Ring Tales - a 9-card storytelling game

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In a distant universe there is a tiny planet. Near which the Elder Builders managed to build an artificial ring – a narrow strip of land with its own atmosphere and universal biotope suitable for most of known intelligent beings. The most ambitious construction in the universe should serve as gigantic trading center, connecting every life form. However an intergalactic war happened and project of trading center has fallen. Lots of beings were left, imprisoned on this artificial ring and
only a few generations were enough for survivors to create their own history, social hierarchy and even religion. You all live in this world – descendants of the traders that didn ́t leave and were left to live here on the Ring.


Hello. I'd like to present you a game that was originaly designed for a 9-card nano game contest on Board Game Geek, but I had multiple personal reasons/self-given goals why I tried to make such game. The original idea sparked during road-trip, where I was thinking, why don't we use this free time by some roleplaying game. I found multiple games suitable for such limitations, however there was still issue with the most important person - a driver. The original idea was sparked and works on game that requires no dice rolling nor character sheets started.

In order to maintain security of travellers, I think no game is safe enough to both play during car ride and be secure for driver to participate. In fact, I strongly recommend NOT TO PLAY this game during road trip if you are driver. However I believe, rest of the personal goals was achieved.

Ring Tales is a storytelling game for 2 to 4 people that will colaboratively try to tell a story. The story itself is divided into chapters and each chapter is tied into one location on the Ring, with a title defined before the very chapter begins. Each player takes control over one character that decides to go on a journey to answer the question that is the same in every game:

After hundreds of years a ship landed on the Ring. Together we seek out why.

You already might find some similarities with Fall of Magic - a great storytelling game made by Ross Cowman - and I am not hiding the main source of the inspiration. However, instead of the prompts, Ring Tales relies on more classic "no, but - yes, but" resolution mechanics, that are provided by cards. One of the player is always a Teller - he or she does not control their character directly. Instead, they introduce some sort of obstacle that all the characters have to overcome. Each obstacle can be defeated by choosing the correct approach and players need to match their characters' approaches with Teller's. There are four approaches in total, so Teller has to describe the obstacle in a way the rest of the players might find the correct approach. But beware the Threat (or call it Karma), that rises every time players choose the best approach!

There are more things that I could write about, but they are all written in the rules; for now, let me present some of the key things I am proud the Ring Tales contains:

- all the mechanics are obtained in 9 cards, supporting 2 to 4 players
- dice-less resolution mechanic
- rules for 2-player play, introducing semi-autonomous Dummy player
- variable map of the Ring
- "boardgamey" feeling during play that makes it easier for new players to hop-in
- organized gameplay, making ti able to play all the game in 3 hours or to split it into multiple sessions

If I got your attention, please, take a look at PnP file and rules that are currently in version 0.45. You may find them in the shared Google Drive folder.

Comments

  • The design of the game seems ambitious and promising - reusing the same cards for all steps of play.

    I'm finding it a bit hard to follow from the rules text, though. (I wouldn't be confident of using the cards in the right way, mainly.)
  • The design of the game seems ambitious and promising - reusing the same cards for all steps of play.

    I'm finding it a bit hard to follow from the rules text, though. (I wouldn't be confident of using the cards in the right way, mainly.)
    The issues with text readibility might be caused by fact that English is not my first language. The rules would need more proofreading, but before I do that, I am still working on rulebook illustrations, namely:
    - the mechanics of sorting the approaches
    - choosing the final approach by players
    - using the Teller's character Will to change the approach
    - illustrating each obstacle outcome on approach cards
    - showing how the Robbie protocol mechanics work

    Hopefuly the rules will be much more clear after that.

    If you read it, would you mind to answer a couple of questions?

    1. What did you find the most interesting part of the game is?
    2. Can you imagine to play this game with absolute newcomers to the hobby?
    3. Do you find bringing the obstacles constantly turn after turn exhausting?
    4. What is the single change you would suggest?
    5. Do you find lack of prompts (in comparison to Fall of Magic) as disadvantage to imagination?
    +. Do you find list of names, jobs, and Chapter title suggestions adequate/useful?
  • 1- The names and chapter names
    2- Yes
    3- Yes (with the limitation of "no obvious solutions" : a speed bump or pretext is always a nice diversion)
    4- Not giving the history and geography of the Ring : a la Psychic Maelstrom. This makes PC impact variable.
    5- No (examples wouldn't hurt though)
    + yes

    4bis
    I think naming "Will" that way makes it a character resource. Making it a player resource expands the possibilities.
  • I feel the game is very promising, and the visual design is really well done.

    The game's instructions... I can tell they were written by someone who is not a native English speaker, but that isn't a huge problem: most of the text makes perfect sense. However, it's not clear what some of the directions are or mean, because the text doesn't spell it out clearly (for instance, the word "protocol" only appears once, in the robot's description, and I assume it's referring to "approaches", but I can't be sure, which makes it hard for me to tell whether I'm understanding what I'm reading or not).

    1. I like the visual design and the ambitious concept - nine cards which handle everything you need to play.
    2. Yes, absolutely (assuming I can understand how it works, first - not in its current state)
    3. I haven't played yet, so I can't be sure, but I think it could be challenging. Some better sense of what appropriate obstacles might be, or more detailed prompts, could really help.
    4. Clearing up the game text, so a reader can understand how to play on the first read-through. (My experience says that games which rely on physical positioning and handling of devices like cards need illustrated examples in order to be clear to the reader, at least in most cases.)
    5. No, but I DO think that most players would need a little more guidance than you have provided (e.g. more detailed or varied chapter titles).
    + Almost, as I said above.

    Nice work! It's an exciting project.
  • 4c - Darkening by rotation supposes plays are facing the same direction.
  • Yeah, that is one of the things I'm wondering about. Although it is not a huge problem.
  • 4c - Darkening by rotation supposes plays are facing the same direction.
    Yeah, that is one of the things I'm wondering about. Although it is not a huge problem.
    I can see rules need a bit more clarification. For example, Threat card is supposed to be held in Teller's hand with approach cards. Robot's protocols need to be described better. I cannot come up with better resource name than Will - I still find it the most universal name for single resource that describes characters. Maybe it is caused by my thought preset, but I see will as universal as it may be.

    Overall, thanks very much for your time!
  • (Will doesn't bother me, for the record! I like it.)

    Are the Will and Threat cards intended to be double-sided? If so, do you flip it over to keep "darkening"? (And, for characters, does that mean they no longer have access to their "preferred approach" if they don't have 4 Will?)
  • (Will doesn't bother me, for the record! I like it.)

    Are the Will and Threat cards intended to be double-sided? If so, do you flip it over to keep "darkening"? (And, for characters, does that mean they no longer have access to their "preferred approach" if they don't have 4 Will?)
    One of the contest requirements is to squeeze everything into 9 cards. It would be much convenient to have, e.g. 4 tokens for each player to mark Will points instead of manipulating with character card. Or two separate cards to mark level of thread by covering the "ring card" by "shadow card" (imagine health mechanic from Bang! card game). But on the other hand I really like the idea of having cards-only system that does not require anything else to play, except rules.

    Because of this, you are correct - threat and character cards are intended to be double-sided. That means thread card does have 4 states, as well as character. And character has their "preferred approach" only while having 4/4 or 3/4 Will.
  • That clears up a lot already, thanks!
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