Sunday, December 30, 2007

Once Upon a Time - Children's Gaming (and Butt Fairies)

Kyle gave Eryn a game for Christmas called "Once Upon a Time: The Storytelling Card Game" (alt: Wikipedia, Amazon). It's difficult. You get a bunch of cards with people, places, things, events, and aspects on them and try to tailor the cards to an ending (not necessarily a happy ending) card. There are some general category cards for interrupting, and if someone says a word that somewhat matches a card in your hand while engaging in exposition, you can cut in.

Playing the game gives you some idea of the narrative skills that most people don't have, including yourself, even if you like to do a bit of writing now and then. Telling a story out loud is just a different bag of hammers. While I was at board game day yesterday, my friend Sean remarked that he'd once upon a time played Once Upon a Time and had won. Strictly speaking, that's possible, and it's the point of the game, but I've written a little narrative to familiarize everyone with the game and demonstrate why winning isn't as clear cut as in other games. If you're playing with more than two people, the game starts to show real-life modeling of the Group Intercommunication Formula, and you can apply n(n-1)/2 to get an appropriate transcript length:

Player 1: Once upon a time there was a cottage...

Player 2: no...interrupt. Once upon a time there was a kitchen, a beautiful, fully stocked kitchen with lots of pans, silver utensils, a luxury stove, a Kitchenaid mixing machine or two in complementary colors, a larder full of bacon, sausage, pancake mixes, big loaves of delicious stone-ground, hearth-cooked bread and, unbeknownst to the ugly old woman who owned the kitchen, a stolen box of jewelry.

Player 1: A crown is a piece of jewelry. It was a crown. A cursed crown that had been stolen by a notorious thief in a cave in the deepest, darkest depths of far off...

Player 2: (plays Far Away card)...far off Junglania. A country known for caves, full of jewelry, nestled amongst thicks trees, all of it protected by an angry tribe of gorillas. The thief, whose name was Frumpkin, had gone to steal from one of the caves with the love of his life, the princess

Player 1: Interrupt with a general character card...his wife, the queen of Junglania.

Player 2: The thief was married to the queen of Junglania?

Player 1: Yep.

Player 2: Doesn't that make him of the King of Junglania instead of a thief? Doesn't he already own everything in the cave?

Player 1: You're distracting me (this happens a lot - very convenient for throwing the other person out of their groove). He can be a thief and the king. He's stealing from the people. He's only the titular (snickering) head of Junglania. So the Queen of Junglania and her husband, the thief, walked into the cave...

Player 2: Interrupt with a general place card. They walked up the stairs into the cave, stopping at a great oaken door.

Player 1: I have door. They knocked, waited for an answer, told a few knock knock jokes, then walked inside the cave. They looked around....and looked looked some more...they were looking for something...

Player 2: Interrupt. You're stalling. I was going to call you on it, but I'll just play time passes isntead because it gets the card out of my hand. So some time passed while they looked around, and eventually they saw a great pile of jewels and treasure, including the cursed crown. Frumpkin of Junglania and his wife went to grab the crown, thinking it would look nice on their daughter, the princess. But it wasn't as easy as that, they just couldn't be that fortunate...

Player 1: Interrupt with lucky because the meaning is the same as fortunate. They just couldn't be that lucky. The treasure, and the cursed crown, were guarded by a pack of ferocious wolves, at least 100 of them with big snarling teeth...

Player 2: They were snarling? Or their teeth were snarling.

Player 1: They were.

Player 2: Their teeth?

Player 1: No the wolves, they were snarling.

Player 2: And there were 100 of them in this cave? It must be a pretty big cave. Do wolf packs grow as large as 100? We should wiki it. [Editor: 2-20, 8 is normal].

Player 1: It is. A big cave. [To editor: And maybe there were like a dozen packs, but there were still 100 wolves]. So the princes...the...pass. I pass. (swaps one troublesome card for another random card in the general stack).

Player 2: There were 100 wolves in the big cave, and they were led by an evil witch who kept them on a great big leash.

Player 1: Interrupt...I have an item interrupt. She kept them attached to a great big dog sled.

Player 2: In the cave? There's snow?

Player 1: No...she's just eccentric. And lost.

Player 2: Damn it.

Player 1: She'd lost her way back to her cottage.

Player 2: Interrupt with a place card. She'd lost her way back to her mountain retreat.

Player 1: That's a cottage.

Player 2: No it's not. It's more like a castle, or a chalet, like Hitler lived in with Eva Braun.

Player 1: I'm playing my Hitler card.

Player 2: No you're not. There's no Hitler card.

Player 1: I could play a character interrupt card. Then I could say Hitler, or even Sexy Manboy Chauffer Kyle if I wanted to [Editor: the sentiment to play Sexy Manboy Chauffer Kyle has been voiced during a live game. If you're unfamiliar with the reference, it's from Shrek 2, voiced by the fairy godmother (Jennifer Saunders).]

Player 2: Do you have a character interrupt card?

Player 1: No...just sayin.

Player 2: Whose turn is it?

Player 1: You're stalling, so it's mine. She'd lost her way to her mountain retreat where she frequently sojourned using her flying sled. She was trying to find her way back to her home, or at least to a friend's cottage, but to no avail. The cursed crown, with its ability to nullify flying, had trapped her in the cavern with her 100 snarling wolves.

Player 2: What was sn...

Player 1: Stop it. But Frumpkin had an idea. He and his wife would take the cursed crown, and then the witch would be able to fly home to her mountain retreat. So they took the crown, for which the witch thanked them and flew away. But they were worried that some day, someone might be drawn to the cave because of the treasure, and get stuck in a spelunking accident like in The Descent. To prevent such a terrible waste of British hotness, they vowed to seal up the cave and burn it (player moves to play ending card)...

Player 2: wait! (plays fire card). To burn it and return to their village...

Player 1: I don't have any cards...can you stop me from playing my ending card?

Player 2: said "burn".

Player 1: But it was on my ending card.

Player 2: I think you need to play the card, and then wrap it up, so I can't interrupt you. But I'm pretty sure you should have mentioned fire at a point I could interrupt if it's on your ending card, and I have the fire card in my hand.

Player 1: Ok...I'm drawing another card then, because I don't think I can have just an ending card. And then I'm going to interrupt you with an event card. They didn't burn it...hey...that was a fire item card, not a fire event card.

Player 2: I think it counts. They had to start a fire to burn the cave and the stuff. So somewhere there was fire as an item. You can't have a fire event without a physical fire.

Player 1: If I interrupt you, taking away fire from me, which you took as an item, not an event, although I had it as an event, and now I'm interrupting with a general event card, is that valid?

Player 2: I think we'll have to consider it both an event and a thing to be fair. And I get to lose my fire card, because I played it and it had to be on the table for you to take the event back, but I have to keep village because that came next.

Player 1: we're back to burn. They didn't burn the cave, they cleaned the cave so there wasn't any treasure left.

Player 2: Poor future British hotties...

Player 1: But all the dust they'd kicked up created an explosion (plays ending card) which started a fire...

Player 2: bogus

Player 1: And the flames rose higher and the evil place was destroyed.

Player 2: That was all Terminiator and crap. You had an ending, I came back in time to change it, so you came back in time to undo or redo my changes so that the future you originally planned and lived in came to pass anyway. I needed a Sarah Connor card. And I'm still not sure how the cursed crown got to the kitchen.

Player 1: They carried it there after the fire. The old lady in the kitchen was really their daughter, the princess, but like 60 years later.

Player 2: Why's that?

Player 1: Because the crown kept stopping all manner of flying monsters right in her house, and they'd invariably eat her suitors. So she became a spinstress who caught evil flying monsters, and cooked them up for discerning royalty, haute cuisine like. She's very famous and has six published cookbooks, despite being an old maid in a kitchen. It's why the kitchen is so nice.

Player 2: Ah...we need some exposition cards for after the ending.

Player 1: What was your ending?

Player 2: "So they escaped their captors and fled home." I was trying to make the witch and wolves the captors, and earlier the gorillas, but you cut me off before I could get to that point, and now I have a stupid fairy card in my hand from having to draw after your interrupt. I'm not sure where I was going to pull out a group of captoring fairies

Player 1: Your butt.

Player 2: Butt fairies. Gross. No one would want to be captured by them. Would it have been legal to say, "suddenly fairies errupted out of their butts?"

Player 1: I think you need at least a bit of context, like when you said I needed to refer to a fire before I got to my ending card.

Player 2: It's a secondary magical characteristic of the cursed, anti-flying crown. Irritible bowel fairy syndrome.

Player 1: You think the kitchen princess would have been happy having fairies fly out of her butt for 60 years?

Player 2: Good eatin. Probably one of the six cookbooks.

Player 1: Ahhh.....


PrincessMax said...

Dear Lord!

You wrote all that down!


Anonymous said...

When do you have time to write all that?