I’ve recently purchased a copy of Quill, a delightful solo RPG that involves writing letters in fictional scenarios, attempting to impress the recipient with one’s language, heart and penmanship. What follows is my attempt to write as Sir Ian Vane, a knight, to the powerful Archduke Godfrey, regarding the passing of his sister, Mary of Linchester. This is the first scenario from the rulebook. My letter, such as it is, with scoring included:
It is my solemn duty to inform you of the passing (+1) of your sister, Mary of Linchester. It is now a week since she succumbed to what His Majesty’s physicians are pleased to call a most violent consumption. I need scarcely tell you that the court has been in an uproar since that fatal day, and I have only just found time to write to you. (+1)
Although frankness compels me to remark that you and Mary were never close, having been separated one from the other by so many years and such distance, you have always done by her as a brother should. Your Grace has taken care to provide for her teachers (0) according to her abilities; and to see that she wanted for nothing during her adventures at court, despite your known misgivings concerning some of her conduct there. (0)
Indeed, Mary was perhaps more sister to me than to your Grace, both by age and temperament. I recall the many times when we rode the massive horses (-1) from your stables far into the wood, only returning them at nightfall, sweating and spent from their exertions. I remember too your disapproval of our wild ways. If only Mary had confined her taste for riding to horses of the equine sort. (+1)
I shall take care to convey to your Grace such effects as Mary had here at court. You may find in this a small delay, as I must retrieve some items from an outspoken young boy (-1) hereabout who has proven strangely difficult to locate since the passing of your sister. His Majesty is also desirous of some conversation with this youth, and so I do not make bold to name him until the event has transpired. Rest assured that the wanted party is no friend of relation of yours. (+1)
And so I must be about my sad work in your Grace’s service. Notwithstanding the tragedy that has fallen out here, and most especially certain particulars of it, yours is a name still fondly spoken here in His Majesty’s glorious church (-1) of the world, as it were; and I remain, as ever, (+1)
your Grace’s humble servant,
Sir Ian Vane
My total score: 2. According to the scenario, Archduke Godfrey was disgusted by Sir Ian Vane’s letter, as well he might be!
For the scenario, I set myself the challenge to convey to Archduke Godfrey by roundabout means the following information: that Mary of Linchester was rather a slut; that she became involved sexually with individuals opposed to the King; that her association with traitors led to her poisoning, although this has been given out as a consumption; and that the Archduke, having been distant with his sister, isn’t in any trouble personally. Writing as The Knight in this game is hard; his poor vocabulary, combined with his zeal for flourishes, creates an all-or-nothing situation where he either scores great successes or ends up belaboring poor turns of phrase. In my case it was mostly the latter; only Sir Ian’s penmanship and the quality of his writing paper (given as a condition of the scenario) saved him from a negative score.
That said, writing the letter was great fun! I’m pleased with the little world I was able to create in five paragraphs, even if Archduke Godfrey isn’t. If you’re interested in letters or in an unusual approach to solo RP, do check this game out.