I’m super excited to bring you this week’s Kickstarter Game of the Week because, well, it’s super awesome. Someone Has Died by Gather Round Games is an improvisational storytelling game, which, I have to admit, is right up my alley in terms of ‘games I absolutely love but don’t own enough of.’
So what’s “improvisational storytelling”? Well, it’s a pretty simple concept actually. In general, games like this require players to be a bit more ‘into’ the game, either by doing some sort of light roleplaying or by being able to think on their feet in interacting with other players. At their core, these types of games revolve around being able to tell a good story. It’s a skill that a lot of people think they don’t possess, but truly — deep down — we’re all storytellers. It’s what makes us human, and we all have a primal urge to share our experiences with other human beings.
What makes improvisational storytelling games great, however, is that there’s usually some sort of framework around which players have to spin their stories. This makes it easier for people who might be a little shy or not normally into this sort of thing. Someone Has Died uses a brilliant framework in the form of the conceit that… someone has died. Helleuw. So.
Here’s how the creators describe the gameplay:
The estate keeper sets the stage by establishing who has died, how they passed away, and what they left behind. Using a starting hand of one identity card, one relationship card, and two backstory cards, all the other players build the base for their character, which they must maintain and develop over the course of four comically legal-themed rounds of play.
The four rounds are:
- Opening Statements – wherein players introduce their characters, using all four of their cards, and state their claim to the fortune for the consideration of the estate keeper.
- Interrogation Round – wherein the estate keeper asks each player an individual question (at least loosely) based on what’s been said thus far. Players all must incorporate a new backstory card into their response.
- Recess Round – wherein players break for lunch and get to informally ask one other player – estate keeper included! – an individual question. No new backstory cards are drawn.
- Final Statements – wherein players draw one last backstory card and make their last effort to convince the estate keeper that they should get the fortune.
At any point during the game, the estate keeper can reward another player an objection card, which can be played at any time to intervene or interrupt another players’ speaking turn by saying “Objection!” and reading the sentence written on the card. That statement immediately becomes true about the person it’s played on and they must incorporate it into their story.
It’s brilliantly simple, but what I love most about Someone Has Died is that although the game revolves around telling the best stories and being able to schmooze up to the estate keeper, there’s just enough structure to the game so that it doesn’t collapse in on itself.
Someone Has Died reminds me of another great storytelling game, The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen, wherein players try to tell the most fantastical stories, but in the most believable way possible. (the latest printing is done by Fantasy Flight Games, so it’s quite high quality I’m sure!) It’s one of my all time favorite games, from any genre. These types of games really resonate with me, because I love telling stories and making people laugh, but also because they’re a wonderful departure from the usual ‘dudes on a map’ or ‘miniatures in a dungeon’ or ‘meeples on a farm’ or ‘dice knocking over everything on the table’ types of games that typically find their way onto the sacred table of Game Night. Improvisational storytelling is brilliant: Gather a few good friends, tell stories, and have a great time. And I can’t wait to get Someone Has Died to do just that!
Be sure to check out Someone Has Died on Kickstarter – as of posting this, it’s got just 10 days to go! And if it sounds like something you’d be into, then do the good folks of Gather Round Games a solid and back it. I’m sure they’d appreciate it!
Until next time, gang. Keep it plucky,