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

Love in the Time of Seið

Love in the Time of Seið

I wonder if I broke some kind of record with Jason’s and Matthijs’ game Love in the Time of Seið. I read, translated and played it three times (with different groups each time) it all in less than a week.

The game has a sort of emergent quality to it. Just reading the game the first time didn’t really tell me how cool it was. It was in the translation work and the subsequent actual plays that I figured it out. I thought I’d share some stuff that I didn’t see in the book, that could be useful if you’re going to play it for the first time.

Yes, I translated the game into Swedish before playing. I bought the dead tree version, had no photocopier and I didn’t want to cut up the book. So when I had to make my own handouts I took the detour and translated them at the same time. All plays were done with my translated handouts.

Translated handouts

But really, the game would have played just fine without the translation. There isn’t very much text for the players to read. But the new format was convenient never the less.

Some advice
I pitched the game as ‘Shakespeare and Wagner write a viking story together!’, and that was really all the setting information that the players needed to decide if they wanted to play it or not.

Do the warm up exercise as suggested in the book. We retold scenes from the Star Wars movies and a Mickey Mouse-cartoon. Pick something that everyone is familiar with, no need to waste creative energy at this stage. The focus is on the phrases, not the story, deviations from the original is expected.

Make everyone read all characters, just like it says in the rules. The information is a bit thin, but if you read all of them you get a pretty good grasp of the situation. Also, it enforces the idea that the players have no secrets, even if the characters do.

It helps if everyone thinks of the game like a play in the theater or opera. Each of the eight locations is one set of props that can be brought onto the stage by stage hands between the scenes. It also gives a mood and feel to the game that suits the story implied in the characters. The characters interact with each other or make monologues, they don’t interact with the scenery to any greater extent, remember, it’s all just card board. Characters that are not the PCs are done by extras, don’t give them the cool lines or stories.

I played both with named characters and with characters that simply were The Princess, The Knight etc. Both worked well, but if there are no names to remember, there are no names to forget either.

This is a theater play, written by people that have no concern for historical correctness. Don’t worry if someone does something that isn’t historically correct, or even that introduces minor inconsistencies or contradictions. Use the phrases if you need, but don’t let the game get bogged down.

The rules suggest that you go around the table taking turns in setting the scenes. We just let whoever had an idea set the next scene. It worked out very well. As facilitator, keep an eye on the stage/spotlight time each character gets, and ask those that lag behind for more scenes; ‘It has been a long time since we last saw the Earl in a scene, would you like to set one?’

If a player leaves the game permanently, keep the character in the story. Take turns playing that character as needed, and even setting scenes for him or her. … holter – My ‘Reading’ post for the game.


1 Comment

  1. Matthijs said,

    January 11, 2011 at 05:04

    The opera/theatre analogy is spot on, I think. Reminds me a bit of the Danish scenario “Kongemord”, which uses theatre conventions – like Checkov’s Gun – as rules.

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