Hello, everyone. I’m continuing to post the text of my storytelling game The Dreaming Crucible online as part of its Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license. The main body of the gamewill be posted to the blog, then compiled in a wiki.
The Crucible is a game in which a young person beset with fear, confusion and pain goes into a magical land, where Light Faerie denizens offer aid, comfort and friendship and Dark Faerie forces make every attempt to crush her spirit. it’s time to talk about those player roles:
The Heroine player portrays a young girl (or boy) having difficulty coping with some pain or trauma, who journeys to a Land of Faerie where she must obtain something, unravel a mystery, or merely escape—facing expressions of her worst fears or heartache in the process. Heroine must decide how to face the Perils that beset her. The Heroine also describes her exploration of the Land of Faerie, and her reaction to its many beautiful and terrible aspects.
The Light Faerie player portrays characters who are kind, helpful or pleasant to the Heroine, most specially a Faerie companion who journeys with her and aids her. The Light Faerie intervenes at times to face a Peril in the Heroine’s stead. The Light Faerie also collaborates with the Dark Faerie to describe the Land of Faerie itself, focusing on its delightful and enthralling elements.
The Dark Faerie player portrays characters who are hostile, menacing or cruel to the Heroine, most specially a Faerie nemesis who traps or entices the Heroine into Faerie, and the Powers he arrays against her to destroy, consume or seduce her. The Dark Faerie introduces specific Perils that the Heroine must face to continue her journey. The Dark Faerie also collaborates with the Light Faerie to describe the Land of Faerie itself, focusing on its sinister and unnerving elements.
When I first conceived these roles, they were much like the traditional “Gamemaster and Players” paradigm where one participant is in charge of the whole world and a host of characters, and the other participants are responsible only for one character, and only have the authority over what that character says and does, and how he reacts to the GM’s input. So in this case, the game would have one “GM” and two “Players,” one playing a major character and the other playing a supporting character.
I quickly realized two things, though: One, the Light Faerie player didn’t have much to do. Playing a sidekick is in itself a limiting responsibility, and Light Faerie players were often sidelined in the process of playing through the Heroine’s big quest to find herself. And Two, the game is much richer when there are two players riffing off of each other’s creative input in weaving a rich, beautiful and ominous Dream for the heroine to explore. And through the push and pull of Light and Dark elements within that collaboration, the world of Faerie takes on a tension and texture that provides a solid foundation for the journey of Transformation. I described the process here, after a particularly wonderful experience of that effect. it was important enough to find its way into my Principles of Play.
It’s still possible for the Light Faerie to default to simply playing a Companion. Some novice players may be intimidated by the heavy creative demands of the game, and some may simply have a naturally low engagement level. But when I play the Dark Faerie, as I often do, I’m always grateful for a Light Faerie partner who can lend a hand in revealing the many-splendored lands of Faerie. For that matter, it’s wonderful to have a heroine player, as my post on Lifting Up described, who is proactive and assertive, not merely reactive and following the Faeries’ lead. Weaving the dream all by your lonesome is exhausting work, and not nearly as rich as with friends.