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

Role Playing History: Patriots and Independence, part I Factions, Righteousness Points and Game Play

Before we begin the entire program for Independence and Patriots, I would like to focus a bit on the Renaissance role-play portion as it is the framework for this program. I have discussed the game mechanics (Look for the sections in purple: character creation, skills, equipment and combat) of the role-playing game Renaissance in previous posts, but for this scenario on the American colonies just prior to, during and just after the Revolutionary War, we will be focusing on a different aspect of the game, further showing how role-playing history can meld with other, more traditional, forms of learning. The American Revolution is a perfect setting for exploring how a person's wealth, job, personality, economic, political and religious affiliations represent their core beliefs and power within a social group. This power is fueled by the passion for their chosen factions.

In terms of actual game mechanics, characters are created to be Loyalists who wish to remain under British rule, but the characters will later change to be Neutralists who are undecided about these important issues, and then, finally Patriots who wish to declare independence. Each character gets so many power points called Righteousness Points,  ranging from 5-100. These are determined by dice rolls for Power (the measure of a character's life force and the strength of his willpower), Charisma  (the character's attractiveness and leadership qualities) and the Zeal the character has for his chosen faction(s) (each type of faction has its own set zeal points.)  Other aspects, such as wealth and social class, can give the character bonus Righteousness points. In addition to the factions of Patriot, Loyalist or Neutralist, characters also belong to regional factions of New England, Middle Atlantic and the South. They also belong to either rural or urban factions. Each of these factions will influence the character's opinions and therefore actions.

Righteousness Points can be used in a number of different ways. Debate, conversion and righteous action are all ways righteousness points can be used within the Renaissance role-playing system. These actions are within the playing sessions and are based on rolls of a percentage die, with the Games Master/teacher adding a bonus or penalty to the roll for good or poor argument or role-playing.

In addition to this, I have included Pressure Actions that characters can launch against a person or persons in another faction to change their behavior.  These pressure actions, however, will cost a certain amount of points which will be subtracted from their base Righteousness score. Likewise, a Pressure Action launched against the character from another character can reduce their Righteousness Points. As all characters begin as Loyalist, here are the Loyalist Faction Pressure Actions:

Loyalist Faction Pressure Actions
1. Petition the king to punish the rebels.  Cost 1 RP'S,  Effect -2 RP'S.
2. See that the laws are strictly enforced.  Cost 2 RP'S,  Effect -5 RP'S.
3. Hire spied to gather intelligence.  Cost 3 RP'S,  Effect -5 RP'S.
4. Make sure the taxes are collected.  Cost 3 RP'S,  Effect -6 RP'S
5. Refuse to patronize a particular business.  Cost 4 RP'S,  Effect -8 RP'S
6. Boycott certain establishments.  Cost 5 RP'S,  Effect -10 RP'S
7. Have someone arrested.  Cost 7 RP'S,  Effect -14 RP'S
8. Hire Bodyguards to protect your business. (This stops all Pressure Actions against your business.) Cost 15, Effect 0.
9. Hire a gang of tough to rough up somebody. Cost 10, Effect -20.
10. Hire bodyguards to protect you. (This stops all Pressure Actions against you, your home and family.) Cost 30 RP'S,  Effect 0.

How to Regain Lost Righteousness Points
Both Pressure Actions and Fates will affect the characters' righteousness points. Students,  however, can increase their Righteousness Points, gaining them back in various ways:
1. Preparing speeches, outlining good arguments convincing Neutralists to vote in your favor.
2. Debating well against proposals of rival factions.
3. Complete research assignments.
4. Score well on exams.
5. Patriots receive 10 Righteousness points for each proposal adopted at each Continental Congress, and Loyalists receive 10 Righteousness points for every proposal defeated.

Fates are additional things that happen to the characters, but like fate itself, are random, controlled by the roll of a 6-sided die by the Game master /teacher.

Loyalist Fates
1. A mysterious fire burns your storage shed to the ground   Lose 3 RP'S
2. Local citizens refuse to patronize your business.  Lose 10 RP'S
3. Your sister, her husband and their six children leave their farm in the West because of the fear of the Indians.  They come to live with you. Lose 1 RP
4. There has been an enormous increase in crime in the area.  Lose 5 RP'S
5. You discover that your brother is the leader of the local Sons of Liberty. You turn him over to the police.  Gain 1 RP
6. You have hired bodyguards who can stop any action that is taken against you.  Gain 5 RP'S

Now that we have covered how Factions and Righteousness Points work, in my next post, I will begin with the activities related to the Prelude to Revolution.

Renaissance Role-playing
Begin by creating a character that lives in the time just prior to the American Revolution. Generate your characteristics and skills just as you did for the Colony of Roanoke scenario  (if you did not participate in that one, you can get the information you need about character generation from this post. Look for the purple section). Determine your wealth, job, personality, economic, political and social affiliations. Where are you from - the North,  Mid-Atlantic or the South? Are you from a Rural or Urban setting?Characters will begin as Loyalists, as the Revolution has not yet started when we begin the scenario. They will later have the choice of remaining Loyalists or becoming Neutralists as they become influenced somewhat by what is happening around them. Lastly, they can remain Neutralists, remain or return to being Loyalists, or become Patriots.  

Writing Assignment
Write a list of arguments for how your faction feels and what they believe in. This will be useful for preparing arguments for the Congressional debates that are to come. If you have more than one student in the same faction, then those students can work together in writing the arguments for their faction.

Hands-on Project
Since much of the Revolutionary spirit began in taverns, they were important places. Your assignment is to create a tavern that will be included in the scenario's world. You will need to include it's name, affiliations and any other details you would like. Create a visual sign for it.

Reading Assignment
Read George Washington's World, Genevieve Foster, part I When George Washington was a Boy

Read Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, pgs 292-295

  • Renaissance, Peter Cakebread and Ken Walton 
  • Patriots, A Simulation and Resource Notebook on the American Revolution, Bill Lacey and Terry Handy, Interaction Publishers 
  • Independence, A Simulation of the American Revolution, 1763-1776, Charles Kennedy and Paul DeKock, Interaction Publishers, Inc.


  1. I wish history in schools were half as much fun ;)

  2. I like the tavern creation assignment.


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