Designer Diary: Pessoa, or How to Be One and Multiple at the Same Time | BoardGameGeek News

Board Game: Pessoa

Editor’s note: Pessoa was launched in very early 2022 and will also be offered at SPIEL ’22 after being demoed at SPIEL ’21. —WEM

An concept is merely an Idea

I happened to be frightened to death whenever publisher PYTHAGORAS asked whether i really could design a casino game about Fernando Pessoa. For Portuguese people, Pessoa is much like this literary monster (inside sense) whoever work is really impactful that there’s not really a solitary individual in Portugal who may have maybe not learned about him.

we stated I happened to be likely to think of it — but my very first idea had been, “how a hell have always been we likely to design a casino game of a man whom literally developed a large number of other dudes that lived inside their mind?!!”

“that is it”, we screamed in the center of the road while a vintage woman stared at me personally, quite scared about my strange behavior. “i’ll design a casino game that do not only targets their poetry, but really on those figures he created.” If this had been a film, I quickly might have grabbed the old woman’s arms and began to dancing along with her and music would play inside history…but it absolutely wasn’t, and old woman might have for certain called the authorities.


Pessoa coined the thought of a “heteronym”. In the event that you google the literary idea of heteronym — maybe not the linguistic concept! — you are going to discover a heteronym actually fictional character produced by a author to create in another design, a character who may have an fictional life, a biography, plus particular writing design (a good various calligraphy regarding Pessoa’s heteronyms). As my close friend Etienne Espreman stated, Pessoa had been the master of part playing method before part playing had been cool — and maybe even existed as being a concept!

This had been my base: simply take the greater impactful heteronyms, and also make a casino game about them and their poems. Effortless peasy lemon squeezy!


I’d talked too early. Conceptually this notion had been simple. The true challenge had been just how to combine the poetry-writing theme with interesting game play and entangled choices but still make it happen. I want to place an emoji right here expressing just how silly we sounded

we began by collecting the four many iconic heteronyms, supported by the information I’d about Pessoa’s work. I am aware We sounded entirely lost before, but i need to confess that Pessoa had been among the best poets ever, particularly their heteronym Alberto Caeiro, therefore I currently possessed a large amount of understanding of him and other three heteronyms explored inside game: Ricardo Reis, Álvaro de Campos, and Bernardo Soares.

Board Game: Pessoa

Heteronyms within their model ugliness (Image: Meeple of Liberty)

And Then just what?

Good which you asked my heteronymical audience. The next phase would be to create the overall game mechanisms from theme it self. Unlike my past published games Porto and Rossio, whoever mechanisms had been more abstract in terms of the theme that supported them, we felt that right here I’d to adhere to another path, a path I’d recently been tinkering with for any other games that I happened to be (but still have always been) developing.

Let the overall game Bleed Theme!

If each player had been a heteronym, a metaphysical creation, chances are they will have to be going between your mind of Pessoa in which they lived and real areas of Lisbon in which they might do things.

Solution: The overall game board is divided in to four real areas and something metaphysical area — your head of Pessoa.

If our company is a heteronym and now we need certainly to go, then we must go and trigger actions.

Solution: Develop a worker-placement game which each player controls one meeple that represents their heteronym, as well as on their change, they should go the meeple into another area and perform the action.

But worker-placement games frequently have limitations about positioning; otherwise, they become too free.

Solution: Two heteronyms cannot share exactly the same real area because, well, Pessoa couldn’t “role play” two heteronyms simultaneously.

But then, with therefore couple of worker-placement spots, players can get entirely obstructed!

Solution: Let us create a 5th meeple that represents the real human anatomy of Pessoa. Players need certainly to invest power to manage it, but as soon as you control it, you’ll go your heteronym meeple or Pessoa’s meeple — and Pessoa’s meeple can share a real area by having a heteronym by this perform the action.

Okay, however, if there’s a heteronym meeple on that real area and Pessoa’s meeple normally here? You would certainly be obstructed. Imagine oahu is the final action associated with game, and also you cannot compose a poem due to that?!

Solution: if your heteronym meeple moves back once again to the metaphysical area which Pessoa’s mind, they have to exert on their own to return by investing power, however they can perform the action associated with real area in which Pessoa’s real human anatomy presently appears.

Well, and concerning the heteronyms. How will you express just how various they certainly were?

Solution: We produce a game mode which you perform aided by the heteronyms as asymmetric simply because they had been conceived by Pessoa as each concentrating on a particular composing design, with unique capabilities that break the principles associated with game centered on their known traits.

Board Game: Pessoa

Image: Meeple of Liberty

Okay, that is All Good, But how a Hell would you Write Poems?

Well, my heteronymical audience, I happened to be planning to explain that. Please exert your heteronymical persistence beside me!

During the overall game, you will be collecting motivation cards from two of the very most iconic cafes of Lisbon from that duration. To achieve that, you may spend your innovative power. Why? As you’ll be arguing with the designers and poets, which expenses power. Following a handful of hot conversations and lots of cups of wine, you are going to feel inspired and visit Rossio square to create a poem. Why Rossio, you ask, whenever Pessoa has written every where in Lisbon? Well, as the Rossio square is breathtaking, and I also might have created a casino game previously about this, but that is most likely not related.

Back to the tale: whenever you compose a poem, you perform cards from your own hand and rating points the forms of cards you’re playing (based on just how well your heteronym writes for the reason that design), perhaps getting additional points when you have a poem with some coherence of design. Then, you discard the cards, but keep one as being a fragment of this poem you will later on utilize whenever composing your last poem by the end associated with game.

Board Game: Pessoa

Image: PlayItYourself

Did we state there exists a Bookshop?

Pessoa had one of the biggest libraries of that time period, plus in the overall game, you’ll go right to the bookshop getting brand new bookshelves filled up with publications of the particular literary design. They raise the wide range of points you are going to get whenever you compose a poem utilizing cards of this design.

Board Game: Pessoa

Image: Meeple of Liberty

Itis a form of poetry engine-building procedure — or perhaps a poetry engine-writing procedure…

Board Game: Pessoa

Image: Meeple of Liberty

But what is That Rotating part of the midst of the Board?

Spot on as constantly, my heteronymical audience. Once we are planning to end this ramble, i believe i ought to point out your metaphysical area actually rotating dish since it not just functions as metaphysical area, but additionally posseses an astral map and calendar externally. Whenever a circular ends, the dish rotates, when the overall game reaches 1935, Pessoa dies and game finishes.

Board Game: Pessoa

Pre-production content; is it possible to spot the mistake? (Image: Meeple of Liberty)

Wait, You stated Astral Map?!

Yes, i did so. Yet again, you dudes very nearly appear to be inside my mind!

Pessoa had been really mystic. Not merely did he produce complete biographies for their heteronyms, but he additionally created astral maps for them. Into the game, any time you discard motivation cards (while composing a poem or while visiting the bookshop), you determine whether the discarded cards have actually a minumum of one associated with two zodiac indications depicted regarding element of the astral map dealing with that action area. If a minumum of one fits, you get the bonus and obtain a digital pat regarding straight back from Pessoa himself for aligning your actions aided by the movie stars!

Board Game: Pessoa

Image: Meeple of Liberty

Is that? Can We return to Our everyday lives?

Well, in the event that you enable me personally going back time, i would really like to state that i did not explore some game elements in this article that i am going to enable you to search for your self in the event that you start the doorways of one’s real collection to these metaphysical creations.

See you in the poetry guide someplace,

Orlando Sá

Board Game: Pessoa

Image: Meeple of Liberty

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