A Tale of Two Scenarios

Paul Revere

I made a capstone project for my Honors program. Me being me, I made role-playing scenarios to be put in a social studies classroom. Two of these were for the games Quill and Parsely. The links to the actual scenarios I made are hidden in the article and located at the bottom of this post.

Dear King George

Quill is free on DriveThruRPG, so you have no excuse to not get it. Quill was originally written by Scott Malthouse and produced by Trollish Delver Games. Quill is a ruleset for a solo role-play experience in which the player writes a letter. While writing, the player makes dice rolls that determine how their well word choice and penmanship land with their intended audience.

After the letter comprised of five paragraphs is complete, there is a scoring system that determine the final outcome of the scenario. To keep the experience varied, the purpose, topic, and recipient of the letter change with each unique scenario. The purpose and recipient can be found under the scenario’s “Profile” and the topic under the scenario’s “Ink Pot,” which functions as a word bank to guide the player’s writing.

While the game already came with a handful of scenarios, none them had a historical context from which students could explore content in a social studies classroom. This sparked the development of the scenario Dear King George. Here is the link to the game. In this game, an individual player takes on the role of an English diplomat living in Boston in December of 1773. The premise is that the Boston Tea Party occurred not one day ago and now the player has to accurately transcribe the events as they happened to King George III, without leading him to believe that they have any sympathy for the Sons of Liberty. Their report must contain at least five words from the “Ink Pot” to help students understand and remember the proper names, places, groups involved with the event.

The final consequences of the Dear King George range from player being thrown in prison as a traitor to the crown to the king himself writing a letter of gratitude for their service and sending them a large sum of money. While the game is lighthearted in its approach, it is meant to give writing a historical report an unpredictable and exciting quality to it in order to increase student engagement.

A Distant Early Warning in Boston

The ruleset of the game is called Parsely and was originally written by Jared A. Sorensen and produced by Memento Mori Theatricks. The original designer has boasted being able to use this game for a group as large as 400 people with its simple concept: the group all plays as a single “Player.” The role-playing game Parsely emulates the text-based adventure games of old from the late 1970s and early 1980s like Zork and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. To play, each member of the group in order “enters a command” by speaking phrases like “go north” or “take fishing pole,” which controls the Player in the game to do so. Parsely is a cooperative experience for students in which they must work together to solve the puzzles in the game.

Parsely, like Quill, is a scenario-based game and lacks historical scenarios to enhance learning in the classroom. For this project, Parsely is used as a medium for learning about Paul Revere and his famous midnight ride. The scenario designed, titled A Distant Early Warning in Boston (which is absolutely a Rush reference, here’s the link), was directly inspired by the poem “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. This romantic account speaks of the twin lanterns in the Old North Church that were to be lit when the British were to leave Boston by the water. This signal system was in place so that the riders Paul Revere and William Dawes would be ready to alert their fellow colonists in the area around the city.

The poem lays out how these signals were in place and were activated, but never names who lit the lanterns. In A Distant Early Warning in Boston, the players play as the person who lights the lanterns and, through the butterfly effect, starts the American Revolution.

I had my eye on this game for a while before David Schirduan convinced me to buy the physical copy and PDF. His review is here.

I bought Parsely here.

This isn’t my whole portfolio of nonsense for my capstone (one of them was my 200 Word RPG contest entry), I just wanted to share these two bits. Happy weekend, everyone! 🙂

Dear King George

A Distant Early Warning in Boston

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