Dreamation: Squire Aleinete Loiselet
Game: The Art of Power by Brennan Taylor
Theme Song: Broken Crown by Mumford & Sons
Keywords: Headstrong, stubborn, annoying
There's a trope in fantasy/medieval fiction that A Knight's Tale perfectly demonstrates: young boy, wants to be a knight, but shit is in his way. When I sat down at Brennan Taylor's new game, The Art of Power, we got to choose from a large variety of powerful* women. Each character was a woman/trans/femme, and each of them had some sort of social clout.
Normally I play pretty strong characters. I don't play a lot of functioning, high society teens who don't have much to worry about. Usually there are vampires or something and they end up inundated with real problems. So I decided I would play someone with way less social clout than anyone else, but who had one hell of a dream and was ready to test the limits of her abilities. Inspired by things like A Knight's Tale and the Disney version of Hercules, I picked up Aleinete from the table.
In the game, Aleinete is the niece of the current queen. She's headstrong, callow, and wants to become a knight faster than it takes to actually become a knight. I didn't have a plan for this, other than to push around my mentor and say I was worthy because I had queenly blood in my pretty little veins. My mentor was the right hand of the queen, albeit lower born than I was. She was also the lover of the queen and in true noble fashion, I decided I knew this.
As we played through the game, it became clear my character spent most of her time figuring out how to embarrass her mentor so that her mentor would knight her early. The first tactic was to prove how good I was in combat, but this was a game about political power, not physical prowess, and I figured why not embrace that. Instead, Aleinete began to witness and understand that words and fear got people further. Thus, she ensured that her mentor and her could both benefit from her becoming a knight and pursued that.
Aleinete was a shadow compared to the other major players, and I tried to play her as young, willful, and not necessarily politically minded. She wanted to make her aunt proud more than she wanted to be the heir. Being the heir hadn't even entered her mind. All she wanted was to claim her bloodline as powerful, and that the queen wasn't just a fluke. There was an almost religious belief in her bloodline, and given their goddess was a war goddess, she believed their family tied to that goddess.
I normally play really powerful characters, especially lately when I feel things are spinning out of my control, so playing the lowest power character was really interesting. I found my inability to do much due what cards I had and also due to the fact that I was at the whim of other women frustrating, which I felt was how my character would feel. It was neat to take on a normally male-focused story and turn it into a story about a young woman where it wasn't exceptional because all the power in the world belonged to women.
I would love to play Aleinete in a few years when she's rose to power or fallen, and is seeking revenge. There was a strong-headed stubbornness in her I don't often play because those characters are annoying, but in this space, it felt right. Maybe I'll play her again in another game. We'll see.