It has been a while since we tried a story-telling game. Inspiration seems to go in cycles: for a few months our attention is on miniatures and physically moving toys about in a simulated micro-world. Then our attention moves to the very abstract world of boards and cards. And sometimes we come right back around to straight story-telling – surely the wellspring of all play.
Having abandoned conventional role-playing, we use a variety of tools to stimulate our imaginations and give some direction to the effort.
This time, Greg brought over the Fairy Tale Tarot deck, a beautifully illustrated deck of cards with suits conforming to standard tarot. It comes with a full book complete with the text for every fairy tale shown on the cards, so it is a great resource just for that. Using these cards, we decided to tell a story about Jack, the timeless trickster hero. To give some structure to the activity (and to prevent us from rabbiting on for hours without end) we decided to use no more than seven scenes of three cards each, giving a total of 21 cards for a complete story.
We kept three cards in our hands to select from and play onto the main area, alternating between us as the inspiration took us. On a couple of occasions I grabbed the top card of the deck and played it directly onto the story, incorporating the elements with a minimum of stewing.
The only real problem we encountered was that, having read widely of fairy tales, the cards actually spoke to us in some detail. It was therefore hard to divorce the printed story from the abstract symbols that the cards presented.
However, we did move with some swiftness to a conclusion that tied up the story within the 21 cards, and created a rich layered tale about Jack that will be ripe with allegory once we sit down and think about it. A full telling of this fairy tale will go on my writing blog once I type up my notes from the session. Follow the link here for the writeup: Jack and the Spring snake
As a final note, Fairy Tale Tarot cards are available as an iPhone and iPad app.