Playing in Seneschal Facilitated by Brad Murray

Building up a Game's Ruleset One Turn at a Time

A , Brad Murray sent out a general call for players.

He was looking for 16 players to play seneschal (seneschal 📖), an asynchronous game with emergent rules. The initial seneschal rules built on The Scaffold System (Scaffold 📖).

Over the course of play, we’ve been adding new rules and principles.

One principle/rule we added is to put the onous of reminding the Referee of game state in the emails we send. In other words, if it’s important make sure to put it in your emails that communicate your moves.

Brad sent me three questions:

  1. What is the name of your people?
  2. What are your people exceptionally good at?
  3. What do your people want from the world?

This was my turn 0. I named my people the Betanakmas (Bet-a-nak-mas).

For the first turn, I received the following:

A terrible plague has beset your people. Wherever they congregate the most densely thousands die. Where they move they seem to bring the plague with them. While desperate, your people are strong and believe there is a way to safety and health and your leaders are up to the task.

Cue: how has the plague manifested and how has it affected your people? Orders: what will they do?

I note that this might be a sensitive topic. It’s randomly rolled and no one else has it in their turn. If you are uncomfortable with it I’ll re-roll it happily.

Over on Twitter we dove into a quick discussion. I wanted to dive into a quick conversation, and Twitter worked better than clogging up each other’s email with a quick discussion. Going forward, I’ll likely use the game’s Discord channel.

Jeremy: Loving the email I got. And oddly appreciating the Plague event that the random tables sent my way. The motivation of my people, paired with the very real experience of a pandemic has me thinking and reflecting.

Brad: Oh good; that’s the only one I was worried might be a little close to home. Glad you’re into it!

Jeremy: It’s poignant. I also appreciate the safety feature (e.g. if this sits rough, let me know, and we’ll take another approach). Knowing that’s an option helps me receive the random event while also having agency. That’s huge. (In future, maybe safety at beginning of email?)

Brad: Noted; can do.

Jeremy: And to be clear, I received it fine. But it may help to prime a future reader “Here’s your agency in this moment.” then get into the issue.

Brad: It’s absolutely the right instruction to the ref! It’s in 1.3 Safety section.

And like that, Brad updated the rulebook to reference for all future turns.

, I have an idea of a few of the participants, but the world remains opaque.

I’ve seen the node map of the world, and know that my people have no edges to anything else.

Neither Brad nor I yet know the signficance of that. Are the Betanakmas on an undiscovered island? Trapped in a demiplane? Orbitting in a dreadnaught? Are we operating at the same conceptual level? We’ll play to find out.

I’m still noodling on the orders for my turn.

Poems Thusfar

My people are the Betanakmas, we are good at poetry. I’ve chosen to write a few poems on the discord channel. I’ve included them below.

I’m writing these quickly with a loose form; It’s a fun little exercise.

Poem 1

Crashing waves carry forth
Lamenting songs of people whom
Once torn from watery birth
Seek return again to the womb

Listen children to those waves
Traveled from distant shore
To share this song that saves
Them from dissolution once more

The Bet-a-nak-mas cry and yearn
For sunderment they did not earn

Poem 2

Our blessed place once
Cleft and left unravelled
Remembers us from whence
The road we travelled

We shall forever and always be
One with shod and cobbled trail
Though boots may grind, we see
Our story shall soon prevail

The Bet-a-nak-mas cry and yearn
For sunderment we did not earn

Poem 3

Someone on the Discord channel mentioned that their people have an edge to a volcano. I figure, why not write a poem about that.

Fire and earth churn and mumble
As those living so close hear
Stone and ash grind and grumble
The molten doom draws near

Pout and pray sing and save
Your breath for a long run
Mount and soot death and grave
Is the time of the sun

The Bet-a-nak-mas moan and ache
For birth through this land quake