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A story game for kids

My kids attended roleplaying sessions at the end of summer this year. A local librarian set up drop in sessions and I nudged my kids to go without me. They played the Swedish rpg Dragonbane (Draker och Demoner) which came out in a new edition this August. Produced by Free League Publishing it is a beautiful and well designed product.

They played the introductory scenario, and I asked them afterwards of the experience. It was fun to hear them retell what had happened, I particularly noticed what they remembered and what they emphasised: The part in the shared story where their character was the one who helped the group open a door, find a clue, or slay a monster.

It was cool to see them engaged and enthusiastic. As we had also planned an offline retreat camping out at a local reserve, my brain started designing a game that would work in that context, a game you could play with your kids around a campfire.

It doesn’t have a name yet, but I have a pretty good concept outlined.

Space cat by Sofie Jensen, 2023. To boldly go where no cat has gone before.

Agents in space and time

So I’m thinking the game comes in the form of a set of playing cards, maybe two decks (110 cards). Players create characters by drawing two or three cards: Name, illustration, vocation, motivation.

There is a game master who improvises the story on the fly by pulling cards and following a recipe for the story structure.

The players are agents travelling through space and time. Each story begins with the agents exited from a jump through time and space arriving at a planet. Something like Valérian and Laureline. Because of how the space time continuum works, they can never visit the same place at the same time twice. So no time travel paradoxes.

The agents have a standard mission: To seek out the local temple of knowledge and sync up the galactic wiki. They also have a mission specific for this planet which they will draw from a set of cards. This can be to take part in a race, count the number of a specific creature and such. While undertaking these missions, complications arise. They get lost or separated. They encounter local residents and discover that something is wrong. A child is missing. Someone’s home has been destroyed. Otherwise friendly neighbours have started stealing from each other. Enough to have bite, but still kid friendly themes. No sex, drugs, and murdering hobos.

After a while the agents meet up and share what they have learned. Then they decide what to do about things. This is the meat of the game. Kids presented with an unfair situation with no obvious villains just mistakes, accidents, misunderstandings. Stuff that smart and compassionate space time agents can fix.

Each story then wraps up with a resolution to the situation. The agents exchange gifts with new found friends. Mission completed, they move on to new adventures.

Seasoned agents can retire and live the rest of their life on a planet. New recruits can join for more adventures.

Cards with missions, planets, creatures, situations. Cards with outcomes to resolve conflicts and danger, Archipelago style; Yes, Yes-but, No, No-but.

What do you think?

I think it could work. What do you think? Could you see yourself playing such a game with your kids? Over a campfire on a starry night?

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