The Quill Shoebox
Quill is a different kind of solo RPG game. In Quill it is your character’s job to write a letter -- yes, an actual letter -- and the better the letter the greater chance your letter will be received favorably.  

To play Quill you first need to pick a character from the available archetypes.  Each archetype has three Stats: Language (how well your vocabulary is), Heart (how much emotion you write with), and Penmanship (how visually pleasing is your letter). Each stat is assigned a number of six-sided dice. Additionally, you get to choose 1 skill which you can use once per letter.

Next, you pick a scenario. Each scenario provides all the information you need to write your letter. First, it has a Profile, which explains to who are you writing, the reason for the letter, and what you hope to accomplish by writing. Next, you are given any specific rules that either need to be followed or might offer you an advantage. Third is the Inkpot. This is a list of words (both inferior and superior) that you will choose from. Finally, each scenario has a list of consequences, or reactions to your letter, based on your final score.

You will need to write a five-paragraph letter. For each paragraph, you will choose one word from the inkpot to include. The rules for choosing your word are as follows:

1. Decide if you want to add flourish (or additional description) to your word. If so, roll your heart dice. If one of the dice is 5 or 6, you may add flourish. This is an optional choice as the flourish may help or hurt your score based on the next roll.

2. Roll your language dice to determine if you can choose a superior word or if you have to settle for an inferior word. Once again, a 5 or 6 lets you choose a superior word and you gain 1 point. If you added flourish to the superior word, you score 2 additional points. However, if you decided to add flourish and the word is inferior you lose 1 point.

Once you have finished your paragraph you roll your Penmanship dice to see how visually pleasing your writing is. If you roll a 5 or 6 you gain 1 point. When all five paragraphs are complete, add up your score and compare it with the Consequences list for the scenario to determine what result your letter has.

In reality, what you actually write has no bearing on the result of the game since everything is determined by random dice rolls. However, if you are creative it is a nice writing exercise that can be fun and gets the creative juices flowing.

If anyone wants to try Quill I would invite you to post your letters here in this thread (hence the name, Quill Shoebox, since it is common to collect letters in a shoebox). I will start it off with a letter of my own.
The Father by Teviko604

Format: I will post my final letter as is. Inkpot words will be in red, flourish in blue.  Then, once the letter is complete I will post my scoring per paragraph. Finally, I will post the consequence. 

Character: I chose the Knight which gave me  3 Heart dice, 1 Language dice, and 2 Penmanship dice. I decided to use the character Harper Wyghtwing from my Roses & Wyght stories. However, nothing in this letter is to be considered canon unless it actually appears in the formal campaigns.

Skill: I chose Augmentation which adds +1 to a Heart test. In hindsight, this was a foolish choice as I already had 3 dice in heart. I really needed Inspiration to boost my language.

Profile: You are writing to inform a father about the death of his son.

Rules of Correspondence: Monks gain an advantage, which doesn’t apply to me.

The Letter:

Greetings Mr. Winsborough,

This is Harper Wyghtwing. I trust you remember me. My parents are Ryan and Jutte Wyghtwing and I grew up with your young boy Rupert. He and I used to hunt together in the forests just outside of Swifthaven. While he did look to me for advice, he was already a skilled bowman in his own right. 

As I’m sure my parents mentioned I moved several months ago to the city of Duskcall. I have done well here, even gaining a position with the King’s Guard. You can imagine my surprise when I ran into Rupert at The Flaming Friar, one of the bawdy houses where I go from time to time for a drink and a game of cards. He told me he had come to Duskcall to sell some tanned hides and a bit of your wife’s needlework. I bought him a drink and we spent the rest of the night catching up. 

Which brings me to the reason for this correspondence. It is with the deepest sorrow that I must inform you of an unfortunate situation concerning your son. A couple of days past while on patrol I was hailed by a frantic woman who directed me to where a small crowd had gathered at the mouth of an alley. Their attention was directed at something inside the narrow passageway. I pushed my way through and saw a pair of legs protruding from a pile of sacks and refuse. Looking closer I discovered the man was Rupert.

From the bruises and blood on his face and body, Rupert’s death appeared to be the result of a brutal beating. A quick search of his pockets revealed they were empty and no coin pouch could be found. It is my guess that, only being familiar with village life, Rupert was naive about the dangers of the big city. He must have been out late and not aware of the fact that the district he was walking through housed several thieves and ruffians. I suspect he made an easy target, was mugged and left to die. 

While it may not have been expected of me, I feel I have failed Rupert, as well as you and Mrs. Winsborough, by not taking a greater interest in warning him of the dangers of the city. This was an unfamiliar place for him and I should have offered more guidance. I hope that you can forgive me. I know it is of little consolation, but I spent my own coin to purchase a fine mahogany coffin for Rupert. Furthermore, I will personally escort the carriage that will carry him back to Swifthaven and stay through the funeral. In the meantime, I am sending this letter ahead so it will be less of a shock when we arrive.  

With regrets,

Harper Wyghtwing


P1 - Flourish: 5,6,6 Success   Inkpot: 4 Inferior word (-1 for flourish)  Penmanship: 3,4 Fail  Score=-1

P2 - Flourish: Did not roll   Inkpot: 3 Inferior word   Penmanship: 2,5 Success   Score=1

P3 - Flourish: 2,3,5 Success   Inkpot: 6 Superior word (flourish adds 2 points)   Penmanship: 3,3, Fail   Score=3

P4 - Flourish: Did not roll   Inkpot: 2 Inferior word   Penmanship: 1,3 Fail   Score=0

P5 - Flourish: 5,1,2 Success   Inkpot: 5 Superior word (Yes!- and flourish adds 2 points)   Penmanship: 2,5 Success   Score=4

Total Letter Score: 7


Anthony is clearly disappointed in how you have relayed the information to him, but he does not blame you.
Halloween Quill: Shadow and Ink Part 1

To get in the Halloween spirit  Wink I’ve decided to play through the Quill campaign Shadow and Ink.  This campaign presents five scenarios that are inspired by the horror fiction of H.P. Lovecraft. Each scenario can be played on its own or as part of a bigger story. If you play the latter (which is what I am planning on doing) you can score “Story Points” for each letter. If you are able to complete all five scenarios your total “Story Points” determines the final ending of the campaign. In addition to the new scenarios, Shadow and Ink offers six new characters to play.

[font=Times New Roman]Inkpot words will be in red, flourish in blue.  The results of the dice rolls for each paragraph are noted after the letter.[/font]

Letter 1 - Vir Stellas

Character: Historian    (Skill: Detailed  +1 dice to a single Heart test) 

Penmanship: Good (3d)
Language: Average (2d)
Heart: Poor (1d)

Profile Summary (see product for full profile): 1887 - While in England, I have come into possession of an ancient book through auction. The book is written in an unknown language and most of what I can gather about its contents come from the drawings included with the text. I am unsettled by the book and decide to write to my friend Pierre who is an expert in the occult.

Rules of Correspondence: You will try to put forward your disgust and disturbance at the text - gain +1 to Heart rolls.

(The rules of Quill state your letter needs to be five paragraphs long. For proper form, I felt the final sentences of this letter should really be a separate paragraph. I did not make any rolls nor scored anything in this last paragraph.)

*   *   *   *   *


I realize this letter is long overdue and that you are probably eager to learn of my trip to England. As you are aware, this trip was prompted by my interest in a particular item to be sold by Sotheby’s. This particular volume -- the Vir Stellas -- was unique to me as I had never encountered any mention of it in any of my historical studies. Bidding on the item was fierce. Most buyers dropped out once the price reached one and a half times it appraised value. However, one gentleman of middle eastern descent seemed particularly intent on securing ownership. But I had to own the Stellas. We went back and forth until, at last, I posted the winning bid, the highest price I have ever paid for a single item and much more than any sane person would have spent on an artifact they know so little about. 

Upon return to my room following the auction I wasted little time before making an examination of the volume. I set it on my desk and studied it for a long time before even opening the cover. The exquisitely decorated tome was covered in intricately tooled leather. Grand designs of criss-cross patterns broken by all manner of geometric shapes lined the edges and filled the corners. Many hours of work must have been spent on the light tan material. I can only guess that previous owners took great care of preservation as little sign of wear could be detected either by sight or touch. 

Finally, it was time to open this mysterious book and see what was inside. The text was written in black ink by a flowing hand, each word a work of art. You can imagine my dismay, Pierre, at the realization that the text was a language of which I had no knowledge. I knew it was unlikely that it would be as plain as French or English. Still, the words on the pages bore no resemblance to any tongue of which I have encountered. Several days later I did bring the volume to a professor I know who specializes in ancient and obscure languages, but even he was unable to decipher even the tiniest fragment of what was written.

However, my friend, it was not a total disappointment, for throughout the manuscript are the most detailed, intricate, and, if I may be blunt, disturbing illustrations. While several of the drawings depicted buildings, maps, and abstract symbols, the majority represented hideous and grotesque creatures. Some were humanoid with multiple limbs or wings, like demons escaped from hell. Others had fish or serpent-like bodies. They were all shapes and sizes. Large bulbous beings with many eyes and tentacles. Small insectile critters. By the time I turned the last page my hands trembled and perspiration dotted my forehead.

But I save the most distressing thing for last. A single page, right in the center of the Vir Stellas, contained nothing but blackness, stretching from edge to edge. It perfectly resembled nothingness. Yet, I found it hard to ignore and I kept returning to that page. I stared long and hard, at first seeing nothing. Then suddenly images began to appear in the darkness. First, I witnessed magnificent heavenly bodies: stars, planets, comets. I felt as though I was actually flying among them. Next, I saw several of the disgusting creatures flying toward me. I wanted to flee, yet felt compelled to await their arrival. Finally, I heard voices calling to me, enticing me to join them. I was losing control of my own will and it took all my effort to close the book, ending the vision. Checking my timepiece, I discovered I had lost track of over two hours! 

Pierre, as I know you have vast experience studying the occult I urge you to write back upon receipt of this letter with any explanation you might have. Do you know anyone who might analyze this dreadful book and offer insight into its origin or purpose? I intend on returning to France shortly, however, if you have any colleagues in England who might be able to help, I am willing to stay and await your arrival, should that seem more expeditious.

Your friend,
Hampton McMillan


P1 - Flourish: 2+1=3 Fail   Inkpot: 1,1 inferior word   Penmanship: 1,4,6  Success  
        Total Score: 1

P2 - Flourish: 4+1=5 Success    Inkpot: 4,5 Superior word   Penmanship: 2,5,6 Success   
        Total Sore: 4

P3 - Flourish: 4+1=5 Success   Inkpot: 3,5 Superior Word   Penmanship: 1,3,6  Success   
        Total Score: 4

P4 - Flourish: 5+1 Success   Inkwell: 2,6  Superior Word   Penmanship: 4,5,6 Success   
        Total Score: 4

P5 - Flourish: 6+1 Success    Inkpot: 4,5 Superior Work    Penmanship: 1,1,5 Success  
        Total Score: 4  

Total Letter Score: 17 

Result: It doesn’t take long to receive a response from Pierre, who is clearly excited in the way he writes. He has read of Vir Stellas many years ago. The tome was said to have been a myth, but he always believed there was evidence to suggest that it was real. While he is unsure of exactly what the contents are about, he does believe it could be a magical text. He says that he is visiting you immediately to see the book for himself. Gain 2 story points.
Halloween Quill: Shadow and Ink Part 2

[font=Times New Roman]Inkpot words will be in [/font][font=Times New Roman]red[/font][font=Times New Roman], flourish in [/font][font=Times New Roman]blue[/font][font=Times New Roman].  The results of the dice rolls for each paragraph are noted after the letter.[/font]

[font=Times New Roman]Letter 2 - Inheriting Darkness[/font]

Character: Student   (Skill: Inspiration  +1 dice to a single Language test) 

Penmanship: Average (2d)
Language: Poor (1d)
Heart: Good (3d)

Profile summary (see product for full profile): I have inherited the Vir Stellas from my grandfather. With help from letters and notes exchanged between my grandfather and Pierre Durand, I can interpret some of the text. From the little I am able to read of the text, it appears to contain, among other things, certain rituals that might open a window to another world or reality. However, these rituals require two people to perform. I am writing to my friend Jemima Carter in New Orleans in the hopes that she will meet me in Arkham, Mass. and assist me in completing the ritual since she has expressed a knowledge of the dark arts and magic.

Rules of correspondence: Use your most persuasive language. Your first language roll automatically succeeds.

*   *   *   *   *

My dear friend Jemima,

It is with great excitement that I am writing to you. For the past couple of weeks, I have been in the United States, specifically Arkham, Maine, visiting a friend of mine who is in the hospital recovering from a severe illness. Catherine and I grew up together in France and she is like a sister to me. But that is not the reason I am sending you this letter. I was hoping to inveigle you to come up from New Orleans for a visit before I must return home in the fall for classes. There is a matter that I believe with which you might be able to assist me.

Several months ago my mother's parents both passed away suddenly. Shortly before leaving on this trip, I learned that my Grandpa McMillan left me his book collection as an inheritance. I could keep any that might help me with my studies or hold my interest for other reasons. The rest I was free to sell, with one exception. Within the library safe, there was one tome that I was forbidden to dispose of. Curious, I used the brass key that unlocked the safe and retrieved the volume. It was a thick book with a beautiful leather cover. A quick scan of the pages made me think it was a collection of ghost stories, as pictures of monstrous creatures interspersed the handwriting throughout. I could not confirm this, however, as the words were written in some obscure language. Along with the book were a stack of letters, correspondence between my grandpa and his close friend Pierre Durand, who also passed recently.

Knowing I would have a lot of time on my hands I brought the book and letters with me. Reading through the correspondence I soon discovered that my initial thoughts were in error. Instead of stories, it appears the book is a collection of religious and mystical texts. My Grandpa and M. Durand called it the Vir Stellas and they seemed to believe that not only was it authentic, but that the creatures and places mentioned within actually exist. At first, I brushed their theories off as nonsense. However, reading through some of the pieces of the text that they were able to translate (and record in their notes) I am starting to believe them myself.

Grandpa and M. Durand’s research had turned up other writings and lore that seemed to support and confirm the little they knew about the Vir Stellas. But what has had the greatest effect on me is the “Black Page.” This page is exactly as it sounds . . . a solid black page. It seemed uninteresting at first, yet I couldn’t help but continue to study it. After a while, I began to see shapes and images form from the blackness. They were mesmerizing. Also, I heard voices -- whether they were audible or just in my mind I can not be sure -- which I believe were the beings attempting to communicate with me. The more I studied the Black Page the easier it became to translate more of the text. While there is still a lot that is foreign to me, I have uncovered what I believe to be instructions for an ancient ritual. While I am still trying to understand the full purpose of the ritual, I am convinced that performing it will allow for direct communication with the beings, perhaps even physical travel into their world or dimension.

While such an endeavor interests me greatly, I have come across a setback. It appears that the ritual requires two people, one to communicate with the beings and one to act as an anchor to this world. I am hesitant to share this information with anyone in Arkham but felt that you might be the perfect person to assist me. In our past correspondence, you had mentioned that you have studied many of the dark arts there in New Orleans and even have begun to think of yourself as a witch. As you already have a belief in the occult and are experienced in incantations and mystic rites -- at least more than I -- I feel safe sharing this with you and asking you to join me in Arkham. I do hope you will consider this. I don’t know what we will find but I’m sure it will be enlightening.

I look forward to your response.

Pauline Courbet

P1 - Flourish: 1,3,4 fail   Inkpot: Automatically succeeds - superior word   Penmanship: 3,5 success   
        Total Score: 2

P2 - Flourish: 2,3,4 fail   Inkpot: 6 - superior word   Penmanship: 3,3 fail  
        Total Score: 1

P3 - Flourish: pass   Inkpot: 3 - inferior word   Penmanship: 4,6 success   
        Total Score: 1

P4 - Flourish: 1,6,6 success   Inkpot: 3, 4 (used Inspiration skill to roll second die) - inferior word (-1 to score due to flourish)   Penmanship: 3,6  success   
        Total Score: 0

P5 - Flourish: pass   Inkpot: 1 - inferior word   Penmanship: 2,5 success   
        Total Score: 1

Total Letter Score: 5

Result: Jemima writes back after a month of waiting. Her response disappoints you greatly and you fall into a great depression after reading her words. She says she no longer works with the dark arts and warns you about doing the same. She tells you not to write again unless it’s to warm her soul with good news. Your investigation has come to an end.

[font=Times New Roman]An abrupt end to this campaign, but that’s what happens when the dice do not roll our way. It’s a shame, too, because I hadn’t yet reached the scenarios that really delved into the horror of the campaign. 
Shadow and Ink does have an optional rule that allows you to write a response letter if your investigation comes to an end and hopefully score well enough to continue with the story. I am not going to do that, at least not now. It was already going to be difficult for me to finish this before Halloween and adding more letters would make it impossible. I’m not saying that I won’t try and pick it up again in the future, but I’m okay setting it aside for now.[/font]
Valentine Day 2021 - Making Amends: A Rom-Com Themed Letter

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I would do a one-shot using the Quill Letter Writing RPG. For this letter, I am choosing a scenario from the Love Letters expansion to the game. I have decided to base the letter on a certain style of romantic comedy that is a hallmark of a particular television network. To do this I made some adjustments to several of the game’s elements. For starters, instead of using one of Quill’s standard classes, I made up one of my own: the suitor. For the suitor, I used the same stats as the Courtier, as I felt they best portrayed the typical leading man in these movies. In addition, I changed the name of the recipient of the letter to make it more modern. Finally, for proper form, the letter required six paragraphs instead of Quill’s standard five. The last paragraph is not scored and did not affect the outcome of the game.

Inkpot words are written in red.  Flourish words are written in blue.

The rolls and scores for each paragraph are listed after the letter. 

For more information on how to play quill, see my first Quill post, The Father


Making Amends

Character: Suitor (Custom class with stats based on the Courtier)   Brad (Skill: Scenario does not allow skill, so I skipped picking one) 

 Penmanship: Poor (1d)
 Language: Average (2d)
 Heart: Good (3d)

Profile: You are corresponding with Emily Penderghast, an ex-lover who left you a month ago after deciding that you weren't committed to the relationship.
You are writing to win back Emily and to explain that you have changed and are more committed than ever. You need to persuade Emily that you both have a future and give examples as to how your life is without your love.

Rules of correspondence: Emily likes when people are straightforward with their correspondence. You are unable to use any skills in this letter.

*   *   *   *   *

Dear Emily,

It has been several weeks since the Harvest Festival and the night you walked away from me, clearly embarrassed and heart-broken. I am writing to you now to admit that I had been a fool. I assumed things that I shouldn’t have and made decisions for us without considering your own feelings.

Two months ago you returned to Meadowville to help your father with the watermelon harvest after he contracted COVID-19. I remember the day I drove out to the farm to deliver a truckload of fertilizer your father bought from my parent’s ranch. Not having seen you since high school, you can imagine my surprise when you answered the door. I took one look at you and thought to myself, “Little Emily Penderghast is all grown up!” Seeing you standing there with your fancy dress, high heels, and made-up face, I was certain you wouldn't last a week on the farm. (I also thought you should be wearing a mask.)

Those first few days proved me right. I would stop by the farm and see you dripping with sweat and muddy from head to toe. Your back ached from lifting the melons and your hands were blistered from gipping the tools. You swore that eternal Hellfire would be preferential to suffering another day picking melons and living in this backwoods town. You made it clear that as soon as the harvest was over you would be returning to the big city and your job as a publishing agent. After all, you were on track to become a Head Editor and you made sure I knew you had a boyfriend back home.

But things slowly began to change. I would come by to help you on the farm and teach you ways to work smarter instead of harder. When we had time I drove you into town and showed you the charms life in Meadowville had to offer. Somehow I even convinced you to help out on the Harvest Festival Planning Committee. We would work the fields in the morning, prepare for the festival in the afternoon, and share a glass of wine under the twinkling stars at night. That’s when something curious began to happen. I was falling for you, Emily Penderghast. And it felt like you were falling for me as well.

I was going to tell you how I felt during the Harvest Festival. I had purchased a watermelon daiquiri, your favorite drink, from one of the stands and was bringing it to you at the gazebo when I saw you with Harold, your boyfriend. He came to the festival to surprise you and you wrapped your arms around him and gave him a big hug. Imagine how sad I felt when I realized you had your life and promotion back in the city and I could never hope that we would ever have a life together. So that night I told you that our relationship was getting in the way of my duties on my parent’s ranch and that it would be best if we went our own ways. How was I to know that you had quit your job in the city to stay in Meadowville to help your father run the melon farm due to the virus robbing him of his sense of taste and the ability to perform proper quality control? Or that you just broke up with Harold and were just giving him a hug good-bye?

As I wrote at the start of this letter, I was a fool. If only I had talked with you and told you how I felt, then I would have known that you felt the same. I have been lost without you and all I can think about is our days and nights together.  If it is in your heart to forgive me, then I would beg you for another chance.  I want to share my life with you, Emily. I dream of us working your family’s farm together: plowing your fields, tending your crops, and grabbing your melons at harvest. I can only pray that you still feel the same. I eagerly await your response.

With sincerest apologies,

P1 - Flourish: 1,4,4 Fail   Inkpot: 1,5 Success - superior word   Penmanship: 6 Success   
        Total Score: 2

P2 - Flourish: 1,5,6 Success   Inkpot: 2,2,  Fail - inferior word (-1 for flourish)   Penmanship: 5 Success    
        Total Score: 0

P3 - Flourish: 2,2,4 Fail   Inkpot: 6, 6 Success - superior word   Penmanship: 5 success   
        Total Score: 2

P4 - Flourish: 1, 4, 5 Success   Inkpot: 1,3 Fail - inferior word (-1 for flourish)   Penmanship: 2 Fail   
        Total Score: -1

P5 - Flourish: 1,2,2 Fail   Inkpot: 2,4 Fail-inferior word   Penmanship: 4 Fail   
        Total Score: 0

P6 - Not scored. Added only to finish out the letter.

Total Letter Score: 3

Result: Less than 5 points: Emily writes back. She is put off at your lack of faith in her and finds your behavior immature. You are horrid and your letter lacks sincerity. In no uncertain terms, she makes it painfully clear that you are the last person she would let plant their seeds in her fertile soil. In fact, she seriously doubts you have any seeds to plant. She is civil enough, however, to wish you well, but never speaks to you again.

(Actual text: Emily writes back, believing that you are worse than ever and that there is no hint of sincerity in your writing. You receive no further correspondence.)

Well, this is not how these movies typically end. I guess this story was featured on that lesser-known television network: the Hellmark Channel.
(02-12-2021, 11:15 AM)Teviko604 Wrote: the Hellmark Channel.

LOL!  Priceless.
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