Limn

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Limn is a party game about text scrounging and Balderdash-style bluffing for 4-10 players. by Will Jennings

Anything anyone says is really about your friends.

What you need:

  • An icehouse stash for each player, each a different color
  • An identical envelope for each player (the small kind is good)
  • A bunch of pairs of scissors
  • Some newspapers, magazines, or old paperbacks to cut up (call this stuff the jetsam)
  • Scrap paper on which to keep score
  • 5-15 minutes, depending on the number of players

How to play:

Hand things out: Everybody gets an envelope, an icehouse stash, and a chunk of the jetsam (each player shouldn't need more than a page or two). You can share the scissors.

Set up your pyramids: Stand a pyramid in front of you so that everyone knows what color you are. Then give one of your pyramids to each other player. Put the rest aside; you won't need them.

Pareidolize: Look at your jetsam for a sentence or quote that sounds neat taken out of context. Which of the other players does it make you think of first? Make a mental note (or jot it down on scrap paper, if you're forgetful), then cut out the text, and put it in your envelope. You don't need to seal the envelope.

You can work the other way around if you want: concentrate on a player and see if anything on the page you're looking at pops out at you. You just have to come up with a scrap of text that has some association with another player for you -- you don't have to pin down why it reminds you of them. If your jetsam is incredibly uninspiring, take someone else's when they're done with it.

Don't try too hard. Trust your instincts. Use the Force.

When you're done, toss the envelope into a pile in the middle.

Guess: Shuffle the envelopes. Take turns picking out an envelope and reading what's inside. After the contents of an envelope have been read, everyone guesses who cut out the quote and who they were thinking of when they cut it out, by pointing a pyramid of the cutter-outer's color at the thought-of player.

If you were the cutter-outer, make a fake guess. (If your cut-out is the last to be read, your fakery won't fool anyone, so you don't need to bother guessing).

After everyone's guessed, the cutter-outer reveals whom they associated with the text.

Score: For every envelope except the last one: If you guessed one part right (either the cutter-outer or the thought-of person), score one point. If you guessed both parts right, score three points.

For the last envelope: score two points if you guessed the thought-of player correctly. You don't get any points for guessing who the cutter-outer is, since you should be able to figure that out by elimination.

You don't score any points for guessing correctly on an envelope that you filled.

Cookies: After all the envelopes have been opened and their contents read, if you have the highest score, or are tied for the highest score, and there are cookies nearby, you get one.

Tips:

  • What makes good jetsam: Local news, Living/Arts, and the Sports section of a paper are good places to start. Small, local papers are usually more inspiring than the Times or the Washington Post. Snarky columnists and editorial pages are fine if you enjoy poking fun at one another. Of the magazines I've tried, The Economist and Seventeen get my highest recommendation. Tearing up ratty science fiction paperbacks or romance novels has a very different feel that can be fun, too.
  • If you're taking more than a few minutes to find a bit of text in the jetsam that appeals to you, you might be thinking too hard. If this is a problem for the rest of the group, you can use a timer: three minutes makes a good time limit. If you get really stuck, you can sit out for a bit and keep looking for next round.
  • It's more fun to play a few rounds in a row. I prefer not to keep score from round to round, but you can do that, either playing to a set score or for a set number of rounds.
Entered in the Icehouse Game Design Competition, Summer 2004
Winner: Sprawl 2nd: Missile Command 3rd: Turning Points 4th: Moscow Ice
5th: Breakthrough 6th (tie): Martian Shogi and Venusian Bowling
8th: Antshouse 9th: Limn 10th (tie): Arena and the Icehouse Null Game