I'm trying to understand the flow of an extended conflict like combat in Archipelago III.

By the rules of the game, as minimal and open to interpretation as they are, it seems like I get my way unless someone contradicts me by saying Try a different way or calls for a conflict by saying That might not be so easy. If whatever I say is true unless these phrases are invoked, it seems like combat would be very short because I'd either get my way by killing or wounding my enemy immediately, or someone would have to tell me That might not be so easy.

That said, we didn't play that way, because it seemed boring. Instead, play went a little like this:

  • Player A (whose scene it is currently): I run the villain through.
  • Player B (playing a secondary character): But the villain parries your blow and jabs you in the eye.
  • Player A: Aha! But I dodge and lop his hand clean from the bone.
  • It goes on like this until someone decides to call for a resolution card, and end the conflict (with an appropriate denouement/wrap-up of course).

Did we play correctly? It seems like I shouldn't be able to "No" someone. I should be "Yes, and..."-ing them instead. But how can I accept and still keep the conflict going (it got really interesting with players trying to one up each other with their narration)? If I "Yes, and..."-ed when I got gutted, the combatant would be out of the fight (at least). My only other options were to say Try a different way, which doesn't seem appropriate, because that phrase is about what's cool/uncool in the story, and I'm totally cool with being gutted, just not right then, or I could call for a Conflict, which effectively resolves the extended battle.

In a larger sense, this is about narrative authority, who can say what about who and when. It applies equally to social combat, and random happenstance. Since this is a freeform and lightweight ruleset, I'd accept advice based on other Norwegian Style games like Itras By, which may be more complete than Archipelago.


Archipelago conflicts seem too short because the rules seem to say that I get what I want unless someone contradicts me. How can I keep these conflicts going for longer within the rules of the game as published?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Just FYI I've changed the tag description of [norwegian-style]: the term may be a publisher's name, but the name is borrowed from the literal Norwegian style of roleplaying, a specific branch of short-form freeform storygaming. Since that's the primary meaning and it's relevant for our site, that meaning gets primacy over a publisher's name (especially since we barely have any publisher tags — I think WotC is the only publisher-related topic big enough to have earned a tag so far.) Interestingly though, the [norwegian-style] tag still fits on this Q when redefined for its main meaning. :) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 9 '18 at 17:53

Thanks for your interest.

Direct conflicts (violent or otherwise) in Itras By can be extended and resolved through pure freeform, as you indicate. The resolution/action cards will also tend to extend them through various spin-off effects. E.g. "Yes, but..." "You manage to knock the brute's lights out, but it turns out some particularly nasty friends of his are just around the corner. It sounds like elephants out there! What do you do?"

I'd recommend not drawing more than one card per scene, because of this cascading effect.

I think GMs and players should in fact "No" from time to time, and have written a chapter on that in Itras By: The Menagerie, our anthology of supplements.

Best, Ole Peder, co-author of IB.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE, Ole it's always good to get game designers on the forum. \$\endgroup\$ – JP Chapleau Feb 13 '18 at 14:40

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