It happened like this:
Christmas vacation had arrived. I had two weeks off, and I’d deliberately decided to not do any of my teacher work during the holiday. Instead, I would eat, drink, and be merry. Being merry involved living vicariously through people I follow on Google+, including Matt Jackson of Chubby Monster Games.
Matt Google-plussed about using Story Cubes to flesh out an NPC for a game he was going to run. I’d never heard of Story Cubes, so I surfed the Interwaves, and ended up watching several reviews and demos on YouTube. After this, I found myself one-click shopping at Amazon dot com. A few days later, the aforementioned boxes of Story Cubes arrived, and they were mine. All mine!
Since then, I’ve played with them a bit. I demonstrated them to my family. I demonstrated them to my 5th graders. The demos weren’t hard. You (1) roll all nine dice, (2) look at the pictures, and then (3) make up a story that starts “Once upon a time…” using the pictures. That’s it. There aren’t any wrong answers. For added complexity and/or more options, toss the action dice as well. These have pictures of stick figures engaged in various activities. When you’re done making up your story, pass the dice to another player and enjoy them getting to be spontaneously creative.
The game components per set consist of nine sturdy six-sided dice with rounded corners. Each face of each die has a different picture for a total of 54 different pics per set. The dice come in a sturdy box a bit larger than a pack of playing cards. The box holds itself shut via a magnet. Both sets fit easily in the outer pocket of my laptop’s carrying case. I could fit either one in the front pocket of my jeans.
This game is a great idea for some silliness with your kids, as a teaching tool for students, as an ice-breaker at a party or meeting, or as inspiration for your own writing/gaming. In the latter mode, taking my cue from Matt Jackson, here’s a quick NPC to go along the dice results shown in the picture above and to the right:
NPC’s Name: Marlena
Occupation: Marlena is a dealer for high-stakes card games (hand) held in the private residences of the wealthy (building). She’s not above skewing the odds in favor of the house (scales).
Details: Marlena questions the morality of her occupation (question mark) and fears she’s living on borrowed time (clock). She is an avid reader (book).
Personality: Marlena hates to lose (the L). She loves fine and beautiful things, especially those that are fleeting (flower). Marlena has trouble managing her personal finances (credit card).