Posts Tagged ‘card games’

Lately I’ve become very excited by tabletop storygames and also indie RPGs in general. Most storygames are indie, but not all indie RPGs are storygames; that being said, the indie games I’ve been exposed to tend to be rules-light and more focused on storytelling than mechanics.

Storygames often have affinities to RPGs, live storytelling, story structure, and/or improv. As the Story Games Codex defines it, a tabletop storygame is “a type of role-playing game experience with a lesser focus on “My Character” and a greater focus on “Our Story” (meaning the story that all the players at the table want to make).” Since as a role player, I am firmly in the narrativist camp, these storygames are an intriguing new avenue for me to explore.

This past weekend, I had a few friends over to try out the storygame Fiasco for the first time. Fiasco is a storytelling GM-less game that focuses on telling “capers gone wrong” stories a la the Coen Brothers, Snatch, and the Italian Job. You roleplay the story, breaking it into two acts, two scenes per act per player. The game uses six-sided dice as a mechanic for choosing elements for your story from a bunch of charts, deciding whether things go well or poorly during each scene, and determining some twists and your characters’ endings.

In which we make up our characters.

In which we make up our Fiasco characters.

I had a great time trying a system that puts storytelling ahead of mechanics. It was very challenging for a diehard outliner like myself to participate in a game with sixteen scenes that I couldn’t outline ahead of time, but the difficulty was part of what made it fun for me. Plus I am really motivated to play several more times to try to improve my pantsing skills. While Act 1 lagged for us as we tried to figure out what to do, Act 2 really picked up, and the endings were hilarious and satisfying.

In fact, I’m so excited about these games that I’ve compiled a list of games I’d like to try in the future:

1. Spirit of the Century: Okay, I’m actually in the middle of a campaign in this system. It deserves its own post, but for now, suffice it to say that the system is made of awesome. It’s a pulp adventure game tailored specifically for one shots. It does need a GM, however.

2. Microscope: A world building storygame about epic histories. I have access to this game, so I’m hoping to try it out soon!

3. Monsterhearts: I have this on order and I’m super excited about it. It’s a storygame set in a high school where the students are discovering mystical powers (aka Witch, Werewolf, Chosen One, etc.) with a Buffy flavor. I’d love to play a longer campaign to try out this one.

4. Shooting the Moon: A love triangle storygame.

5. A Penny for My Thoughts: A game about trauma and lost memory. (After working so long on The Academy of Forgetting, this game sounds like a great fit for me and my interests.)

6. The Shab-al-Hiri-Roach: A game about competitive and backstabbing professors in a small-town university. I wish I owned tweed, because I would wear it while playing this game.

7. Shock: Social Science Fiction: To be honest, I don’t really understand what this one is about yet exactly. But it references Ursula Le Guin, Kim Stanley Robinson, and Philip K. Dick in its flavor text, so I want to find out.

8. Polaris: A storygame about brave knights living in a corrupting world. Yes please.

9. Primetime Adventures: An RPG in which you and your friends put on a TV show.

10. The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen: A wagering storygame in which you sit around telling wild stories.

11. Once Upon a Time: A storytelling card game.

12. Gloom: A perverse card game telling the tragic story of a group of misanthropes.

13. The Quiet Year: A post-apocalyptic map storygame. 

14. Winter Tales: This board game is coming out later this year so it’s a little hard to tell exactly what it is. It might be a story-based board game similar to Tales of the Arabian Nights, but it looks like its mechanics are a bit more involved and focused on collaborative storytelling. Stay tuned!

Have you ever played any of the above games? Do you have more games I should add to my list?

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