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1349: PLAGUE

1349: Plague Comes to Norwich

by Amy B. Curry with Developmental Editing by Raymond A. Kimball

How will you save Norwich from the plague? 

It's January of 1349, and the bustling city of Norwich faces the rising threat of plague. Members of the community, including merchants, clergy, tradesmen, medical men, and bailiffs, must decide how best to respond to uncertain and rapidly changing circumstances. Should the city impose a quarantine? How can one balance the need for health measures and economic interests? What is the role of of religion in protecting a community? You might win an argument, but will that save your life?

Note: this game was previously titled The Black Death Comes to Norwich.

This is a Level 2 game that is still under development but has been approved by the Reacting Editorial Board (REB) for general use. A detailed explanation of the editorial process and game levels can be found on our REB Page.



14th Century, Late Middle Ages, Medieval Period

In a Few Words 
Plague,  Trade Unions and Craft Guilds, Public Health, Church and Government

History of Medicine and Health,  Political Science and Government, Cultural and Social History, Economics, Religion, STEM

Great Britain, Europe

Themes and Issues  
Public health, Citizenship, Urbanism, Medicine

Player Interactions 
Factional, Competitive, Collaborative, Lobbying 

Sample Class Titles
Western Civ Survey, Public Health and History, Enduring Questions in the Sciences, History of Science

Level 2+ game (what's that mean?

Die rolls, Differentiated voting, Informal podium, (Death) Lottery, PIPs

Chaos and Demand on Instructor 
Low - High chaos/raucousness;
Low - High demand on instructor 

Primary Source Highlights
The Report of the Paris Medical Faculty, October 1348 by Paris University faculty
Ordinances for Sanitation in a Time of Mortality by the People of the city of Pistoia
The Canon of Medicine by Avicenna ibn Sina 

Notable Roles

Hugh Ballard
Godfrey, Barber's Apprentice

Prioress de Plumstede

Using the Game

Class Size and Scalability 
This game is designed to work in a wide variety of class sizes. While recommended for 12-26 players, instructors have had success using this in larger classes by doubling roles. 

The game author has created materials for both in-person and asynchronous, remote play, as well as for shorter play. Full details and guidance on how to use the game guidance are in the Instructor's Guide, found under Game Materials.

Class Time

This game is designed for flexible use, and instructors can consolidate or expand based on their goals.  The game author recommends 5 to 8 sessions (1-3 for setup, 3-4 for gameplay, 1-2 debrief sessions).

You can adjust the assignments based on the desired learning outcomes of your class. This game can include: traditional papers, research and thesis-driven writing, epist. Not all roles are required to give formal speeches. 

Possible Reacting Game Pairings
This game can be used on its own, or with other games. 


Reacting Consortium members can download all game materials. You'll be asked to sign in before downloading. If you are adopting this game for your class, fill out this permissions form.

Please Fill out the Permissions Request Form Before Using 1349: The Plague in Your Class!


All students need a Gamebook, which includes historical context, and summaries of essential scientific articles. Members can provide the Gamebook to students for free or at cost. 

Updated January 2022.

Instructor's Manual and Role Sheets

The Instructor's Manual includes guidance for assigning roles, presenting historical context, assignments, activities and discussion topics, and more.

Students also need a Role Sheet, which contains biographical information, role-specific resources or assignments, and their character's secret victory objectives.

If you have materials you would like to add to this website to be shared with other Reacting Instructors, please email us at reacting@barnard.edu.


"I taught it in two sections of Honors history of science, and have never seen students engage so much offline. I had Slack notifications on, and followed a dozen different conversations outline schemes, buying votes, and discussing how to rebut arguments with logic. Student reflection papers reported a much better understanding of the modern pandemic from engaging with the Black Death (in particular the tension between medicine and industry!) They loved the anticipation of the death die rolls. Their biggest complaint? They wanted the game to be longer." 


Amy Curry

Reacting and Related Titles


Thank you for your interest in this game. Members can contact game authors directly

We invite instructors join our Facebook Faculty Lounge, where you'll find a wonderful community eager to help and answer questions. We also encourage you to submit your question for the forthcoming FAQ, and to check out our upcoming events


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