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Forest Diplomacy: Cultures in Conflict
on the Pennsylvania Frontier, 1757

by Nicolas W. Proctor

Cultures in Conflict on the Colonial Frontier

This game begins with Pennsylvania and the Delaware Indians engaged in a vicious and destructive war. The focus of the game is a peace negotiation, which seeks to end the conflict. At the outset, students familiarize themselves with the historical context, previous treaties, firsthand accounts of the war, controversies over Quaker pacifism, and various Iroquois and Lenâpé cultural texts. Then, students divide into three groups: Interpreters, Pennsylvanians, and Indians. Initially, the latter two groups meet separately, but interpreters may shuttle back and forth. This gives students an opportunity to identify with their assigned cultures. It also allows distrust and suspicion to fester. Students reunite when formal treaty deliberations begin. The structure of these meetings is dictated by the traditional rituals of Indian forest diplomacy, which are intended to create a dispassionate space in the midst of the bloodthirstiness of war. Understanding the attendant cultural conventions becomes an essential element in peacemaking. Ignoring the protocols negates clever compromise on issues like scalping, the liquor trade, settlement, treaty-writing, and land ownership. When negotiations conclude, students must still maintain the peace. Negotiating a clever compromise is one thing, but if the treaty remains disagreeable to a significant number of participants, it collapses amid renewed violence. However, if enough participants can be convinced that the treaty represents a just peace, then it will stand.



Anthropology; Conflict and War Studies; Cultural and Social History; Indigenous and Native American Studies; Political Science 

North America

18th Century; Late Modern Period

Published Level 5 game (what's that mean?

Themes and Issues  
Colonialism, Gender, Race, Treaty negotiation, Cultural communication and translation, War and peace

Player Interactions 
Factional, Aggressive, Coalition-Building

Sample Class Title
Colonial and Revolutionary Era

Notable Roles
Teedyuscung, Conrad Weiser, Lt. Gov Denny

Chaos and Demand on Instructor 
Moderate to high levels of structure and demand on the instructor. What happens in each session is clear, but the order is not.

Divided Spaces, Die rolls, Prop (wampum)

Primary Source Highlights 
Treaty of Lancaster, 1744; Philadelphia Treaty of 1742; Carlisle Treaty of 1753

Using the Game

Class Size and Scalability 
This game is recommended for classes with 12-33 students but has been adapted for smaller and larger classes. 

Class Time  
For the full game, 7 to 9 class sessions are recommended (2-3 for setup, 4-5 for gameplay, 1-2 for debrief). The number of players can change the amount of time the game takes to run. The optional second debrief session is about primary sources. 

Possible Reacting Game Pairings
This game can be used on its own, or with other games. These pairings are meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive or prescriptive. Forest Diplomacy may pair well with:

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. Not all roles are required to give formal speeches, and one must make wampum.


Confirmed instructors who are not yet members can access basic instructor materials. Reacting Consortium members can access all downloadable materials (including expanded and updated materials) below. You will be asked to sign in before downloading.


Students need a Gamebook, which includes directions, resources, and historical content. The Forest Diplomacy Gamebook is published by UNC Press.

 Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-7073-7
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-4696-7238-0

Published July 2022

 Available wherever books are sold.

Role Sheets 

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

.pdf file.

Instructor's Manual

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

.docx file.

.pdf file.


Nicolas W. Proctor

Nicolas W. Proctor grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas. After completing his B.A. in history from Hendrix College, he received an M.A. in Diplomacy and International Relations from the University of Kentucky, as well as an M.A. and Ph.D. in American history from Emory University. He is now a Professor of History at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, where he has also served as department chair and director of the first-year program. Proctor is also the Chair of the Reacting Editorial Board, overseeing game development. He lives in Des Moines, Iowa, with his family, a print shop, lots of books, five chickens, and too many Legos.

After completing a traditional historical monograph, Bathed in Blood: Hunting and Mastery in the Old South, he reoriented his research to fit the needs of a teaching institution and focused on writing historical role-playing games.


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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