Last Thursday at Story Games Seattle, I had the marvelous opportunity to play "My Daughter, The Queen of France." This is a story game about the falling out between a playwright (Shakespeare) and the estrangement his (or her) daughter. Shakespeare and at least 3 friends get together and put on a play dedicated to the question "What happened to my daughter?" (you know instead of Shakespeare going to the daughter and finding out directly, to figure out what happened.)
What went wrong? Why did this happen? Who is at fault? Where is she now? and so many other questions about the specific circumstances of the estrangement are found out through play. But what makes this game really interesting is that the non-Shakespeare characters are, in the butchered words of Tropic Thunder, just dudes disguised as dudes playing another dude. Everyone plays a character who then plays someone else in a scene directed by the Shakespeare character.
Sold and onboard for this game, T, E, R, and H, worked out the setting details. T wished to be Shakespeare and together we came up with a 1950's Rockabilly setting. Of course, Shakespeare couldn't figure out why his daughter stormed off after a heated argument, broke the windows and headlights of his car, and rode off on a police motorcycle Shakespeare was borrowing for a play. (Even more so and Shakespeare the character being ignorant of this part) we decided that we're going to take this a little queer and Shakespeare's daughter, Cordelia, was falling for her best friend, Lily.
Our cast of characters became:
An interesting mechanic about the game is that every time you approach a scene, you are limited in what you are allowed to do as actors. Every time you revisit the same scene you "unlock" features that let you express and reinterpret things. For instance, the first time you do a scene you can only emotionlessly recite dialogue to one another. The next time you can then use hand motions and stage directions, etc.
The scenes we examined were concerning a sleepover with Lily and Cordelia and Portia, a scene about why Cordelia stopped going to Mr. Moore's classes (the supply closet scene), the estrangement scene where Cordelia makes her escape, and then a scene about Coredlia being introduced to the police station and a possible intern spot.
The game took a little bit to gel right. It was difficult to play a character playing another character and then not using emotion to talk, etc. It felt much more like playing an improve scene game than a story game but I liked it. We all did. Mostly.
The game started getting interesting when, us the players, started questioning and determining what happened to Mrs. Shakespeare and the truth behind her being too busy to write and wish her daughter's happy birthday on her "long trips to South America." It definitely became a game about a selfish, delusional, and controlling playwright who's power issues drove the people he cared about way and unable to trust him back which is pretty remarkably awesome! It came to be a lot of cool reveals. (For example it turned out Arthur Moore himself is a homosexual and him wanting to find Cordelia and Lily to sort of reach out to them.)
So in conclusion, My Daughter, Queen of France isn't my favorite story game, but I definitely enjoyed my time.
I hide in a cubicle all day until the night time where I play RPGs and other games and stuff.