Dance and the Dawn: What's the game like?

The Dance and the Dawn is a game for 3-5 players and is played over a chessboard. One player plays the part of the Narrator (and will control the Duke and Queen, as well as several Lords), and the other players will each control one of the Ladies. The game is a bit of a fairy tale and a bit of a puzzle: each Lady is trying to determine the character of the various Lords, and must pick one at the end of the game.

The game is inspired by the imagery and symbolism of chess: each character is represented by a chess piece, and each piece has its own characteristics and implications. (For example: Ladies represented by the Knight piece are likely to be willful, driven and reckless.) There’s a light setting with plenty of room and guidelines for you to fill in the rest; the text also includes some suggested settings and pre-created characters.

The flow of gameplay is structured: there are three dances (with duels being held as an interlude between the dances). Within each dance, the players move their Ladies and their chosen dance partners around the board. The Ladies exchange questions and answers with their partners, attempting to gain a Lord’s favor while understanding the past. To quote the text: “They will dance until dawn, when each Lady will select one Lord. If they select their True Love, they will find a happy ending. (If they select someone else, their outcome will be less pleasant.)”

In playing the game I’ve experienced a most interesting series of characters, rivalries, couplets, intrigues and witty repartees. (And I’ve also opened up some interesting conversations.) I hope the game does the same for you.

Dance and the Dawn: a retrospective, and some news

The Dance and the Dawn was developed in the course of the “Iron Game Chef: Fantasy” contest, where participants had a week to develop a fantasy-themed game in a week’s time, using a number of pre-established elements, such as “Dawn” and “Island”.

I developed the game in a mad rush over a few days (1 2 3) when I should have been working on my exams, and yet I ultimately created a game I was quite proud of. The game was reviewed and ultimately earned the rank of 1st-runner-up.

The game has undergone a great deal of revision and playtesting since then, but I think it has the same charm. I’ve gotten good feedback on it. (Indeed, some friends of mine were inspired to make a LARP spinoff based on the game. That’s quite a compliment.)

The Dance and the Dawn will be released at GenCon ’09 at the Design Matters booth, and I’m very excited. I’ve been collaborating with various game designer friends (including Elizabeth Shoemaker for copyediting and Nathan Paoletta for design), and I’m quite happy with the results.