Tableau is a new collaborative game system for cinematic storytelling from Dyvers Hands Productions by Christopher Allen.
Tableau is a GMless storytelling system for 2-5 players, played using poker-sized cards featuring rules & inspirational images. Each playset includes everything you need to play except for your own index cards, markers and sheets of paper, and optionally one six-sided dice. The typical playtime is 2-3 hours.
Tableau helps you create a satisfying cinematic and immersive storytelling experience over the course of just a few hours.
Together you will build an intriguing & impactful story without the need for advance preparation or a designated gamemaster or narrator.
The choices of different poker-sized cards offer you “composable” rules, giving you a flexible framework to create and control your characters and explore a range of story genres and play styles.
Tableau also offers a number of Playsets that package together specific rules & cards to create specific kinds of stories. Twilight Road and Gate Watch are the first two of a number of Playsets to come.
Cards different Playsets may be mixed & matched with each other and with future Tableau Playsets .
With Tableau , you can let your imagination run wild and experience a unique and engaging way of storytelling that’s perfect for anyone who loves gaming, storytelling, or just having fun with friends.
Overview of Play
Tableau works by providing players with a shared space called The Table , which acts as a structure for the stories that they tell. Using Tableau cards that represent rules and storytelling elements, players can choose some to place on The Table with Table Consent , which is when everyone agrees on a choice made together.
The game includes different types of Tableau cards, such as Safety , Narrative , Player Role , Casting , Drama , Story , and Character cards, which allow players to create and develop unique characters and explore different story elements. Index cards are also used to demonstrate Table Consent for any rules or story elements not covered by Tableau cards, and they can be updated with significant details as the story progresses.
Additionally, players can Take Up some cards to give someone control over its story elements and the authority to use its Moves .
For instance, for a simple road trip story using some of the 72-cards of Twilight Road the storytellers might choose to put the following cards on The Table :
- Twilight Road Playset cards
- Twilight Road Beats cards
- Play Controls Safety Rule
- Scenes Narrative Rule
- Truths & Questions Narrative Rule
- Drama Tokens Drama Rule card
- The Twilight Theme card
- The Road Setting card
- The Locals Setting card
- The Director Player Role card
- The Mapper Player Role card
- The Driver Face card
- The Buddy Face card
- The Runaway Face card
For a basic story, the storytellers will typically hold three or four cards — a Player Role card, a Story Card, and one or two Character cards. The front side has the Setup details, and the back the Moves available while holding these cards. The story is told in a series of Scenes , following the instructions of the Beats card on the Table . Between Scenes the Director Player Role card is passed around, and Story cards can be Set Aside or Taken Up . The Drama Tokens card defines how a token pool, ala “Fate” or “Belonging Outside Belonging” is used to create karma and tension. The Beats cards will guide the storytellers to a satisfying conclusion.
A different group might choose to substitute The Narrator for The Director player role for a more GM-style game or to run the last act of a mystery; or choose The Renegade instead of the The Buddy Face for a more Jack Kerouac “On the Road” style road trip; or The Entertainer Face for a “Blues Brothers” road trip. The Declare Drama Rules Card could be substituted for a more PbtA style of tension and risk. Rules from other playsets could be added, for instance The Other Side setting from the Gate Watch Playset could be a home for The Outsider Face card.
We have a 14m video that gives an overview of how the Tableau: Twilight Road playset works at https://youtu.be/eWMsySbdm_0
“Tableau is a versatile, flexible framework for collaborative storygames grounded deep in the fundamentals of story and character. Mix and match cards to shift what themes, rules, archetypes, and ideas are on the table, helping your group tell a compelling and satisfying story.” — Aaron A. Reed, author of the Archives of the Sky story game.
About the Twilight Road Playset
You are fellow travelers on the Twilight Road . Together your journey will take you through choices & transitions, quests & trials. What will you discover on your way? Will you find your destination or return home? Either way, you will arrive changed. These are the stories of the Twilight Road . Every game session is different, every road, every journey is unique.
About the Gate Watch Playset
You and your companions are members of the Gate Watch – charged to monitor the border between realms. Who built The Gate ? What is on the other side? Why are you watching? What are you guarding against? These are the questions you will answer as you explore the Enigma that is The Gate . Every game session is different, every world, every gate unique.
To support Tableau and experience the unique and engaging way of storytelling it provides, please consider backing it on Kickstarter. By doing so, you’ll not only help bring this exciting game to life, but you’ll also receive a copy of the game and have the chance to explore a range of genres and play styles with your friends. With Tableau , you can let your creativity flow and experience a fun and immersive storytelling experience that’s perfect for game night or any time you want to have fun with friends.
Back Tableau now at:
If you are an established game reviewer and can take a look before the end of the Kickstarter, I can send you an advanced copy of the “Print & Play” rules PDF — send email to ChristopherA@DyversHands.com.
– Christopher Allen
“The best stories are the ones we tell together!”