Akron is the center of the universe in a fantasy role-playing game based on 12-step cultivation and recovery.
Circle & Triangle: An Adventure Game for Friends of Bill and Bob catapults players into another dimension to explore strange lands, overcome personal afflictions, and help those in need. It’s like Dungeons & Dragons, but the protagonists are fallible scavenging heroes.
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“I wanted to design a fantasy world based on a 12-step culture,” said Travis Henry, 46, co-founder of Twelvefold Works Publishing in New York. “And since the road to healing started in Akron, I decided to design a fictional universe where Akron is literally the center of the world.”
In June 1935, New York stockbroker Bill Wilson made a random call to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church as he tried to fight the urge to drink while on a business trip to Akron. The Reverend Walter Tunks, rector of the church, put Wilson in touch with Henrietta Seiberling, who introduced him to Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith, a local doctor, at the Stan Hywet gatehouse. In Akron, “Bill W.” and “Dr. Bob” co-founded AA, an organization that now has nearly 2 million members.
From these principles, dozens of offshoots have emerged, including Al-Anon, Alateen, Narcotics Anonymous and Overeaters Anonymous.
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Circle & Triangle is billed as “the world’s first recovery-themed role-playing game”. It’s based on the 1939 AA Big Book and other 12-step works, but it also draws inspiration from Dungeons & Dragons. The abbreviation C&T is a nod to D&D.
Henry, who lives in Austerlitz, New York, near the Massachusetts line, has been playing D&D since 1983 when, at age 9, he received the classic Red Box for Christmas. He served as a dungeon master for his brothers and friends in middle school and high school, and played later editions as an adult.
Mapped fantasy world
In drawing the Circle & Triangle map, Henry incorporated geographic-sounding phrases from the Big Book such as “The New Land”, “The Morass of Self Pity”, “The Mire of Politics”, “The Bridge of Reason”, “The Broad Highway” and “The Path That Really Goes Somewhere”.
Dr. Bob’s house, which in real life is a National Historic Landmark at 855 Ardmore Ave. in Akron, is located at the center of a fictionalized version of Akron known as Middletown (aka Middleton), the generic name used in 12-step literature. to describe any community.
Middletown is the center of New Earth, a planet in a reclamation-themed cosmos known as the Twelve Dimensions.
The first adventure is a Scooby-Doo-style mystery set in a fictionalized version of Dr. Bob’s Home, Henry said.
In the tabletop game, players simulate a fictional 12-step meeting. The game master, called the trusted servant, guides them through adventures with 12-sided dice in a 12-stage world called New Earth.
“The game begins as they pretend to be in a 12-step meeting, then during the meeting there’s like a flash of light, and the game master describes how the players see a door open to another world and the players imagine they find themselves in this New Land,” Henry said. “And so they go on an adventure, which is facilitated by the trusted servant, who is kind of like the arbiter of the story or the narrator.
“Then they continue this sort of choose-your-own-adventure style story. And then they find their way back at the end of the adventure. Along the way, they encounter various Bogeymen, various afflictions and addictions depicted as monsters.
The Big Book refers to pride and fear as scarecrows. In creating the game, Henry went through the literature in 12 steps and took any sort of reference to emotional states as being like monsters. Circle & Triangle features dozens of Bogeymen, including Bacchus, The Grim Jester, Chaos, The Four Horsemen, The Seven Deadly Sins, Imperious Urges, Shivering Denizens, and Skeletons in the Closet.
So, in the game, players can have a fight with John Barleycorn or King Alcohol.
Circle & Triangle is usually around two hours long, but can be shorter if desired.
“If someone wanted to set up a single fight with a single Bogeyman and then take the characters home, the game is made for that as well, which takes 30 minutes,” Henry said.
Origin of the name of the game
Circle & Triangle is not only the name of the game, it is also the symbol of the fictional brotherhood. Anyone who wants to “recover from the gloom” by playing the game is considered a member, Henry said.
In real life, a circled triangle was the symbol of Alcoholics Anonymous from 1955 to 1993. As Bill W. explained in 1955: “The circle represents the entire world of A.A., and the triangle represents A.A.’s Three Legacies: recovery , unity and service. . In our wonderful new world, we have found freedom from our fatal obsession.
Although AA has discontinued official use of the logo, it is often still associated with the 12-step recovery.
Henry had never been to Akron until a 12-day visit in August. The New York man has visited such places as the Mayflower Hotel, Reverend Tunks Episcopal Rectory, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, Seiberling Gatehouse, Portage Country Club, King’s School, St. Thomas, at Akron Hospital, Dr. Bob’s office. and Dr. Bob’s grave.
He spent two days researching the AA Intergroup Akron archives.
And while he was here, he couldn’t resist going to the Malted Meeple in Hudson to play some (sober) Dungeons & Dragons.
“I found Akron to be a human-sized city,” Henry said.
How to buy it
The Circle & Triangle playbook, posters and accessories are available for purchase at drivethrurpg.com. The PDF is $12.12, the black and white softcover is $24.24, and the color hardcover is $48.48. If you haven’t noticed, they’re all multiples of 12. There are also deluxe models listed, and Henry plans to release follow-up extensions.
A deluxe world map is available for $24.24 from the TwelvefoldWorks shop on Etsy at etsy.com/shop/twelvefoldworks/.
Henry has been in touch with representatives from Dr. Bob’s Home and hopes the game will one day be sold in the gift shop at the center of the universe.
Circle & Triangle offers players a 12-step recovery role-playing experience. In a fictional version of Akron, the time has come to protect New Earth from the Croquemitaine and the Shivering Denizens of the Mad Realm.
“We hope you enjoy your adventures in the circle and triangle community as you travel the interdimensional road of happy destiny,” Henry told players. “May the Higher Power of New Earth bless and keep you – until then.”
Mark J. Price can be reached at [email protected]