Updates on The Road to Canterbury

Game designer Alf Seegert sent me a couple of links about the progress of his upcoming game, The Road to Canterbury (Gryphon Games), which I previewed last month.

First up is a long and interesting designer diary written by Alf in in which he explains the origin and evolution of his concept and the way he turned his love for the writing of Geoffrey Chaucer into a game.

The game also now has a Kickstarter Campaign, which is an intriguing new trend to fund and support projects during their development. If the game reaches the $10,000 threshold for support and pre-sales, then publication is guaranteed. As of this writing, they’re already past the $7,000 mark with 42 days to go. A $45 “investment” gets you free copy of the game. (It functions like a pre-order.) Higher donations come with nifty bonuses. Check out the Kickstarter site for more details.

Alf and I have exchanged a few emails as we discussed his concerns that people with religious sensibilities might be offended by the game. (I’m a Catholic catechist and lecturer, and I begin work on my Masters in Theology this summer.) The game focuses on Chaucer’s character of the Pardoner, a corrupt churchman who sold indulgences and preyed on people’s sins. The game places each player in the role of the Pardoner, attempting to get people to commit sins and then profiting from them. These are deadly sins, however, so push too far, and a player could simply die.

Chaucer is one of my great passions, as is medieval Catholicism. The game is true to its period and sources, and if it seems to play lightly with the serious matter of sin and clerical corruption, it also shows the deadly effects of both. In a society that tends to dismiss the very notion of sin, that’s a valuable thing. Chaucer himself remained a pious Catholic until his death, and at the end of his life made an “apology” disavowing and repenting for his more bawdy works. (Though this, too, may have been his idea of a joke. Sometimes it’s hard to tell with Chaucer.) His satirical work was meant to be medicinal, much like In Praise of Folly by Erasmus. (Erasmus was shocked to learn that his biting satire on Church corruption was thoroughly enjoyed by its main target, Pope Leo X: the man who turned the selling of pardons into an art form.)

I’m looking forward to Road to Canterbury. I think it looks fun and I like the subject matter, but I also think it may be a useful teaching tool.