I have been working for the last nine months on creating a teaching tool for students of Fiore's art: a card game called Audatia. The game has been designed from the ground up as a way to make the abstract elements of Fiore's system, such as the terminology and the overall tactical structure, easier to learn. I know next to nothing about designing games, so of course I hired a professional, and as readers of this blog should know by now, I didn't do it all by myself. I have been working as part of a team, and my job is to keep the game faithful to the Art it is intended to serve.
Over the weekend we took the game to the gamers, by setting up playtesting at Ropecon. We were supposed to be on for two hours a day, over the three days, but three of us were at it non-stop for an average of 5 hours a day. Folk were queueing up to have a go, and many came back for more. It was fantastic. We learned a lot about what we had got right, and more importantly, what we had got wrong.
The best negative review we got was from an ex-student of mine, who said: “it's too realistic. You might as well just pick up a sword and fight.” Not an error I intend to fix.
It also proved itself as a teaching tool; the players, usually with no swordsmanship experience, quickly learned what an opponent in tutta porta di ferro could do, and what their best option was if when the blades meet you are in the zogho stretto. If tutta porta di ferro and zogho stretto are all Greek to you, then you need this game!
In class last night, a student asked a question about the uses of posta breve based on her experience playing the game at Ropecon; a question that might never have occurred to her if she had not played. That gave me the theme for the class, during which I realised that the game needed a tweak to make its representation of the guard more accurate. So the game proved its use as a teaching tool, and not only that, it set up a virtuous cycle of learning and development.
We have clearly hit some kind of a nerve, as we have been storming ahead on our indigogo project, having raised over 7,000 euros in under 7 days. If you haven't backed us yet, please do so now!
So, Audatia matters because:
1) it will help students of the Art of Arms pick up the theory side of things more quickly, encouraging them to engage with the system more closely, and helping to drive our understanding of this system forward.
2) it will draw new scholars into the Art, folk who play the game may well take up the practice of swordsmanship.
3) it will help bridge the gap between those who get why swords are cool and those who don't. If you're addicted to swords, you can use this game to help communicate why to your friends outside our sub-culture.
4) it is one more way in which those who have no idea that European martial arts exist can find out about them.
5) it will, if it does well, go some way to counteract the appalling misogyny in gaming culture today. We intend to create female character decks, because there were some fearsome women warriors in the middle ages. (I'll be blogging about this in detail soon.) And guess what: they will be wearing armour that would effectively defend them against deadly weapons, not pander to the prurience of little boys.
I think that's five excellent reasons, don't you?