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This might be fun.

Started by James V. West, August 10, 2001, 02:18:00 PM

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James V. West

Seems like we're having all kinds of new games ideas's one more.

PLOT ELEMENTS- a game of competitive storytelling.

In this game, the group tells a story. This is more than a narrativist game, however, since there is a winner: whoever tells the ending is the winner.

YOu will need: a D6, a deck of standard playing cards, and some index cards.

To start, each player writes up Plot Elements on index cards. The number of PEs can vary, but I'm thinking about 2 or 3 each. They also write a story ending on an index card.

The PEs can be anything they want. A character, a nasty disease, an evil doer, a dog, a car, whatever. Consider these PEs to be PCs.

The ending they write should be a simple one liner: "Everyone lived happily ever after", "We all die", "The protagonist fails to discover anything new about himself" or whatever.

After all this writing is done, the players put their cards in one stack shuffle them (except the Ending Cards...leave them out for now). Then the cards are dealt out evenly and face down.

Each player then trades Ending Cars with another player.

Then, a deck of standard playing cards is dealt evenly to all players. These cards are your tools to get things done. They represent Plot Points. The scale is as follows:

Numbered cards: Face value (i.e., a five of hearts is worth 5 points)

Jack: 15 points

Ace: Beats anything except another Ace. When two aces are played, the bidding war must continue with two more cards being played until someone wins.

Ace of Spades: Nothing ever beats the Ace of Spades.

King and Queen: 20 points each.

Now, a high die roll determines who starts the story. Then play proceeds clockwise unless interrupted. Each player gets to narrate for 1d6 minutes. If a player wants more time, he can engage in a bidding war with the player who is next in line. If he wins, he gets 1d6 more minutes.

Each player must work his PEs into the story and work to drive the tale into the direction of his Ending.

A player may challenge an event at any time. A challenge is a bidding war. Each player lays down a card, face down. They flip them over and whichever card represents the most points wins. The loser may choose to continue the war by laying down another card. This can go on until one of the players has no cards left. The winner gets to take over narration for 1d6 minutes.

All cards played are put in the discard pile.

When a player finishes a scene (his time in narration mode), he gets to draw one card from the discard pile (after it is shuffled by another player, of course). If there are no cards in the pile, he gets nothing.

Eventually, someone will have the plot point power to defeat everyone else and can proceed to narrate the story ending based on their Ending Card. He wins.

That's it for now. Nothing major, just sounded like a fun quickie game. I suppose you could explore this idea more by suggesting types of Plot Elements for various genres. I thought it would be fun if no thought was put into the game beforehand. Each player would write up PEs with no idea what kind of story the others have in mind. Could be a chaotic nightmare...

If anyone wants to contribue ideas, pleast do. I'll throw this up on a free site and see who tries it.

James V. West

Ron Edwards


Check out Once Upon a Time, published by Wizards of the Coast. This brilliant card game has the goals and general techniques you describe, using its own deck.

Related games include Slasher and (I think) the new Zombies board game.


James V. West

Oh yeah...

I just caught an obvious problem: the person with the ace of spades can just hang loose and then hammer his ending down when he chooses...

SO...a few addendums:

Joker-- roll 1d6 (should have been a d6 in the first post). A six indicates Ace of Spades status)

Ending: In order to bring about an Ending...

1) every player must have had at least one turn narrating.

2) The player trying to create the Ending must face challenges from every player.

How's that?

James V. West

James V. West

Thanks, Ron. I knew there were several games out there that had similar goals, but I don't know how they work. I wantd this one to have a sort of cut-throat approach to storytelling. You know, a gamist slant and a breakneck pace.

Just for fun.

James V. West


Once Upon A Time is published by Atlas Games, not WoTC... :smile: Just got one at GenCon. We're going to work out a way to combine them with Mythos and Kult cards to create tales a little more gruesome.
Home of 2 Page Action Movie RPG & the freeware version of Dead Meat: Ultima Carneficina Dello Zombi!

Ron Edwards

Once Upon a Time is indeed cutthroat and fast - I strongly recommend it; it's an amazing blend of Gamist goals and Drama methods. I just remembered, too, that Pantheon, from Hogshead Press, is another excellent example (not using cards though).

Whoops. Apologies to Atlas. Damn, it's so confusing.


James V. West

Moose's "Human Wreckage" is another game in this vein. This type of game seems like it would be a great icebreaker for getting new people into role-playing.

I'll check out "once upon a time". Sounds great.

James V. West

Ferry Bazelmans

*looks around furtively to see if no one is looking*

And Soap also requires you to be quick on your feet and even quicker on your wits... :smile:
The BlackLight Bar, home of Soap: the game of soap opera mayhem.
Now available as a $2.95 Adobe PDF (Paypal only)

Jamie Thomas Durbin

If you've read the Forgotten Futures games by Marcus L Rowland, you'll notice a *similar* thing being done with... Forgotten Futures IV (I think): The Carnacki Cylinders... but still, it's a good, time honoured tradition, and one you should keep up... go for it, man!
"Bored Senseless In Bradford"
-Jamie Thomas Durbin

James V. West

Based on what I've seen, the other games like this are done much more eloquently than the rules I wrote up. I'll leave it to them, for now :wink:

Thanks everyone!

James V. West

P.S. SOAP is one that I've heard talk about quite a bit...I'll check it out.