2014-08-25 : AW:Dark Age playtest preview: the Castellan

I made this preview PDF sometime last week, and it's already slightly out of date, but it'll do:

AW:Dark Age: the Castellan

The playtest release is still coming this weekend!

1. On 2014-08-25, Vincent said:

If you want to sign up for the playtest, please do:


2. On 2014-08-25, Tom Lawrence said:

Are Arabic/Hebrew/Greek/Latin placeholders for equivalent fictional languages you're going to make up eventually, just as Bloodless Xristos was a thinly veiled Jesus, or have you just decided to use the actual languages (and thereby set the game on mediaeval Earth, but with trolls)? If that distinction makes sense...


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This makes...
Andy go "Not much of a veil :-)"*

*click in for more

3. On 2014-08-25, Vincent said:

Tom: Not placeholders!


4. On 2014-08-25, Jeremy L. said:



5. On 2014-08-25, Vincent said:

Oops! It should say that when you lead warriors in defense and counterattack, you have the right to roll your Wary instead of their War.


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This makes...
JMW go "That's pretty cool! Give me unseasoned recruits.."

6. On 2014-08-25, Joao said:

Liege :-)


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This makes...
VB go "yep."

7. On 2014-08-25, Davide said:

A question about languages: it feels sort of arbitrary as a choice - unless there's something substantial behind it that we don't see in here. Assume someone picks Arabic: if the MC puts then something relevant in Arabic in the game, then it makes sense, otherwise it's a wasted choice.

Is there something in the MC rules or other places in the game to put languages into context?

Otherwise Literate might be more appealing if rewritten as having the right to read "important" written text before you - even when ciphered or cryptic for others. Basically, with Literate, you have the right to know others' secrets if written down... Does it make sense?


8. On 2014-08-25, Vincent said:

Davide: For literacy, your choice of language links substantially to your people, which you're right, you haven't seen yet.

But even so, it's not about learning others' secrets, no. Unless you count a body of literature as a secret!


9. On 2014-08-25, plausible.fabulist said:

I am, or course, on fire to see the Peoples stuff, and I'm also very interested in whether this means the general setting stuff that the first version had—which was a very evocative, abstracted Dark Ages Northern Europe—is substantially changed. Arabic-speaking Castellans seem to move us south of our shield walls, furs, and cod, later in time than our Old Gods vs. Gods of Eagles vs. Bloodless Xhristos (to 711 in Visigothic Spain at the earliest?), and/or from abstracted alternate history to something closer to our timeline...


10. On 2014-08-25, Vincent said:

I've gone back and forth about including Arabic for exactly these reasons. For now it's in, but yes, if you're the Castellan, and you choose to be literate in Arabic instead of Hebrew or Latin, you might have some explaining to do.

If you're literate in Greek, you're declaring a connection to the Eastern Empire. If you're literate in Arabic, it's a bit of a fudge, but basically you're declaring a connection to the spice trade.


11. On 2014-08-25, Nathan said:

I really dig the way you worded the stages in Meeting Death.  Very sharp stuff.  That is all.


12. On 2014-08-25, E_FD said:

I don't know if this is changed in the final version, but it's interesting to see that some of the moves on here are the same ones from the Rights of War list.

Are all the playbook moves shared with one the various Rights lists, or are there some unique to individual playbooks that can't be gained by anyone else?


13. On 2014-08-25, DWeird said:

I like the way "Weighed by duty and rights" is phrased. How it's both a difficulty and a measure of your true worth.

Also, in light of this playbook, I apparently read the War rights wrong. I read it as a supplement of additional level-up perks. It instead seems to be a master list of all War rights. So I'm now expecting to see being literate be part of the rights of the Wider World, or an enchanted weapon being a right of the Other world or such.

Every character an intersection of forces that exist beside them. Interesting!


14. On 2014-08-25, Vincent said:

E_FD, DWeird: Right! Being literate is a right of the Wider World, the enchanted weapon is a right of the Other World, striking your quarry's trail is a right of the Land Itself, and so on.

You're also right about the intersection of forces. When you create a new playbook, that's exactly what you decide.


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This makes...
PF go "is creating new forces/domains also a thing?"
VB go "PF: not as written..."*

*click in for more

15. On 2014-08-26, David Berg said:

Dunno if separation of Meeting Death options is vital, but if it is:

Perhaps "I have more to do before I die" is too vague in scope to differentiate it from "I will yet survive this"?  Maybe "I have more to accomplish" or something instead?


16. On 2014-08-26, David Berg said:

I've been thinking about positioning in PbtA games recently, and the Castellan's list of Rights has some great examples for discussion.  Not sure if this is the ideal time or place, but perhaps some of my questions will matter for the Castellan itself, so here goes:

1) These Rights are fun options for things one might do in play, and they paint a picture that I imagine will inspire Castellan character ideas.  So the Rights may have already served a purpose, regardless of any positioning or currency.

2) I only get to check 4 Rights during char-gen, so each one counts as a purchase, and the concept of "bang for my buck" applies.  Specifically, any of these actions that I can already do "for free" is a less appealing purchase, and any action which I definitely cannot do without "buying" the Right is a more appealing purchase.

3) I would like to think that if I wanted to muster laborers to improve the stronghold, I could put myself in that position through roleplayed (and maybe rolled) character actions.  That is, without purchasing the Right.

4) I would worry that my liege may not conduct any relevant counsel sessions, or even matter in the particular arc of play that unfolds.

5) I would wonder whether the mechanical presence of these Rights obligates the MC to imbue them with fictional value.  If I check the "counsel liege" box, does that mean the MC should make the liege relevant?  If I don't check the "muster laborers" box, does that mean the MC should deny me that ability (so it can later be earned/purchased)?


17. On 2014-08-26, Vincent said:

David: No, the MC has no special obligation to remember or care which rights you've chosen and which you haven't.

As it happens, by the time you're choosing your character's rights, you'll have a bunch of local, immediate information to work with. You'll know whether another player is playing your liege, for instance, and you'll have a guess what kind of liege she'll be. You'll know what language your neighbors read and write. You'll know whether the stronghold has access to an abundance of laborers or whether you'll have to pry soldiers away from the war-captain in order to get anything done!

It's not important to the design that the rights be equally appealing, absent setup, at all.


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This makes...
D.B. go "Gotcha. Cool."

18. On 2014-08-26, Jeff said:

David: the fact that it exists as a right suggests (at least to me) that if you try to muster laborers and you don't have that right, you will face resistance and/or consequences. (Sounds like it's asking for an MC move to me.)

And I've always been in favor of the character sheet as instructions to the GM, so if I saw that you had the right to sit in counsel with the liege, I would definitely take that as a request to make the liege's opinion important.


19. On 2014-08-28, Marhault said:

Loving the new experience stuff.  Especially the Ungiven Future.


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