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Tabletop Game / Forsooth!

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Forsooth! by Sam Liberty and Kevin Spak, is a GM-less game of Shakespearean role-playing. Three or more players play characters—and take turns as the Bard, who sets scenes. Settings, themes, and language (to an extent) are in the Shakespearean mode; the story has the structure of a stage play.

Character creation is fast and simple, which is fortunate since players often have more than one character. Choosing a setting and themes are also simple. For the setting players select words from a couple of tables to create a short phrase, like "A castle in Bavaria," or they can roll on the tables. The themes are similarly concise and have their own table.

Each character has an adjective/noun pair that broadly describes them. These are typically selected from (or rolled on) a table. For example someone could be a Rakish Tyrant—or, alternately, a Tyrannical Rake. Characters also have a Motivation (such as seducing someone or restoring your good name), and Oath (to always obey your liege lord, to never do an unselfish deed, etc.) It's best when the Motivation and Oath come into conflict sometime in the story. The above and some connections with other characters is pretty much the entirety of character creation.

Forsooth! provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Aerith and Bob: As with many actual Shakespeare plays, games are likely to have a combination of banal or silly English names even when not set in England and names that are more appropriate to the setting.
  • Anyone Can Die: All main characters must be either dead or married for the game to end. Comedies will tend toward most of them getting married. Tragedies, not so much.
  • Aside Comment: Every character gets one Aside. Like the Soliloquy, it is a great way to win applause points from other players.
  • Character Level: Fate Score can serve as this, although it is mainly to differentiate primary and secondary characters. In this nearly diceless system it can be used to resolve inter-PC conflicts.
  • Gender Bender: It's Shakespeare themed, after all.
  • Gratuitous Iambic Pentameter: Some players might try it.
  • Love Dodecahedron: Comedy games are especially prone to this.
  • Motivation: A central trait for every character. It is usually cast in extreme terms such as "I will see my son Felipe ascend the throne, even if it kills me."
  • Non-Player Character: Since there is no single GM, everyone will play NPC's fairly often.
  • Purely Aesthetic Era: Players of Forsooth typically have about as much regard for historical accuracy as Shakespeare did. That is to say, not a lot.
  • Rocket-Tag Gameplay: Killing an NPC is as easy as being in the same scene and saying you kill them. Killing another player character (which happens a lot) requires their agreement; they can opt instead to retreat wounded, or take you down with them.
  • The Bard on Board: Averted for the most part. The goal is to create original stories in the Shakespearean style, not act out existing plays.
  • The Roleplayer: The player type most likely to be drawn to this game. It is mostly dialog, so there is little appeal for The Real Man, and far too few rules to appeal to The Munchkin. The Loonie is pretty common in Comedy games.
  • Thinking Out Loud: Every character gets a Soliloquy. It is a chance to bring the ham and get applause points.
  • Total Party Kill: Tragedy games can easily end this way. Think Titus Andronicus, or Hamlet to a lesser extent.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Most players are not in the habit of speaking Elizabethan English in everyday life, so their attempts will often be this.