For the Queen: Best Practices/Tips?

Hey y’all! I had this discussion with @William_Nichols in the car on the way home from this weekend’s DC Metro Area Gauntlet Gathering (if you want to join the next one, pop into #gauntlet-dcmetro on the Gauntlet slack!).

Basically, we agreed that the prompt questions in FtQ are amazing scaffolding for character generation and helping you tell your character’s story through the lens of their fraught relationship with the Queen. But, I’ve played the game five or six times now, and one thing I’ve struggled with is figuring out how to tie all of these amazing individual character arcs into a cohesive narrative - after all, in the fiction, everyone is traveling together as the queen’s retinue, and outside the fiction, I love to “play to lift” other players, but I haven’t really figured out how to do it within the framework of the game. (I suspect this kind of narrative integration is a GM-type skill that I haven’t learned yet!)

Does anyone have anything that’s worked really well to get players working together to tell the story? Or have any suggestions for how to tie my character’s arc into the stories the others are telling, so it’s not like we’re playing five separate but simultaneous games of For The Queen around the same table? :sweat_smile:

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Sad I had to leave and miss FtQ!

One thing that’s worked for me is asking followup questions to other player’s answers that help bring it to the present (that is, the journey), and that involve either my character, or other characters at the table. If somebody answers the question, “What did the queen give you, and why?” (Don’t remember if that is exactly the prompt, but there is a similar one) with, “She gave me the plume on my helmet, to show the world she had forgiven my betrayal,” I might follow up with “Who misunderstood the gesture, and what happened on the journey to demonstrate it.” Ideally the “What happened” question pulls in the other character too, and they end up collaborating on a scene. I’ve found this works pretty well.

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The more experienced and comfortable the group of players, the more you can “play-to-lift” by asking loaded GM-style questions of each other (while continuing to respect the X-Card, of course, if people don’t like what you’ve loaded into your questions). In a recent game, one player introduced the idea that the Queen falsely suspected her of having stolen a piece of jewelry, and another player had positioned herself as a scheming noble in the queen’s entourage. On that second player’s next turn, I asked her as a follow-up question, “Where did you hide that piece of jewelry you stole?” Everyone reacted positively—but also with noises of a surprise and revelation, as if I’d uncovered a pre-existing plot twist instead of simply positing one. That’s the magic of GMless RPGs! See if you can get it to work at your table.

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I’ve been trying to work this out myself, too. I think the “loaded followup questions” is the right way to go about it, though I’m still experimenting. My next attempt is going to be asking a lot of “and how do you feel about [other person’s character]?” when people first start defining themselves, especially when you catch two people that would naturally have conflict between them.

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First, do not feel bad about getting a story out of For the Queen that’s more atmospheric than narrative. That’s what it’s built to do. (I’m working on a Descended from the Queen game meant to be more narrative, and it’s a real challenge.)

What you can do to interweave your stories is: Connect everything you can to PCs. Give characters relationships and history with one another. When something happens, make it happen to a PC. Invent NPCs only when you explicitly need a foil or when all possible connections would contradict established fiction. Players care most about their own characters, so involve them wherever possible.

In a GMless game like FtQ, take every prompt you get and ask yourself, how can I tie this to another PC? You don’t have to do this with every prompt, but it’s possible—even for seemingly intimate cards like “how does the queen make you question your ugliness”—and considering such angles will be a good exercise if not a fun time.

“When William makes fun of my appearance, the Queen questions the clarity of his vision.”
“When Jay gave me this damn scar, the Queen said it marked my bravery.”
“After Ari dumped me, the Queen spent the night with me.”
“When Trina enchanted the mirror, the Queen chose my visage to advise her.”

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It’s all about the questions, absolutely.

Follow-up questions can specifically be ignored. So it seems like the game is designed towards the singular experiences rather than the meshing. Different questions would bring out different aspects, right?

Like “When the Queen made you feel ugly, how did the player to your right react?”

Or somethingsomething. That’s not particularizing evocative.

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Thank you all for the suggestions - these are hugely helpful!!

@Jesseabe I love the tip about asking followup questions that bring the story back to the present.

And @jtreat3, as always, stellar suggestions. Thanks for the advice - I will definitely practice asking myself “how can I tie this to another PC?” for each card - it does sound like a good thought experiment, even if I don’t do it on every turn. Also hopefully this goes without saying but as soon as you’re ready for playtesters for your DftQ game, count me in!!! :smiley:

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