Keeping The Candles Lit is an intimate live action roleplaying experience about three generations of Jewish women struggling to hold onto their religious traditions while fighting as partisans under the Nazi regime. Three players and two facilitators work together to craft a three-act narrative that focuses on a grandmother, mother and daughter as they struggle to maintain a connection to their religious upbringing while living through the brutal deprivation of partisan life in the woods of Eastern Europe. Two facilitators guide the game by embodying the abstract forces of the War and the Spark to help set the stage for this dramatic and serious roleplaying experience. The game use minimalist props and improv acting metatechniques to guide players through the game, as well as workshop exercises before game that help new role-players get into the action. Play time is 4-5 hours and explores serious themes.
Keeping The Candles Lit was produces as part of a series of games commissioned for the War Birds anthology from Unruly Designs. The anthology sought to explore the untold stories about women who fought throughout the different theaters of World War II, and few stories are as untold as those of women within the religious Jewish communities of Eastern Europe. When developing the game, I realized that there are so few games that allow players to explore Jewish life from an authentic perspective, with an emphasis on the traditions and practices that are important to them. I then drew on my own experience growing up as a girl in the Orthodox Jewish community in New York, and Keeping The Candles Lit was born.
Plenty of media has brought stories to modern audiences about the atrocities of the Holocaust. Yet so very few ask people to step into the shoes of the people, especially the women, whose lives were torn apart by the decimation of their communities. Keeping The Candles Lit is an effort to help players connect to a time, a place, and a community whose traditions might not be familiar, but whose message is universal. By embodying these three women struggling to survive and keep connections to their religious traditions alive, players get to enjoy not only an intense roleplaying game, but an exercise in empathy and experiential education.
While the game itself is fairly simple to set up and play, the themes and content is not what you’d call emotionally easy. Players are presented with real problems faced by women who took up arms to defend their lives in WWII, with as much attention given to authenticity as possible. The game is a tribute to my grandmother, who survived the war to pass her traditions to me.
Shoshana Kessock - Game Designer and Author
Josh Harrison - Design Consultant
Moyra Turkington - Project Manager and Design Consultant
Brand Robins - Editor
Giulia Barbano - Layout
Claudia Cangini - Art