Welcome to another 2 for Tuesday! Ok, I have something a bit different planned for today’s post. As a change of pace, I thought it would be fun to talk about and host a game/story telling/practice writing project I’ve hosted a few times over the years. When’s the last time you read a blog that was interactive?! That’s Part 1. In Part 2, I’m going to give you an example of the game in action from another one I hosted awhile back. I prefer to host these set within the Cosmoverse, but since I open them to the public, and Cosmothea’s not on the market yet, I can’t expect everyone to make Cosmothea-relevant posts. Anyway, like I said, it’s a fun time (and free!) Ready? Ok, here goes….
Part 1: Off the Cuff (Interactive Adventure)
This is a Play-by-Post (don’t panic, it’s really easy!). If you’ve joined a Play-by-Post (or PbP for short) before, this is likely different than anything you’ve done before (but that’s OK!) And if you have never joined a PbP game before, then you are in for a treat – this is almost as easy as they can get. I made my own rules for what I think works well with this sort of “interactive story”.
If you’ve never heard of a PbP, they are games you can play online, by posting in a forum or in this case, in a blog, what your character would do. In this Off the Cuf game, there are no characters to make up and no character sheets (though if you want to track info about a personality in this Off the Cuff game, that’s up to you). Typically, PbP games are played with pen and paper RPG games like D&D, Pathfinder, Mutants & Masterminds, Cosmothea, etc., but in this one, it’s so easy you don’t need hardly any rules and no Dungeon Master, Narrator, etc. While I host the game and do a few things like make sure the rules are followed, and post Chapter intros, I’m really just playing the game like you are. That’s not how PbP games are normally done, but humor me – these things can be addictive!
Everyone shares the same characters. It’s easy and fun – you’ll see! It’s also good practice for those that like to write! PbP games in general are a lot of fun with the right group – I’ve had several very successful PbP games so see me if you want to see how deep the rabbit hole really goes! There’s several kinds of interactive story games. I’ve made several variations myself and in addition to being fun, they are good practice for writing and coming up with ideas.
I’ve run many popular PbP adventures in Cosmothea over the years – some using the full Cosmothea rules set, others using an Uber-Lite version of the Cosmothea rules, and interactive story types, as I said. Then I got real busy and pulled back to just running 1 on my QT Games site. It’s called, Secrets of Cathor, and we’re having a blast. You can check that out HERE! (Hint, we could use another player!) Secrets of Cathor is a blended-genre romp across the ring world, Cathor, set in the Cosmoverse (the official campaign setting for the RPG). It’s a playtest game and if you run in at least one adventure, you’ll get credit as a playtester in the published book.
An Off the Cuff game is different, as you’ll soon see. Essentially, when I’m hosting an Off the Cuff game, I write an intro for the story and then whoever wants to, can jump in and continue the story (See rules below). Now for the Story Intro:
Michael Drosik awoke with a start to an ear-piercing scream only rivaled by his own terror, realizing he was staring out over the edge of a catwalk, some nine stories off the ground and about to plunge to his death. Everything was a blur; he had no idea what was going on, or how he got there. Quickly reaching out, he locked an elbow around one of the catwalk bars and pulled himself to his feet. Dizzy, his head pounding and wet with blood, all he could see were the burnt out husks of skyscrapers all around him, and moving slowly, awkwardly far below, what seemed like mannequins run by a drunken puppet master, or zombies out of some bad B-rated flick.
Easy Off the Cuff Rules:
• Write 1-4 sentences that continues the story
• Never post twice in a row, so that the story isn’t dominated by a single poster
• Add and remove characters, change scenes, motivations, etc. as long as it seems somewhat reasonable. NO SILLY POSTS!!!
• Don’t invalidate what another poster was trying to do by saying it was just a dream
• Try not to ignore a character’s previously stated motivations. Try to continue their action or rationalize a change
• If you want a character to act a certain way no matter who is posting, state very clearly what’s important to the character
• Be respectful of others and keep the story from getting nasty, racist, adult-oriented, etc.
• The story is blended-genre, so feel free to touch on magic, tech, superheroes and more!
• The Host will choose when to start a chapter and will post a Chapter Intro
• Don’t post after a Count Down* is over, unless a new chapter has started.
*A count Down means in 5 posts that chapter of the story ends. Everything stops, and then I will post a new Chapter Intro and continue the story (This helps redirect the story if I feel it’s getting stagnant or is going off on an unhealthy tangent, is losing focus or just to keep things interesting and changing. It’s not a reflection on those who are posting and the quality of their posts. It just shakes things up.
So, what do you think? Wanna play? I just started up this one on another forum, but I’m more than happy to play right here too! What do you think? Wanna try it out and see where it takes us? It only takes a few minutes to play! Just make your post off the cuff in the Comments section, using the easy-pleasy rules above! Continue the story on from the Story Intro I posted above!
It’s Your Turn!
Part 2: The Concept in Action!
To give you an idea on how this game runs (and hopefully whet your appetite for playing Off the Cuff in the Comments below), here’s part of a story from one of our other Off the Cuff interactive adventures I hosted a couple years ago:
Tag, You’re It! (Chapter One)
Jennifer Baisley woke up at the wheel of her Stanford hoverboat at precisely 7am, in the middle of the Sheeva Bay with no memory of how she got there, or where she’d been heading.
For a moment, she had but to concern herself with correcting the hoverboat, for it had been aimlessly plowing through or rather just over the waves and was now heading straight toward a fully-loaded ferry, with wide-eyed passengers staring and pointing and shouting. She whipped the wheel about frantically. “What the hell is going on, and why can’t I remember a damn thing?” She said under her breath, shutting the engines down after she was clear, so she could catch her breath and think.
Embarrassed, she avoided eye contact with the occupants of the ferry as she sat there shivering, until she heard a blood-curdling scream. She quickly realized that she had completely misinterpreted their earlier response; they weren’t yelling to get her attention due to the collision course, but were crying out for help!
ThanosRex: Some of the occupants on board the ferry were running and others were moving sluggishly, clumsily along, like out of some B rated monster flick. Ah crap! Please. Please. Please tell me those aren’t what I think they are!
Suddenly the door to the hoverboat cabin swung open. A handsome, young man with blonde hair and a thing goatee stood there, his eyes clearly filled with concern. She did not recognize him at all.
“Jennifer! Thank Yahweh! What is going on! We have to get out of here. Turn the boat around!” said the strapping young man.
Startled, Jennifer stumbled backwards, gripped by fear, half expecting him to be a zombie, as crazy as that sounds. But the world was upside down, and running on instinct and adrenaline, she removed the flare gun from its mount, and with shaky hands, aimed it in the man’s general direction, shouting, “Don’t … move!”
The man stumbles back a step as Jennifer points the flare gun at him, and says in a haltering voice, “Je-Jenn… what are you doing? It’s me, Cody. Your boyfriend? Put that thing down, we need to get out of here, that cruise ship is being attacked by some kind of monster, or zombies or something.”
Suddenly a loud explosion sounds off from the direction of the cruise ship, and peering out the window Jennifer sees a ball of fire rise into the sky just off the main deck, around the middle of the cruise liner. Loud creaking and groaning ensures, and the screaming intensifies.
“Cody.” She said, noncommittally, beginning to feel feint, and yet unhinged at how familiar he seemed to be with her, yet she had no memory of him. Her head hurt, making her wonder if she’d gotten a concussion, but when she’d absently massaged the back of her head, she felt the stitches and screamed, crumpling to the deck in tears.
Waiting no longer, and seeing that Jennifer had lowered the flare gun, Cody entered the cabin, and fired up the hoverboat’s engines. Jennifer slumped down in the sofa-bench and began to cry.
“What did they do to me?” she sobbed.
Cody looked grim and fingered the back of his skull as well. “I’ll explain everything once we’re safe”, he says.
As they sped away on the hoverboat another explosion sounded off at the cruise boat, and the huge vessel suddenly began to split in two near the centre, both sides headed for the depths of the water below.
The trauma and exhaustion of the past 36 hours weighed heavily upon Jennifer. Inside the claustrophobic cabin, she lay curled up on the bench, crying and confused until she passed out. She woke up many hours later as the sun was setting; her hands occasionally touching the back of her head as if hoping she’d been mistaken, but the long row of stitches were still there.
Jennifer looked out the window and saw they were many miles down the coast now. The hoverboat was on autopilot with a blinking message on the screen, “Port Garvis — 2 Hours, 21 Minutes, 34 seconds to arrival”.
Bob: Jennifer’s eyes snapped open, her mind racing through scenario after scenario of what might have happened, none of which adequately explained her current predicament or who this Cody was. It was quite as she stepped out onto the deck to get some answers, but Cody was in a corner of the boat sleeping.
As she sat on the deck, staring out to sea, and wondering what in blazes was happening, a foghorn sounded. Turning her head around to view she saw a large coast guard vessel approaching, and a megaphone sounded, “Kor-Fanel Coast Guard. Turn off your engines and bring the boat to port for boarding please.”
Cody awoke in a flash, his hand tightening around the flare gun he hadn’t realized he was holding, and then set it down, hearing the command. A wave of relief came over him, knowing that the zombies – or whatever they were – couldn’t talk, and therefore the approaching vessel wasn’t a threat.
Jennifer quickly complied bringing the boat up to dock beside the large coast guard vessel. She hoped that finally she could get some answers as to what was going on, and had a healthy respect for authority, as her father was a police officer before he died in the line of duty.
Cody sighed in relief, and smiled, saying, “Thank God. Everything’s going to be fine, Jennifer.”
As they were brought on board, they could see a well-armed squad standing by – more than was typical for such a vessel, and behind them, in a large, hastily built cage on the deck, were nearly a dozen zombies, safely behind bars.
The story goes on, but I think you get the idea (If you want to read more, let me know and maybe I’ll continue this at some point, but why not instead help me craft a new story from the one above (which also has zombies), if only for a week or two just for fun! (Or longer, if you prefer!) As you can imagine, this sample story gets a bit cagey from here on (yep, the zombies get out, but things get worse than that!)
Now, it’s true that if you were to study these stories closely, you’d probably see that they don’t always make perfect sense (they are off the cuff, after all), but they are also loads of fun, so again, wanna get in on the action?
Looking for something a bit more traditional with game mechanics and a full setting? Try out our Cosmothea Secrets of Cathor PbP (They are currently mixing it up with “stiffs” right now – they have some similarities to zombies. Also, please note, I’m not addicted to zombies, though they are fun, and the adventure is about to change directions shortly for a whole new leg (and good jumping on point) that has nothing to do with zombies. Hope to read ya in the Comments. Cheers!