Dirty Princesses

A Game about Expectations and Danger

Rings and Circlets April 9, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — bullbar83 @ 11:23 am
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It’s time I told you about the remaining two Virtues of a Máran Princess, which are also the remaining two suits in a traditional Máran deck of cards.

Previously I talked about Swords, which represents strength, might and military prowess, and Shields which represents faith and compassion. Now I’ll be writing about Rings and Circlets.


Rings represent Leadership. Each one is a unique ring that carries the symbol of the Princess in question, a symbol that would be recognisable to anyone who saw it. The rings themselves are not particularly valuable in terms of their material components, but whoever carries one has the ability to command, lead armies and ask for almost anything. But they are not all gift. They also represent that the wearer is someone to be trusted, relied upon and turned to in times of trouble. A Princess who has been noticed wearing her ring (not that they wouldn’t be asked anyway, the ring is simply an excuse, or perhaps a promise) can be expected to be called upon to solve problems and to help those in need. It is a symbol that she can be counted upon to lead, but also that those around her who are loyal can be counted upon to follow. It symbolises confidence and decision-making ability.

As a suit of cards, Rings represents rulers, leaders, wisdom, patience, generosity, military forces and militia (in the sense of people gathering, not so much the violence that comes with them), towns and stability.


A Circlet sits upon the brow of each Princess, a diadem with a single jewel centered on the brow. It is elegant, simple and beautiful. The Circlet symbolises intelligence and education. It shows that the Princess is a person of learning and erudition, that she knows many things and is wise in many matters. The lorekeepers of Mára are considered to be the greatest in the land, their libraries are the most complete and deepest. Many say that if they do not know something, it is not worth knowing. Princesses are not truly expected to carry such prodigious knowledge, but they are certainly expected to be more learned than the average person and always keen to learn more.

As a suit of cards, Circlets represents intelligence, education, knowledge, mystery, secrets, whispers, travel and books.


Personally, Princess December 14, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — bullbar83 @ 8:03 pm
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At first, Dirty Princesses was just an adventure game, about adventures and perilous quests and kick-ass chicks running around killing stuff. Don’t get me wrong, it still has those things in it. It just isn’t ABOUT those things. What it’s actually about is a whole different kettle of fish.

At it’s heart, the game is about expectations, the fear of disappointment, the transition into adulthood and about struggling to be the person that you think you should be. It seems pretty obvious to me now, but it was a sudden realisation of something unexpected.

So first you’ve got these Princesses, still in their teens, going out into the world after years of education and training. So they’ve graduated high-school and now they have to ‘make something of themselves’.

Then the expectations begin. They are expected to be warriors, tacticians, scholars, priestesses, leaders, generals, riders, artists, musicians, poets, diplomats, and so much more. They are presented with this impeccable and unapproachable image of Queen and Mother, a figure they are expected to emulate. Many of these expectations are contradictory. They are peacemakers with bloody blades, sincere advocates of a many-faced goddess who have to be aware of the use of religion as a political tool. They are expected to embody the four cardinal virtues, Strength, Wisdom, Faith and Leadership. If it’s not clear, these are things that I personally worry about my (possibly entirely self-perceived) lack of. These are the points of the Princesses’ moral compasses, the direction from which challenges will come. So the pressures on these four Virtues are both internal (fear of failure and inadequacy) and external (monsters, bandits, puzzles, the derring-do stuff).

Then, sitting right there in what is currently all of character creation, you have this question:

“What does my mother want me to be?”

It’s a big question. It shapes things. Regardless of whether they embrace it or reject it, this is something they have been aimed toward from a very young age, and it wasn’t even a choice. There’s no question of what you want your Princess to be, because that will be worked out in play. It’s not a question of whether you accept it and roll with it, that comes out in play too. It simply forms the beginning of the path, a prior influence that’s going to sit there glaring at you until you acknowledge it. Sure the other Princesses help shape your character, but that doesn’t seem as weighty or vital to me. The expectations of the Queen are heavy.

The quest isn’t really about the quest. It’s about the Princesses discovering themselves, who they are and what they want to be. Exploring a dark forest and exploring their own ambitions, it all happens at once. By the time it’s all over, they will have learned where their strengths and weaknesses lie, they will have been tested. They will experience failure, for sure, but they get to find out what that failure does to them. They grow up.


Cardinal Virtues December 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — bullbar83 @ 9:01 am
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There are four Virtues that every Máran Princess is expected to embrace, display and embody. The Queen is considered an equal paragon of all, regardless of her actual capabilities and inclinations. The Princesses, however, are expected (but not encouraged) to favour one over the other, as is appropriate to their age and limited experience. Associated with each of these Virtues is an item, an artifact, that the Princesses carry out into the world as they prove their worth. These items are rich with significance, each having been passed down from mothers and aunts, each with a history. In turn, each item is associated with one of the four suits used in the deck of cards. The Princess and The Queen have particular titles and significance.

The Four Virtues are:


Might is several things at once. It is the strength of a sword-arm and skill in battle. It is tactics and strategy, the realm of the warlord and the general. It is feint, attack and defense. Might is fearsome and awe-inspiring, acts of physicality, strength and agility.

Obviously, Might is physically represented by the Sword. But not just any sword. A sword crafted by Máran metallurgists of the finest Máran Steel. The term means something more than just a simple metal, it means a willingness to shed blood for the greater good, it means a mastery over the sword, it means only drawing it with intent to use it. Máran Steel is guts, drive, determination and willpower. Every Princess carries Máran Steel, at her side and in her heart. Each sword is unique, elegant and above all practical. They are intended to be used, not to sit as decoration. Nobody would take up Máran Steel unless they were willing and able to use it.

The suit of cards, Swords, is symbolic of violence, conflict, blood, war, conquest and strength as well as sex and romantic love. The Queen of Swords is also called The General and the Princess of Swords is known as The Warrior. In less polite or formal company, The Queen of Swords is called The Bloody Bitch or The Destroyer and The Princess of Swords is called Ravager or Slayer.


If the sword and military prowess united the tribes, it is Faith that keeps them together. Before, they worshipped a variety of gods and goddesses, each embodying a different aspect of the world. Now they have been given a new, singular face. They are all aspects of the one Goddess, her masculine and feminine sides, creator and destroyer, love and all part of the same thing. This proved enormously successful, allowing all to continue worshipping Her in their own way, but bringing them together like never before. The Princesses are expected to lead the people in faith and piety, leading by example. They should not favour specific aspects of Her (that is not to say that they don’t), but rather worship the Goddess as a whole. This can make things confusing, as some of the requirements of Her aspects can be prohibitive or even contradictory, and she is known by many different names. The Princesses must walk a tricky path in showing faith.

The symbol of their Faith is the Shield. The shield is polished until it is almost reflective, elegantly and beautifully made, as well as solid and protective. The outer face is inscribed with a personally chosen symbol of the Princess’ faith and belief, the inner face inscribed with prayer and litany to see them through times of darkness and fear.

The suit of Shields is one that symbolises protection, faith, belief, piety, loyalty, platonic love, life and birth. I’m still working on specific meanings and names for The Queen and Princess of Shields.

That’s all for the moment, I’ll cover the other two virtues at a later date.


Traits September 29, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — bullbar83 @ 1:01 pm

Oh and another thing. Characters (mostly Princesses) have Stats and Traits. They get 10 points to divide between their Stats and I think that they should never have more than 10 points worth of Traits. And hopefully they’re constantly getting new traits and having existing traits change. So it basically ensures they aren’t static. The Traits they get from their Mother and Sisters and all that aren’t counted in that limit. Maybe.


Some Revelations

Filed under: Uncategorized — bullbar83 @ 12:28 pm
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After doing some thinking I’ve come up with some new ideas and ways of looking at the game. These are a bit rough in my mind so forgive me if they don’t make sense.

Composure: Basically every Princess will have a pool of dice called Composure that they get to add to rolls where that kind of thing is important or where they’re required to act particularly Princessly. That’s all well and good, except for when they’re in danger. When they’re getting injured or threatened, they can burn off points of Composure to lessen or negate the effects. That’s one of the mechanics that deals with the progression from ‘clean’ to ‘dirty’.

The other thing is that the Queen is a lot more important than I realised. Originally the Queen was only defined by the things that she wants her daughters to be. But now, she actually gets defined before play and given a bunch of traits, negative and positive. At certain times, Princesses call for Challenge scenes, moments that really change them. The nature of those Challenges (and possibly the whole story of the session) is defined by one of the Traits of the Queen. And whether or not they fail or succeed at the Challenge, the Trait is modified. And once the Queen’s traits are modified enough, she dies.

This opens up the possibility of generational games, where the Princesses go home and one becomes the Queen and then the next generation of Princesses define their relationships with he and face Challenges based on her traits. It also makes me wonder, do the Princesses ever finish their quests? What is the endgame like?

Oh and I’m getting rid of the revolving GM idea.