Bear Gameplay #5

In April 2020, I wrote and released Bear, a solo tabletop role-playing game (available here.) It is a game that allows the player to tell an ongoing story that they can revisit at any time (with the player imagined as a magically empowered patron of an adventurer in another world), and I’ve decided to write down the story I’ve been telling whilst playing it here.

Session five

It’s been quite some time since Bear received the necklace. She has begun to plant roots, works in a tavern for room and board, and is honouring her sister by making sure her abilities are put to use. Through her friends she knows where criminals are targeting people around the town-cum-city she is slowly settling down in. She only goes out to deal with such criminals at night, never revealing her abilities other than under cover of darkness.

Tonight, she arrives, turning a corner and her stomach sinking. There are too many people here. They are too well prepared. They are carrying charmed shields. They are ready for her. This is a trap.

She acts quickly. She knows she cannot win this – it has not been designed for her to win, after all. Running, injured, overwhelmed, she runs and careens through streets. The necklace around her neck plumes huge gouts of black smoke as she lurches through sloping passages. Because she’s lying right now. She knows she is. Telling herself this is an accident, this isn’t a betrayal, that one of the few trusted individuals she knows didn’t set this up. That this is okay. That it will be okay.

Back at her room, she cannot sleep. She lies wide-eyed until morning begins to break. Distraught and broken at the trust that’s gone. The moment she falls into an exhausted sleep, I help her. I tell her stories of people clinging to each other, raft-like, to survive floods; of mobius strips of history coming back around so those who wrong will be wronged in return; of people learning not to become hard and wall themselves off because if she does that now, because of this, it’s only her who will suffer.

In the morning, she leaves. She won’t forget how to trust. She can’t stay here any longer, but a friend has passage on a ship. She joins them, and sails into an overcast sea.

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