Home > Game Design, RPGs > Storytelling Card Game Revisited

Storytelling Card Game Revisited

Even if I didn’t manage to come up with anything for GC2011, I have decided to recycle the storytelling mechanic I initially described in a previous post. Since then, I have done some revisions with the rules. I also decided to go for really simple rules with less emphasis on roleplaying and more on storytelling, in order to broaden the possible audience of the game. This game might actually even work as a drinking game 🙂

The basic concept is still the same: Everyone narrates a story together by taking turns. There are still a few things that I haven’t figured out, such as do I want to have a clear setting or go with a universal storytelling game. There’s also the ending clause which I’m not sure about yet, since we haven’t had the opportunity to test this out properly.

The game works as follows:

1. Each player is dealt five cards from a regular 52-card deck (if including Jokers, see #6) 2. The first player (either chosen or the next to the dealer) begins the story by narrating a short scene. The scene must end in a conflict that has a clear success-failure result. 3. To resolve the conflict, each player chooses a card from their hand and plays it in front of them face down. After everyone has played their cards, they are revealed. The person with the highest value continues to narrate the story, first by describing how the conflict was resolved. The result is determined by the majority of the cards: if there is a majority of red cards, the conflict was successful and if the majority are black, the result is a failure. In the case of a tie, the highest card determines the result. 4. After the conflict has been resolved, each draws a new card. The play continues with the player with the highest card narrating the story onwards until there is another conflict. 5. After the deck runs out of cards the final round of the game starts and marks the ending of the story. If there are not enough cards to be dealt to everyone, the rest are discarded. The last round is played by four cards only. 6. If Jokers are used, they automatically win the round, but the outcome is still determined by the majority of the colour of other cards.

There are a few points I’d like to further analyze.

How long does the game last?

I did some calculations* , and the game length goes as follows:

3 Player game = 12 turns (13 with Jokers)

4 Player game = 8 turns

5 Player game = 5 turns

6 Player game = 3 turns (4 with Jokers)

 * [52- (X*5)]/X, rounded down (54 with Jokers)

I am not sure if these results are what I want, since I haven’t had the chance to try this yet. It would make the game most enjoyable with either 4 or 5 players, though.

The drinking game variant?

I ended up pondering about this option as well. Inspired by the Game Chef 2006 entry ‘The Ancient and Venerable Art of Tippling’ by Josh Roby, I’ve been wanting to work on a “Roledrinking Game” for a while. I’m still a bit hesitant to make this game purely a drinking game, but I can see the potential.

The drinking game rules would go as so:

  1. The winner of the round gets to drink as many sips as the value of the highest card
  2. Ace has the value of 1
  3. Joker wins the round as usual, but others players drink to the highest card

This seems particularly nasty since the high cards are quite hard to finish off. But since that would mean that playing them is a bad idea, people would start playing low cards. Unless they want to ensure that they win and drink.

Another idea was that the player with the lowest card drinks that amount. That could work as well, although I prefer drinking games to have a negative feedback loop which makes the drinking less of a punishment and more like a handicap to the winner.

Both of these ideas are worth testing though.

Lack of setting makes it hard to start playing

This is probably my biggest worry at the moment. As the game doesn’t have a predefined setting, it might be hard to pick up and start playing. The players need to first establish what kind of a game they’re playing, and that is always hard. But that can also be a strength, since being able to come up with crazy genre defying stories is always a nice option, and limiting the players imagination can end up making the game less enjoyable.

So, here’s the basics of it. I think I’ll continue on this after I’ve had a few playtest sessions, and maybe the above mentioned issues will also be resolved at the time.

If you have any suggestions or ideas, I’d like to hear them in the comments section below 🙂

Categories: Game Design, RPGs
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