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Using in Writing and Games
hese are dice for writers, storytellers and gamers! Writer’s Dice have six meaningful words: BUT, SO, AND, AS, OR, IF. Use them to plot your next novel! Roll them into your roleplaying games! Gift them to your gaming buddies! I invented Writer’s Dice after years of advice from the clever folks in the improv community. Improv folks have a strong overlapping fanbase with storytelling and role-playing games. In either field, you create a story with a group of people in the moment. The improv players advise that when faced with a challenge or critical decision point in the story, just say “Yes, and...” Much is written on those two words, and their full breadth is beyond the scope of this little guide, but suffice it to say that saying “No” is a non-starter. It stifles contributions and contributes nothing of its own. Even “Yes” alone isn’t enough to keep a story moving, since it just affirms the last contribution, but again contributes nothing of its own. “Yes, and...” is where the magic happens. When you bravely agree to see where the story goes next, armed with the license to build on past events. This philosophy is great for the improv community where a group of people are all active, engaged and ready to weave a story together. But for writers, whose craft occurs in solitude –
interacting with not an audience, but a faceless screen – it didn’t quite seem like enough to build a rich plot. In writing, saying “Yes, and” to yourself is essentially the same as “then.” This happens, then this happens, then this happens. That’s just a series of events without context to each other. Writers need more options than just “and” or “then,” as they outline their plots. Writers need more potent words that imply real causation and relationships between the beats. “But” for obstacles. “So” for consequences. “If ” for negotiations. “Or” for alternatives. “As” for parallels. And, of course, there is still need for “and,” for escalation. There are many more words that could be used, but those six seem particularly useful. It just so happens there are six sides to dice, so it just seemed natural to make Writer’s Dice. I hope you find them entertaining in writing or gaming. You might even find some useful ideas in this guide. Have fun!
Daniel January 2012
using writer’s dice in
t’s a chilly November morning and you haven’t written a single word. A story has been on your mind the past few
weeks, but it’s all just a cloud of unconnected scenes. A girl leaves home. Then she fights a dragon. Then she comes home victorious and her villagers rejoice. Then. Then. THEN. It just doesn’t feel like a story yet. You’re running out of time. What can you do now? The first step: Get rid of each THEN. How does one event lead to the next? Who is this girl? Why does she leave home? What is her home like? Why does she fight the dragon? What did the dragon do to get harangued by a random villager? Why the heck do the villagers care if she defeats this dragon? And is this whole process really so uncomplicated? Does she not encounter any obstacles along the way? Second step: Replace THEN with a new key word between the beats. Replace it with a word that implies causation. Event A should cause Event B, which in turn causes Event C, and so on. There are many different words you can use to connect the beats, but I like to focus on six very specific friends of mine. These six words all want to help you tell the best story possible, but they have different personalities and different ways of helping. When you’re stuck between beats, try rolling Writer’s Dice and inviting one of these words into your plot.
AND? And... Strength: AND helps world-building and establishing scenes. A nearby dragon regularly eats Lee’s sheep. AND lets you add depth to this beat without the pressure to rush on to the next one. Weakness: AND keeps you lingering on details. Example: A little girl named Lee lives in a remote mountain village. AND has a voracious appetite for description.AND is the patient Socratic inquisitor. but has no imagination. AND always wants you to say more. Always. which is a blessing and a curse. AND? Lee’s village is too poor and remote to hire a dragonslayer. AND can also mire you in inconsequential minutiae. AND hits the pause button in your story so you have time to describe more of what’s happening in this scene. PAGE 6 CHAPTER 1: USING WRITER’S DICE IN WRITING .
.. AS wants you to say more. too. AS is the Ghost of Christmas Present. A mountain lion looks for breakfast for her newborn cubs. pretending to slay dragons. AS wants you to create parallel plots that will converge on each other later in the story.. Example: Lee plays with a spear in the forest. AS? As. Weakness: AS can create so many subplots that it becomes impossible to resolve them all. AS? As. A great winged shadow approaches the village. Strength: AS sets up parallel actions and events that can be resolved later in the story.. depending on the scope of your story. showing how beats interact with each other in real time. but about what’s happening on the other side of town or on the other side of the world.AS is sibling to AND. AS can also help establish some context. PAGE 7 CHAPTER 1: USING WRITER’S DICE IN WRITING .
The mountain lion notices the approaching shadow. IF wants to know all the contingencies for the next beat and any prerequisites for the current beat. Weakness: IF can quickly pile on so many conditionals that your story stagnates. showing the consequences of action or inaction. Example: A mountain lion spies Lee in a forest clearing.IF is often seen with THEN. IF never jumps to the next beat blind. Lee doesn’t notice the lion.. IF? If... However. she’ll be spooked and abandon her prey. IF is the nervous planner. PAGE 8 CHAPTER 1: USING WRITER’S DICE IN WRITING . IF? If.. IF is far less impulsive than any of the other words. Strength: IF establishes stakes and keeps your plot easy to follow. Accommodating IF’s worrisome nature can help set the stakes for your beats. she’ll be ambushed and eaten.
PAGE 9 CHAPTER 1: USING WRITER’S DICE IN WRITING . OR? Or. Even if the path isn’t what you think is best.. Lee throws her spear into the dark thicket.. If the story leads to a dead end. Example: Realizing she’s watched by a hungry mountain lion. OR likes to think quickly. survey the scene at a glance and find new directions to take..OR is the slippery rogue who works best in tight quarters. Weakness: OR leaves it up to you to decide which is the best path to take. and slowly steps out of the way. leaving you behind. She runs for the village. OR will happily run down that path as far as possible. Strength: OR urges you to rapidly find new paths for the story. OR? Or. She notices that she’s between the cubs and their mother.. OR finds a path of escape in a storm drain or ventilation shaft. leading the tiger into a snare trap.
PAGE 10 CHAPTER 1: USING WRITER’S DICE IN WRITING . Example: Lee drops her spear and quickly grabs a cub.. BUT? But. Just remember.. Weakness: BUT can go overboard sometimes. BUT? But.. BUT gives you the opportunity to show why the reader should care about your story and its characters. Strength: BUT adds texture to your plot and gives heroes a chance to prove their worth in the story. BUT will step in the way. BUT adds an obstacle to overcome before your story can proceed. BUT wants your story to be the best it can be and has taken on the burden of being the tough-love friend who tests your limits. When it’s clear things are getting too easy for your story. She sees the great shadow of a dragon above her village. creating too many insurmountable obstacles. leading the hungry mountain lion to a snare trap. She hears the cries of the mountain lion’s cubs and takes pity on the mother.. BUT is still on your side.BUT is the stubborn mentor.
SO keeps you and your reader invested in the story with the trust that past events logically lead to current events. SO? So. SO is the more mature sibling to THEN... SO forces you to get on with the plot. but makes sure the next beat logically follows the last. Weakness: SO can make things too easy and risks becoming just another THEN. Strength: SO urges you onward. Lee feeds the cub her rations while letting its mother loose from the snare trap.. The grateful mountain lion runs alongside Lee. SO? So. onward to the rest of your story. SO knows the other words can leave you with so many choices that it’s hard to know where to go next..SO is your loyal guide. PAGE 11 CHAPTER 1: USING WRITER’S DICE IN WRITING . towards the village to fight off the dragon. but wants to make sure the next beat has a clear causal relationship with past beats. navigating your plot’s infinite paths. Example: Lee has a choice to make: Free the mountain lion and risk a quick death or run to the village and help fight off the dragon.
but these six key words helped you flesh out the establishing scene and introduced Lee’s personality. Lee comes away with a new ally. In the end. use these six words and the Writer’s Dice to help you outline a richer plot for your story. but she can also show mercy. She has a vivid imagination. Now. So. She knows her surroundings. Sure. Looking back at the story of the little girl named Lee. She doesn’t hesitate to take a hostage. you can still take the story in that direction. you once thought the story would be about how she defeated a dragon. PAGE 12 CHAPTER 1: USING WRITER’S DICE IN WRITING . you know that your Lee is a clever escapist.And that’s that. THEN you can go on to the epic dragon-slaying.
often featuring individualized characters and an ongoing story of their adventures. All trademarks in this document are the property of their respective owners and are used solely to identify the products sold under or by reference to them and no representation is given as to their use. you’ll find some of your favorite games and perhaps some games that are new to you. Before moving on. here’s how Writer’s Dice can come into play. Writer’s Dice. With a few exceptions. Now.CHAPTER 2 using writer’s dice in gaming Y ou face your wall of board games and role-playing games. You should play their games on their own terms first. A spice to add some variety to the old standards. in plain language. All of these games have some element of story or narrative as a part of play. it’s important to clear up everything for the lawyers. In this chapter. the games mentioned are standalone products owned and produced by nice folks besides myself. Daniel Solis and Smart Play Games are not endorsed by or associated or affiliated with those products or their manufacturers. PAGE 13 . mainly because they’re tons of fun! When you’re ready to add some new wrinkles to the standard game. but you’re just looking for something a little different. Books and boxes filled with fun.
Dixit is a card game with a large assortment of cards that feature potent fairy-tale artwork to inspire your imagination. Describe him or her (or it) based on what the symbol means to you. their influence can now be felt in games like Rory’s Story Cubes or Dixit. you get a random assortment of symbols to inspire your next story. But sometimes you need a little bit more! You can use Writer’s Dice to create causal relationships between each of the images. Both games use images and randomized groupings to create the basic elements of a narrative. That symbol represents the hero of the story. like a senior PAGE 14 CHAPTER 2: USING WRITER’S DICE IN GAMING . Rory’s Story Cubes are special dice with simple symbols on each face. Once the sole arena of specialized writer’s workshops and educational curricula. RORY’S STORY CUBES ® FROM THE CREATIVITY HUB LTD The first player rolls a cube. Each time you roll. Players tell short narratives and sentences based on a card chosen in secret. Maybe an older person. Place this cube on the table. Example: You roll a turtle. then the others must decipher which card inspired that short story. You interpret this to mean someone who is very attached to his or her home.USING WRITER’S DICE IN C R E AT I V I T Y G A M E S Creativity games are something of a new game category to hit mass-market toy shelves in recent years.
“Terpin is an old zookeeper who takes his daily duties very seriously. You established the basic outlines of what your protagonist is and what he or she is doing at this moment. Example: You roll a SO and a BEE. This second symbol represents something that hero is doing right now. since they’re so obviously tied to the night. now you have an establishing scene for your story. Close enough to a bee for our purposes! Now we have the next beat.” The next player rolls another cube. Feel free to stretch it PAGE 15 CHAPTER 2: USING WRITER’S DICE IN GAMING . Terpin is feeding the bats. This is when all the nocturnal animals need to be fed and cared for by the senior staff. Place this cube next to the first cube. each player rolls a Writer’s Die and a cube. From now on. But how to incorporate the BEE? Perhaps these bats like to eat bees? Nah. Describe this action based on what the symbol means to you. (See the previous chapter for descriptions of each word on the Writer’s Dice and how they direct a story.zookeeper who hasn’t spent much time anywhere else. That is the status quo. The Writer’s Die begins this next part of the story. that’s not right. you add that dash of narrative that gives you the constraints to allow creativity to flourish. “It’s night time. The last beat described Terpin tending to the nocturnal animals. This next beat has a direct causeand-effect relationship with the previous one. They’ll usually eat crickets and grubs.” There. Let’s do bats. Let’s go with the name Terpin. so we can get a little more specific about which animals.) By creating causal or branching relationships between each of the cubes. all led by our hero Terpin. Example: You roll a moon.
characters and actions depicted on the card’s artwork. and IF. then the value is increased by two points. bats have an unusual way of showing their affection. If you use three dice. If you use two dice.” Now we know Terpin is a gentle caretaker loved by the animals. The bats wake up to the familiar sound of breakfast. Example: You are the Storyteller. Well. you may use one or more of the dice results in its wording. “The hero AND the villain battled each other for years. then the value of correctly choosing your card is increased by one point. then interpret those images into the story one at a time using the Writer’s Dice to fill in the relationships between each image. then the value is increased by three points. BUT. “Terpin scoops live crickets and grubs carefully around the bat exhibit. As you describe your sentence. As long as it takes to learn something new in the story.out to fit more than one sentence. You decide to use the first two results as you state your sentence. What will happen next? It’s up to you to decide! DIXIT FROM ASMODEE You can use the same method described above to tell a story with your Dixit cards. Instead of nine individual dice rolls. When you are the storyteller. If you want to use Writer’s Dice in the actual game of Dixit. Look at the scenery. You roll three Writer’s Dice resulting in an AND. BUT only love could win a day. Of course.” PAGE 16 CHAPTER 2: USING WRITER’S DICE IN GAMING . you simply draw nine cards randomly from the deck. the bats anyway. roll three Writer’s Dice. try this challenging variant. You are joined by Alex. They take special care not to poop on Terpin in their excitement. Babs and Chris. If you use one die.
or the building of an ancient monument. MORE WAYS TO PLAY Beat Challenge You’re going to tell a story with the Story Cubes and Writer’s Dice. That puts the grand total for this turn at five points for you. like a key battle of a historical conflict. five points for Alex. the voting begins. Alex and Babs correctly choose your card. shuffle and array cards as in the normal course of gameplay. Roll a Writer’s Die and a Story Cube. Alex. The first Writer’s Die tells you how the next beat starts. Babs would also get an extra point because Chris chose her card. a massive migration of people across continents.) Each new combination of dice roll and image represents another outcome of that historical event. Babs would each get three points. Look at the number of pips on the second Writer’s Die. According to normal scoring. but Chris incorrectly chooses Babs’ card. (Or roll a Writer’s Die and draw a Dixit card. Perhaps now you can tell the story of characters who travel between those universes.You and the other players then choose. Parallel Universes Choose a historical event with many possible outcomes. How would they react to the differences? How would people of those universes react to the characters? PAGE 17 CHAPTER 2: USING WRITER’S DICE IN GAMING . you. and Babs. you. Roll two Writer’s Dice. Two Writer’s Dice mean two additional points for you. Alex and Babs each get some additional points because you incorporated the results of two Writer’s Dice into your original sentence. broken up into a series of simple plot beats. six points for Babs and zero points for Chris. Now using this variant. Alex. You have to incorporate that many Story Cube rolls into this beat. Now.
third and fourth rolls. the heroes succeed or fail at their act. Finally. The sixth. each new hero follows a similar rise and fall. but the central PAGE 18 CHAPTER 2: USING WRITER’S DICE IN GAMING . which directly leads to a new hero’s rise. While each RPG has its own particular flavor of adventure—sweeping tales of magic and might. USING WRITER’S DICE IN ADVENTURE RPGs Adventure is the most popular of all role-playing game (RPG) genres. seventh and eighth rolls are betrayals of the virtues the hero stood for in the previous second. When heroes act. tell the epic tale of a hero’s rise and fall. righteous caped heroes flying to the rescue. The fifth roll is a temptation that leads to the hero’s reversal and eventual fall.The Epic Cycle Alternate rolling cubes and Writer’s Dice one at a time. Sometimes you have gradients between success and failure. or neon-hued cyberpunk heist yarns— the typical rules are usually built on the same set of assumptions about how the story will proceed. the second. Set aside each cube as you roll them and make sure you keep their results visible. As you roll cubes and dice. the ninth roll is the fallen hero’s legacy. players consult a dice roll. So. Depending on that roll’s result. The new hero’s journey continues following the same roll results as before. third and fourth are the labors this hero overcomes. eventually paving the way for a new epic. The first roll describes their origin.
When you do so. but gamers usually say “GM” as a generic term. As such. also roll a Writer’s Die. Example: Bunk the Barbarian... Your hero succeeds! That’s one problem solved. Their role has a lot of names. Mist the Magician and Tuck the Thief are on a quest that takes them to the depths of a necromancer’s subterranean lair. If failed. they realize the only exit is blocked by a shambling horde of bloodthirsty zombies. Adventure RPGs also usually distinguish one player from the others. but a new challenge rises in its place. The adventurers come upon a dead-end corridor. Try to make it a problem that is best suited to the skills of another adventurer in your party. If successful. That’s where Writer’s Dice can step in to create some nuanced tangents. you earn rights to describe the additional consequences of your hero’s actions.binary remains. Success. SUCCESS AND FAILURE IN GAMES LIKE DUNGEONS & DRAGONS FROM WIZARDS OF THE COAST LLC Many times. we will also use that term in this section. PAGE 19 CHAPTER 2: USING WRITER’S DICE IN GAMING . Describe how your successful action leads to a different kind of problem. you’ll roll dice to determine whether your hero’s action was a success or failure. This special player takes on duties of an authority figure and referee during the game. Consult the list of outcomes below. but. the GM describes those consequences. Too late.
] Bunk’s blade pushes back the horde and slices off their heads with ease. The zombies’ bodies continue approaching the adventurers with arms that are still strong enough to break bones. or changing the environment so that you get a modest bonus to your rolls. clearing a path for the adventurers to escape and continue their quest. gnashing at their ankles with deadly jaws. unable to get up and continue their approach.] But now the party’s troubles have doubled. and. it is only momentary and does not last beyond your next roll. [Mist’s player rolls SUCCESS. And the rolling zombie heads are batted around by the flailing zombies’ limbs. Success. She casts a spell that creates an oil slick across the floor. Your action has a long-term additional beneficial effect.] The bodies all flail about on the floor. [Bunk’s player has some ideas for a new challenge that would be perfect for a broad attack by the magician of the group.. Example: Mist the Magician decides the approaching headless bodies are the most important threat at the moment. Your action has an immediate additional beneficial effect. AND. so. [Bunk’s player rolls SUCCESS. Success. Whatever the benefit.Example: With a running charge. like pushing opponents back into a dangerous zone. healing some malady. like setting in motion a long series of coincidences that turn in your favor later in the game. You can describe this benefit now or hold PAGE 20 CHAPTER 2: USING WRITER’S DICE IN GAMING . BUT.. The heads also continue rolling toward the adventurers... Bunk the Barbarian sweeps her sword across the zombies’ heads.
then roll for this action twice and take the outcome you prefer. eager to bring the battle to the Necromancer’s home. PAGE 21 CHAPTER 2: USING WRITER’S DICE IN GAMING . OR. [Tuck’s player rolls SUCCESS. Tuck’s player wants to keep any beneficial effect saved up for later. [BUNK’s player rolls for this attack again and gets a much more decisive combat victory. grappling them both to the ground. This is particularly helpful if you need to do a certain amount of damage. If your action had more narrative consequences. she steps on a trap door in the floor and just manages to catch the edge with her fingertips. Success.it in reserve until a critical moment. In her haste. which can turn them to the adventurers’ advantage later.] Bunk taps the second guard on his forehead and the poor guy collapses straight away. Tuck the Thief studies the trap’s mechanisms. So Tuck also knows how to trigger the traps on her command. like convincing a guard to let you past. You decide which comes true. Generally. [Bunk’s player rolls SUCCESS.] Tuck recognizes their design and can more easily spot traps in the rest of the lair. like an attack. This outcome has some different shades depending on the nature of your action. The GM describes this ambiguous outcome as follows. If your action was purely mechanical.] Bunk certainly knocked out one of the guards. The longer you hold it in reserve. SO.. but his partner is still staggering on his feet. Example: Bunk the Barbarian drops down on the pair of guards from above. it’s about choices. the greater the dramatic effect. the GM proposes two consequences to you.. or. Example: Bunk the Barbarian charges forward. Both guards are now unconscious and detained.
Success. OR the other path will take longer to travel. but it is safer. but it’ll come in to play in the next session or two. While your action is successful. One path will be very deadly.Mist the Magician casts a spell to examine their recent memories. What you describe now probably won’t be immediately relevant. Not one to shy away from danger. Tuck the Thief comes across a small black orb resting on a clawed pedestal. [Tuck’s player rolls SUCCESS.] With a sharp twist.. deeper into the more forbidding areas of the lair.] There are two possible paths to the laboratory. AS. And so they carry on.. The GM proposes Mist’s options as a literal fork in the road that the whole party must decide upon. He would like to see what the Necromancer is up to while the adventurers are busy looting the poor guy’s home. as. The Necromancer peers into his PAGE 22 CHAPTER 2: USING WRITER’S DICE IN GAMING . OR. Tuck presses a dagger point below the orb to pry it from the pedestal’s grip. but can be overcome quickly. This is your chance to set up the characters and places that your heroes will soon encounter or to show how your hero’s actions fit in the context of a larger world. She tries to find which of the branching paths ahead will lead to the Necromancer’s laboratory. Mist suggests the group take the first path. something else is happening elsewhere that will eventually intersect with the main story. [Mist’s player rolls SUCCESS. As the Necromancer meditates in his chambers. the orb falls into Tuck’s satchel. Example: While exploring a large library of the Necromancer’s artifacts. a disturbance in the nearby magical field alerts him to a theft. Hoping for a nice payday after this sojourn.
Example: Shadows spread across the library and the torchlight flickers into dull ember.. Just then.. If you accept this proposal. the specific act that your hero attempted did not succeed. Bunk the Barbarian raises her broad blade against the approaching horror. not knowing if her cold steel will have any effect.scrying orb to spot the intruders and notices the corresponding orb in the library sees nothing but blackness.. Bunk and Tuck’s players discuss their options and agree to the proposal. the adventurers get into a well-practiced formation. Success.] The tentacle halts its rapid approach and hovers mid-air in front of Bunk. If you do not accept. Failure. an inky black tentacle whips violently from the shadows and will strike the whole group. They turn their backs to each other with their weapons at the ready. arcs past Bunk’s quick sword and lifts Tuck the Thief by her satchel high in the air. [Bunk’s player rolls SUCCESS. this disappointment is mitigated by some benefit that PAGE 23 CHAPTER 2: USING WRITER’S DICE IN GAMING . but. then your hero’s act succeeds and the proposed consequence also comes to pass. the GM proposes a negative consequence of your hero’s act. It splits into four slender arms. if. Alas.IF!] [The GM proposes that the tentacle will be susceptible to Bunk’s mundane weapons if Tuck becomes the sole target of the attack.. However. Caught in the library’s open foyer without any nearby shelter.. roll your dice again until they come up as a failure. While still successful.. twitching in an unnatural fashion as if to test the group’s flinching reflexes. In the case of a failure. then your act is a failure.
[Mist’s player rolls FAILURE.] The tentacles seem unaffected by this attack – But the burst of light reveals a twisted little homunculous dancing in front of a magical lantern. The homunculus’ gesticulations seem to cast puppet shadows against the adventurers. Surely this is the monster’s weakness. The GM decides the attack did not injure the enemy. Your action has an immediate additional negative effect. like pushing you and your allies back into a dangerous zone. The GM decides the nature of this hindrance. it is only momentary and does not last beyond your next roll. BUT. but it does reveal new information about the enemy. causing a backlash. or changing the environment so opponents get a small bonus to their rolls.came to pass at the same time. Mist the Magician conjures a ball of holy light and bowls it at the tentacles’ base. Whatever the hindrance. It’s worse than that. With some struggle. AND.. Fortunately. Actually. Recognizing the tentacle as the Necromancer’s handiwork. no.] Alas. [Tuck’s player rolls FAILURE.. and. Example: Tuck the Thief is held in the air by four shadow-tentacles. The GM describes how your failed action creates an unexpected opportunity for another hero to make a different attempt. Tuck is an experienced adventurer and always carries some handy magical items for just such an occasion. Failure. PAGE 24 CHAPTER 2: USING WRITER’S DICE IN GAMING . she manages to grasp an enchanted dagger from her belt and stabs its point into one of the tentacles. the dagger’s enchantments have no effect as the blade sticks harmlessly into the tentacle’s oily hide.
The GM decides which will come true. and again. SO. dropping Tuck on the library’s stone floor. She sweeps her sword against the lantern’s light in order to sever the homunculus’ tether to the tentacles. SO the tentacles dissipate. or. She barrels forward. Failure.. This outcome depends on the nature of your hero’s action. If your action was purely mechanical. so. the greater the dramatic effect. slowing the group’s advance. Tuck’s ankle is now sprained. eyes barely adjusting to the flickering turquoise light of the magical lantern. The GM can describe this now or hold it in reserve until a critical moment. momentarily blinding Bunk. which is up to the GM’s discretion...The tentacle seems to draw energy from the dagger’s enchantments.] The homunculus strobes the lantern at the last moment. then roll for this action twice. Now. Your action has some long-term additional negative effect. The GM should usually choose the least beneficial of the two options. Failure.. but usually involves a longterm plot against the heroes. propose two consequences to the GM. allowing it to bifurcate again. PAGE 25 CHAPTER 2: USING WRITER’S DICE IN GAMING . The longer the GM holds it in reserve. the swarming black knot of arms turn their attention towards the remaining adventurers. [Bunk’s player rolls FAILURE. Example: Bunk the Barbarian spots the homunculus casting the shadow puppets against her allies. The GM chooses the outcome he or she prefers. If your action was more narrative in nature. The GM decides this rash action will lead to a persistent injury in the party.
Meanwhile.. The GM chooses the latter. she finds her target suddenly snatched away by a writhing mass of tentacles. but its revelation does distract the shadow-tentacles. While your action fails. Tuck remembers the black orb in his satchel. ignoring the homunculus’ commands. [Bunk’s player rolls FAILURE. The GM chooses the former. the orb cracks. wrapping themselves around the sphere many times before falling dormant. Bunk’s player proposes two options to the GM. something else is happening elsewhere that will eventually intersect with the main story. It will still be some time before Tuck can march at full capacity. Believing that it is drawing the homunculus’ ire. OR. [Mist’s player rolls FAILURE. Tuck asks Bunk to smash the orb against the floor. Failure. OR. but the shadows ignore their master. as.] Bunk pulls the orb from Tuck’s satchel and readies her mighty sword. Second. The homunculus shouts vile curses at its disobedient thrall. casting a mending spell on his ankle so it will heal quickly and painlessly. She proposes two options to the GM. but Mist knows the spell did not work to its full effect. What the PAGE 26 CHAPTER 2: USING WRITER’S DICE IN GAMING . As she drops the heavy steel. Instead. the orb does not break. First. Either the spell will work slowly and painlessly or quickly and painfully. The current action and that distant scene may still be connected! The GM may set up the characters and places that your heroes will soon encounter or show how your hero’s unfortunate luck affects others elsewhere in the world. they hug the black orb.. usually to the hero’s detriment. Bunk obliges.] Mist’s crackling magic infuses a warm glow against Tuck’s ankle.Example: Mist the Magician comes to Tuck’s rescue. emitting a light bright enough for the group to find an escape but also drawing more monsters.
Wherever mama is. If the GM accepts this proposal. Indeed. Example: The Necromancer laid a trap for our heroes. You propose a positive consequence of your hero’s act. This means that Bunk did not succeed. Bunk is in serious trouble. our heroes come upon an immense wrought-iron wall firmly embedded into the surrounding rock. If the exact numerical dice result matters. decides the best course of action is to smash the wall to smithereens. but it smashes the boulder.. but it did cause something else to happen. She heaves a nearby boulder against the door. Mist and Tuck examine the fragments and discover that this was no ordinary rock.] With a great noise. luring them to a subterranean lava lake to act as surrogates in an elaborate ritual. This reveals some new information that will become important later. being Bunk. then roll your dice again until they come up as a success and accept those results. all the collateral damage of the heroes’ sojourn was orchestrated PAGE 27 CHAPTER 2: USING WRITER’S DICE IN GAMING . but can come into play later in the story.GM describes now might not be immediately relevant. Not just any dragon egg. The GM decides that tossing a boulder against a solid iron wall won’t smash the wall. then your act is a success. then your hero’s act fails and the proposed consequence also comes to pass. AS. Blue dragon mothers maintain a psychic bond with their entire clutch. [Bunk’s player rolls FAILURE.. if. she knows someone just smashed one of her babies. It was a dormant dragon egg. Failure. the boulder cracks in half against the solid iron wall. Example: Deeper in the Necromancer’s cavernous lair. Bunk. If the GM does not accept. but a blue dragon egg.
In time. As she learned the hard way earlier in the adventure. Tuck stabs daggers into the floor at key points to block the magical symbols from continuing their path and delay the ritual’s effects. Tuck spots the Necromancer reading from an enormous scroll. As the Necromancer speaks his strange words. All at once. Bunk and Tuck’s players all roll for their respective actions. beginning a cascading collapse starting from this room and continuing to the entire underground tunnel system. Mist also spots a series of wrought-iron beams keeping the roof from collapsing on the whole lake. these “boulders” are actually blue dragon eggs. Mist summons every ounce of magical might in her heart to blast the beams above the Necromancer. then fades into a cloud of vapor.for the Necromancer’s sole mission: Revive the volcano and lay waste to the surrounding countryside. The GM accepts this offer. Bunk pounds a heel into the edge of their platform. the players decide they’re willing to sacrifice themselves if it means they can collapse the whole dungeon and all its horrors. Bunk redirects her barrage against PAGE 28 CHAPTER 2: USING WRITER’S DICE IN GAMING . IF. In the distance. The GM awaits a proposal. Bunk recognizes a clutch of boulders near the Necromancer. The heroes now find themselves on a raised circular platform perched above the molten lake. the volcano will erupt. Just then. Ouch. Mist recognizes the ritual. chanting in an ancient profane tongue. Mist has a plan. Bunk’s hail of rock against the Necromancer bounces harmlessly against his invisible force field. Mist herself also collapses from the exertion. as it makes for a very epic ending to the adventure.] Mist’s fists glow with bright blue light as the arcane energy of her mentor. They all roll FAILURE. including the Necromancer himself. The symbols will form a descending spiral and when they reach the center. [Mist. Bunk is delighted to learn it involves smashing. a ring of symbols begin to glow at the heroes’ feet. cracking chunks of solid rock to throw at the Necromancer directly. and all the great teachers of her school now flood into her mortal frame. that power unfurls against the roof-supports. and her mentor’s mentor.
In one swipe. with the primary difference being the player and GM exchanging narrative authority. bring in the Writer’s Dice. bouncing him and his precious forcefield into the boiling lava. ready to plunder whatever treasures may rest in the belly of the beast. All those swords. The dragon’s rage then turns to Bunk. PAGE 29 CHAPTER 2: USING WRITER’S DICE IN GAMING .the eggs.. the blue dragon mother slithers up from the lava to find her children smashed to pieces and the Necromancer apparently responsible. Precious. then you can tie its effects to a rare technology or magical item. cracking open them open. the dragon whips an enormous claw against the Necromancer. rare treasures not seen by mortal eyes in many centuries.. where she lands with a heavy thud. The rest of the game operates as normal. the success/failure consequences mirrored each other quite a bit. MORE WAYS TO PLAY Flipped Narrative As you might have noticed. When bearer of this artifact does any action. Magical Artifact If you don’t want the Writer’s Dice involved throughout the game. armors. Tuck the Thief dives directly into the dragon’s grossly widening jaws. Tuck imagines all the adventurers this dragon has eaten in its time. With barely a care. You can flip these outcomes so that you have more authority to describe the failures while the GM has more authority to describe the successes. The dragon approaches at lightning-speed with a wide open mouth. and treasures. This leaves Tuck the Thief alone with a puny dagger against a collapsing cave and an angry dragon. With a mighty roar. Tuck casts a greedy stare at the rearing dragon. the dragon flicks Bunk across the room against a distant ledge.
re-roll the Writer’s Die and place it again in the middle of the table. Some are meant for kids while others are best suited for the bawdy company of grownups. in which players each tell self-aggrandizing tall tales. This section will shine a spotlight on three games in particular: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. It is such a new field that it’s hard to find a common set of attributes among them. At any time. roll a Writer’s Die and leave it in the middle of the table. Once done. in which players aged 8 and up tell the story of a robot’s birthday a few words at a time. during any player’s turn. players also create stories. The styles of play range from loosely structured competitive boasting to deliberately paced children’s tales. the die doesn’t come into play as often. they can accept that result as a part of their dice roll and take the consequences. but you also don’t need the contrivance of a magical artifact in the story. In this way. in which PAGE 30 CHAPTER 2: USING WRITER’S DICE IN GAMING . Happy Birthday. USING WRITER’S DICE WITH STORYTELLING GAMES Storytelling games are a small but growing genre of games. and Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple.Delayed Effect At the beginning of the game. They all share one key trait: In playing the game. Robot!.
That. he or she must roll a Writer’s Die and continue the story from that word. you and your fellow players PAGE 31 CHAPTER 2: USING WRITER’S DICE IN GAMING . each new sentence must begin with another die roll. After the first sentence of a player’s story. as is their story. THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN BY JAMES WALLIS Iron Baron This variant of regular Munchausen is enjoyed by the savants of northern Finland during the long winter months when the sun hibernates in a large cave. or simply speak in clockwise order. If two or more wish to interject at the same time. As the current player tells their story. the current player’s turn is over.players tell the story of well-meaning travelers causing trouble in a fantasy universe. Quick-Draw Baron Gather at least three Writer’s Dice. Roll all the dice and set them in the middle of the table where all players can reach. Too-Many-Dice Baron Like all well-cultured scholars. The turn continues as normal. Thereafter. starting from the current player. When all the dice are gone. they may engage in gentlemanly fisticuffs to settle the dispute. other players may interject their own statements by first grabbing one of the dice and beginning their interjection with that word.
When a neighbor’s word comes up in a dice roll. ROBOT! FROM SMART PLAY GAMES Called Shot Robot Use Writer’s Dice instead of Robot dice. Then give a die to the player on your right. You may keep rolling until you wish to stop or until your neighbors get a total of six dice. Thereafter. PAGE 32 CHAPTER 2: USING WRITER’S DICE IN GAMING . Then play as normal. When all the dice are gone. you must give the new die to that neighbor. gather as many Writer’s Dice as you can and roll them in the middle of the table. You must first give a die to the player on your left. If a result matches a neighbor’s die. grab it and keep it for the rest of the game.may have a trove of Writer’s Dice available. Left-Right-Center Robot On your turn. Before each turn. The words on your and your neighbors’ dice are your free words instead of just AND or BUT. You also decide which two words each of your neighbors will keep. roll three Writer’s Dice. decide on which two words you would like to keep. instead of Robot Dice. This applies even when you are posing a question or interjecting. you keep that die. When your word comes up in a dice roll. you may roll three more Writer’s Dice again and again. HAPPY BIRTHDAY. First. What to do with such wealth? Fret not. the game ends after the current player finishes their story. he or she keeps that die. Any time you use one of the words on any of the remaining dice. here is a solution for your dilemma.
Whenever any player uses one of those words. he or she must collect that die. choose the largest set. Writer’s Dice Pool Robot Before the game begins. you must give those dice to the neighbor on your left. roll as many Writer’s Dice as you have stones. you must give those dice to the neighbor on your right. that player may use this die as a free word just like a coin.Your neighbors may use their dice results as their free word in their part of the sentence. Your stated event still occurs. but leads to a new problem for your pilgrim. For the rest of the game. your neighbor on your left has SO and the neighbor on your right has IF. roll a bunch of Writer’s Dice in the center of the table. The results of this roll will color your pilgrim’s trouble. For example. Each time you roll SO. BUT This is the traditional trouble in Do. PAGE 33 CHAPTER 2: USING WRITER’S DICE IN GAMING . you may choose whichever you prefer. However. If there are sets of identical results. Each time you roll IF. it is not considered a coin and cannot be given to another player. If there are multiple sets of equal size. DO: PILGRIMS OF THE FLYING TEMPLE FROM SMART PLAY GAMES When the troublemakers come up with a trouble for your pilgrim.
You must accept the proposal if you run out of dice. If you do so.AND Your pilgrim gets herself and other pilgrims in trouble. PAGE 34 CHAPTER 2: USING WRITER’S DICE IN GAMING . I mean come on. you would have to accept the Troublemakers’ third proposal. all these people following your pilgrim’s example leads to problems for your pilgrim. your pilgrim inspires one hapless copycat to directly repeat whatever your pilgrim just did. you may ask for an alternative. The number of pilgrims is equal to the size of this set. disregard any extra dice. these pilgrims have enough problems as it is. You may request an alternative once for every die in this set. So if you have a three-dice set. A four-dice set creates a long-lasting culture of personality entirely centered around your pilgrim. chaos ensues. SO Your pilgrim inspires locals to follow her example. If the size of the set is greater than the number of pilgrims. OR After the troublemakers propose your pilgrim’s trouble. With each proposal. For a one-die set. The number of people depends on the size of this set. Whatever the scope. A three-dice set inspires a worldwide cult to act and dress like her. the troublemakers must come up with a new trouble. A Two-dice set. Naturally. your pilgrim inspires a small fan club who will follow her around until she is out of trouble. A one-die set causes one extra pilgrim to get in trouble. and so on. you may accept or ask for another as long as you have more dice in the set. a two-die set causes two extra pilgrims to get in trouble.
PAGE 35 CHAPTER 2: USING WRITER’S DICE IN GAMING . the other pilgrims make headway on their mission. you could change or add up to four words in the trouble. IF Your pilgrim gets into trouble. Any player whose pilgrim is not in trouble may write a free sentence in which she helps another person. So if you had a four-dice set.AS This is a great outcome for everyone but your pilgrim. You can change or add one word for every die in your set. Any player whose pilgrim is in trouble is now out of trouble. but you can edit the trouble after the Troublemakers are done writing it. Each player must write how your pilgrim getting into trouble helped them get out of theirs. You do so by changing or adding words to that trouble. In each free sentence. the player may use one goal word. Though your pilgrim now gets into trouble.
PAGE 36 CHAPTER 2: USING WRITER’S DICE IN GAMING .
sweetie! Many thanks to the Story-Games community to whom I first pitched this idea. And. Thanks. COPY EDITORS THANKS AND Michele Sabatier Irven Keppen Charles Little Ethan Myerson PAGE 37 THANKS AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS . of course. Their suggestions for which words to use were very valuable. I thank my wife Megan for putting up with harebrained ideas like these. whose writing lesson at NYU inspired the demo video in the Kickstarter campaign. Thanks for your patience during the initial production delays and your support throughout the process. Thanks to the fine folks at GameStation. I want to thank all the Kickstarter backers for making the Writer’s Dice possible in the first place. Also thanks to Trey Parker and Matt Stone.acknowledgments First and foremost. who have been very prompt and communicative during the dice production.
W. R.NOVELISTS ($50+) Mur Lafferty Jeremy Tidwell B. Willis Craig Wayling Thomas Trinh Eric Brenders TERRENCE P J MICHEAU Dorian Gray Frantisek Havluj Hanna Tolander Barbara Courtemanche Zakharov Sawyer Jack rezonate Gerald Yeo Leading Edge bjondc Al Beale Richard Thurston Alan Twigg Kelly Van Campen Kevin G. Lohmeyer Alexander Kawamura Owlglass STORYTELLERS ($20+) Ryan Macklin Jennifer Brozek Russ Pitts Jack Gulick James Dillane Jaclyn Mika WildElf Brian Lavelle Jason Pitre Nick Bate Jonathan Campbell Jennifer Wong Ewen Cluney Ira Ham Rob Donoghue Josh Rensch anonymous DisOrd3r Wim Van Acker Michael Meeker Eric Leslie John Mehrholz C. Nunn Marguerite Kenner Ben Barnett John Rogers Kate D Jason Ramboz Michael Litzenberger Fletcher ayvalentine A. Marshall Gwenaël Jacquet darkliquid Jared Axelrod Bruce Abernethy Jeremy Southard Tim Jensen Christopher Simmons Jeremy Friesen Donald Wheeler Duane Jeffers Michael Wight Chris Tulach Sean Riedinger PAGE 38 THANKS AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .
Brennan Shauna Brendan Adkins eggdropsoap Carolyn E.Amaquieria Leo Lalande Matthew C H Winder Wayne West Stephen Parkin Peter Aronson Wes Price Anders Smith Carolyn Koh David A Wendt Mick Bradley Kurt Loy David Jackson Amy Houser Popov Square HPLustcraft Joseph Le May Bruce Turner Chris reich Kevin Josh Crowe Alexander Williams kindar cheryl flack Bryan Sims lauke Tom C Chad Johnnyrobo Carter Stewart Oliver Granger Daniel Bayn Chris Schreiber Don Campbell Rasmus Durban Jahr Martin John du Bois Andrew Loch Al Billings Marissa Mullins Brian Q. Cooper Aleksander R. Boyd Kevin W. Kelley John Clayton Richard DiTullio Mark Brown Melvin Nikkole palmatier Caitlin Dennis D Duquette pmoore Matthias Holzinger Brenda Hovdenes Eloy Lasanta Kristina VanHeeswijk Neal Dalton Kayote Brady Forrest Shawn Ingram Droogy Seth Johnson vigilare David Nassim Joseph Blomquist Josh Jason Slingerland jshtww Eric J. Nordgarden Rødner Matt Patt John Rynne Jode Toews Michelle Hood Mark Bryan Hansel Tracy Davis Hurley Robert Durand Eric Miller Guillermo Martinez Gerhard Lindeque PAGE 39 THANKS AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .
Hellberg Verace Grant Chen Mana Lisandro Gaertner Colonel Fubar Laura Vasic-Lacey Cooper Stimson royblumenthal Travis Tidmore Nick Estrada Andrew Watson Pegana Stephen Hill Travis Bryant Rollin Bishop Morgan Colin Creitz Jacob Green Alan Venable Ramona Hutton-Howe Charles Starrett kim swanson Jenny Justin D.Jack Linke Jerome Nivet Carlo Reyes Jake Moore John Stanmeyer Jim Griffiths DavidMumaw ringmaster Leslie Furlong brand Stephen Granade Zack Michael Hamlin Daniel Gallant Playlab NYC Alexis Finch Masks-of-Eris Fred Hicks / Evil Hat Productions Tim Seiger Gibbs Nate Lawrence Nik Whitehead Cheryl Trooskin-Zoller sgllama Felix Yuan John Colagioia Laura Burns Emily Boegheim Jonathan Grimm Jonathan Klick David B Rich Frost Leon Higley HiddenJester Rori-Suzanne Daniel Christine Lawrence Graham Leatherwood Tucker lauren lavelle Dan Lucas Colures Ralph Severson Michael W. Mattei Jonas H. Jacobson Ulf Persson Daryn Tsuji Kevin Duffy Ben Howard Jason Mosack chearns Angel Baker Julian Ramirez DustMan George Austin Brent Adams Njordy Dorothy Al-Ghosien Drew Ian Sights PAGE 40 THANKS AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .
Aidin Langford Jennifer Kenneth Wieschhoff Michelle Larson Stephen Cooke Sean M Dunstan AndreasH Ian Kragh Justin Mischa Krilov James Husum Saladdin Dennise Fernandez Joshua James James Turnbull Jeremy Douglass John Hartinger Roflharris Sherry D.Jessica Jobski wraith808 Benjamin Liska Christopher Niehoff arajski Jae Walker Charlie Reece Fred S Sara Gordon Dmitry Omelyanenko nathan Andrew Robertson Andrew Dena Henri Patricio Keri Orstad Joseph Louis Jeremy Ahouse AirSports Jon Michaels Karin Menendez msabatier Morelenmir StevenM WRITERS ($10+) Jeremy Kostiew Lillian Cohen-Moore Rich Miller Phil Vecchione Martin Deanna Chris Conway James Galloway Julian Tysoe Corvus Elrod Kathryn Schnaufer Sean Rose Lorenzo Trenti James Thatcher Vivid Muse Jeremy Morgan Tim Quinn WorldMaker Steve Shay DivNull Productions Kari F. Ramsey adam holscher jvdzwaan grel Sasha Albertini Brian Riley Traci Lawson Mark Truman Josh Mannon Steve Lawson Linda Hewitt Patrick Hawkins Ferdinand Chan K8 Davis Carol Townsend PAGE 41 THANKS AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .
Fairbanks Ellen Forsyth Elizabeth Rothman Kevyn Stott JonChan Eliea Karen E Conway tomintheus Jim White Lisa Tyson Vanover PAGE 42 THANKS AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS . Lee Benit0 Man On Li Corey Coker Kyle Koivisto Cory Case Jane Davis James Skarren Jay Brooks Nicholas Contino Tamara Weina Julius Harvey Floyd Gareth emanuele cavallaro Sally Ryan Michael Kasprzak Jayne McCormack Seçkin KILIÇ Chris Luciano Santos Julie Felix Leslie Hennis Superslum Melissa Gianopoulos Gary Shuler _Zed_ Henning C-F Adam Neufeld David Grant David Main Amy Hope Dermont Nancy Feldman Roberto Arteaga Eamae Kairam Ahmed Hamdan Mark Hack Pauahilani Cockett Erik Dahlman Radhika Manchanda Chrysoula Tzavelas Matt Mister Pevner lance baker Irven Keppen andy smith Ashley C.buddydave austin Simon Barratt clawster greg-g Dan Vogel Philip Adler Jeppe Christensen Suzanna Bronger Eli Severinsen Kirsty Win Sephiryith Matt Forbeck Rich Friedeman Benjamin Reece Chris Miller Matt Chisholm Nicolas Dementen Jon & Carole Adrienne Day Sainte Loretta Joel Cleasby Dan Gellert Gilbert Isla Philip A.
. Brian Winston Chris Baudot Dave Graham Tobias Buckell Eloise Tinder Julian Benton Phil Honeywell chad.A. PAGE 43 THANKS AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS . Ray Robert Clarke Nienke Sean Sicher Shannon Aviña Sarah Michael Sokalski Julien RICHARD Antonis Bouritsas Tyler Crumrine r-ice Glenn john frewin James Maddox James Pond Ralph Sbrogna David Harrell Rory Francis Daniel M.Kenneth Olden Tyler Cushing Eleanor Ide Karen Lyons Bones Rodriguez James Huck Tan Han Lip David Ruhmann natb Joel Steve iSkurvy Ethan Myerson Tom Fassbender Xavier AubuchonMendoza san..Sizemore Marc Majcher Tracy Wilson Henok Kidane John Cohen Stan Brown Steven Yau Chris McDowall Rick Shaffer Mark Bao Alyssa Jayne Shashu Redwood Tom Gurganus Marlon de Silva 1UPMASTER POETS ($5+) Jennifer Mercer Jeanne Joe Cwik PizzaGirl Chris Walden Stuart nadine segundoseis Roy Leban Hillary Christopher Parker David A. Perez Mary M.ks Michael Maldony Rob Bradbury Pat McHale C.
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Writer’s Dice THE FIRST OFFICIAL GAME FOR COMING FOR YOU IN SPRING 2012 .
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