THE MAGAZINE EPISODE


Script of Story

This is a script of the story of two points of view. One point of view is Lord Dunmore’s: The world, as he sees it, is part of the ever-more-mighty British Empire.


The other point of view is yours: You are a character in a drama. The town you live in, Williamsburg in the colony of Virginia, is about to be a stage for this drama.


You will play a part in the dramatic collision between your point of view and the Governor’s point of view, between what you see as your world and what he sees as his world.


You can call this play a drama. You can call it a game. How you and your neighbors play your part will determine whose world view wins: The Idea of Empire or the Idea of America.


The game starts on the morning of April 21, 1775. Nobody knows what will happen or who will win. That is because you are, for the moment, in a game, a dramatic play, with an unknown outcome. At the end of today you will go away knowing what it felt like to be a part of this historical confrontation. You will have been in history. While the context is history that really happened, what you do today may not be what happened but your alternative.


We call this Contingency. Like real history the result is unknown until it happens. You will also know what values your character acted with. And while there is a deep conflict between two ideas, this is not a history made by debate, this is as an action-oriented drama.

Here are the rules of this script:

Now for the fun part. The Action Drama:

The Game Master, like the all-knowing story teller, will set the stage using the Macro History Story and all that he or she may know about the momentous day ahead.

The script setting would go something like this: It is a dark and stormy morning and a sleepy citizen is supposedly keeping an eye on the locked door of the multi-sided ancient red brick gun storage house called the Magazine. The scraping and clanking sound of barrels being shoved onto a wagon bed has aroused him and he begins to beat his signal drum, one he borrowed from the militia fife and drum corps. Soon other citizens in the Capital Colonial town come rushing from their houses toward the weapon supply station. A half moon gives some light to the scudding, gray-white clouds.

The Game Master adds as much local fact and color and wider Colonial and Imperial information as desired.

You are Absalom Paulding, a young man. Your character sheet tells some about you. What you know is that the town’s people have rumored that the gunpowder was going to be taken by the Royal forces, maybe by the Marines on the ship in the James River. Your father has been the grounds keeper for the Magazine and is a loyal supporter of the Royal Governor, Lord Dunmore. He expects your loyal support too. Your sister’s friend is Charity Pitts. She runs across the green with you. You bump into Tom Walker.

From your point of view something needs to be done. Everybody agrees to that. A crowd of scores shows up, the drumming increases. Only nobody agrees on what should be done. What can people do?

You come up with an idea to stop the wagon, which looks like it’s the Governors. It has 13 barrels of gunpowder on it already. You count. Your Dad has told you how many there are inside. 15 and ½ good ones. You know the road back to the Palace they must be taking.

Huddling with your friend you come up with an idea: What is it?

This is where you fill in the script and make it your history, your dramatic experience. You tell the Game Master your plan. He or she tells you each to role the dice. Depending on your individual numbers, 3 and under (fail), or 3 and over (succeed), he or she tells you the fate of your plan. Whatever that is, regardless, the crowd now rushes almost like sheep over toward the Governor’s Palace. Everyone knows he can do something. Most think he has already done something. Regardless he is more important than any one of you, but maybe all of you are as important as any one Governor. That’s the town crowd’s idea.

While whatever happens with the wagon and the three youths, they crowd in a mob-like rush stumbles and rumbles toward the elegant Palace, where you bump into three men who you half-hoped you would see. They are Peyton Randolph, the speaker of the House of Burgesses, Mayor Dixon, and the Treasurer of the Colony. You all shout at them. They shout something back. And then Governor Dunmore himself appears in the swinging light of his servant-held lantern. He is a slight Scotsman, as ugly as most of those types from the Tory Sympathizing Scots are.

You get to hear Dunmore’s point of view. He shouts out the facts of the world the way he sees them, such as, he has saved them all from the Shawnee Indians out west and he took the gunpowder so that uprising slaves couldn’t. And he adds his own personal bluster and bile to it all.

The Game Master adds to Lord Dunmore’s responses, telling what the negotiations at the Palace have yielded.

Together you, the crowd and the three civic leaders stride over to the Court House. They leave you there. They don’t need to know more of what you think, now that they are appeased, and have calmed the Governor down.

There at the Court House, where there are light and benches and some warmth, you and the crowd begin to voice your thoughts and opinions, and to suggest the actions you want to take or not take.

With as much information as you and your group can muster, you say what you think, you propose what you believe people should do, and you state the values and the realities that you are aware of at this time in history.

The Game Master adds and corrects and challenges and then asks for a concrete plan and a vote!

You do that, and like the County Committees, and local Militia gatherings all across this huge Colony, you debate and debate and debate, because you believe, as Governor Dunmore does not, that what you think and feel and can do matters.

The Game Master concludes the drama with observations on what might be the likely outcomes of the ideas and plans that you and your fellow citizens and your three leaders have proposed to do, and why.

Under the direction of the Game Master, play director, each proposal from the group is decided by the role of the die as to its likely chance of success. Maybe Lord Dunmore is obeyed and nothing much happens. Maybe the pending revolution—if left in your hands—would not have gone forward. Maybe the crowd you are in proposes violence against the Governor and his Palace. Maybe revolution catches fire, maybe the Naval Marines, “boiled crabs”, arrive off shore and massacre Williamsburg people as they did in Boston, and as they did this very day in Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts.

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