Rosewood Abbey’s first stream
Back in October, I was contacted by Canard Vert from the French-speaking LaPelle Crew Twitch channel. I previously met Canard Vert when I facilitated a session of Paris Gondo - The Life-Saving Magic of Inventorying for CyberConv’.
LaPelle Crew was considering Brindlewood Bay for a one-shot. when they heard about Rosewood Abbey (oops, sorry Jason for stealing your spot). As a fan of The Name of the Rose, Canard was enthusiastic about my monastic setting and asked me to run a live session at the end of November.
At the time, not a single Rosewood Abbey playtest had taken place yet.
The first playtest took place on November 5th (Remember, remember… See the previous session report). It was informative but not a shining success.
A couple of weeks later, as LaPelle Crew’s stream was about to start, I wasn’t confident about how this was going to turn out.
Lessons learned & a constrained session
The main lesson I applied was to frame scenes more proactively to keep the story moving forward steadily.
This was especially relevant in the context of a standalone 3 hours stream.
With that in mind, I kept character introductions short. Safety tools were discussed ahead of the stream.
I complimented the Gdoc Character Keeper with a Miro board (to be shared in a future Devlog). This made it easier for the players to keep an eye on the moves available. I also used it to clearly index the name of each location, clue, and suspect they identified. Often, I pulled on-the-fly a picture from Google.
This meaningfully helped the players get hold of the mystery and protagonists.
GMing & System Mastery
Another lesson learned I applied was to offer more opportunities for the players to take “risks”.
- A potential clue was among the branches of a high tree in the monastery’s orchard.
- Suspicious villagers surrounded two characters as they were “apprehending” a suspect.
The amended Pious Move and Profane Move worked better (see previous Devlog).
In the above examples, the monk climbing a tree was clearly on the monastery’s grounds. Meanwhile, the situation with villagers was outside, at the village.
Overall, there was a better rotation between the moves triggered by the players.
Prick of a Thorn
During the session, a player pointed out an issue between most Basic Moves and the Prick of a Thorn Move . The results of Basic Moves often included marking a thorn. This was redundant with the Prick of a Thorn Move .
This was motivated by my worry that thorns, and as a result, the Rumor Mill , would not be activated often enough. In hindsight, it came from my misunderstanding of Brindlewood Bay’s " Putting on a Crown ".
It’s a nice perk from developing a game, to understand better the systems it’s inspired from.
Anyway, as a result, I removed the Thorns of Virtue and Thorns of Sin from most Basic Move results.
The Rumor Mill was triggered many times. I didn’t expect this to happen within a 3 hours session. This sparks joy.
The players populated it with lore about the area :
The Abbey was founded because of miracles performed by Saint Rose.
A treasure was hidden at the Abbey.
The ghost of an Abbott can be heard screaming with rage in the forest when the moon is full.
Also, in “present-day” 13th Century:
- A monk dreamt of a suspect (Rose) conversing with St Rosa about the future of the Church.
- Someone had an accident on their way to see a miraculous rose at the monastery but was saved by a monk.
What I like about the Rumor Mill , is how it adds lore to the context of the game BUT does so in an unreliable witness fashion. None of the above was true or false in the context of the session. Within a campaign, it would be up to the players to decide and their characters to find out if any of them had real events behind them. This aspect really motivates me with this project.
Seeing the Rumors Mill triggered resulted in another rule change.
The Prick of a Thorn Move (player tells a Sin/Virtue-related trivia about their monk) triggers the Rumor Mill (a rumor is added to the mill).
Coming up with both at the same time is a lot for a single player. It tended to keep the spotlight on a single person for too long.
Therefore, I applied a change to share the spotlight. Instead of filling the rumor themselves, the player who triggered the move instead designates another player to fill the rumor. This way, the spotlight is shared and the second player can come up with the rumor, while the other tells the group of their Thorn of Sin/Virtue .
Culture of Play
I wonder to what extent the experience was supported by the cultural references I shared with this group of French-speaking players.
The game was more laid-back than the first playtest without falling into farce. Maybe, there was more familiarity, instead of knowledge, with the concept of monasteries. There was a"je ne sais quoi" that helped us be more comfortable around the theme maybe? I can’t quite put my finger on it.
I came out of the first session thinking I should make the game’s context darker and even lean into the grotesque. However, this second session landed on a somewhat light-hearted tone akin to most Brindlewood Bay sessions. Tt worked quite well with this tone.
I look forward to more playtests to discover what tone works best. To some extent, it’s great for the tone to change depending on the players. However, it’s worth identifying a specific tone that would be worth showcasing. In my opinion, it’s more about being inspiring rather than restrictive.
What made me happy:
- The Rumor Mill was populated.
- Most moves were used.
- Successfully ran a streamed session within a couple of hours, including an introduction of myself and the game to the channel’s audience.
- A recorded session is now available on YouTube.
- Worth experimenting more with tone.
- A Miro board featuring the play-aids will be available soon.
Basic Moves were amended to remove Thorn of Virtue and Thorn of Sin from most results.
- Who fills a rumor, following a Prick of a Thorn Move , was amended
The stream is available on LaPelle Crew’s YouTube channel. It’s in French but the automated captions and English translations are OK.