Report from the first playtest session

It turns out I’m very slow at writing devlogs / session reports.

The first playtest session of Rosewood Abbey took place Saturday, November 5th. I’ve since then conducted a second playtest (I’ll post about it later).

I find that my performance as GM/Cantor wasn’t great. The players were kind to say they enjoyed the sessions regardless and to provide me with interesting food for thought. I believe those last two things are the most important in a playtest.


As mentioned above, I'm not satisfied with how I ran the game. It's not dramatic. It’s in part due to circumstances outside of the session. In any case, it’s an opportunity to improve the game and how I run it.

I mention the circumstances because I was quite tired. This was due to an intense week, another game session, and a family event on the same day. This all combined with the session itself starting at 10 PM GMT.

I don't think I was as evocative as I/should be (more on that in Tone below). I also struggled to frame scenes beyond circumstances beyond a dialogue with an NPC followed by an opportunity to roll a Meddling Monk Move (pretty much Brindlewood Bay's Meddling Move).

It was a bit of a humbling experience. I think I've become overconfident after running several dozen sessions of Paris Gondo - The Life-Saving Magic of Inventorying. I had forgotten how long it took to build up my ability to run a game even if I wrote it. Rosewood Abbey is not the most complicated system but it’s substantially more complex than the six steps of the GonParis Method.

I also fell back on old Trad’ habits and expectations. I believe my players expected things to be framed more clearly and things


Several players offered feedback regarding how I adapted Brindlewood Bay's "Day Move" and "Night Move". These become the "Pious Move" and “Profane Move”.

At the time of the playtest, the description of those moves included the following:

The Pious Move is a catch-all move for actions that take place as part, or under the guise, of the Fratres Herodoti's monastic responsibilities. The Cantor has the final say on which ability is used for the roll.
The Profane Move is the catch-all move for actions that take place noticeably outside of the Fratres Herodoti's monastic routine or responsibilities.

The difference between the two turned out not to be clear-cut enough. In hindsight, there’s also a contradiction in the “Pious Move”. The likelihood of the monks doing something within their “monastic responsibilities” AND also “risky” is very low.

Since then, I’ve opted for a much clearer distinction: inside the monastery vs outside the monastery. I think it works well thematically with the idea of the world outside the monastery being more dangerous for our monks. It also remains different from Brindlewood Bay’s day/night distinction. The new descriptions are as follows:

The Pious Move is a catch-all move for actions that take place within the walls of the Abbazia di Palisandro where, obviously, only pious things happen.
The Profane Move is a catch-all move for actions that take place outside the walls of the Abbazia di Palisandro.

The players were enthusiastic about the notion of Pious vs Profane as inner moral dilemmas. They suggested having instead this notion cut through across all moves. I’ll keep this idea in the back of my head to see how I could apply it. However, the morality aspect was supposed to be more relevant to the “clock” of the game.


Another aspect distinguishing Rosewood Abbey from Brindlewood Bay is the Rumor Mill.

The Rumor Mill replaces BB’s Dark Conspiracy. Unlike the content of the latter, most of the mill is not predetermined. It consists of a collection of phrases/prompts with blanks for the players to fill in like in this example:

It is said that the site for the Abbazia di Palisandro was chosen after a (saint/pagan spirit) named (pick a name) was witnessed (action) in front of a crowd.

Sadly, the Rumor Mill wasn’t triggered at all during the first playtest session. It’s likely due to what I described above under GMing. However, the economy of the Rumor Mill is something I expected to require the most tinkering. Long story short, I need to run more playtest sessions. Good news, I already run a second one. Bad news, I need to write a session report for it.


  • Important to better “frame” scenes, and to support opportunities for characters to confront risky situations.
  • Better to keep in mind the differences between PbtA systems and play culture with Trad’ ones.
  • The Pious Move and Profane Move are changed to distinguish between actions taking place inside or outside the monastery.
  • Need more playtest sessions to see if the “Rumor Mill” economy needs to be tinkered with. In any case, there should be more opportunities for players to trigger it.
  • I'll upload soon an updated version of the rules and the reference sheet.

Get Rosewood Abbey (Text Only)

Buy Now$5.00 USD or more


Log in with to leave a comment.


Interesting to read the impact of the playtest on the phrasing of the pious/profane move, and the relative simplification of the description that followed that.

My experience of the Brindlewood style games is that GMing uses quite a different set of mental muscles from more traditional games, especially with framing. I’m not surprised that tiredness was a bit of a problem there!

I like the idea of ‘mad lib’ Rumour Mills, in that it presumably allows the group to give a distinct direction to their version of the game

Thanks for your interest. 

The second playtest triggered the Rumor Mill several times with very interesting results. 

I can't wait to write more about it as part of the report about the second playtest. 

I'll post it once LaPelle Crew has the video of the session on their YouTube channel (it's in French though).