Tell Me About Playing Archipelago II

If you have played a bunch of Archipelago, use your most skilled, quotable words and tell me any or all of:

Your favorite thing about it or
Your best piece of advice for new players or
Your best hack or house rule or
Your most salient word of caution or
Your most exciting, interesting, gonzo, or touching moment of play

Or a bunch of them!

Short, punchy quotes are good, for reasons. Long, rambling quotes, not so much.

Who knows? Say something good and you may become immortalized.


  • edited June 2012
    Here's mine:

    Use Try A Different Way more than feels appropriate. The harder you push it the better your game will be.
  • Archipelago II allowed me to play a game setting I've wanted to play for years, and required no changes to do so.

    For a one-shot game, don't create more than one Destiny per character, and write each one as a group. Write it on your character tent to remind people to play towards it.

    Use a white-board and color markers for drawing your map. Keep updating as you play!

    Never decide who the main character is before play.
  • It's less important to find elements of Ownership that are totally equal in power, than it is to find elements that the owning players really care to control.

    It can be difficult at the table to use Try a different way and especially the Veto. But it will make your game more focused and satisfying.

    Don't feel the need to create a new NPC for every situation. Find ways to connect the characters you already have at the table whenever possible. Your game will be tighter and snappier as a result.

    Be bold when writing Destiny Points for the other players. It's your job to provide interesting possibilities for the players to choose from.

    If everyone at the table is not excited about a major piece of the setting, it's time to put that piece aside and look at something else.

    When setting up scenes or suggesting them for others, think in terms of questions. "I wonder what would happen if..."

    In any game, your character can win or the story can win. Always be a fan of the story.

    Use the NPCs to push the other character's buttons. That's what they are there for.
  • I was going to write something about the isolation of the islands metaphor that was more present in the first version of the rules. But then I imagined sitting down with Jason and playing a game that took place in a crowded tenement building in 1970s East Germany and realized how AWESOME that could be:)
  • These are great! I need more.

    Where's Gagan? Where's Fristrom? Where are the Nordics? Where's Matthijs?
  • You may be scared at first to say too much in someone else's scene but contribute, provide opposition and challenges for their character - they can always use 'try another way' to re-direct your input. This is better than them having insufficient material to work with.
  • I have not read Archipelago II for a long time and am more familiar with its one-shot playset hacks so this may not be spot on for the core game, but...
    Archipelago II's Event and Theme Guides help keep players actively engaged and listening even when not portraying characters present in the scene.  These Guide roles also keep them *differently* engaged.  This engagement leads to more creative contribution and higher energy.  Its Key Phrases work to the same end.

    I think that is its primary appeal/strength relative to other GM-less (ful) games I enjoy. Busy now - I'll try to think of some other elements.  I adore Archipelago II.
  • edited June 2012
    The Map is more important that it seems. Your game's geography is the primary structure the other pieces work within.

    Treat your map locations and NPCs like pots and pans, don't reach for a new one if an old one works.

    If you reach a moment where you don't know what to do, draw a Fate Card.

    Fate Cards are powerful stuff, it's OK if you don't all draw one.

    It's OK if your player characters never meet. Let their stories inform each other as they wander in parallel.
  • edited June 2012
    Codifying the specific phrases players can say whenever they want to builds permission into the game in a way that brings quieter players forward. This can serve to make play more equitable, varied and fun for all the players.

    The codified phrases create the space to briefly interrupt play and the player can expand on their reasons for saying the phrase if they like. "More detail!" in particular helps to create an imagined space that feels real where things might have otherwise been glossed over. Even (especially?) players capable of amazing plotting and sharp, improvised in-character dialogue can forget to world create. Archipelago II sessions are memorable later for their detail.

    Archipelago II takes a whole range of role-playing community behaviors lifted from long-form improvisational theater and occasionally present in many game groups/cultures and emphasizes them in such a way that improves play. It primarily does this by promoting active listening and lifting other players up.

    It does it differently, but playing Archipelago II makes you a better role-player the way playing Primetime Adventures does. (kind of like reading and running Apocalypse World helps make you a better GM) Codify FTW.
  • My favorite thing is that it gives all players power and agency.

    New players: Use the phrases a lot! Look for excuses to throw them in. Use the first half-hour of play just to get to know them. This will have two added effects: The first is getting the group together, letting everyone know what's cool and what's not. The second is that all sorts of things will happen that nobody had predicted!

    My favorite house rule is the phrase "Harder". When someone is wimping out, don't let them! Say "Harder" and get them to continue the scene - and get deeper into whatever they were shying away from.

    Don't go along with things you know are wrong for you. Whether it be jokes that destroy your immersion and the game's atmosphere, or themes that trigger strong emotional reactions in you. Use the phrases to stop that shit.
  • Here i am. It's great to feel wanted.

    Favorite thing: expressive resolution cards and adaptability and not-getting-in-the-way-of-my-story-with-your-mechanics ... Whoops that's three things.

    New players: this is really Gagan's - a conversation can be a conflict. When two characters are arguing in character, and it has gone on long enough, pull out That's Not So Easy (to convince them...)

    My best hack is wicked archipelago

    A caution would be it's hard to fit unhacked archipelago in a four hour one shot.

    Most touching is I played a campaign with my daughter when she was five where she was a witch and I was a knight in medieval Toledo. We went several sessions before we ran out of steam, I think its the best RP she and I have done.
  • Another unquotable:

    You know how "7-9" in Apocalypse World is awesome?

    Statistically speaking, Archipelago II's Fate Cards mean its characters get "7-9" either 50% or 62% of the time depending on how one of the cards is interpreted (it could be interpreted as a "10+").

    This hits a personal sweet spot for the kind of stories I'm usually in the mood for.
  • I've only played it once, so I may be talking rubbish, but my piece of advice would be: use an existing world, don't make one up yourself. We spent over 2 hours just on world creation and barely got any roleplaying done as a result. It was fun, but not really the point of Archipelago.
  • Posted By: rabaliasWe spent over 2 hours just on world creation and barely got any roleplaying done as a result.
    Not the game's fault!
  • Hey, I never said it was! But I still think it's good advice. The game doesn't provide any inherent system for limiting or managing world generation, so for people who like to world-build (which many roleplayers are) there's a risk of overrun. Not everyone will have this problem but I'd bet it's quite common.

    An alternative piece of advice would be to try and limit the time you spend on world-building, using Microscope-style "in" and "out" lists, turn taking and so forth.
  • You could make it a Norwegian double and create your world by playing a couple of hundred years of A Thousand Years Under The Sun. Might take two hours as well, but you'll have a pretty solid map. :)
  • DeBracy: thanks, I'll give that a look.
  • edited June 2012
    Your best piece of advice for new players
    Go with the flow.
    Your most salient word of caution
    Don't try so hard.
Sign In or Register to comment.