Fastaval 2023 happens next week in Hobro, Denmark. I'm going, for the first time since 2018. If you are there, come by and say hello!
Fastaval is an incredible game convention in Hobro, Denmark, where 600 gamers meet up to party and to play board games and roleplaying games. Most of them bring their own game designs. I will be at Fastaval Friday to Sunday, 7-10 April. This year I will bring my son and a nephew. My son is old enough to attend Fastaval Junior, an afternoon packed with activities for kids aged 6 to 14. My nephew is about the age I was when I first visited Fastaval.
I will present and play Clemency.
My story game Clemency is on the schedule Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
Clemency is a two hour story game for three or four players to pick up and play. No prep and no game master required. Find a quiet place and two or three other players who want to walk a mile in the shoes of someone who were released after decades in prison. What do you appreciate in life when having been denied a life in freedom for so long?
Clemency means to be merciful and especially to moderate the severity of punishment due. In this case it refers to the presidential powers of the POTUS to commute (reduce) the sentence of convicted felons. Not a pardon, but a reduced sentence. So you still have a criminal record with the complications this contain.
There is no doubt that these people broke the law. What the game questions is what happens when the consequence imposed by society is so severe. Does it still serve the greater good of society to put people away for decades? As a deterrent and warning to others? Is it a coincidence that a majority of these are coloured people? The game lets the players discover these questions for themselves during play. The game does not provide answers.
“Now I want to do the small things that just mean so much. Like look at trees. ”Norman Brown
In spite of the serious topic, the stories are life confirming. The people portrayed found ways to cope with life in prison and to get back into the joys and pains of everyday life upon release. Maybe you yourself appreciate the small things in life better after playing.
Download the game for free. Clemency is available in English and in Danish.
If you play the game and want to share your thoughts about it, I’d be happy to hear from you.
The Cost of Clemency
The game is inspired by the book The Cost of Clemency published by the Washington Post in 2016. The book presents in condensed form interviews with 46 former prisoners whose sentences were commuted by President Obama.
“The judge told me I wouldn’t come out until they had spaceships, and I made it before the spaceships.”James Nathan Walton
Reading their stories as told in their own words was a deeply moving experience. Where I would expect anger or rage over the unfairness of their situation, they expressed appreciation of what they now could do. Their hopes and dreams for the future were tangible and compelling, not abstract and grandiose.
Clemency pretty much wrote itself in its final form over two weeks after reading the book. The playtest at Fredecon 2022 confirmed that it could deliver a powerful experience. Play the game and let me know what you think.