I had an interesting experience this weekend at the scout campout I went on with my child. Some of us who arrived early were sitting and waiting for others. One of the other adults suggested a story seed game, where one person starts a story and others add onto it. There were few rules to begin with, though rules were added as we went to make things go more smoothly.
I started off with this seed:
There are four adventurers standing outside of a gloomy cave.
From that point on, the main rule we used was “Yes, but also…” and we went around a few times, adding on the story with each new person. A few interesting observations I had as we did so:
Each person would recount the story thus far, to the best of their ability. Just to establish where we were.
No one was afraid to take things in a crazy direction. Indeed one scout continued to bring up a wooden throne / chair that appeared in several of the stories.
Some negotiations took place as others would make suggestions, but we would step in to maintain each person’s authority to add to the story as they wished. Still, the suggestions were well intentioned and sometimes made it into the ongoing narrative.
Where this is leading.
I know this was not role-playing or actual play as we would consider it. It was a campfire story, sans campfire and the characters were shared with everyone. But there were some basic rules to the story telling and everyone became invested in protecting one another’s authority. It felt like a great excersise that a group might engage in before heading into a role-playing session.
There was a refreshing lack of self-consciousness, both from the scouts and from the adults, and we were able to enjoy the tales, despite their spiraling ridiculousness. It was a great excersise to witness and be a part of. To be sure, myself and the other adult were both old hats at rpgs and rpg adjacent activities. And so that influenced some of how we shaped our aspects of the common, shared narrative. In particular, setting the scene or the situation and then watching everyone accept that situation at face value. I felt that was an important observation.
Overall it killed time on a hot afternoon in the middle of nowhere. I may try to use this as a limbering excersise before a session of a new game or one-shot or convention game. With the goal of getting folks into the right kind of head space, especially if there are new people at the table.