Cheat Your Own Adventure

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A game poem for at least 3 people.

You eagerly open the book at page 1 and begin your journey of page-flips and hard choices. Ahead of you lies an adventure in which you decide your destiny! Maybe this is the book you will get through without dying? If not, there’s always a do-over. What are you waiting for? Go and cheat your own adventure!

Setup

Get a scrap of paper and write the numbers 1 to 12 on it, then put it where everyone can see. This is your adventure sheet (a pretty pre-made example can be found below, and downloaded from the UK Roleplayers Wiki). Grab two six-sided dice and decide who will be the first reader – if you can’t decide then roll for it. The first Reader then rolls for the book title.

Shane notes: I will knock up a pretty adventure sheet prior to press.


To generate a book title roll 2 dice, add the result and consult the table below:

2. The Forest 3. The Caverns 4. The Keep 5. The Crypt 6. The Dungeons 7. The Catacombs 8. The Port 9. The Swamp 10. The Island 11. The Hills 12. The Ring

This is the first part of your book name. To get the second part roll 2 dice, add the result and consult the table below:

2. of Doom! 3. of Evil! 4. of Misery! 5. of Despair! 6. of Zalkir! 7. of Death! 8. of Midnight! 9. of War! 10. of Ice! 11. of Fire! 12. of Eternal Stench

Add the two parts together and write it at the top of the adventure sheet.

Playing the game

The Reader narrates a short piece of text from an adventure book, stopping at the point of a choice. The other players present choices, in the style of “To xxxx turn to page xx”. The Reader passes the dice to the player with option they think is the most interesting.

The chosen player makes a Skill Roll (two dice, added together) against the lowest number on the scrap of paper (the Stamina). If the total is equal to or greater than the Stamina the choice is safe. The roller then crosses out the lowest number on the sheet, and repeats the process as the Reader incorporating the successful outcome from the previous choice into this text.

If the Skill Roll is less than their Stamina the roller must narrate a horrible scene of death or failure and passes the dice back to the Reader, who quickly flips back through the book to make another choice! This choice is always safe and play carries on from this choice (the lowest number is still crossed out) as it would above.

Ending the game

The game ends when the number 12 is crossed off with a victory scene. If you fail on the roll at the 12 point then just cheat your way to an ending - in all his years of playing adventure books the poem author never finished one without a do-over - and choose another option to lead to a victory scene just as you would on a normal failure.

Play advice

Adventure books were written in a particular style; try to recreate it if you can.

  • The Reader should always address the game in the second person (“you walk down a tunnel”, or “you defeat the goblin”).
  • Occasionally make references to items or previous books, for example “If you chose the rope turn to page 948”, “If you helped the Dwarves in a previous book turn to page 43”.
  • Don’t be afraid to be over the top or arbitrary – the authors of old certainly weren’t!


Design Thoughts

The idea of not crossing off Stamina when the roll failed was originally used, but that means the later stages of the game progress slower and slower. Crossing off on a pass or failure means that the game will progress much quicker.