Long Ago, Far Away

A mod to the analog rpg Breaking the Ice

Part of Romance Trilogy Hacks & Mods


Many stories of action or adventure have a love story at their heart. You can use the rules of Breaking the Ice to create a story that ranges beyond the realms of the simple love story, but that will still chart the course of two characters’ path to love. Star Wars(TM) can be seen as a series of dates between Han Solo and Leia Organa. A story of a gangland fight can revolve around the love between a headman’s moll and his loyal lieutenant, as in Daschiell Hammet’s novel, The Glass Key. Or, you can tell the tale of lovers in a more fantastic setting, as in the medieval fantasy film Ladyhawke, or the picturesque martial arts film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Setting Creation:

To properly ground your characters and game in the world, engage in setting creation before making characters.

• Decide upon a genre, for example European medieval fantasy.

Make three columns on a blank sheet of paper. At the top of the first column write “Sources”, at the top of the second column, write “Elements,” and at the top of the third column write “Themes”.

• In the first column, write down titles of movies, books or stories that fit the genre. Brainstorm between the players. Following the above example, Braveheart, Robin Hood, Ivanhoe, and Brother Cadfael might be listed as Sources. Talk about the items. Circle the ones people especially like, and cross out any that people strongly object to.

Next, brainstorm common elements found in these stories. Include elements you wish to subvert or change about the source material and make a note of the new agreements. The previous example might go on to list: knights, queens, rogues, battle, archery, tournaments, nobles peasants, forests. Elements to subvert may be: all white characters, binary genders and female passivity; changed to: diverse community, egalitarian & inclusive gender roles.

• In the third column, brainstorm some common themes that these stories contain. Themes are conflicts motivating people and groups, strong moral questions or values that can be contested. For example: rich vs. poor, betrayal, loyalty to lover, injustice, loyalty to lord, independence, rightful monarchs, vulnerability of the oppressed, etc.

Now take all these concepts and use them as a backdrop to your character creation. Allow yourself to pick words in keeping with your lists, and form your interpretations of the Word Web to fit the chosen setting. Choose conflicts that are inspired by the themes and elements of the setting. Such as: “avenging murdered sibling,” “ruined by usurping sovereign,” etc. Use the themes and elements, as well as events from the sources to inspire the event of the three dates.

Also, interpret Date more loosely. It could instead be three eventful moments in the course of these characters’ stories (e.g. an archery tournament, a kidnapping by an evil lord, etc.) Weave together a story hinging on love that fits into the setting you wish to explore.