Saturday, January 1, 2011

Been too long!

It's been about five weeks since I updated.
That's a little too long for my liking.

Anyway, I'm working on some ideas for the Ronnies, and I'm just going to post the first draft of the introductory text for now. Here goes!

The War of the Sheaves

a game of war, matriarchy, and caste

It's been one hundred years, or five generations, since the war, whichever is longer. It's been hundreds of harvests since then, to be sure.

Why the war happened doesn't matter all that much; it may to you, but that's your own affair. What matters to the both of us is what came next: Durum, a city, a frail old lord's domain, came crashing down. First, the men all went to war, to swell the Emperor's armies.

The women and children were left behind with a few old soldiers, the elders, and the lord himself. They were used to hard and thankless work, those women and children, but the war only worsened their toil: much of cloth they sewed and grain they grew went to men, like always, but now the men weren't even around to take it! It was taken, stolen, more like, by men from the White City, faraway men who took the fruits of their labors away, for strangers to use.

No one knew, or no one would say, when the men would be coming home. True, not every single man had left old Durum, but nearly all the husbands and fathers and brothers and uncles were gone, gone like ghosts, down the slopes and into the valley and out of sight like the moon when it's set. Those women who knew their letters did write for those who didn't, and when the White City men came next, for more cloth and more grain, they had a whole bushel of notes and letters and things for those men to take to the men who had gone.

Not a woman among them ever did learn what became of those letters.

The men from the White City, though, they came back – time and again, they were back, regular as harvest-time, ready with wagons for clothing and grain. Yes, they remembered the letters; no, they didn't know if the men had gotten them. Every time they came, some wife or daughter would ask, and every time their answer was the same. And the women would sigh and huddle together to watch the wagons vanish down into the valley with the sun as it set.

That is, of course, until they time when they didn't.

It might have been because the harvest was so small; it might have been that someone thought to herself, My son is never coming back. Or maybe she had thought of her husband.

Whatever was in her mind on that day, the men from the White City, they were loading up their wagons and crossing names off a scroll with the Emperor's face on it in wax. This woman, this wife or mother (but probably both), she asked him, “Did you ever deliver them letters?”

And the White City man (he was new), he said, “What letters?”

And the woman, she took up a stone and she killed him dead, like thunder.

And all the women, they ran up, yelling and screaming like the horses of Gods, and they all took stones and they threw them, hard as nails, and the White City men, they screamed too, and fell, and bled and died.

When it all settled down, the women started thinking what they'd done, and they were all afraid. They fretted and wept and tugged on their braids, so afraid that the White City would know, that word would get out and they'd be dead.

That's when one of them said, “Now we have to kill the old lord, stop word getting out.”

And so they did. They did it with their stones and hands and sickles and ropes, things in the ground or out of the ground, and when it was done, they stood together in the field by the keep and felt their fear go out of them. It went into the sky and into the ground and the water and stones, but it was gone from them, and when they wept, it was for the husbands and sons they would never see again, not for themselves.

That's when Durum became what it is, now.

Anyway, my basic game idea is kind of a fusion of Polaris and Solar System mechanics - Keys are prominently featured, and group- or faction-level development, conflict, and interaction is going to be handled through a bargaining system that employs key phrases.
It started out as a game to cover the austerity protests in Greece, France, and Britain, but I decided it might be more immediately accessible as a game if I explored a currently-shelved idea of mine for a beleaguered, matriarchal mountain culture resisting the dregs of a broken empire. Yep.

[edit]Here's that link I promised! 1000 Monkeys, 1000 Typewriters is offering free hosting for the Ronnies. Thanks, 1KM1KT!