slip, bridgerton, very long, sanditone, My new favorite Regency-inspired show is Dimension 20’s Fay and a Court of Flowers, As a scholar of both 18th-century fiction and actual drama, I’m telling everyone to check out this creative new spin on both Austen and actual drama. In a time of plethora of Austen adaptation retreads, it’s refreshing to see a show that’s actually playing with the much broader palette inherent within Austen’s work—including her influences and the wider world.
For those unfamiliar with British Regency (1811–20), let’s first set the global scenario. It was time for a big change. Revolutions had just taken place – in the United States, France and Haiti – and were looming on the horizon across Europe. Mighty cottagecore went for a few years of relative freedom before the ensuing backlash of Victorian hoops and bustle, rejecting hair powder, heavy makeup, conical corsets and elaborate panniers. Of course, the aesthetic of the Regency has its own serious origins. Film empire-waist gowns were made from cotton obtained from slave plantation labor and silk obtained by royal conquest. Real-life tea tables were political battlegrounds as abolitionists avoided serving “blood sugar”. As Austen grew up, the fashion for sentimental, periodical novels waned in the form of thrilling gothic tales, progressive political novels, and reactionary conservative novels, all aloft on bookshelves.
There’s honestly a lot to work with from the creatives of this period, but much of it has been neglected. This is changing as more creators try to reflect the true diversity of the period, from Amma Asante’s 2013 biopic of real-life multiracial heir Dido Elizabeth Belle to Austen’s Caribbean heiress Miss Lambe. Sanditon. Journalist Bianca Hernandez-Knight writes that majority-white audiences, influenced by the tradition of Regency romances that began with Georgette Heyer in the mid-20th century, ignored the long presence of black and brown people in Britain, ignoring the ancient dating since time immemorial. But, as author Amanda-Rae Prescott argues, inclusive period constructions are here to stay.
And yet, even those of us who are most excited bridgerton The moment we find ourselves in the reservation in the present: As scholar Patricia A. Matthew argues, there are complications in even placing positive fantasies in real historical settings. “I really don’t know what ‘right’ looks like,” she noted in the Los Angeles Review of Books, “for black characters in England that in 1813 abolished the slave trade but not slavery.” Tabletop makers have been exploring that ambition for years. V Hendrow and Hayley Gordon good societyRPG inspired by Austen Fay and a Court of Flowers Wrestling in the same year playing with history, draws its mechanics bridgerton There was greenery. Hendrow and Gordon’s solution leaves much to the players: During Season 0, participants must choose whether to play in a historically accurate patriarchy, gender-flipped matriarchy, or a more egalitarian world. At the same time, good society also informs his players – erroneously, I might add – that Austen’s job was not about race, functionally banning it from play. Its intentions are excellent; to like bridgerton and other inclusive constructions, good society Tries to make room for everyone at the table. But, as designer Mark Diaz Truman observed in a conversation with the designers on his Storybrewers blog, it also means that players must detach from their real-world identities to enter the game’s imagination. After its release a healthy debate about how to adapt historical material within the tabletop design space continues to this day.
Captain KP Hobb, played by Brennan Lee Mulligan. Image: Dimension 20
Darkness, played by Umar Najam. Image: Dimension 20
Fay and a Court of Flowers‘Moves to tie up with D&D’ good society Regency resolves that conflict by disconnecting mechanics from real-world history. Its players are not historical figures, but fictional beings from an entirely other plane of existence. That doesn’t mean the campaign eschews the realities of power—it’s still Dimension 20 and it’s Abria Iyengar, two brands known for challenging and progressive storytelling. We are quickly introduced to court conflicts and signs that Bloom is excluded from his pleasures. Reputation is everything, and we see its effect as people with higher prestige have mechanical advantages over people “down there”. Like real reputation, it’s not what the players control, but what’s publicly seen or believed about you. Brennan Lee Mulligan’s captain KP Hobb is well aware of this as he tries to paradoxically embody the anarchic values of the Goblin Court with military precision and dignity.
Several other players have also cited “repression” as a key to their character creation. Omar Najam’s “constantly smoldering” comes from a fascination with the cryptic-dork dark “Ghost of Troops”—citing not only Austen but later 1840s novelist Emily Bront, author of Wuthering Heights, Combining Batman-like thinking with “first day of school” energy, Najam reverse-engineered a new reading of Austen’s Darcy, often considered one of the “Broody Boys” but in the novel, Darkness. Like, the responsibility is far too young.
Gwendoline Thistlehope, played by Surena Marie. Image: Dimension 20
Binx Chopley, also played by Surena Marie. Image: Dimension 20
good society‘s Thanks for letting the mystery and rumor mechanics shine through Dimension 20Pre-season preparation. Players know the rumors created in Season 0, but don’t know which are true until the game makes them true – or makes them disappear. By now, Surena Marie’s Gwendoline is a font of thistle-hop mysteries, and I initially tagged her as a modern Jane Fairfax. Austen’s secondary character EmmaOf course, Gwyn is built on every trope of perfect heroine-hood: naive, “charming personality,” and the center of a mystery. Her character art is also an 18th-century-inspired throwback, wearing elaborate pannier hoops and lots of ruffles. In Austen’s novel, Jane’s secret is revealed near the end, but modern viewers – and players – are far more suspicious, so we quickly see that Gwyn is actually Binx Chopley, the sole survivor of the Court of Craft. It looks like this is only the first of many revelations to come. Binx resembles the type of Regency character we don’t often see in modern adaptations, the outspoken female revolutionary – expected to be more victorious than her 1790 siblings.
Deloso de la Rue, as played by Oscar Montoya. Image: Dimension 20
Oscar Montoya’s Deloso de la Rue also gives us a taste of another group of forgotten Regency characters: Dandy, Beauz, Macaroni, Mollies, and binary-flaunting celebrities like Anne “Gentleman Jack” Lister, celebrity spinster The Ladies of Langollen. , and former French diplomat Chevalier d’Onne as well as arbiters of fashion such as the Masters of Ceremony and Beau Brummel.
So far we’re in a largely pacifist run for this campaign, which is less focused on violence than typical D&D—even a serious duel ends in applause rather than permanent physical damage. Iyengar and his artists are exploring soft power, what professors like me have called the “marriage conspiracy”: a genre that rapidly turned to legal and social rules in the 18th century. Heroes and heroines try to navigate a world divided between the old concept of marriage as an alliance and the new idea of ”mate marriage” for love and friendship. We see this strongly in the characters Lou Wilson and Emily Axford, cousins who are trying to do both. His grandfather demands that they have a good marriage – er, Bloom – by the end of this season, while he bets Rue that they can marry for love.
While Wilson reports that she simply Googled “the most annoying characters in Austen” as character submission, Austen scholar Emily Kugler chuckled with joy while we watched the premiere together. “They’re Crawfords!” He yelled — that is, Henry and Mary Crawford, Austen’s sexy, inappropriate love interests. Mansfield Park, Eighteenth-century readers would have called him rakes, the bad boys who inspired debate: did “improved rakes make the best husbands” or were they, like the real-life rake Lord Byron, “crazy, bad and dangerous to know”? Rake was the secondary character who got to a bad ending; After intensely flirting with the protagonist, the two Crawfords enter into unhappy, mercenary marriages. In the hands of master players Wilson and Axford, it seems inevitable that we will see this script flipped.
And that’s what I’m most excited for: Regency characters that pop culture so often overlooks, receiving stories and ending periods I can’t possibly imagine.