That’s how you unfriend people in the Middle Ages

Given the ambitious purpose of Tales of Round Table, it’s useless merely to read and opine about it – one has to do it. But then again, given that the purpose concerns first-time and, preferably, entirely naive users, perhaps any of us “trying it out” is compromised past the point of utility. I’m not that far down the road, but clearly, as distinctly not the target audience as I am, it’s risky to present a personal conclusion as genuinely informed.

Be that as it may, I played twice recently: once at Kimcon, which is an annual apartment gathering that’s been going on for some time; and once at Spelens Hus, now familiar to most people reading this as my local haunt in Norrköping. We didn’t record at Kimcon due to the close quarters and generally casual setup, plus me being a first-time attendee who didn’t want to be too “special,” so the video about that is just me talking to you. But the other session is recorded for you to see.

The embedded video begins the series about playing the game, but it’s part of the overall playlist which includes the first discussion with Zac.

The topic for this time is scaffolding, which is explained in detail in the first video, and I’d like to stay with that. I have a fairly intense deeper-dive list to go over with Zac, and I’d like to have that processed and available before opening it up to discussion. For now, I’d like to see comments about games that you think are, intentionally or not, particularly good at the scaffolding process.


5 responses to “That’s how you unfriend people in the Middle Ages”

  1. This looks like a pretty interesting game.

    Small preface: I'll have to read more about the game, but I love how vivid all this was. Would I be out of place saying this is slightly reminiscent of S/lay with/Me in how actual play looks?

    I have a preliminary question: do references to scaffolding have to pertain to tabletop roleplaying games, or we can explore different kinds of games (such as boardgames and videogames)?

    • Sticking to the topic of

      Sticking to the topic of scaffolding, I can think of 3 techniques I've seen employed in tabletop roleplaying games… none of which I consider particularly effective, but that's another topic:

      1. Through compartimentalization of the game mechanics themselves: that is, by locking "advanced gameplay" behind some level of player choice. For example, in most editions of D&D you can play "beginner" classes, that only employ a smaller part of the ruleset (ex., Fighter), or engage with more complex mechanics by playing a caster class. The game used to be fairly explicit about this in older editions. Obvious drawback is that this isn't particularly progressive, most of the time. It doesn't really ease the players into the rules but rather lock you out of a part of them. 

      2. Through progressive introduction of mechanics in the manual itself: Hackmaster comes to mind. Some games rather explicitely tell you "let's explain things this way, we'll integrate them with the actually more complex elements later on the way". 

      3. Through alternate/"lite" rulesets: I'm thinking of FATE/FATE Accellerated, GURPS Lite and the like. BECMI may be the most egregious example of this. But often the intent isn't really easing beginners into the rules but providing a different, simplified ruleset to all. So this may not really be a proper example.

    • About the vividness, I think

      About the vividness, I think that S/Lay w/Me is involved, but as a precursor, through the direct line of Cold Soldier, which had a big impact for Zac and Jann (see Shambling along the avenue). My Life with Master probably relevant as well, because it is a direct influence on Cold Soldier and due to the powerful imagery and immediate "stage set" that tends to arise during play. A lot of us began to use and expect that kind of imagery when playing other games, and that habit fed into a lot of the designs that ultimately became the default for games like S/Lay w/Me.

      I have no idea what you mean by "out of place." It looks bizarre to me in this context.

      I'd prefer to limit this discussion to table-top role-playing games, although perhaps not permanently. The purposes and general venue for the other types of games can be very distracting and I have seen their inclusion detract from and ultimately flatten the discussion. We can bring them in later, maybe in a seminar dedicated to that concept.

    • The vividness is something I

      The vividness is something I definitely liked about Cold Soldier (which Ron cites as an influence for us). The idea of slowing down and focusing on a few very high-impact scenes was very appealing to me, even just practically (focus on what the game is about), but I think this also lends itself to a good teaching tool. A lot of RPG design (especially the kind that promises "ultimate freedom" or simply has a weak or non-existent statement about what the purpose of play is) can get sidetracked by non-consequential, ultimately irrelevant fluff at the table, and this is a big cause, not just for boredom, but for actual confusion of what play even is. Hence ths value in this teaching tool. 

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