A Tragedy in Five Acts
Let me tell you all about a fun game from Origins 2015. It’s called “A Tragedy in Five Acts,” made by Growling Door Games. If you are a fan of Shakespearean tragedy, or if you just like cooperative storytelling in your RPGs, this game could be a great fit for your RPG needs! The Saturday session at Origins was hosted by Michelle from Growling Door Games.
The game is super easy to pick up and learn, and Michelle’s intro to the game made it extra easy to get started. Recommended materials include the copy of the game, paper and pencils, printouts of the cast list (The Daughter, The Authority Figure, The Foil, The Lover, and The Parent– you can find these on Growling Door’s resource page), 50 tokens (you bet these before each scene) and dice to roll for Tragedy Points. The goal of the game is to earn the most Tragedy Points; the player with the most Tragedy Points receives the honor of naming the play at the end. Although the game has this competitive aspect, you may find that your group cares more about crafting an enjoyable story like our party did at Origins. It was nice to earn points, but for our party at Origins we enjoyed the journey more than the objective of earning points.
The basics of the game are pretty simple. There are five Acts in the play with each act composed of three Scenes. Each Act is directed by one of the players (everyone gets a shot in the director’s chair and manages the flow of each scene, entrances and exits of characters, etc.), but Scenes are voted on by everyone. At the beginning of each new Scene, players can throw in a token representing their idea for a Scene; this is their Bid. Once everyone offers up a Scene idea (if they have one), everyone begins to Vote on their favorite idea for the upcoming Scene with tokens. Each player starts off with 10 tokens at the beginning of each Act to use for Scene Bids and Votes; tokens refresh at the beginning of the next Act. So you get 10 tokens (plus 3 tokens, if you choose to reveal your character Flaw before the Final Act begins) as resources for one Act– use them wisely!
For the player who wins the Vote for upcoming Scene, use dice to calculate how many Tragedy Points you earned. If another player threw in tokens and bet on the winning Scene, they roll dice for Tragedy Points, if applicable. Helping others can be rewarding too!
In our case at Origins, we were more concerned with the cooperative storytelling than snagging points for ourselves. The story itself was reward enough! If you want to see a summary of our collaborative Shakespearean playwriting efforts, take a look at this excellent write-up from Ted over here! He had the misfortune of playing my character’s father! Sorry, Pops!
If you have four friends and you like working together and doing improv, I strongly recommend this game. Not sure if this is your cup of tea? Growling Door Games should be attending GenCon later this summer, so drop by and give them a try!