Reading Love in the Time of Seið by Jason Morningstar and Matthijs Holter

I have been busy preparing for SävCon X the last few days. NordNordOst are going there to host an indie gaming lounge.

It all started when we played Montsegur 1244 before Christmas. It was an awesome session, but we felt it was a bother having the material organized the way it is in the book. After Christmas I translated all the cards, and Anders made a new PDF for us with the cards. I also translated the background information sheets and built a cheat sheet.

After seeing our new Montsegur 1244 I got sort of carried away, and thought it would be neat to give Love in the Time of Seið by Jason Morningstar and Matthijs Holter the same treatment.

Love in the Time of Seið

Love in the Time of Seið

The book
Love in the Time of Seið is a 40 page 9×6 book. It has nice layout and reads in an hour, to actually understand the game it took me a whole day of translation work, but reading it went quickly. There is (public domain?) artwork by Victor R. Lambdin, E. Boyd Smith and Abbie Farwell-Brown. The second half of the book consists of stuff that is meant to be cut out, cards and character sheets, in order to play the game. If you think it would be heresy to put scissors to a book, don’t make my mistake, buy the PDF version rather than the print one.

The setting
The setting is a pseudo viking one, sort of what would have happened if Wagner had written an RPG. There are only eight locations in the game, but each is given three different description blurbs, allowing for some variation if the game is played multiple times. For each location there are also a set of suggested events that can be used to drive the story forwards.

The game puts five characters into an interesting situation, and then the players are left to explore what happens next.

The rules
There is not much in the way of rules, no stats, no combat system, no skill checks and no real conflict mechanics. There are resolution cards (‘Yes, and…’, ‘No, but…’ etc), familiar from Itras By and Archipelago II, that can be used if the players want to introduce an element of randomness. Other than that it is just story telling, what you say is what happens.

The game comes with five pregen characters, defined by their relations to the other characters, questions that should be answered about their history or future and themes that are central to them. It would be possible to build your own by the same pattern, but that would be almost the same as a completely rewriting the setting.

The form
The form is GM less. And no prep is necessary (other than the assembly of the game materials as such). The players take turns setting scenes for their own characters. When not playing the main character the players are given various tasks to support the storytelling. A warm-up exercise is provided to help teaching the rules.

Conclusion
The setting is good. It would have been nice to have more to work with, but on the other hand the game is expected to play in three hours. You don’t need much setting for such a short game. Three different descriptions for each location adds replay value.

The rules are very good. There is no depth or nuance at all. But the rules are intended to support the story telling, and that they do.

The form is very good. It is clearly explained how to play the game. The cards and play aids puts the focus on the right things.

Will I play it?
After first reading the game I was sort of disappointed, was this really everything the game had to offer? And the play aids we assembled looked rather crummy. Then our planned session got a cancellation and we played Polaris instead, and that was it.

But now, after translating the game, and therefore really studying it, not just reading it, I have changed my opinion. This game is very cool. The characters and situations are connected in interesting ways to a much higher degree than I realized when I just browsed through the game. I’ll bring it with me to SävCon and I will play it as soon as we get a group of four willing players.

www.lulu.com/product/…/11175734 – Lulu page for the PDF version of the game.

norwegianstyle.wordpress.com/…-sei%C3%B0 – Release announcement on Norwegian Style.

3 Comments

  1. Matthijs said,

    January 5, 2011 at 07:22

    Thanks for reading the game! And posting about it, too!

    One playing tip: Make sure you go through the ritual phrases, and give them a quick trial run – a little exercise before the game. The phrases are really the heart of the system, and it’s very important that people understand how to use them. They look deceptively simple, but using them changes everything.

    Hope you guys have an excellent time at SävCon!

    • Wilhelm said,

      January 5, 2011 at 18:49

      Thanks!

      Yes, I saw the warm up exercise in the the book. It seems that doing that short bit of disconnected narration will save time for later.

      Sometimes I feel like I am tweaking the pit-stops for a F1 race car. ‘Where can I shave some prep time off to get more actual play done in the convention slots?’ But I don’t think that exercise is dead weight.

      If I get a few games under my belt at the con I’ll return with a ‘Playing Love in…’-post with my thoughts on actual play.

  2. January 10, 2011 at 17:03

    [...] wilper.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/ … holter – My ‘Reading’ post for the game. [...]


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