02821: The Favourite of the Blooded

So Tobie and I just got home from watching The Favourite, an interesting comedy-drama period movie about Queen Anne and the people around her. As a comedy things are pretty much set up not to be historically accurate and that sort of lets everyone relax a bit more. And thus it becomes a vehicle for some novel storytelling as the filmmakers sort of played around with the spaces between the historical records and had fun doing so.

Of course the whole time we were watching the movie and laughing at the jokes, Tobie and I kept thinking of how to translate different aspects of the movie into RPG terms using Houses of the Blooded as a framework. Anyone who knows us as gamers knows how much we enjoyed playing that system given how it beautifully supports stories of intrigue and social warfare. And that's pretty much what the movie set out to do - to illustrate the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) manipulations between the cousins Sarah and Abigail.

It's hard to fully explain how much fun this was for us if you haven't had a chance to play the game. And I'll admit this is not the first time we've overlayed the Houses virtues onto various forms of media because quite frankly the system is great for turning dramatic storytelling into something that can be supported by game mechanics.

For example, it would be too easy to assume that the Queen had Strength as a Weakness (as all Houses characters must have one virtue where they must automatically fail at) and it's more likely she was curtailed by Winter Aspects that reflected aging - thus we could term it as "The flesh is weak" or something along those lines to add more complications to her character. No her true weakness was Courage as she was unable to stand up to the two women in her life and fell prey to their machinations.

It's not quite as easy to break down the cousins as cleanly as they were certainly evenly matched in several areas. A lot of the actions they performed in the movie involved Cunning given all the manipulations and counterpoints, mainly on the side of Abigail. If anything Sarah was burdened more by Wisdom given her adherence to brutal honesty while Abigail was better at using Beauty to get her way. Sarah probably had an aspect tied to actually loving the Queen that was used against her from time to time while Abigail had some additional "low-class skills" given her fall from grace that could be wittily captured in an aspect like "Common knowledge". Tobie argues that Abigail probably had Wisdom as a weakness despite her medicinal skills (we go back to the Common Knowledge aspect as an explanation) while Sarah probably had Strength as a weakness, mainly due to a process of elimination as she was able to demonstrate the other skills. Her love of shooting and her horsemanship ties to Prowess.

The more interesting possibility is that she probably had Wisdom as her key virtue while Cunning may actually have been her weakness. She got her way through honesty and strong alliances but not necessarily through manipulation and moving pawns around the board. Abigail had Cunning in spades and this is what allowed her to gain so much sway over the court so quickly.

Gaming analysis aside, The Favourite is a wonderful movie that we enjoyed on multiple levels and I'm glad that we managed to see at the theater. Even an Academy Award for Best Actress is unlikely to save any movie from the chopping block given how local cinemas make decisions. Plus here it's an R-13 movie, so that naturally limits audience sizes and tonight we mostly had the theater to ourselves.