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Whispers In The Dark

A Storytelling Game Of Life And Loss For Four People

By Jacob Possin In life choices surround you. Often it feels as though we are sitting in the dark with only the vaguest notion of where to go, or what to do. This game attempts to show the different ways that a life can go. Will the story follow the path of the Mystic or the path the Magi? Will it involve self control or self destruction? You and your friends get to decide. This is a storytelling Game. That means that through the act of play you and the other players will create a story. This is not your story. This is the story of an, as yet, unnamed character. To play this game you will need: this document, the story sheet in the back, something to write with, a standard deck of 52 playing cards plus one joker, three other people to play with, and a fair amount of imagination. When you sit down to the table, you will need to decide which Lantern you will play as. A lantern is a guide, showing the path. Each player will take the position of one of the lanterns. Each has a goal in how the story turns out. The roles are The Will, The Doctor, Jack, and Coyote. Each will be described more fully as the rules progress. Once you have decided on the roles the cards must be dealt. Coyote will shuffle, the doctor will cut, The Will deals five cards face down in the center of the table, and Jack evenly distributes the remainder of the cards. At this point there should be five cards face down in the center of the table and each player should have twelve cards in their hands. Play will progress through four three trick rounds. Each round is called a season and represents a moment in the Character's life: Spring representing youth, Summer representing adulthood, Autumn representing middle-age, and Winter representing old age. At each stage one of the players will flip the story card over and announce the story event of that season. The winner of each trick gets to tell part of the story of that event, the beginning, the climax, and the fallout. At the end of all four rounds the player, or players, with the most tricks flip the last story card and get to announce the legacy of the character. This is a Whist style game, meaning it is a game with trump cards. In normal play the person who won the last trick goes first. The card the player lays is the card to beat. You must follow suit, meaning if the first player lays down a nine of clubs you must play a club if you have one in your hand. If you do not then you can play any card in your hand. Off suit cards count as less than suited cards, unless they are trump. Trump beats any other card except trump. If there is more than one trump laid then high trump wins that trick. In this game trump changes depending on the season: Spring is Hearts, Summer is Diamonds, Autumn is Clubs, and Winter is spades. In each season the player who flips the story card and plays the first card is also different. In Spring it is The Will, in Summer it is The Doctor, in Autumn it is Jack, and in Winter it is Coyote. The Joker bears mentioning on its own. When it is played as a story card it acts as normal for a story card. But when it is played it cancels out that trick. Meaning the character will flounder in life there. When played the person who would have won describe what they would have liked to happen, then the one who played the joker tells how the character didn't accomplish that do to non action or fear of failure. Creating The Story Before the cards are shuffled or dealt, but after the roles are assigned. Write down who is in what role. At this time also decide on gender and name of the character and write those down on the sheet. Then comes the shuffling and dealing. Then spring begins. The Will flips over the top card in the story pile in the middle of the table. Then look up what

that card means in the Story Cards section. Use that description as inspiration for the first event in the character's life. Then as each trick is won, the winner of that dictates how the beginning, the climax, and the fallout for that event go. Write each of these down in brief on the play sheet. The beginning is the character's initial response to the event. This leads up to the climax but does not cover it. The climax is the high point in the event. The fall out is how well the character is perceived by others. The character can try to manipulate them to seeing bad actions as good and vice versa. This follows with Summer and The doctor, Autumn and Jack, and finally Winter and Coyote. When all four seasons are complete, the one with the most tricks wins and gets to flip the last card and look it up to find out what the legacy will be. They then describe it using the perspective of their role. If more then one person ties for most tricks then those that tied must cut the deck high card wins and that person gets to describe the legacy as before. The Roles The Will: You seek to inspire the character to take control of his destiny. In every situation seek to bring the character's will into it. Never go with the flow. Yours is the path of hardship and conquest. The Doctor: You seek to protect the character. Everything you do is focused on the safe path. Not always the easy path, but always the safe. Jack: You seek to derail the character. Force him into self indulgence and self destruction. When you can get him to be as selfish as possible. Coyote: you are a teacher and pain is your best tool. You seek to put hardship in the way of the character and to inspire that character to overcome that hardship. Always seek the harder path, the creative path. Necessity is the mother of invention and you are the father of necessity. Story Cards Ace: Something New has come about. Either new fortune, love interest, obstacles, or something like that. Examples: Spring, new boy/girl moves in down the street(friendship/romance); Summer, the character is in a new location(away from home for the first time); Autumn, the character has information that would make their company a lot of money(insider trading, friend of a friend, or legitimate); Winter, Moved to an old folks home(willing? Unwilling? Does the character need it?) Two: two attractive people are after the character for something. Examples: Spring, two friends from different cliques both want the character to stop seeing the other one and join the right clique(what does the character do?); Summer, Two love interests are after the character for whatever reason(is the choice clear and one of them just can't see it? Does the character try to string both along?); autumn, the character loves their spouse but the new person at work has been sending signals(does the character respond? Feel flattered? Is horrified?); Winter, Stay with the character's family, or go to the retiremnt village in Boca? Both have their good points(what does the character do? In what manner do they do it?) Three: A sudden unexpected turn. Either something the character thought was going well isn't or something they thought was going badly suddenly goes better. Examples: Spring, the bully befriends the character for some reason(blackmail, mistaken identity, something else); Summer, the character's roommate suddenly leaves(now the character does not have enough for rent, why did the roommate leave, what happened?); Autumn, win the lottery(who tries to hang on, how does the character respond to this much money and attention?); Winter, A good friend, seemingly in good health dies(response, does the character have any other friends left?). Four: A moment of calm, the status quo continues. The character wishes for things to continue like this forever. What will the character do to keep it this way? Examples: Spring, life couldn't be sweeter, the character has friends they can depend on and a stable home life(what will the character do to keep that going?); Summer: the character has a steady girl/guy, a decent place to live and enough to get by(How

does the character decide to move forward? Marriage proposal, buy a house, get a better paying job?); Autumn: the character gets a promoted fairly regularly, if married the spouse adores the character, people at work like the character(how does the character screw it up? What does the character see as their greatest need?); Winter: A safe retirement, the character planned ahead and now things are where they thought they would be(is the character bored? Does the character wish to do something crazy?). Five: things change for the worse. Finances go bad, relationships sour. The character must respond to something personal outside of their control. Examples: Spring, the character moves right before some important event(how does the character respond?); Summer: the relationships in the character's life sour unexpectedly(who pulled away from the character? Why are they spreading rumors? What will the character do about it?); Autumn, the character is suddenly laid off(how will the character make ends meet?); Winter, the character's health turns for the worst(how prepared is the character? Does the character cling to life no matter what or accept what comes?). Six: some external force helps out. The character's friends or family are their for the character whether they are wanted or not. Examples: Spring, Parents seek to give the character the best experience ever, signing the character up for loads of extra-curricular activities(how does the character react? Outrage, acceptance, enjoyment, resentment?); Summer, the clingy significant other(response?); Autumn, the boss takes an interest in the character's life(how does this make the character feel, how does the character react?) Seven: Betrayal and theft. People the Character trusted do wrong by the character. Examples: Spring, suddenly one of the character's friends is in a different clique(how does this change the relationship? How does the character react?); Summer: The character may not have had much, but what was there is now gone, pawned by a friend(why did they pawn it? Will the character forgive? Will they press charges?); Autumn, spouse is cheating on the character(what caused the spouse to go astray? Was it mutual? What happens next?); Winter, the grand kids are fighting over the will and the character is not even dead yet(respond) Eight: the character feels trapped by the humdrum life. How does the character attempt to break free of the rat race? Examples: Spring, every day is the same, wake up , school, work on home work, goof off for an hour, bed.(how does the character break free? What happens to the character next?); Summer, College and a loser late night job, barely awake, seeing the world pass by(does the character have the fortitude to stick it out, or do they drop out and do something less conformist?); Autumn, working at the same dead end job for years, six bosses, TPS reports! Something must be done(what is the dream the character seeks? What is the tipping point at work?); Winter; every day the same routine, nothing changes. Then one day it stops, death(how does the character stave off depression? What makes them feel alive?) Nine: Illness, either the character gets sick or someone close does. Examples: Spring, The character has a rare condition that is chronic and separates them from the other kids(how does that make the character stronger or weaker? How does the character compensate?); Summer, A parent gets cancer(is the other parent still involved? Do they care? Can they make enough money to get by? How does the character help? Do they help?); Autumn, the character needs to take care of elderly parents(do they go in a home? Can the character do it themselves? Are there siblings to help out or interfere?); Winter, the character is in chronic pain all the time from the various maladies that afflict them(how do they respond?) Ten: Multiple problems hit at once. Look over the list and pick three problems, all of those happen at once. How does the character react? Examples: look over previous for now. Jack: A child shows up. How does the character React? Examples: Spring, baby sibling(was the character firstborn? How do they react to the loss of attention? Was the baby planned? Does the household expenses affect the character?); Summer, the character or the character's significant other gets unexpectedly pregnant(does the character have the means to take care of a child? What happens

next?); Autumn, suddenly a grandparent, the teenage daughter just got knocked up(Now what?); Winter, kids from the local school show up for community outreach program(how does the character respond to someone with no frame of reference who probably doesn't care all that much? Do they bond? Does the kid steal meds?) Queen: A selfish woman shows up. How does the character respond to this harpy? Examples: Spring, the new teacher doesn't seem to like teaching, or children, or much of anything. Why is she teaching this? No one is learning anything.(does the character complain? Who to? What can the character do when this person is in charge?); Summer; The character's friends all said she was bad news, but the character made friends/fell in love any way. Now she control the characters life(how does the character get out of this mess? Or do they?); Winter, new doctor. The old one died. This new one seems distant and cold. Only in it for the money(how does the character break past? Do they even try? Why doesn't the new doctor care?) King: Stubborn and driven man appears. What does the character do about this mule headed idiot? Examples: Spring, the new coach is convinced the character isn't trying hard enough(is the character slacking? Is the coach pushing too hard? How does the character deal?); Summer, The new professor seems to want to dole out wisdom, but all he does is chase freshmen girls(what does the character do? Is this class important to the character? Maybe the professor is chasing one of the character's friends and now they don't know what to do.); Autumn, new neighbor doesn't care about anyone else but himself. Cut down that tree that was leaning into his yard a little. Treats the whole block like it belongs to him(what does the character do?); Winter, the character hasn't seen this guy in ages, they used to hate each other, now they are after the same woman(what does the character do? Do they fight dirty? Have they changed at all over the years?) Joker: Something truly wild happens. Hurricanes, earthquakes, mass hallucination you name it. Pick what you want and go with it, the weirder the better. How does the character respond?

Character Name:
The Will: Jack:

The Doctor: Coyote:

Event: Beginning: Climax: Fallout:

Event: Beginning: Climax: Fallout:

Event: Beginning: Climax: Fallout:

Event: Beginning: Climax: Fallout: