Artefact After-Action Report

11 Aug, 2020, updated 25 Aug, 2020 artefact mousehole press

Over the last few weeks I’ve been playing Artefact, by Mousehole Press. I wrote some words about it already. In case I didn’t mention before, it’s pretty. Admire how pretty it is, again.

The pretty green Artefact zine

Technically, one should play it in one or two sessions and think solemn thoughts as you meditate on being left behind. I didn’t do that. The game has setup (which I did wrong) and three acts, and I did those all on separate days.

Tools

I used:

Each session was about 30m or so, and I wrote in total 9 sides of A5. For each answer I wrote in the thoughts of the artefact, and its version of the history of its keepers. There’s obviously more brief ways of doing this - I could have just written bullet-points and kept things in my head.

I thought this would encourage me to think a bit more, get away from the computer, and improve my handwriting. It did discourage me from more complex plots.

The story of Hunter’s Bane

My artefact was a hunting horn. It basically buffed its Keeper’s martial prowess, but would encourage the Keeper into greater deeds and fight foes too mighty. Basically, it drew aggro!

Much in the same way Americans think British accents are perfect for fantasy, I decided to use Welsh names for my kingdom and characters.

A condensed summary:

  1. Rhodri ap-Owen - a haughty nobleman

    • Your classic indulgent noble
    • Received it as a gift
    • Started hunting, became famous
    • Became councillor to the King of Gwynedd
    • Dies of old age
  2. Blodwin, a female thief

    • Breaking in, finds me in a crate
    • Looking for evidence to bring down the corrupt government
    • My memories of Rhodri show he only helped the ruling class
    • The revolution comes, the horn helps Blodwin lead it
    • The horn incites a crowd and she is tried in the war tribunals she started
    • The horn is impounded as evidence, and learns from other artefacts to manipulate its Keepers
  3. Lord Ymir, a warlord

    • Ymir is from an adjacent kingdom and of little threat
    • The horn teaches Ymir of the best way to conquer Gwynedd, effectively betraying the state
    • Ymir conquers
    • As king he continues to fight monsters, and a dragon beats him
  4. Rûn, female bounty hunter

    • Tricksy, not about direct fighting
    • Manipulated by the horn into a standard fighter
    • Goes to sea to fight Leviathan
    • It does not go well
    • The horn floats to shore, then is buried in the sand
  5. Cat, a female treasure hunter (child)

    • She finds the horn on holiday
    • Her parents mount it on the wall for her
    • It whispers to her throughout puberty
    • She fights her brother for it, and runs off to join the army
    • Can’t take the discipline, and the horn encourages her to be a mercenary instead
    • Many epic fights ensue, but she is a fugitive from justice as time passes
    • The state corner her, barricaded in
    • The horn tells her to explode the pair of them, so it doesn’t have to be put down again

Lessons

This was great. Very peaceful and reflective, without getting too miserable. Apart from maybe the end but I felt it should go out with a bang 🤣.

Next time I think I’d probably try a more gonzo story, possibly writing less, but OTOH I like the story I’ve written. One thing I’m slightly nervous about is that I’ve used a lot of the example keepers listed. There are 12 and so I’ve used a fair fraction already. However I think a different artefact type, and also I can just make up a new one if required. Technically Cat was a deviation as it’s supposed to be a pair of hunters who fight.

I didn’t do much of a sketch of the horn. I don’t like drawing, so I thought I’d stick with the creative writing bit I was looking forward to. I also wrote out things freehand and answered too many questions at the start.

Next time, I will use the worksheets that would give me a bit more structure to not-cock-it-up. Probably still transcribing into a journal though, as otherwise I will lose the ability to write at all

A spread from my writeup
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