This is a game about pain and forgiveness. This group of people, they’ve gone through some rough times, some together, some apart, and they have lots of issues with each other that they haven’t resolved yet. But they have a culture of telling stories, and we, taking on their roles, and telling their life stories in this mode that hovers at the edge of mythology, have the power to deal with these heretofore unspoken issues, and untangle them, and lead these characters to a better place. It’s partly the action of telling these stories that does it, by just sharing with others, and partly because telling stories is prayer, and the angels hear their prayers and reorder the world as they are told, so they’re not hollow stories that mean nothing, but real actions with real consequences.
It may help you, as it helps me, to think of this game as a 1001 Nights hack, although it’s departed from that root far enough that you have to learn the system anew. There’s a lot of the game I don’t quite know, but here is a piece that I have the words to describe:
As you begin a story, take a numbered card from your hand and place it in front of you, face-up. This card sets the theme of the story; say it is the Three of Swords. “This story is about lost love,” you might say. Briefly introduce your story and cast the other players in roles in it, as you would in 1001. Your job as the storyteller is to give the other players an opportunity to suffer.
If you’re a human character in the story, then your job is to know suffering. This consists of several tasks. When you have an opportunity to suffer, play a numbered card in front of you that is the same suit as the storyteller’ card, and describe the nature of your suffering. Let the Tarot inspire you if you know it, and take some note of the number on the card; a higher number corresponds with more suffering.
If you don’t have any suited numbered cards, then you know suffering by binding wounds and watching for angels. To bind a wound, when someone else plays a numbered card, you may immediately say, “I will bind the wound,” and play a lower-numbered card of any suit. Take their card into your hand and leave your card in its place; your character intervenes to lessen the other character’s suffering and change its nature. To watch for angels, when someone suffers, you may play a suited court card. Describe how the character reveals its identity as an angel. Make a note of which angel corresponds to the court card, and leave that card on the table next to the character’s suffering. The card corresponds to this angel for the remainder of the game; this means that, if you identify several characters with this card, they are in fact the same character, having gone through some transformation of likeness.
If you are playing an angel, your job is to be a healing hand. Angels may suffer with any suit. They may bind wounds with numbered cards and with court cards. Binding a wound with a court card is like binding a wound and simultaneously seeing an angel. Angels’ wounds cannot be bound by humans; they must be bound by other angels.