Non Roleplaying Storygames

edited October 2012 in Story Games
Anyone here ever play a game that could be considered a non-roleplaying Storygame? That is, a game that does not include anyone taking control of an individual character. I know Once Upon A Time might be considered such as game. I have never played it myself, just heard it mentioned online. There are also games like Storycubes and Nanofictionary. These type of games do not really seemed to be aimed at RPG Gamers, but I imagine they might appeal to some people here.

Any other non-roleplaying Storygames you know of? If you have played them, did you enjoy doing so?

Comments

  • edited October 2012
    My sister and I used to do one-word- and one-sentence-at-a-time stories back when we walked everywhere. Awesome if you have someone you share a sense of humor with.

    The MSPA/Forum Adventure phenomenon is a weird mix. On one hand, the audience "roleplays" in a sense but it's not quite the same thing as a one-character-per-player deal.
  • Universalis!

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  • edited October 2012
    The creator of OUaT also made The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

    You also got Talecraft and a game that uses dice with pictures on it. Don't know it's name. (EDIT: It's probably Storycubes - wasn't that great.)

    Gloom is another one of those storytelling card games. Quite fun with an Addams Family feel over it.

    And I should also mention the Everway cards, even though they are part of the Everway system.
  • edited October 2012
    Gloom (card game) has loads of authoring baked into the play, but the specific constraints of play don't channel to make satisfying stories. So... It's a story-making game, in one sense, but a terrible one. While being a really good game-game.

    (I bring it up because I think that's kind a common standard in most potentially-story-making games outside of roleplaying. It's like: This chair is an excellent chair. And if you want to find art... well, it is art as well. Just, it stinks as art.)

    EDIT: Ninja'd!
  • Once Upon a Time and Gloom are two favourite games of mine. You should also look up the Swedish Nostalgia that I helped playtest. It got a really storytelling feel in it.
  • I haven't read or played it, but I got the impression that 1001 Nights sort of fit this category. Maybe not 100%, because apparently you do have character sheets. But I get the impression that it throttles way back on the "I'm my character" and way forward on "I'm telling a story to these people at the table with me".

    But I could totally be wrong. Please smack me down ruthlessly if I am.
  • edited October 2012
    I've heard of a lot of "storytelling games", like Gloom and Once Upon a Time, which do create stories (or play out in the form of people telling stories), but don't reliably have any good support for telling a good story. Something like "take turns writing one sentence, adding to the previous one" is another example of the same thing.

    I know of very few storytelling games (without roleplaying) that do create good, moving, coherent stories. There have been many attempts made in Iron Chef game design competitions and the like, but Universalis is probably the only published, consistently well-reviewed game of this sort.

    However, there is a fellow in Montreal named Jonathan Benn who has long been at work at designing such games. His main project is called "Muse", and it's a very fun and functional game currently in its final or near-final draft (you'd have to ask him).

    When he first posed the challenge to me ("I want a game that tells good stories without roleplaying!") about five years ago, I designed a game called Musette, which works very well, and I've been playing that game in its final form for a number of years now. Both games are very easy for non-gamers to pick up and play. If anyone is interested, I can post the rules document for my version of the game; it's not currently available online.

    There was a thread about Muse a while back, as well as a Muse/Universalis comparison, and the latest version of the rules (I believe) are available for free here.

    There is also the family of Engle Matrix Games, some of which definitely fit this definition.

    Happy Birthday Robot also deserves a nod of the hat here. Whether it "tells a good story" or not is up to you! (I could easily argue for either side on this one.)

    Edit: 1,001 Nights is an RPG where you tell stories "in character". So the majority of gameplay is spent in "storytelling mode", but you're supposed to playing characters telling the stories (like, to some extent, in Baron Munchausen). I suppose it's an edge case!
  • If everyone plays aspects of a single character, does that violate "non-roleplaying" requirement?

    [What's the name of that game where everyone's portraying one character...? :) ]
  • Any other non-roleplaying Storygames you know of? If you have played them, did you enjoy doing so?
    Oh! Missed this. I've played games like Once Upon a Time, and found them entertaining but otherwise unfulfilling (it's hard to create much of a meaningful story, the game rules don't help you very much). So I'd consider them more like "party games" or "entertainments".

    I've played Muse and Musette quite a bit, and had quite a bit of fun with both of those games! They're based on similar rules, just with a slightly different focus. Muse is more of a long-form story with a focus on plot, like a Hollywood film, whereas Musette is a little shorter and more intense and character-focused (you often end up making surprising judgements on the characters involved as the story wraps up). Both games reliably create a very strong climax and resolution, and are very easy to learn and play.*


    *: In theory! There has never been a blind playtest of either set of rules, to my knowledge. But games with the creator present have always gone easily and smoothly, so I see no reason it wouldn't be the same without the creator, unless there are errors or unclear directions in the text(s).

  • Edit: 1,001 Nights is an RPG where you tell stories "in character". So the majority of gameplay is spent in "storytelling mode", but you're supposed to playing characters telling the stories (like, to some extent, in Baron Munchausen). I suppose it's an edge case!
    That's the impression I had too. Thanks for confirming. And yeah, I figure it was an edge case.

    The Quiet Year looks like it'd sort of fit this category too. You develop a map and sort of tell the story of a community over the course of a year. But it doesn't claim to be focused on generating a satisfying story with a well structured rising action and climax and all that. So it's probably more of an edge case as well.
  • edited October 2012
    How about Tales from the Arabian Nights?

    Also, Penny for My Thoughts. Saying what your character says and does is the only thing you CAN'T do in that game.

    Also, in Dirty Secrets, only one person is roleplaying the same character throughout.
  • The Quiet Year looks like it'd sort of fit this category too. You develop a map and sort of tell the story of a community over the course of a year. But it doesn't claim to be focused on generating a satisfying story with a well structured rising action and climax and all that. So it's probably more of an edge case as well.
    Yeah! The Quiet Year is a game where you don't play characters or scenes, but you do introduce fiction and create the (scattered) story of a community weathering a year after the collapse of civilization.

    You spend the game reacting to environmental events, discovering new things about the landscape, holding discussions, and starting projects. You represent a current of thought in the community.

    (Incidentally, it's on IndieGoGo right now.)
  • Not entirely coincidentally, I just wrote "character-less is the new GM-less" over in a G+ post.

    And I wasn't really kidding.
  • Parsely comes to mind. One person is the "parser" of a text adventure type game, and the other players effectively take turns giving commands. It has a lot of elements of an RPG, but I wouldn't really call it one.

    I've been working on a game called Channel A about pitching anime series (plus a spinoff called Studio B about pitching B-movies). You don't really dig into a story too much, but each round each player is presenting a thumbnail sketch of a plot for an anime series.
  • The creator of OUaT also made The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen.
    Whoa, you totally play an individual character in AoBM. It even has a character creation section. It just so happens that the actions you undertake in the role of that character are exclusively related to that character telling others of their tall tales, and interrupting the tall tales of the other PCs with challenges and bun fights.

    Not that I'm honestly fighting you on this. Just pedantry.
  • I haven't read or played it, but I got the impression that 1001 Nights sort of fit this category. Maybe not 100%, because apparently you do have character sheets. But I get the impression that it throttles way back on the "I'm my character" and way forward on "I'm telling a story to these people at the table with me".

    But I could totally be wrong. Please smack me down ruthlessly if I am.
    I think there are some players who play it that way, but that's totally different from how I play.

    In the game, you create a character sheet for your courtier - and it is the courtier who tells stories during the progress of the game. So in some sense it is a game within a game. You play the courtier telling stories, and that courtier plays a role in each story told. By the rules of the game, your courtier is defined by what you envy in each of the other PCs, and this informs how you create the story you are telling. You also define qualities for every sense about your courtier, to make them seem more vivid.

    The game I organized at Big Bad Con this past weekend was one of the best for me, with lots of role-playing of our characters that spilled out to outside the stories. We stayed more solidly in character than most tabletop games that I know of.
  • Kind of obvious, but Microscope can be played without roleplaying -- there are scenes, and one option is to have people temporarily take on roles in the scenes, but there is also an option for the active player to simply monologue the result of the scene, and the game works fine either way.
  • edited October 2012
    Several card games I like have already been mentioned (Gloom, Once Upon a Time). Some other card games I enjoy that tell stories but aren't technically roll-playing games are:

    * High School Drama: You have one main character but spend much of your time managing the various rock bands, drug busts and pregnancy scares of ancillary members of your clique.

    * Z-Man's B-Movie series of games: You try to create a great b-movie of your own while sending your monsters in to ruin other players' movies. Each set is based on a different b-movie genre (my favorite is the 70's themed Bell Bottomed Badasses on the Mean Streets of Funk), and you can mix different titles together.

    * Ace Detective: Not out yet, but one I've Kickstartered. It appears to be similar to Once Upon a Time as far as laying cards down to continue the story, but it has more structured mechanics. The theme is detective noir. It is one of the few card games I've seen that actually bills itself as a "story telling game."
  • If everyone plays aspects of a single character, does that violate "non-roleplaying" requirement?

    [What's the name of that game where everyone's portraying one character...? :) ]
    Everyone is John, is a game where players are voices inside of the head of John and they're vying for control.
    wso.williams.edu/~msulliva/campaigns/john/
    --
    TAZ

  • edited October 2012
    Happy Birthday Robot. (ETA: Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple, OTOH, is totally an RPG.)

    Dixit.

    As an aside, 1,001 Nights is totally an RPG. It's just an RPG about people playing RPGs. "I'm so hardcore, my characters have characters!"

    Matt
  • How to Host a Dungeon?
  • edited October 2012
    My Game Chef 2012 entry, ’inkadia, does create a story, but is not a role-playing game. It is more of a world building game, with an intent similar to How to Host a Dungeon.
  • I like Microscope better without roleplaying.
  • How about Tales from the Arabian Nights?

    Also, Penny for My Thoughts. Saying what your character says and does is the only thing you CAN'T do in that game.

    Also, in Dirty Secrets, only one person is roleplaying the same character throughout.
    Tales of the Arabian Nights is an interesting one -- you're moving one piece who is one "character" in a loose sense, but there's no real role to play. Your choices have classic Choose Your Own Adventure levels of seemingly arbitrary and random outcomes and skills chosen aren't used in any typical RPG way.

    But at the same time, you finish playing and your dude has been married twice, turned into a gorilla and cursed by a djinn after crossing Europe. I dunno where I'd put it categorically.

    ... Now I want to play it.
  • I played the re-issue at RinCon and it was everything I remembered. Wonderful. Sindbad the Sailor made it with EVERY GIRL.
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