Love's Labour's Lost

From Ludocity
Love's Labour's Lost
Loves labours lost.jpg
Designer: Holly Gramazio
Year: unknown
Players: An even number from 16 to 24
Stuff required: Pre-prepared cards and envelopes; ribbons; assorted gifts like flowers, balloons and chocolates.
Crew required: One or two.
Preparation: A few hours of printing and envelope-stuffing.
Time required: An hour.
Place required: Any reasonably large, explorable area where players will be out of each others' sight if they split up, and preferably can spy on each other from balconies, through windows, etc. A table in a relatively public area.
Activities: Finding, sneaking, deduction, writing.
This is a playable game - it's finished, tested and ready to play.
This game is made available under an Attribution-Noncommercial Creative Commons licence. (What does this mean?)

A group of lords and ladies swear off love - and then promptly fall into it. They need to give each other gifts and poetry without being denounced by their rivals. Based on a scene from Love's Labour's Lost.

Setup instructions

Choose a way to uniquely identify 24 players - for example, with seven different coloured ribbons, you can give each player two ribbons (green and green, blue and white, red and orange, etc).

Pair these characteristics up (for example, green-and-blue matched with red-and-black).

For each player, bundle together:

  • The ribbons or other identifying marks
  • Four cards saying something like "I am the knight clad in green and blue ribbons, and I wish to denounce:"
  • One card that says something like "My beloved knight clad in red and black ribbons, here is my poem for you".

But obviously personalised to identify the player and their beloved.

You will also need to get at least one gift for each player - a bunch of flowers, a chocolate, a feather, a balloon, a rubber duck, anything really.

Ideally there will be a large room to start in before sending players out into a wider space, and gathering in the separate room again at the end.

Player instructions

You are in a room. You will receive an envelope. Inside are two ribbons: wear this somewhere visible, for example one on each wrist.

You will also find a card identifying your beloved. Although you have sworn off love, like the rest of the lords and ladies assembled, you have fallen instantly in love with one of them - you can identify which one by reading this card and looking for the player wearing the appropriate ribbons. Don't make it obvious, though! You must keep your love secret at all costs.

You will leave the room, and have 25 minutes to wander around nearby (and far away, if you like), wooing your beloved. You can do this by writing a poem to them on the card provided, reading it to them, and giving them the card. You can also do this by collecting a gift for them from the "shop" (the game-runner or an assistant will have set this up in a public space), and handing it to them. They can also do these things for you, meaning that in total you can exchange four gestures of love between you.

However, you don't want to let anyone else catch you betraying your vows! And you do want to catch them out - why, it's disgraceful, they're breaking their solemn promises! If you think you've spotted two of the other players dallying illicitly with each other, you can denounce them: write down the two identities on one of your denunciation cards, and hand it in to the shopkeeper.

After 25 minutes, the shopkeeper will pack up and stop accepting denunciations and return to the room where you started for scoring. You and your beloved will receive one point for each token of love (poem or gift) exchanged (so, a maximum of four). You will lose one point for each time you have been denounced. The couple with the most points at the end is the winner; and anyone with three or four points is bound to have a happy and long-lived relationship.


Ask players to stand with their beloved, arranged in a large circle. Get them to lay on the floor any gifts that have been successfully exchanged, and any poems. You may want to ask them to read the poems out.

Now take the stack of denunciations and read through them (fairly quickly - there'll be quite a few of them!). For each one, check whether it's right; if it is, place it on the ground in front of the couple it denounces. This way it will be possible at the end to easily see how many points each couple has.

Play History

This game was played at Sandpit 22 at BAC.

External links

Love's Labour's Lost IV.iii