Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Once Upon A Time

I enjoy good storytelling. Storytelling originally attracted me to the original D&D games but then I found that they are mostly played as an exercise in table searching and dice calculations. If I'll ever play role playing games, I'll certainly want to use some sort of "bare bone" system like Risus or Window.

There is also very interesting storytelling card game, called Once Upon A Time, which I played several years ago and purchased during the recent trip to Japan (there is cool small "Yellow Submarine" boardgame shop in Shinjuku).

The idea is that you get several cards with story elements and one card with story ending and you have to tell a fairy tale, incorporating all the story elements (i.e. getting rid of all the cards) and wrapping it up using the words on the "ending" card. Other players can use some simple rules to "interrupt" your story and change it to conform to their cards (i.e. getting rid of their cards). For example, if you play the "Witch" card and say "The witch lived in the Dark forest", the player with "Forest" card in his hand can jump in and continue the story. It's a little more complicated but not much. As with the original D&D, the game is only fun if you play it to create interesting story, not if you play it to win at all costs.

There is also an expansion called "Dark Tales" which brings some nice tragic elements into the mix, so that you can create cool stories like the following (click to see the large version):

Once Upon A Time


Pangaron said...

That looks really interesting, I am going to check it out.
By the way, I really share your opinion that Ad&D (and many other RP games, including czech version - Draci Doupe) is usually more about counting, computing and statistics. Of course it depends heavily on type of Game Master, but the The Window is MUCH better game ruleset when it comes to storytelling.

Anonymous said...

There's a huge boom of independent games in recent years, that take the ideas from Window much further and feature actual mechanics that encourage storytelling and cooperative narration. Check Out FATE, My Life With Master, Polaris, Mountain Witch, Primetime Adventures, Burning Empires. They are very well written and quite interesting, even just to read, for anyone interested in game design.