshit) and I think I just might use him as such forever hereafter.
Thanks to Vincent Baker, we all have to write GM principles for our games now. That’s fine. I can do that. But here’s a thing that happens when I do.
Here we shall consult that most sage of the merry folk, Maid Merriam-Webster for the third and fourth definitions of butt:
Definition of butt
: a large cask especially for wine, beer, or water
: any of various units of liquid capacity; especially : a measure equal to 108 imperial (see 1 imperial 4) gallons (491 liters)
Origin and Etymology of butt
Middle English, from Anglo-French but, bout, from Old Occitan bota, from Late Latin buttis
First Known Use: 14th century
Definition of butt
a : a backstop (such as a mound or bank) for catching missiles shot at a target
b : target
c butts plural : range 5c a shooting butt
Origin and Etymology of butt
Middle English, partly from Middle French but target, of Germanic origin; akin to Old Norse būtr log, Low German butt blunt; partly from Middle French bute goal, target, mound, from but target
First Known Use: 14th century
14th century is a bit anachronistic for the original Robin Hood tales, but so is Prince John, King Richard, Maid Marian, and Friar Tuck, really. So I’m not going to worry too much about that, especially when so delicious a phrase as “Robin Hood won a butt of stout ale by shooting a butt in the sheriff’s tourney” can be used.
The Butt System in #LincolnGreen is all about competitions, be they wagers, contests or tourneys. It is a way to resolve those moments when one of the merry folk tests their mettle against some other champion or boastful traveler. These events are so very common in the folklore. Modern adaptations like to use battles and action to feature Robin’s legendary ability with the bow, but it could be argued that originally, aside from hunting the king’s deer, the focus of Robin’s prowess was archery as a sport.
Continuing my efforts to rescue #Greenwoodnesday posts about #LincolnGreen from the depths of G+’s not-very-searchable archive, here’s one from March of 2016 about throwing and saving. A chunk of this has been rewritten to reflect changes in the system since then and edited for format.
#LincolnGreen is turning out to be quite an extravagant game to play. It recommends that everyone bring one to two days’ wages to the table to use as randomizers. Assuming, of course, that everyone playing is a medieval master carpenter.
Coins, Crowns & Crosses
Every player should have about six pennies on hand to play. They can make do with just one, but it’ll be a bit easier with a few more. Instead of dice, you throw pennies and count the crowns and crosses. For most cases, crowns are what you’re looking for, but not always.
I’ll get into some of the fun bits regarding saving throws soon, but let me just take a moment to say how much I love the binary power of yea-nay questions. I’ve got a question-based character creation system that lets you either answer each question with your heart or by throwing a coin and treating crowns as yeas and crosses as nays. Allowing for completely random builds, completely deliberate builds, and everything in between, all at the player’s whim.
UPDATE: A little bit of research has revealed that the face opposite the cross on a coin was known as the pile, and that this name may be a reference to an arrow or spear. I refuse to ignore such apropos symbolism: Crosses & Piles is it.
↣ In it, the term points refers not to numbers or tallies, but to facts in the game fiction. Much like a point in an argument.
↣ Points Established are points previously agreed upon in the game to be true.
↣ Experience Points are not an ongoing score of how close you are to the next level, but rather a specialize form of Points Established that describe your experiences and grant you certain benefits. More on this below.
↣ Game Warden or Warden is the term for GM.
↣ In the game, you don’t accomplish things with rolls, you accomplish them with points. To hunt the king’s deer, you tell the Warden how you plan to do it. Then the Warden takes in all the points and decides how successful you are. If there’s danger afoot, you might need to make a saving throw or two, but you won’t throw anything to find out if you managed to hunt a deer. Read More
For a social network product from a company most famous for its search engine, G+ has rather lackluster search capabilities. As the good folks of the Internet have pointed out to me, whatever its merits are as a place to discuss and journal my design efforts, it is an unreliable archive. In the hopes of better preserving my progress on the #LincolnGreen game, every Wednesday I make a #Greenwoodnesday post on G+, I’ll re-post it here along with a companion post from the past (with some edits to update the design). Today, let’s stroll in the Greenwood back to September of 2015, wherein I stumble upon a mechanic found in the typesetting of Howard Pyle’s The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood:
I have a version of Howard Pyles The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood much like the one pictured below. I’d like to do your eye a disservice here and draw it away from the gorgeous Pyle illustrations and towards that square of italicized text on the lower right. You probably cannot see it from here, but it’s a spoiler. The text is crammed full of them. Little notations on what is happening or just about to happen in the story.
If you find yourself at GenCon this weekend, swing by Games On Demand in Ballroom 6 at the Marriott Downtown (the Marriott attached to the convention center). There you will unearth a trove of games to play and you might sight the rare Epidiah Ravachol. He will not submit to your cursed Poké Ball, but he will be running occasional games of Swords and The Dread Geas at Games On Demand throughout the weekend—including the traditional #SundayAMSwords early(ish) Sunday morning.