Seeking Advice/Input: Storytelling Game

I’m working on a storytelling game in the vein of The Quiet Year and The Companions’ Tale.

I’ve dabbled in some PbtA game design, but this is my first GM-less storytelling game. And I’ve picked a topic close to my heart.

// deep breath //

Pitch: This is a duet about having a chronic illness. One person plays the Afflicted and the other person plays the Affliction. (Full disclosure: I have two chronic [but not life-threatening] conditions.) The Affliction doesn’t have to be real or named. Instead, through the course of three life stages, the players collaboratively build a timeline of the life of the Afflicted and a description of the Affliction. Prompts throughout each life stage indicate when players should add elements to each of these artifacts.

It’s a very preliminary draft, and I’m generally happy with where it’s going. That said, I’d be curious to hear from you:

  • What was your initial reaction to the Pitch, above?
  • What would you expect to see in a game with this premise?
  • What GM-less storytelling games should I be looking at?

As always, I’m mindful of how difficult it is to find time to work on our own projects let alone contribute to others’, so thank you in advance for your attention. If you’d like to see how the rules are shaping up, let me know.

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First of all, thank you for putting The Companions’ Tale on my radar, I missed the kickstarter, but will grab it once it is ready :slight_smile:

Now, for the response proper…

I like the pitch. My first thought was “Ugh, this might be heavy and draining to play.” My second thought was “That’s awesome! Because that’s basically how you should feel tackling this topic!” I am really curious, not sure how often I would want to play it, but I want to play it.

I am curious about making a timeline. Not sure exactly how, but I want it to be part of the system, not only a “map of time.” Some way to make things established in the past affect the future?
Because it is a duet, and the topic is so personal, I would like the resolution mechanic reflective of that. I have no idea how to do that, but just rolling dice seems so distant all things considered.

I am looking forward to see what you’ll make :slight_smile:

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Very interesting. I think this has promise as a premise, and I’d like to see where it ends up.

What is the general form or goal of the game? What are we playing to find out, here? If you have a clear sense of where you want the game to take the players, that can help you cut through some difficulties in design.


First response was one I’m not proud of: wanting to turn away from unpleasantness. To not engage with the thought of chronic disease. Then I remembered that I’m mortal. Life is always. 100%of the time a tragedy. Hopefully one that breaks hearts open in the process, but we all get sick and die. That’s the part that interests me. The game could possibly help us explore the truth and reality of our mortality through the lens of characters who do not have the option to just turn their back on the unpleasantness of disease. That may not be what you want to explore. This was my unvarnished response though. Hope it informs or helps you clarify your process
I have written a post Morten life review game that takes us through up to 8 stages of the developmental process as mapped out by Erickson. Actually, it’s not in a final form. I’d be happy to share if you think it might be of value.
Thanks for sharing!

What was your initial reaction to the Pitch, above?

I mostly wonder who you’re pitching for. Is it for yourself, as a guideline for when you’re going to design your game?

Other than that, the pitch contains mostly WHATs and somewhat a HOW, but no WHY. It’s the WHY that attracts people.

For me, what stood out was that the game is for two people. I can only think of a couple of games that are designed for two people. I don’t really care about the theme because themes are, to me, a backdrop to the story, and not really why I’m going to be engaged in the game.

What would you expect to see in a game with this premise?

A game that feels mostly like a setup, without roleplaying. We state birth, growing up as a child, adolescent, teen, and then transforming into an adult. Could be fun, but I don’t know why.