The impetus for the event came from community member Jamila Nedjani asking for someone to run For The Queen or a game inspired by it. Several Gauntlet members chimed in about Descended from the Queen games they were working on, and soon there was excited chatter about arranging a “Descended from the Queen Day.” Once the idea was labeled Queensday, it was clear we had to make it happen.
Part of the brilliance of For The Queen is that it’s a game of very simple components, and thus very tempting to hack into new forms. You draw cards from a deck of prompts that help you and your fellow players weave a tale of a Queen and her closest companions on a perilous journey. The prompts are designed to deepen and complicate your relationships with the Queen and the party, until you draw the last card and must make a stark choice: “The Queen is under attack! Do you defend her?”
In a channel dedicated to Queensday, we not only laid out plans for the event, we also chatted about designing Descended from the Queen games. Among the fascinating discussions was one about time in For The Queen: the cards prompt you to share pieces of the story not only from during the journey but also back at the royal court, with a mix of prompts about singular events and about habitual arrangements. This layering of time helps create the complex and dramatic characters that have an interesting choice come the end of the game. How do we make sure to include similar layering (perhaps of time scales, perhaps of something else) to enrich the stories of our Descended from the Queen games?
When the big day came, we ran three Descended from the Queen games on the Gauntlet, two of which are projects in playtesting by Gauntlet members. You can find discussion of each game below.
For This Ungrateful City
Facilitator: Alexi Sargeant
Final question: The City is under attack! Do you defend her?
How did the players answer?: Mostly “no, not really” or “yes, but…”
For This Ungrateful City is an in-development project from Cloven Pine Games. It lets you tell the story of a group of supers tasked with defending a City that they may decide does not deserve their protection.
We played the game using Zoom, a shared Google Sheet, and ForTheDrama (a site that hosts decks of Descended from the Queen games to facilitate online playtesting).
Our chosen inspiration image suggested an Art Deco City. We spun out a story involving sharp social divisions between the haves and the have-nots, a morally-ambiguous government-sponsored academy for supers, and the rising threat of the Shadow City. It was an exciting game that ended with the team split and the City in crisis.
Facilitator: Stentor Danielson
Final question: Do you agree to adopt the cat?
How did the players answer?: Three yesses and a no that got persuaded to change to a yes
Forever Home is an in-development game from Glittercats Fine Amusements about a family deciding whether to adopt a cat from the local animal shelter. The questions explore the family members’ relationships to each other, past experiences with pets, and feelings about the particular cat they’ve been getting to know at the shelter. We played using Streamyard and the card deck functionality on RollForYourParty, with a question oracle linked to the cards.
Our family was a group of roommates of differing backgrounds and levels of responsibility for a future pet, who had to work out whether we could agree on how to care for our one-eyed rescue cat.
Captain Blood’s Odyssey
Facilitator: Steven desJardins
Final Question: King William has offered pardon in exchange for turning Privateer against the French. Do you accept?
Captain Blood's Odyssey is based on the 1922 novel by Rafael Sabatini. The player characters were all convicted of participating the in 1685 Monmouth Rebellion (whether they were guilty or not) and sentenced to penal servitude in the Barbados, where under the leadership of a surgeon named Peter Blood they escaped captivity and turned pirate (preying, however, exclusively on the Spanish, not their home country). It was designed by Deirdre Donlon and can be purchased on itch.io.
I ran the game on Zoom, with a custom-designed spreadsheet that allowed me to deal cards out to the players and have them appear under their characters' names. I used a random number generator to pick the cards to deal, only very occasionally fudging the results. Due to some last-minute drop-outs, we ran with only three players, and every player answered 9-10 questions. In retrospect, I should have slipped the end card in sooner: our characters were all pretty well-defined after a few questions. I played a schoolteacher who sent money to his wife and child in England, without being quite sure it was getting to them. Another player delighted in cultivating a fearsome reputation as a pirate, wearing a necklace of human teeth and spreading stories about her ferocious deeds. And a third was an ex-preacher who was in love with our captain, but repressed his feelings, thinking them to be wrong.
In the end, my character wanted to accept the pardon, another wanted to reject the pardon and remain a pirate, and a third simply wanted to remain with the crew, whatever they chose to do. As the facilitator, I forced the third player to break the tie, decreeing that a critical mass of the crew would follow him, whatever he chose, and he elected to become a pirate. So my character and Captain Blood left the ship, accepting the King's pardon and joining the Royal Navy, hoping we would never be called upon to face our old crew in combat.
Based on this Queensday, would we consider organizing another one? Absolutely. We had a great time as facilitators and it seems the other players did as well.
If we organize a sequel event, we’ll take a few bits of inspiration from bigger events like GauntletCon. For one thing, we’ll schedule downtime between games so they don’t go one immediately after another. This will give players more freedom to play multiple sessions if they so desire.
In the meantime, if you have a hankering to try out a Descended from the Queen game, Steven will be running End of the Line, a game about the crew of a sentient ship on the way to scrapyard, on April 16th as part of the free Gauntlet Community Open Gaming. Consider signing up for a slot!