Love and Barbed Wire

Book review by Deane Barker tags: rpg, world-war-one

This is a role-playing game…sort of. It’s a “game of letters.” You and a partner write letters to each other, each playing the role of a soldier in World War 1 and someone the soldier knows back home.

So, it’s not a “game,” really. It’s a…meditation? A contemplation? An experience?

The mechanics – if you can call them that – are very simple. There are five rounds, and each player draws a standard playing card for each round. The suit of the drawn dictates the content and tone of the letter.

Spades are bad. If either side draws a spade in any round, then the relationship ends – either the soldier dies, or the other person breaks of the relationship in a letter. If the soldier dies, then the letter was written before their death and forwarded to the other person.

If this seems odd…it is. Again, it’s not a game. It’s an…exercise.

A lot of the book is background setting. It explains the horror that was World War I, and gives enough background detail for each side to understand their context.

At the end are a set of letters which are the result of an actual play-testing session. I have to say – it was compelling. The letters were heart-wrenching.

Clearly, this requires good participants. Additionally, ti requires participants who know what they’re in for. If someone is expecting an actual game, they’re going to be disappointed.

I bought it because I continued to be fascinated by gaming systems, especially vague ones like this. It’s a fascinating premise.

Book Info

Alex White
  • I have read this book. According to my records, I completed it on .
  • A softcover copy of this book is currently in my home library.

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