Designed by Jens Alfke
Players 2(?)
Length ?
Extra Material Markers, Pawns

A story-making game (still under design)

This is a work in progress. I'm still sketching out rules, and haven't done any real play-testing yet. But feel free to try it out, and/or leave feedback or suggestions in the comments!

Epic is the working title of a Decktet game I'm designing. Its goal is to have the gameplay tell a story, by making use of the traditional allegorical meanings of the Decktet cards — in particular the division into Personalities, Places and Events.

Each player will have two(?) Personality cards, representing the characters in her party. The rest of the Personality cards become non-player characters that will be encountered during the game. A character's suits represent strengths or abilities. (The Huntress and Bard cards, having only one suit, are more archetypal; so they can't be used by players, only as NPCs.)

The six Aces will form a separate pile, which is shuffled and laid face-up. This pile is an oracle: the suit of its current top card determines the current alignment of fates in the game, helping some players or actions (the ones that match the suit?) and hindering others (ones that match the "opposite" suit, the one that never appears on the same card with it.)

The remaining cards will be laid out in a timeline, representing the progress of the story. The three combo Place/Event cards are special: Naturally, the timeline always begins with The Origin and ends with The End, so those cards are laid down at the start of the game, several feet apart. The Marketplace is placed in between; it's a way-station that will be reached at some point during the story. It might allow parties a chance to restock supplies, heal damage, or sell treasures.

(I don't have a role for the Excuse yet, and as I haven't printed out the extended "pawn" cards, I'm not factoring them into this design. It shouldn't be hard to come up with roles for all of them, though.)

Each party has a corresponding pawn (or other marker) placed on the card at its current position in the timeline.

1. Setup

You'll need:

  • A Decktet (duh)
  • Eight Time Markers
  • Two Complication Markers per player
  • One Party Figure per player

The markers can be poker chips, glass beads, checkers, coins … the only requirement is that the different kinds be easily distinguishable.

The figures should ideally be colored game pawns, or gaming miniatures; they just need to be unique (different colors, shapes, races…)

Sort out the cards

Separate the cards into piles:

  1. Specials: the Origin, Marketplace and End cards (two dots)
  2. Personalities (no dots)
  3. Locations (hollow dots)
  4. Events (solid dots)
  5. Aces

Create the timeline

Place the Origin at the left side of the playing area, the End at the right side (three or four feet away) and the Market in the middle.

Place four Time markers, equally spaced, in a line between the Origin and Market; and another four between the Market and End.

Give each player two Complication markers.

Shuffle the Location cards and place them in a pile face-down.

Create player characters

Take the Personalities pile. Remove the Bard and Huntress. Shuffle the remaining Personalities. Deal two, face up, to each player. These are the Player Characters — each player's set of characters is called a Party, natch.

Choose a Party Marker to represent each player's party, and place the markers on the Origin card.

Events and Oracle

The remaining Personalities — including the Bard and Huntress! — will be the Non-Player Characters that the players meet during the journey. Shuffle them together with the Events cards, and place the pile face-down.

Shuffle the Aces and leave them in a pile face-up. This is the Oracle, whose visible suit indicates the ruling archetype at that moment, which will help or hinder actions.

2. Game play

Determining the route

Each player in turn draws the top card from the Locations pile and places it in the timeline, with the following conditions:

  • It can't go before the Origin or after the End.
  • It can replace a Time marker; take the marker and keep it in front of you.
  • Or it can go between two adjacent cards that have no Timer marker between them; slide the cards apart to make room if necessary.
  • If the next card on either side has a Complication marker (see next rule) on the edge facing the new card, take the marker.
  • If the new Location and the next Location to either side do not share a suit, this creates a complication. You must take one of your Complication markers and place it on that edge of the new card. (This goes for both the left and right sides, so you might have to place two markers.) If you don't have enough Complication markers, you can't place the card there.

After the last Location is played, the route is set: the plot will travel through each Location in turn, from left to right.

Remove any remaining Time markers, but keep the Complication markers.

(Another idea: A longer timeline could be laid out in segments, one at a time, with Market cards denoting the joins between segments. So the initial layout would run from Origin to Market, laid out as above; after players reach the Market, gather up and shuffle the preceding cards (except the Origin) and repeat the rules to lay out a further timeline extending to the next instance of the Market {would you need two Market cards?}. At some point the timeline ends and the final card will be the End instead of the Market.)

The journey



Game Design: Jens Alfke (on his own, so far)


Decktet Fortune Telling
Once Upon A Time, a card game where the players create fairy tales


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