Events

The Queen is Online – Will You Defend Her?

Alex Roberts

Alex Roberts

For the Queen, my prompt-based storytelling game of love, duty, and devotion, has taken many forms. It’s been a spreadsheet of hasty ideas, a makeup bag full of handwritten index cards, and the gorgeous tarot-sized deck you can see on store shelves.

But nothing has changed the game quite like the move to online play. The Roll20 version of For the Queen offers the same collaborative, approachable fun that the card game does, but it’s not exactly the same experience. Here are some tips for getting the most out of it:

Watch an Actual Play

For the Queen teaches itself: pick up the first Instruction Card and go from there! Watching a video of a Roll20 session, however, can give you a sense of how the game flows online, and how to manage things like turn order and card drawing in the digital space.

This actual play session is the one I usually recommend. It’s a helpful introduction to the game, and also shows a good example of my second tip:

Facilitate

For the Queen doesn’t have a Game Master, and the lack of GM prep can make it a quicker, smoother experience. That said, when you’re playing online, it helps to have one player who is familiar with the game, from playing or watching it. That way you can keep track of whose turn it is, keep an eye on the time, and call for breaks.

Talk about tone

For the Queen can adapt to whatever tone the players are interested in, from slapstick comedy to overwrought drama and glorious tragedy. It’s also adaptable to different settings; your Queen can be Queen of the Galaxy, the Grid, the Bees, or the Prom!

Talk to your fellow players at the start of the game about what kind of settings, genres, and tone you’re interested in. Especially if you’ve played before, you may find that players want to explore some more off-the-wall settings and novel ideas.

Explore different visual inspirations

When exploring tone and genre, try out different aesthetics too! For the Queen comes with some gorgeous illustrations, but don’t let them limit you. Consider sharing other illustrations and photos that capture what kind of Queen you think would inspire an interesting story.

Take Breaks, and Limit Time

Sitting in front of a computer can be even more taxing than sitting at a gaming table. I recommend having a five-minute break every hour. Taking a step away from the screen gives players a chance to take care of themselves and come back present and energized.

One design aspect I incorporated into For The Queen is that you get to decide how long you want to play. Part of the set-up of the game is to place the final card randomly in the deck. In the physical game you can place it about halfway in if you want a shorter game or in the bottom third if you want a longer game. Both options can lead to a fun and inspiring session, and it’s nice to be able to check in with your friends and dial in how long you all want to play. On Roll20, I suggest you discuss it and have your facilitator set a timer, and then call the final prompt as the next card when the timer goes off.

For many of us, gaming online has been an essential way to keep in touch with friends and share joy in the last few years. I hope these pieces of advice make your Roll20 session of For the Queen as dramatic, hilarious, or heartwarming as you want.

Alex Roberts

I make games. I play them. I think about them. I write about them. In addition to publishing my own tabletop role-playing games, I've written setting material and developed interactive systems both independently and in some pretty awesome teams, like Bully Pulpit Games, Pelgrane Press, Thorny Games, and more! I've also published long form journalism, criticism, and other writing for clients that include Vice, ZEAL, Waypoint, Storycade, and Leaving Mundania. I love to share my passions. Through my presentations and workshops, I can help you and your team make playful connections, open up creative possibilities, and probably burst out laughing. I love helping people become more in tune with their playful selves.