I expect there’ll be a lot of people wondering what they need to know or read to play the game.
Well, something that the book points out is that the game doesn’t expect or necessarily need you or your group to have an understanding of Tudor England. I’m happy to reiterate that here.
At a very simplistic level, the game mechanics and approach could be used out of context to run a game against any (reasonably compatible) backdrop. However, the game does come with a very Short History of Tudor England. And there will be a bibliography.
Personally, you can prepare for the game in some small way by viewing something like Fringe, The X-Files, or, probably more thematically, Constantine, Evil, or Supernatural. I get it that less than half of those series is current, but what I’m trying to suggest is weird and supernatural investigation represent the touchstone for play.
Fringe and The X-Files make the most sense. In both series, the protagonist possesses a level of knowledge and authority. And, like Agents of Dee, they lack the tools or the means to ‘win’ with certainty. Agents of Dee only really have the authority in the earlier period of the game, where the idea is fresh and the Queen is keen to back it wholeheartedly, but that opportunity remains.
Cinematically, you wouldn’t do yourself a disservice to watch Elizabeth — which features both Walsingham and Dee.
For reading, I would recommend The Arch-Conjuror of England, by Glyn Parry, for considerable detail and interesting diversions about the core non-player character. More generally, The Elizabethan World Picture, by E. M. W. Tillyard, handles the period’s frame of thinking. Finally, something straightforward like Ian Mortimer’s The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England or How to be a Tudor by Ruth Goodman can offer a solid grounding.
As far as wider pictures go, you might just consider reading or watching whatever takes your fancy. Whether with a historical lense or something more thematically inclined toward espionage, intrigue, far-reaching nefarious plots, or horror – it’s all good. I have found myself reading diverse and disconnected books that warrant highlighting, bookmarking or a quick sticky note as a point for later reference and return.
Diversity of reading and viewing is key. You should follow the flow, click interesting links. And always check the backprint references in histories. Most important, find something you enjoy. I won’t lie, some excellent history books can be hard going.
This is not revision. There will not be a test.