da Veni, da Vidi, da Vinci — da Verses

One of the Four Colors al Fresco scenarios that I’ve run a number of times is “da Veni, da Vidi, da Vinci”, or “I came, I saw, I conquered [Leonardo] da Vinci” (loosely translated). This scenario features The Daring daVincis, a bona fide superhero team (a rarity in the world of Italia). They are all artist friends of da Vinci’s that he has recruited, granting them superpowers with his phenomenal scientific and naturalist knowledge, so that they can Fight Crime!.

Their superhero, or “Omega”, identities are based on insects that da Vinci studied, granting them powers related to their artistic talent. Cricket is a master thespian, whose suit enables him to manipulate sound. But that’s not really important. What is important is that he always speaks in rhyme. Well, for convention games, we don’t really expect someone to actually speak in rhyme for the whole game—the character may, but that doesn’t mean the player has to. I provide a rhyming dictionary, should someone desire, but, really, I just expect a player to get into the spirit and do what they can: interject a few rhymes, or focus on alliteration, or give an iambic lilt to their speech most of the time. A couple players have managed to speak in iambic pentameter for the whole game, and a very few have, in fact, stuck to rhyming for the whole game. Unfortunately, this tends to cut down on their verbal participation, and thus their overall participation, and I’d much rather someone drop the poeticism altogether than be left out of the game.

But it’s great when someone really pulls it off—not a lot of people can essentially spontaneously compose verse, blank or otherwise, outside of professional hip-hop/rap artists. A few years back, someone really went above and beyond, however. He didn’t speak much during the game—though when he did, it was mostly rhyming. But what he did do was make a record of the game. He composed a poem in rhyming couplets, chronicling the course of the story, in real time while we were playing, and while still participating in the game. The result is a fun poem–mostly iambic, with only a couple forced rhymes. I’m amazed, at any rate. I meant to do this ages ago, but I’ve finally transcribed his poem, so here it is for all to read:

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Gen Con, pt 2

The first game of Thurs was Starblazer Adventures: Return of the Star Kings, pt 1. Starblazer Adventures is a massive tome, an extension of the Fate system based on an obscure 80s British comic. The comic itself was, as near as I can suss out, a pastiche of all the space opera that had come before. As such, it seems to have a lot of unique names and details, but the broad strokes look a lot like all the other space opera, both before and since, and thus rings very familiar. In both good and bad ways.

I’m not entirely sold on the setting of the game. It’s distinct enough that, to play in it, you would need to learn the setting. But, after all that effort (it’s a big book), you wouldn’t be using a particularly distinctive setting. It seems to me that a better way to do it would be to create your own pastiche, based on whatever settings the people you were playing with were already familiar with. You’d end up with roughly the same thing—a not-terribly-distinctive setting, evocative of larger-than-life space opera—but with much less effort, and probably greater familiarity. And, for that matter, it wouldn’t be at all hard to just take Spirit of the Century and adapt it to space opera.
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