Monday, 20 August 2012

Tudor Risus Characters - Henry VIII

Do you ever use real-life famous figures in roleplay?  It's a pretty hot topic in fiction, with opinion firmly divided into those who think it's cheesy and cringeworthy, and those who think that (if done well) it increases the audience's appreciation of a historical setting by giving them something familiar.

Does the same hold true in roleplaying games?  I'd love to hear some thoughts.

In the meantime, for those that fancy giving it a shot, I've started writing up the Tudors as NPCs for S. John Ross' ultimate beer-and-pretzels system, Risus.  Risus is absolutely perfect for writing up NPCs if you're not sure what system you're going to use them in yet.  If you're on the bus and an idea for one pops into your head, you can scribble it down on the back of a chewing gum wrapper if you have to.

The system is easy to remember too - ten dice, no more than four in each pool.  Later on, if you decide you want to use them in a crunchier system (though Risus is perfect for the larger-than-life Henry VIII), you can pin down the concepts in more detail. 

"Hello, laaaadies..."

Henry VIII

Debauched Old Lecher (3)
Angry Old Man (3)
Dyslexic Agnostic Insomniac (2)
Bard to the Bone (2)

Henry VIII cliche guide:

Debauched Old Lecher

Best known for having 6 wives, numerous dalliances and possibly dying of syphillus.  Before marrying Anne Boleyn, Henry was accused by one of his parliamentarians of sleeping with both her mother and her sister.  David Starkey writes: "The double charge of incest stunned Henry into blurting out 'Never with the mother!' It was left to [Thomas] Cromwell... to try to rescue the situation by insisting 'Nor with the daughter neither!'"

Angry Old Man

Estimates of the number of executions carried out by Henry VIII range from 57,000 to 72,000, including two wives, his good friend Edward Stafford (who carried Henry's crown at his coronation) and poor old quick-thinking Thomas Cromwell (see above) who got Henry his break from the Catholic church and his first divorce.

Dyslexic Agnostic Insomniac

Okay, so we don't really know if Henry ever did lay awake all night, wondering if there was a Dog.  It's likely that he was certain in his own mind that there definitely was a Dog... God, I mean.  But he was given the title of "Defender of the [Catholic] Faith" and went on to get excommunicated for separating from it... so, it's fair to say he had flexibility in his approach to belief, even if he wasn't actually agnostic.

And he was given the title for writing a pro-Catholic book called "In Defense of the Seven Sacraments" so he probably wasn't actually dyslexic.

I've no idea if he suffered from insomnia or not, but I really wanted to get that joke in.

Bard to the Bone

You can see from above that Henry VIII was a bad boy, but he was a lover as well as a fighter.  In his youth, as well as being great at the typical manly pursuits of the time (jousting, hunting, riding etc.) he was known as an excellent dancer and could play the lute and sing pretty well too.  He may or may not have written Greensleeves, but even if he didn't, his love letters to Anne Boleyn were hot stuff.

"MY MISTRESS & FRIEND, my heart and I surrender ourselves into your hands, beseeching you to hold us commended to your favour, and that by absence your affection to us may not be lessened."

Be still, my beating heart... (as my head bounces into an executioner's basket).

So, that pretty much wraps it up for Henry VIII, the giant of a man who so over-shadowed his daddy Henry VII and his much-wanted son Edward VI.  Unless it turns out that I'm the only roleplay nerd who has a favourite Tudor, next time I'll do the ultimate Other Woman - Anne Boleyn, recipient of the love letters.

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