“Rathael is a land full of magical people, fantastical creatures, and mystical kingdoms. It is studded with ancient ruins left behind by a long-lost civilization. It had always been a peaceful realm. That is, until twelve years ago. The Legion came down from the stars and began to colonize the planet. Their expansion was swift and brutal. Caught on the back foot, the kingdoms of Rathael united and forged the Rathaelian Resistance. The warriors and princepts of the Resistance fought valiantly. Within a year they pressed the Legion back to their stronghold. Sadly, their final assault ended in tragedy.
The Resistance shattered and the Kingdoms turned to isolation.
It has been twelve years, and a new generation is beginning to see the need for another Resistance. The Legion has been attacking towns again. The Kingdoms are sending out invitations to balls. And the Wilds have been getting stranger and stranger.
You, the princepts and warriors of factions at odds, will clash, quarrel, and flirt to sway Rathael in your favor.”
I’m thrilled as it’s both my pleasure (and honor) to tell you about For The Honor, a recent and successful kickstarter by Quinn Vega. Last weekend I got to participate in a game of it during Games On Demand Online run by my friend Natalie of Charm Person Games. It’s indeed inspired by She-Ra and the Princesses of Power from Netflix, though I’ll say I’ve been a fan of He-Man and She-Ra since the original tv shows of the 80’s. Also for the record, I have not finished the series so please, no spoilers! You won’t find any below either, unless you count how spoiled I felt getting to play this game!
For the Honor is developed using the Firebrands Framework from D. Vincent Baker and Meguey Baker, which I’ve not played in before though I’m certainly going to check out when I get the opportunity! One thing that immediately excited me was that this is a GM-less game. That is to say it’s cooperative storytelling so everyone gets to be a player! Nat kindly led us through the character creation while making her own.
First we had to choose a faction! Are you a member of the Resistance, fighting against the Legion’s control over Rathael or perhaps you’re a member of that villanious organization! Some may be princepts of kingdoms, possibly aligned to one group or the other while others hide in the Wilds, avoiding the war and violence. Based on your faction you would choose three traits for your character, clearly a guide influenced by the nature of your faction. Resistance members are sometimes vain or loyal while those from the Wilds can be tough or peaceful. You’ve also two questions to answer based on your faction. Those in a Kingdom must name their kingdom while also describing what it’s like there and what practice brings its people together. Legion members have to decide who raised and taught them to fight while deciding what Legion principles are sacred to them.
There’s two abilities you’ll need to choose for your character too! While you can be good at many things, this is what you excel at! You can make up your abilities but a list is provided for suggestions too including the powers of glitter, telekinesis, illusions but also control over ice, water, and fire. Talents include things like tactics, agility, hacking, and of course: friendship.
The final details are the final fleshing out of your character and home. A name, their pronouns, and a bit of description for your look like dyed hair, a crown, drums, synth pop… The list goes on and you can describe however you wish. The home name is particularly important if you’re part of a Kingdom that’s neutral or in the Resistance though the Legion could control many territories too! Everyone then takes a turn to describe their characters because ultimately it’s all about…
Not that you’re all going to start there of course! For my character I chose to be a Princept (a gender neutral term for a magic wielder though Prince and Princess are perfectly fine should you wish) of a Kingdom. I chose a few traits from the Kingdom’s list: beautiful, radiant, and blunt. Suffice to say I had an immediate idea in mind! The questions I had to answer were around what the Kingdom of Prismaton (dig the name?) was like and what brought the people together. I decided Prismaton was a neutral territory, favoring neither the Legion nor the Resistance but trying to go along to get along. Their kingdom was a mountainous metropolis of beautifully sculpted architecture, bejeweled and glowing with the locals favoring wonderful craftsmanship, artistic endeavors, and hard work. Many worked also in mines within the mountains, drawing out precious metals, minerals, and of course gems!
My Princept would so be named Seravin, who preferred they/them though I felt was mercurial in their gender identity. I decided they were incredibly talented jewelers, favoring the crafting of charm bracelets and charms. Their magic was in transformation, particularly in bringing those charms to life with miraculous results! Seravin always had a couple charm bracelets filled with charms on! Indeed, they wore a beautiful gown, crafted much in their mother’s memory but with a somewhat regal corporate business jacket with large shoulders that had massive prism-like crystals sticking out from both sides. They sparkled and glowed, which I’ll note did not work in my favor later when trying to run away from one of the other players! All that prismatic shine was a great way to announce their presence though.
But to begin after everyone’s described themselves, you figure out who was the last person to watch a cartoon. They lead you into the first scene of the game! To play For The Honor you move between various mini-game scenes where various players participate. The first scene is always the Prelude which has a list of prompts for each of the four factions and from there you can proceed to one of the other scenes as noted below. Each mini-game has guidelines of who plays, who starts, challenges or prompts to run through, and how to lead you through further dramatic scenes!
- The Prelude
- a surprising event, a mysterious person, a valuable object
- Crossing Paths
- a time past, a reunion, a new context
- Venture Forth
- a journey shared, a challenge faced, a truth uncovered
- Mincing Words
- a tense argument, a tender confession, a duel of wits
- Taking the Dance Floor
- a warm embrace, a moment in concert, a rhythm of steps
- Hand to Heart
- a closeness shared, a gentle touch, a beating of hearts
- Taking Shape
- a fresh look, a flash of sparkles, a transformation
- Giving Chase
- a quickened pace, a chance taken, a close pursuit
- Blade to Stave
- a standoff, an ambush, an exchange of blows
- Search and Rescue
- a captive, a captor, a rescuer
- All-Out Battle
- a line crossed, a castle besieged, an order given
- Stand United
- a common cause, a helping hand, a sacrifice made
The Power of Friendship
Our first person decided we were in the Wilds and that a Resistance traveler was looking to help track someone from the Legion who was there. Our Legion player was actually Natalie and her character Cinder had power over fire and was quite the boxer! She was secretly AWOL from the Legion and had conscripted a tank to go searching for ancient technology. She’d brought along a Knight who served the Legion, though not exactly happily: Technomancia who was smart and technologically savvy. They came upon Seravin leading a few others from their kingdom in acquiring fallen wood and other non-damaging materials from the Wilds. Seravin and Cinder had gotten along at a ball in the past, but Technomancia was only so professional at trade deals between their kingdoms. No one was exactly pleased to see one another as we went into the next mini-game: Crossing Paths.
Cinder was hoping to see a friendly face, one of the prompts for Crossing Paths. Unfortunately Seravin’s face didn’t exactly offer friendship: more like surprise and worry. I mean, Seravin was blunt after all and didn’t approve of the tank’s damage to the forest wilds. Technomancia used the “when we parted, there was an unsettled matter between us” prompt, referring to their distaste for the Legion yet Seravin’s kingdom’s willingness to sell minerals to them and focus on the economy over morals/ethics. The question from that prompt: Do you bring it up now, even by accident? Oh yes, of course. “Like wow, so great to see you here, despite your problems with how the Legion is doing things… like destroying the wildlife.”
Meanwhile, the other three were watching our interaction from high atop a nearby hill with their own Crossing Paths mini-game. Feather dwelt deeper into the wilds, and she was griffin like in appearance with the ability to fly! Foresti (they/them) was the forest and they did not like trespassers, but they knew and had given permission for Princess Harmonica to travel through. She had a gift with music and illusions, able to play her harmonica to make herself invisible… just not inaudible. They didn’t much like all these interlopers in the forest and so they decided to come down and speak to us through a full player game of Mincing Words.
We had to decide what we noticed about one another, like the fact Seravin had many battle charms on her bracelets, which Technomancia sure noticed or that Cinder was looking particularly stressed and Princess Harmonica seemed eager to go looking deeper in the forest. Many of us had discovered this ancient technology was active in the woods, and no one was quite ready to leave. Through a series of Direct Questions, a few Fumbles, and then finally an Escalation (all listed with prompts to help us along) we found ourselves in a combat scene: Blade to Stave.
A few fought directly like Cinder and Foresti while Harmonica moved to get away and Seravin tried to intervene between Cinder and Foresti. Eventually I had to throw down a charm of glitter that was magically enhanced to fill the area and many went running. Feather gave chase to Seravin while the others chased Cinder through Giving Chase scenes. I really liked how through a series of token flips regarding Challenges and Hesistations we’d decide if we got away or not. A challenge example included:
I try to lose you in a crowd, thicket, or maze. You throw. Heads-tell me how you manage to stay on my trail. Tails-tell me how you feel when you realize you’re lost, and I gain a token.
This is the person being chased speaking in first person to the person(s) chasing them. Unfortunately my Hesitation I chose got me as it did for Cinder. We both decided there were “other enemies ahead of” us. Since those chasing us both had more tokens then us, both our scenes ended with us taken prisoner and captured by the Legion!
They found us through a game of Search and Rescue, where the captured individuals don’t always have to help through their Captive Challenges, but we did. Someone has to play the Captor – which Nat did with flair – while the Rescuers do a couple challenges too. We went right into some Taking Shape scenes where we note a magic phrase that gets us started with a particular pose. Seravin notes “I’ve a charm for this” and pulls one off. What’s interesting is then all other players ask you questions to help you describe your transformation, again with prompts or their own ideas that are provided in the game materials.
All In This Together
Finally, it was time to Stand United, even if we disagreed about what we should do about the ancient ruin and technology. All agreed the Legion should not be there, headed by the boxing mentor of Cinder! Again, the prompts from the Challenges list are quite exciting. You run through each player prompting once at least and then can move to an Ending once it feels right. Each challenge allows you to suggest a problem or event but then prompt another player to participate. Cinder got us started with:
I am feeling conflicted about this fight. Can you inspire me to face it with confidence? How?
And prompted Seravin for that confidence! I thought yes, yes I could! Seravin’s gown had been torn in the thicket earlier but replaced with a resplendent battle gown of diamond. They lifted it and dropped numerous anti-inflammatory shield charms that spread around our scene to protect the rest of the woods from fire, allowing Cinder to know she could unleash her fury without destroying the wilds. Suffice to say Feather and Foresti were pleased with the action too!
At one point one of Seravin’s pre-planned actions resulted in some overcharged tech tied to the jewelry they’d sold out to the Legion. They were stunned but the remote control was about to blow. Fortunately Technomancia’s players had a bright idea to withstand its danger. Her transformation had led to a full battle tech suit very much akin to Iron Man and used the power charge from the remote to go to the limit with lasers and explosives while Foresti and Griffin took out the remaining troops. Cinder and Harmonica surrounded the leader, that boxing mentor, and knocked him back into his last tank before he retreated. We won the battle but the war had just begun, and the ancient tech had been activated!
For The Honor was truly a fun, collaborative, and creative game! I love how it’s a series of mini-games and all get to play, everyone able to have their character and help shape the story. It’s great for a one shot but I can easily see how the series of scenes will help you move through a long term campaign. I’m sad we never got to Take to the Dance Floor with a ball, but the Wilds just weren’t ready for Harmonica’s hot beats outside of the illusions she was throwing during battle! In fact, she ran off in our post-credits scene! I encourage you to invest in For The Honor and your own characters. Be sure to let me know how you Cross Paths and Stand United!
I also want to hear what you’re Investing In! Leave me a comment below about what games, modules, systems, products, people, live streams, etc you enjoy! You can also hit me up on social media as silentinfinity. I want to hear what excites you and what you’re passionate about. There’s so much wonderful content, people, groups (I could go on) in this community of ours that the more we invest in and share, the better it becomes!
About Investing In
I wasn’t quite sure what to name my article series when I first started but the idea of showcasing or discussing things that make me excited, that I find new and interesting, or maybe I’m otherwise passionate about seemed to fit with the idea of Investing In something like the Pathfinder 2E mechanic. To use some magic items you have to give that little bit of yourself, which helps make these things even better. I like the metaphor of the community growing and being strengthened in the same way!
Banner – For the Honor banner, Quinn Vega