The Best Things in Gaming - A Real-Time Illustrator

edited April 2017 in Actual Play
I decided to throw together an impromptu session with a random collection of non-gamer friends yesterday. I was shooting in the dark, just taking a wild guess about who might be into it (not to mention who might be free on short notice!).

Much to my surprise, my guesses were spot on. We played my game Musette (which is ideal as an introductory story game for people with no exposure to such things), and had a total blast. One of my favourite sessions of all time.

Here's the amazing thing, though: one my friends asked me if I had some paper she could doodle on, and then proceeded to draw through the entire game. At the end, we had a visual record of everything that happened in the game, like a stream-of-consciousness record of events, images, and notable phrases or quotes.

What a wonderful gift! I had a lot of fun looking it over and remembering the various events of the story. (It helps that it was a particularly fun session and a really involved, convoluted story - something which can often go terribly wrong in a collaborative story game - which nevertheless wrapped up neatly and conclusively!)

Oddly enough, we started the game by talking about the concept of a "mind palace" - and these drawings are like an illustration of a "mind palace" of the fiction we created.

What's especially cool is that her illustrations are spread out in non-linear order on the pages, but when disparate storylines combined in our story, it was reflected in the positioning of the images - they come together from opposite sides of the page.

(You can follow along somewhat by going from number to number, which indicate the order of events.)

Everyone should be so lucky as to have a "real-time illlustrator" at their game sessions. I highly recommend it (if you can find one, of course)!

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Comments

  • I've encountered similar phenomena. It is quite nice, and your artifact is very cool.

    One thing I've done recently with the resident doodler in our D&D campaign has been to give him a bunch of templates for paper miniatures to draw on. The result has been a series of miniatures for the player characters. I sometimes feed the doodlers with specialized mapping duties ("here, clarify this and put in some color to indicate terrain") and such as well.

    Most doodlers have a distinct tendency towards limiting themselves to particular topics, though, which limits their usefulness in e.g. campaign logging. Our D&D campaign currently has one who does nice satires (somewhat similar to your sample in tone), but generally doodles so slowly that she only produces one per session or so. Another one (the one I tasked with the miniatures duty) produces an endless stream of drawings of armsmen (think Warhammer style) while participating in the game intensively, apparently without putting any particular thought to it. We currently don't have a truly passionate cartographer/doodler, which is a shame, because the map quality is distinctly better when you have a doodler with that specialty in the group.
  • Heh, that reminds me of "party" posters I used to in college and just afterwards. Similar concept, but actual events and conversations ( or interpretations of them anyway) at usually fairly boozey get togethers.
  • Interesting!

    Eero:

    Yes, the truly remarkable thing here was the rate of doodling - pretty much every event in the game (and many offhand descriptions or quotes) are recorded here, in chronological order.
  • Does Musette exist anywhere online? I just spent five minutes searching for it, and found references to it (on this site and others), but no page describing the game or offering it for sale or download.
  • edited April 2017
    Sadly, no! I really should type up a new version of the rules.

    I've procrastinated on that front, because I lost the original text (the rules have changed a fair bit since then) and I'm not keen on rewriting the whole thing from scratch.

    I could be talked into it, if someone is serious about playing the game.

    (It's about 10 years old, and has only once been played by someone who is not me - that was Jeff Slater, of "I want to buy all the games!" fame.)
  • I'm more like "I want to read all the games!". No worries :)
  • Send me a PM! I could hook you up with something.
  • edited April 2017
    Sadly, no! I really should type up a new version of the rules.

    I've procrastinated on that front, because I lost the original text (the rules have changed a fair bit since then) and I'm not keen on rewriting the whole thing from scratch.

    I could be talked into it, if someone is serious about playing the game.

    (It's about 10 years old, and has only once been played by someone who is not me - that was Jeff Slater, of "I want to buy all the games!" fame.)
    Paul, being that you thought about creating a version of Musette that has more scene play, I think it would be really awesome if you rewrote it. Perhaps you could have the narration version and the scene play version. And, of course, if you ever decided to publish the thing and sell it, I'll be first in line to buy it :-)
  • Hmmm! Well, the game is solid; I've played it for years.

    I'm still not entirely convinced a "scene play" version is a good idea, but I'll keep thinking on it. One of the strengths of the game (and what makes it work so well with total newbies) is precisely that it is not a "scene play" kind of game, and deliberately so.

    I'll look over my notes from our discussion on this a while back! Maybe there was something good there...
  • (Hmmm... I can't find them. I remember typing up some options for you to try. Any idea where they might be?)
  • edited April 2017
    (Hmmm... I can't find them. I remember typing up some options for you to try. Any idea where they might be?)
    It would only be scene play game to a small extent, like Fall of Magic.

    The rules of FoM are here:
    http://heartofthedeernicorn.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/instructions-EN.pdf
    But I don't know if that will help you envision what I'm talking about. The options you typed up might be in a Google Docs document we were sharing; I'm not sure but I think scene play would work with that rule set? Anyway, it could just be an option to the regular rule said if you could find a way to handle it properly.
  • As a kid learning to play RPGs, the friend that introduced me was a great illustrator, and we would get him to draw all of our characters for us. Basically, people that draw well are awesome. :-) I tried really hard as a kid, but didn't have the knack and also didn't practice in the right ways to actually improve.
  • I can't draw but I remember one campaign where I had to travel home on a bus at the end of the night. I spent the journey trying to compose a limerick that summarised the evening's events. This was read out at the start of the endgame session to remind everyone where we were.
  • There are quite a lot of illustrator/animator types in Edinburgh (thanks to the computer-games industry) so games with an illustrative element are very popular here. The Quiet Year is my favourite, which you can get here if you don't have it: https://buriedwithoutceremony.com/the-quiet-year/ We've also started playing a homebrew tarot-based spinoff where the character's life is sketched in a long, thin band—like the Bayeux Tapestry.

    The problem with both of those is that gameplay proper often gets held up by an illustration taking too long...

    I'd like to see Musette too if it should become available!
  • I've been fortunate to have many good illustrators at my gaming table. The only catch is sometimes they have a negative impact on the energy of the game as they spend most of the session with their heads down and drawing away, requiring sometimes repeat nudges to come out of their drawing fugue to respond or interact with a scene.
  • (empowermint, are you in Edinburgh? I was there for a little while about 10 years ago. I wonder if you might know some of my friends, Per Fischer or Joe Murphy?)

    And, yes, our illustrator was probably a little bit quieter than the other players, but engaged with the game fully. That was the really remarkable thing, to me: she managed all this in real time while remaining in the game and without ever holding it up.
  • I ran a pathfinder game for my boyfriend and his art school friends, and while most of them were doodlers, my boyfriend took notes exclusively as drawings. Which was great for the party remembering what had happened where, but also lead to some pretty hilarious moments of someone shouting 'But he already started drawing, so it has to happen!'
  • Ha! That's cute.

    Patrick, I'm in Toronto. Drop me a note if you're ever in town! We could have coffee or play games together. Cheers!
  • Paul, I would never have guessed that you were in EDT time zone. You always post when it's day here in Europe.
  • I suppose I often post in the morning, or just before going to bed!

    I've lived in Europe, too, but rarely posted on S-G from there. :)
  • Ha! That's cute.

    Patrick, I'm in Toronto. Drop me a note if you're ever in town! We could have coffee or play games together. Cheers!
    I surely will! And if you are ever in Hamilton feel free to do the same.
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