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Story Games Seattle Message Board What We Played › What We Played: Rise of Nuala (Archipelago II)

What We Played: Rise of Nuala (Archipelago II)

Jamie F.
user 12636925
Bellevue, WA
Post #: 30
So, yay, finally finished a session of Archipelago with someone other than my daughter. How'd it turn out?

We used the "I see" game with our characters, and that was a definite plus, as elements from the "I see" games surfaced in play and gave the story some of that vivid detail that makes it seem real.

We also made the destiny points questions rather than statements:
Prince Angor: "How will you respond to your brother's cries for mercy?"
The Druid Madog: "What brings you to sacrifice the High King?"
The High King's General, Chief Ardwyad: "To what extent will you go to protect the secret that the prince is your son?"

I took Celtic gods & goddesses for an Element; Cy took "Intrigue"; Fred took "The Elements" (which never really came into play.)

As a nod to St. Patrick's day, we told a Celtic fantasy in which monotheism was rising against pantheism - though our god was not God with a capital G but Nuala, king of the old gods. The Prince and Druid were followers of Nuala and Ardwyad was a pantheist - and blood was shed as Nuala-ites and pantheists fought on a settlement on the outskirts of civilization. (And, hey, my bad, turns out the god I was thinking of was Nuada, not Nuala, but I'll resist the urge to fix it retroactively.)

We had trouble building momentum - there was a lot of "Um" as we tried to figure out where to make the story go next - there was a tension between pushing for our destiny points and following the logic of the story - logically, we should be responding to the crisis we narrated on the fringe of civilization, but that didn't get the Druid or the General any closer to their destinies.

I think crafting good destiny questions might be fairly key to a good experience: I'm a little sorry I chose "sacrifice the high king" because I knew how my story would end. On the other hand, I liked Cy and Fred's destinies - I didn't know for sure that Cy would not heed his brother's cries for mercy, and definitely didn't know that Fred would strike down the High King to protect his secret. (And neither did Fred, because he deliberated long and hard about that. Good antagonism, Cy.)

Some very interesting results came out of the cards:
* Cy had no trouble seducing my apprentice - I wasn't expecting that. "Yes, perhaps too much!" Oh, Braithe, I thought I taught you better than that.
* On a whim, as they were travelling across the sea to see their garrison, I "not so easy'd", and got, "Yes, but the results are different." Ok, so the garrison has been wiped out. I didn't know what wiped them out (though I had an idea), and Cy figured out something to narrate in later that totally fit.
* Cy's fate, trouble with my element (gods & goddesses) - well, clearly one of the pantheon is pissed off by his Nuala-devotion. That raised the stakes.
* "Yes, but only if..." for Fred - how do you protect your son from the sword-stroke of the king? By putting your sword arm in the way of the strike, and losing it.
I love the cards - they're so expressive. Most games, you either succeed, or fail - some games have the "yes, but" (like AW's cool roll or otherkind dice) - but not Archipelago.

I liked that we kept the tone serious throughout - I liked the fairly subtle level of magic - trances and potions and attacked-by-crows about as weird as it got.

If Fred, Cy and I ever happen to be at the same meetup again, I would be up for a sequel. What happens next in our world could be really interesting - the prince on the throne, now, Nuala in ascension, the General having to get by without a sword arm, Angor in-line for the crown of his tribe ... I think the Druid is having second thoughts about Nuala - who did he make that last sacrifice to? Nuala, to try and protect the Nuala-ites, or all the gods, to try and restore peace between them?

user 8619046
Seattle, WA
Post #: 14
The world-building part was fun, and the "I see" rounds were helpful for rounding out the characters. Taking the extra time made for a very rich and engrossing setup.

I agree that a combination of different destiny cards and having direct (instead of indirect) relationships would have made the scenarios a bit more straightforward for a one-session game. There were lots of locations, secondary characters, and events that probably would have been good to explore over two sessions instead of one (especially when we realized that we only had about 30 minutes to tie up our destinies!).

The cards added a lot to the game, and I think having just a couple more thrown in might have been good to add extra twists to the story. Jamie's GameCrafter cards were awesome. Also, thanks for bringing the butcher paper, Cy! I liked having the large-scale visual aid.
Jamie F.
user 12636925
Bellevue, WA
Post #: 31
Oh yeah, forgot the map.

user 8619046
Seattle, WA
Post #: 15
In my mind I kept picturing Nuala from the Sandman. I could not have been more off.

Nuada, badass king of the gods:

Nuala, displaced pixie:

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