Two poems

Two role-playing poems today, because it’s just that kind of day. They’re quite different in tone – the first one personal and potentially disturbing; the second grotesque but silly.

Matthijs Holter

A poem for two players. An audience is okay, but they have to be quiet. The players should know each other quite well.

The players portray themselves, as 80-year-olds. They’ve lived a long life. Now they meet by chance, two old people in an undefined place. It’s snowing. The snow grows deeper as they talk. They talk about themselves, each other, their lives, their situation. The snow.

During the fifteen minutes of this game, each of you (the players) should do the following at some point:
Give the other player a loss. During their life, the player has lost something very dear to them, something they thought they could never do without. A wife. A child. Their memory. Their ability to do something they love. You will decide what they lost, and bring it into the conversation.
Example: “Freddie told me Greta passed away. Was it long ago?” “I read about the accident the other day. I was wondering why you didn’t play the violin anymore.”
Give the other player a gift. The other player has achieved, gained or been given something wonderful, something they thought might never happen, something they’ve secretly – or not so secretly – longed for. A huge fortune. The ability to bear children. A mission in life. You will decide what they gained, and bring it into the conversation. (I’m guessing this might be even more of a sensitive issue than the loss). You’re not a mind reader, so don’t worry if you don’t hit the thing they want the most; but try to make it something you think they’d really, really want to happen.
Example: “Kinda surprised to see you without your wheelchair. Guess the doctors fixed you up, huh?” “Rita told me the weirdest thing, said you had a vision or something. So you got religion now?”

After fifteen minutes, the game is ending. The snow is so deep it’s impossible to move. Stand in it for a minute, face up towards the sky, feel the snowflakes covering your face.

Good night, darlings
Matthijs Holter

This is a game for two or more players in a space with boundaries – a room with doors, a circle on the floor or similar. One player is a creative person – game designer, writer, film maker, composer, whatever; pick something that all players can understand or relate to. The others are darlings – parts of the creator’s latest work – parts that she really liked, even loved, but that she now sees have to go. There should probably be at least three darlings.

Start the game by having the creator gather all her darlings. Each of them will introduce themselves. “I’m that REALLY COOL opening scene with the car chase!” “Hello, I am the fabulously complex dice pool system.” “My loving creator, I am the silence between the three last notes, the ones that make everything doubly dramatic”. The darlings all think they’re great, important and wonderful.

Then the creator must kill them, one by one. She will explain to them why they have to die, and then kill them by her method of choice. Softly? Brutally? Coldly? While crying? Of course, they don’t want to die! They plead for their life. Maybe they try to hide or run. The creator has one special power: if she shouts “STAND STILL WHILE I KILL YOU” at one of the darlings, the darling can’t move. It can still cry and accuse and plead, though.

After all the darlings are dead, the creator will walk around the room, petting each of them on their head and whispering soft goodbyes. After that, the game is over.

10 thoughts on “Two poems

  1. “Snow” is a roleplaying poem in the truest sense of the word. I am particularly impressed by the way you use a minimum of directions for a potential maximum of experience, and how you manage to make it both deeply personal and highly intersubjective at the same time. Well done!

  2. I was really impressed by the “roleplaying poem” concept. It’s completely unknown between spanish players (I’m spanish). These two are beautiful. I don’t find “Good night, darlings” that silly, though. It has the potential of becoming very dramatic, even a deep reflection on how things mean a lot at a time… but don’t mean nothing later. (Did you get inspired by Miguel de Unamuno’s “Niebla”, by the way?

    I wanted to ask you another question. I have made a translation of the “Norwegian Style” handouts into spanish, and I thought it would be a pity to go through all that effort just for my gaming group. Would you be interested if I send them to you, so more people can use them?

  3. Pingback: Indierummet Nordnordost » Blog Archive » Avsnitt 4 – Efterspel - indiespel i Norr- och Västerbotten

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