Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Five or So Questions on The Sword and the Loves

Hi all, today I've got an interview with Antonio Amato from Mammut RPG on The Sword and the Loves, an Arthurian legends inspired game using mechanics adjusted from Archipelago, one of my favorite games, to fit the themes. It's a lovely read and I wanted to let you all learn more about it! Enjoy Antonio's interview below.

Full disclosure: I edited the English translation of the text.


The cover and example of the Sword and the Loves cards and map, illustrated in black & white.
Tell me a little about The Sword and the Loves. What excites you about it?

I think that “The Sword and the Loves” is the game I wanted to play when I was a teenager and I discovered the Arthurian cycle and the stories of the knights of the Round Table. During the summer vacation, I read a book about King Arthur and his knights, and I instantly fell in love. Then a couple of years ago I discovered “Archipelago” and I immediately thought it would be the perfect game to tell those stories. I then started writing my Archipelago hack.

​​What are the key aspects of the mechanical structure in ​​The Sword and the Loves that you think carry the emotional impact of the Arthurian legends?

Undoubtedly, the hopefulness and the bleakness. These are typical themes of the Arthurian legends that serve as a starting point for players to make the story more dramatic and to emphasize the role of the protagonist. This is a mechanic that I borrowed in part from "Love in the time of Seið", a game that I always recommend to play.

A black and white illustration of a knight lying in bed, ill, while a femme person looks at them, dismayed.
​​How did you approach an era and themes that had complex perspectives regarding gender and agency?

It was not easy, I have to admit it. Through hopefulness and bleakness, I tried to give thickness to the archetypes (especially those most penalized by a vision of the women that was a product of its time). I also thought the game needs a change in perspective because I believe that embracing those stories (contextualising and renewing them) is a pure act of love. That's why I decided to devote an archetype to a figure that owes much to Tolkien's re-reading of the female figure: the wandering damsel.

Do you think you could elaborate just a little to the last question to explain some of what the wandering damsel is? I think that would be useful.

The wandering damsel is a homage to all those brave and free women we can read about on modern and contemporary novels. However, I didn't want just to create a "female version" of the wandering knight, then I choose to develop a different type characterised by a strong connection to adventure, exploration, and freedom. While the wandering knight has a special relationship with his family, the “positive themes” of the wandering damsel are the valour and the gravitas, two virtues particularly appreciated in leaders. The archetype is inspired by Éowyn and Joan of Arc.

Illustrated cards representing the character archetypes, with the wandering damsel enlarged.

What about Archipelago and Love in the time of Seið fit with The Sword and the Loves so well mechanically and fictionally?

Archipelago (as well as Love in the time of Seið) is a story game in which the destiny of the characters is at the heart of the gaming experience. From the very first moment, I thought that The Sword and the Loves had to rely on such a structure. This allowed me to remain faithful to the literature of reference, while giving me sufficient freedom to change the game in the direction chosen by me. For example, the idea for the roles of guide and misleader come from Love in the time of Seið, even if with some little modifications.

A detailed black and white illustration of someone pulling a sword from an anvil.
You spoke of the hopefulness and the bleakness. How did you come up with these for each archetype? What do you think they will contribute most to play?

Hopefulness and bleakness are flags for players. You can use it to corroborate and consolidate the narration of other players or to play with the "dark side" of their characters. I based hopefulness and bleakness on the chivalric tradition related to the respective archetypes. So, for example, the hopefulness of the Wise Old Man is the tradition, while the bleakness is the hubris. I think that hopefulness and bleakness convey the right atmosphere among the players because they are seeds for the fiction.
The cover of The Sword and the Loves, which features an illustration of a femme person wearing a crown and holding up a sword, in front of a detailed landscape background. 

Thank you so much to Antonio for the interview! I hope you all enjoyed learning about The Sword and the Loves and that you'll check it out soon!

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