The Crystal in my Pocket
majorly in progress, please add notes and stuff. no, I have not playtested this, i really just don't know if it'll work or what it'll do.
The Crystal In My Pocket (working title) is a collaborative fiction game for 3 or more players. Each player will need an Icehouse stash distinguishable from the other players' stashes.
Before starting the game, all players should agree on how many rounds the game will last. If you only have a few players, two is good for a taste of the game and four will be quite well-rounded (if everyone doesn't run out of pieces first). If you have something like eight(!), one round might be all you can manage.
Choose a player to go first. That player is the Builder until the turn ends, and the player to his or her left is the Teller. If it is the very first turn of the game, the Builder begins by saying the following:
The crystal in my pocket is more than it has been. Grow, shine, or burn a hole.
The turn then proceeds as normal. Each turn plays as follows:
The Teller chooses any other player to be the Shadow for the turn.
Then each player chooses a piece from his or her stash of the smallest size available to him or her, and gives them to the Builder. These pieces must go into the Tableau. The Builder adds at least one piece from his or her stash (and may add more). The Teller may also add to the Tableau as many pieces as he or she wishes from the Teller's own stash.
A Tableau is an arrangement of pieces, very similar to a koan in Zendo. All players should be able to tell where it ends and other Tableaus begin on the table. Pieces within the Tableau may be arranged any way the Builder wants: on top of each other, within each other, randomly, wherever.
After the Builder builds a Tableau, the Teller then invents a fragment of story that interprets the Tableau, and speaks that fragment out loud. It should be at least a sentence, and not longer than a short paragraph. Interpretations might be based on any aspect of anything in the Tableau: piece color, position, what's touching what. There is no need to be excessively literal (although going wild and Telling things that other players don't deem sufficiently inspired by the Tableau can lead to a lack of support during the Shadow's challenge). However, the Teller should do his or her best to continue the story coherently and, as far as possible, be consistent with interpretations of previous Tableaus. Soliciting feedback and collaboration from other players is encouraged, if you want it.
After the Teller tells, any one player (whoever's the first in, by the agreement of all players) may add a sentence to the interpretation by giving one piece from his or her stash to the Teller. The new sentence may not contradict any established facts of the story, including the most recent interpretation.
The player designated earlier as the Shadow then invents and describes a problem, challenge, or conflict of some kind that follows from the Teller's interpretation of the Tableau. The Shadow then puts any one piece from his or her stash into the conflict pool. The Teller may then add a piece of the same color to the conflict pool and narrate an attempt at resolving the conflict - but not the resolution itself! If the Teller lacks a piece of the right color, he or she may instead play a piece or pieces of any one other color, but the pip count of those pieces must be higher than whatever the Shadow last added to the conflict pool.
The Shadow may then add pieces to the pool in a similar fashion - one of the same color, or a higher pip count of another color - and narrate how the attempt at resolving the conflict is undone. Bidding the conflict pool upwards may continue like this, but nobody may describe the actual outcome of the conflict until either the Teller or the Shadow declines to add more pieces to the pool. At this point, whoever last added pieces to the pool may narrate the outcome, and choose half of the pieces in the pool (rounded up) to return to his or her stash. The rest of the pieces return to the other player's stash.
During a conflict, any player may give pieces from his or her stash to either the Teller or the Shadow, for use in the conflict. But they may only donate one piece at a time. This means that if one has donated a piece to one player in the conflict, one must wait to donate another until the next time that player is called upon to add pieces to the conflict pool.
After the conflict ends, the Teller becomes the Builder and the next turn begins.
Play continues until each player has been the Builder a number of times equal to the number of rounds in the game, or until two players are out of pieces. When one of these things happens (finish out the current turn if two players are out), the first Builder of the game may narrate some closure for any loose ends of the story, if the final Builder of the game has not already done so.
Who wins? Everyone, unless the story sucked.