Friday, 31 January 2020

Lorelei & The Rider

This is a special bonus game designed for two players, dealing with themes of romance, power relationships and being an outsider. It probably isn't to everyone's taste.

Upon This Rock

There are only two players in this game and no GM; it tells a tale of the passionate connection between two strangers who are both, in their own way, outcasts from the society around them. These two characters are:

Lorelei: a woman considered a pariah by her townsfolk, for her beliefs, actions or nature; some townsfolk believe her to be a witch or a supernatural creature and do not welcome her among them. As a result, she lives a simple life outside town, by the river, making her home on a rock which the waters flow around. If you are playing Lorelei, describe to the Rider how they first see you.

The Rider: a foreigner travelling through these lands for his own purposes; upon hearing the tale of the Woman of the Rocks, he decides to see for himself and becomes enthralled by her... or vice versa. If you are playing the Rider, describe your reaction to seeing Lorelei for the first time, then describe yourself to her.

Fell free to change the genders of these characters as you wish, the only constant must be that they feel an affinity and attraction to each other, with Lorelei enchanting the Rider but the Rider also fascinating Lorelei. They are both outsiders to the culture they find themselves in, for different reasons, and their relationship may be seen as transgressive or taboo by others.

In order to play, you need an ordinary deck of cards; if you're playing online, this tool may be helpful. The deck is used to ask questions, make demands and respond to each other during play, using the guidance that follows.

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Will You, Won't You?

The game always begins with the Rider taking the role of provocateur: players will take turns in this role, pushing the other player for a response to an overture dictated by the cards. The Rider starts the first round of the game by drawing a card from the deck and placing it face up in front of them.

If the card in front of you is Red: ask a question about the other character's life, culture, background, dreams, fears, etc. You want to learn more about them and why they are here, in this place at this time, but your questions should be tightly framed to limit the other player's response. Don't ask "How do you feel?" but do ask "Why are you crying?" Don't ask "How did you come to be here?" but do ask "Where did you get that scar on your cheek?"

If the card in front of you is Black: make a request or demand if you are the Rider; make an offer or suggestion if you are Lorelei. Both characters are negotiating their feelings for each other and finding a type of attraction that is sometimes considered transgressive; the Rider is dominant and possessive, but also affectionate; Lorelei is submissive and sensual, but also strong-willed. Start with simple requests and offers, such as food, shelter, meeting again at a later date or time, and so on, but as the game progresses, go as far as you both feel comfortable with.

After a player asks their question or makes their demand/offer, the other player draws a card from the deck and places it face up in front of them, on top of any other cards they have. Their response is dictated by the rank of the card drawn:

If the card drawn is higher than the card face up in front of the other player: respond positively to their question or demand/offer, answering them, doing as they say or accepting what they offer you. Thank them, be grateful and explain yourself as necessary; this should draw you closer and create further understanding between you as you share something intimate.

If the card drawn is lower than the card face up in front of the other player: explain why you cannot do as they ask, cannot accept what they offer or why that question is difficult to answer. Apologise, be contrite and beg them to forgive you for not being straightforward or open with them; this should create an issue to be resolved and result in a sympathetic bond between you as you both acknowledge your limitations.

If the card drawn matches the rank of the card face up in front of the other player: you may ignore the question, demand or offer and act directly, expressing yourself with action rather than words. This may involve touching each other, kissing, undressing, taking food from the other's hand, pointing towards the answer or even grabbing the other forcefully but not painfully. This is a moment where your passion for each other breaks through.

The Turn of the Cards

After taking your turn as provocateur, pass that role to the other player; their overture is dictated by the card currently face up in front of them, they don't draw another. After the Rider's first turn, overtures are always suggested by the colour of the card you drew last; you only draw another card when you are responding to the other player's overture.

As Lorelei and the Rider learn more about each other, and their relationship progresses from conversation to physical intimacy, they will also seek ways to deal with the issues that arise between them when the card drawn is lower in rank than the provocateur's card. This forms the backbone of the game, with the provocateur using their turn to request or offer a solution to an issue that has been raised previously.

End the game when it feels right to do so; this will most likely occur in one of two ways:

  • You may end the game on a match, if the action taken is suitable to the level of passion or intimacy already established between the characters. In this case, we can assume that the Rider ends their journey here to remain with Lorelei.
  • You may end the game by resolving an issue that stands between you, if it was of sufficient substance to keep you apart. In this case, we can assume that Lorelei leaves her home for good in order to travel with the Rider.
 - Dedicated to the real life Lorelei; I command you to enjoy it!

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