Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Renaissance Role-Playing: The Colony of Roanoke, part III

This post is one in a series about how to use the role-playing game Renaissance in your homeschool history activities. For general information about this, click here. For the first part of the Colony of Roanoke scenario, click here. For part II, click here.

Act III : On the Island of Roanoke
Just as you have done in the last section, here are some actual incidences that occurred on the island of Roanoke.  Have these be the framework of the story, but also let it unfold as the player characters make decisions about how they will react to the incidences.  These reactions may create new story lines which you can encourage or discourage depending on how much it deviates from the main story plot lines. Sprinkle throughout various daily life activities.

George Howe goes to a creek a couple miles from the fort to catch crabs. He doesn't return and if a search party is sent out, preferably with some player characters in it, they find Howe is found face down in a creek. His body is riddled with 16 arrows and his head is crushed by a heavy object, perhaps a club. There are no Indians in sight, even if the party searches for it.  The player characters, if they do not suggest it, should be encouraged to bring Howe's body brought back to camp for burial. Tensions in camp are heightened. If no search party goes out, Howe's body is found somehow during that day.

Next day Edward Stafford and twenty armed men, preferably some of them at least are player characters, go visit the Croatoans, which are fifty-one miles south.
When they reach Croatoan Island, there are a group of Croatoan warriors gathered on shore, ready to fight. The party  advances towards them, muskets drawn. The Croatoans begin to flee and Manteo calls to them in an Indian language, which makes the Croatoans throw down their weapons, turn back, approach Manteo and embrace him. They speak to Manteo and Manteo translates to the party, saying that they don't want the men to take their corn because they don't have much of it. Manteo replies, and tells the party that he has told the Indians, that your party have not come to take their corn, or anything else,  only to "renew the old love,  that was between us, and them,  at the first,  and to live with them as brethren." Pleased by this response, the Croatoans invite you all to their town (see map) where you are welcomed and you are invited to feast with them.
The next day, in a conference with the Croatoan elders, with Manteo serving as an interperter, you learn that Howe has been killed by Secotan warriors, a remnant of Wingina's people, who live at Dasemunkepeuc. They also tell you that Wanchese is one of this group,  but are not sure whether he was actually with the party that killed Howe. Implying that they will help you take revenge, they ask that they be given a sign by which the English will be able to recognize Croatoans live their island.
Stafford asks if they know anything about what happened to the fifteen men left by Grenville on Roanoke Island. They tell you that they were attacked by a coalition of thirty warriors from the Secotans. Aquascocoge and Dasemunkepeuc. Two Secotan warriors had approached the English settlement,  feigning friendship, and invited a couple of Englishmen to meet with them unarmed. The Englishmen agreed and the Secotans clubbed one immediately and when the other ran back to the settlement, shot him with arrows. The rest of the Englishmen hid in their storehouse.  The Secotans set fire to the storehouse, which prompted the Englishmen to leave it. A fight ensued, with one Englishman being killed, and the rest escaping by boat toward Hatarask. They lived there (near the entrance of Port Ferdinando) but left there at some point and they don't know what happened to them after that.
White asks the Croatoans to deliver a message to the Secotans that if they would accept the settlers' friendship,  you all will "willingly receive them again." He also says that if this is what they want, they should tell the Croatoans to deliver a message back, or tell the Croatoans that they want to arrange a meeting, within seven days. The elders agree to send the message and you all depart.

A week passes and there is no word from the Croatoans and so White reluctantly launches a raid on Dasemunkepeuc. It is still dark when Stafford,  Manteo  and two dozen men, perhaps including the player characters,  cross over to the mainland. They quickly make their way to the woods adjoining Dasemunkepeuc and launch the attack. You see a group of men sitting around a fire. The Indians flee into dense reeds.  You follow,  "determined to aquitaine (revenge) their evil doing towards us." One of the Indians call out to you all that they are Croatoans. White orders you to stop the attack, and you find out that the Secotans had abandoned the town and the Croatoans were there gathering corn, tobacco and pumpkins.  White tells them that they did not know and could not tell the Croatoans from the Secotans for  "their men and women appareled all so like the others. " Manteo is greatly distressed but in the end sides with White,  telling the Croatoans that if they had sent messengers at the appointed time, they would have informed them of their plans. You all return to Roanoke Island with Croatoans in tow. Do you try to heal them?

The building is finished. The men and teen boys stay into Lane's old houses. The Roanoke colony is set within a protective barrier of large posts. Not an actual wall, it is possible to look out the barrier but not fit through the gaps unless you are a small child or animal of no more than 3 stone (42 pounds). The barrier is set in a spiral, allowing those that guard the colony to control who comes and goes through a short passageway from the outside to the protected interior.
Situated on the outer edge of the colony, nearest the barrier,  are the barrack houses for the bachelor soldiers, servants and tradesmen. The families (Archards, Dares, Harveys, Joneses, Paynes, Powells, Tappans and Viccarses) move into the eight cottages on the inside, closest to the Village Circle. For the rest of the scenario, use the following areas to make the setting more realistic for your players/students.


The chapel sits to one side of the Village Circle and is one of the main hubs of activity.  It is a single room building filled with pews, and a lectern. When the school is in session, there are nine children of learning age. Educational supplies,  such as slates and chalk, are kept in the back corner. This building is also used as a meeting hall when the Long House is not available.

Long House

Sitting across the Village Circle from the chapel,  the Long House is a multi-purpose building that is used as a mess hall for the bachelors. This large, open room is used for military training,  town hall meetings, and as a general gathering place for leisure.

Stores/Buttery- Run by, the food storage and Buttery sits behind the Long House. This building always has a guard and is locked. It is where the village's butt (barrels ) of ale are kept as well as all the food. All stores are constantly accounted for.

Village Circle

The most protected area of the village. It's where people meet and greet in passing,  where the young children play,  where the village market is held when there is one and where general gatherings are held. There are rough stools in an open circle for people to pause, sit and chat.  Many a problem has been discussed in the open circle. Arguments are often settled here.

Guard posts

There are four guard posts in and around the colony. Two of them are at either end of the short barrier passageway from the outside to the protected interior. They house two guards and are anne at all times. The outermost guard post keeps an eye on the ocean,  looking for ships.
The third is to the west of the village,  watching over the small crops the colonists have managed to grow and the herd pens. This is nothing more than a covered patch of ground with a place to sit.
The fourth guard post is nearest the mainland,  up a tree. It is a small platform that overlooks the dock.


Sitting on the west side of the island,  this is nothing more than a few boards a place to tie up a small boat. It allows for passage across the water to visit the Croatoan tribe on the mainland. It is also a place to fish.


The mainland is where the Croatoan tribe lives and where the best game can be found. The Colony limits it's travel to the mainland because while the Croatoans have for the most part have been welcoming of the colonists,  the tensions still exist and one is never sure when things might shift to open warfare.

August 22: Manteo is christened and given the title of Lord of Roanoke and Dasemunkepeuc and that once the settlers move on to the Chesapeake area, Manteo will hold the area for the  English.

August 18: Eleanor Dare gives birth to a healthy baby girl whom she names Virginia. Everyone is in a celebratory mood.

August 21: Now that the ships are unloaded, Fernandes and his crew prepare to return to England. However,  a huge storm comes up. Fernandes cuts the Red Lion 's anchor cable to avoid being driven ashore, and the Red Lion with Fernandes and his crew sail out of the harbor.

The men decide to send Christopher Cooper back to England in the flyboat, and although he initially agrees, he later changes his mind.

August 22: The men implore White to go back to England to report to Raleigh and ask for a relief expedition. White is aghast and says he will not desert his post, that he did not lead the settlers to "a Country in which he never meant to stay himself,  and there to leave them behind him." He says those in England would accuse him of going to Virginia only to keep in Raleigh's good graces. He also states that because they "intend to remove fifty miles further up into the main presently" his possessions might be damaged or lost in his absence. The men draft a testimony to safeguard his goods and justify his departure. (quote)

August 26: White agrees to go back to England in behalf of the settlers. He assigns Roger Bailey and Ananias Dare to be in charge. They also decide, because of the Secotan attacks, the settlers should move inland where the Chowanocs live (near the head of Albemarle Sound) as these Indians, according to Ralph Lane,  had been loyal allies of the English the previous year. The Indians could help them when their food supplies ran low. The plan is to leave the penance behind with a couple of its small boats for the settlers' use in transporting them around the sounds and along the rivers. They could also use them to explore the Chesapeake Bay, skirting the coast. Either way, the plan is to leave a small contingency on Roanoke Island so these could keep track of the main groups' movements and be able to tell White of the main group's whereabouts once he returns. Also, in case of emergency and the settlers have to leave suddenly,  they are to carve the name of where they planned to move to on prominent trees so White could find them. A cross over the letters would signify that they were attacked and forced to depart.

August 27: Fernandes returns with the Red Lion. Flyboat is ready to sail. They both sail away together, but as the flyboat weights anchor, one of the capstan bars breaks, causing it to spin out of control. Several men hauling in the cable are badly injured and fly to the deck.

August 28: Margery Harvey gives birth to a baby.

Throughout the rest of the scenario, the gamemaster will roll once per day for the chance that the following will take place. Rolls stop once one of them is a successful roll. The next day's rolls pick up where the previous days left off. In this manner, multiple things can be happening at the same time, but the gamemaster can always stop rolls, discontinue circumstances or add additional circumstances as he sees fit to keep the game interesting,  relieve undo frustration or make the game a bit harder, depending on how the rolls and the player's participation combine to propel the story along.

  • Hunger. Each time this one is successful, the next roll, is rolled at a 10% increase from the last time.
  • Attack from hostile Indian tribes.
  • Help from friendly Indian tribes, such as the Croatoans.
  • Bad weather. Second time this roll is successful,  there is a hurricane,  with much damage.
  • Sickness.  If this is a successful roll, have each player character roll each day thereafter to see if he contracts the disease. If they contract the disease, refer to healing tables to see if cured and if is cured, does not contract that disease again.

For sources and Resources for this activity, see part I.

Now that White has left the island, we must deviate from actual recorded fact, and must inter the world of suppositions. Your player/students can react to the situations, and in their own decision making create a possible ending, and within a framework of the actual hypothesizes the historian have made based on the indications left at the site. For my next post, I will give you some guidelines on how to accomplish the conclusion of the story.

To make this a more complete history curriculum, I also required them to read Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, pgs 270-281 and had them write a summary of each of the topics covered. 

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous20.11.16

    This is such a great idea! Thanks for sharing :)


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