Currently partway through its Kickstarter run, Monkey Gun Games' Tales of the Fabulist is part storytelling party game and part stand-up comedy improv kit - all wrapped up in a broadly contemporary but otherwise archetypal fantasy setting.
The game comprises three decks of cards: characters, quests and plot twists. The Fabulist (storyteller) draws one quest and two character cards and, in a 60 second improv, defines how the characters relate to each another and the quest. Other players (any number up to 8 or 9) have each drawn two plot twist cards and they play these in turn for the Fabulist to work into the story in another 30 seconds. Depending on how you want to play, players may try to use plot twists to aid or hinder the Fabulist. When the plot twists have all been incorporated, the Fabulist tries to wrap up the tale. Players then volunteer their own 'moral of the story'.
There are scoring options but Tales of the Fabulist is a light-hearted game to enjoy rather than a game you'll be playing to win. It's more important to rope everyone in as active participants than to keep track of 'winning'. With this in mind, the rules offer various options for modifying play. You can play co-operatively or competitively: not so much for point-scoring as for the fun of hijacking the story. You can play with a Fabulist as the storyteller from start to finish or you can play as a kind of relay game, where the player offering the plot twist takes over the story at that point.
With all storytelling games you mostly only get out what you put in but designers Jason Hughes and Stacey Welchley have done a good job with the design of the cards in Tales of the Fabulist to give a boost even to shy or more reluctant Fabulists. That said, you'll probably enjoy this game most if you break it out after participants have had a few drinks: perhaps one to suggest at the end of an informal dinner party.
The game comes with a 30 second sand timer to jolly things along (flip it when finished for the initial 60 second intro: do the math) and there's an app in the works offering both a digital timer and some storytelling enhancements. At Board's Eye View, we've had a lot of fun in our short time with a preview version of Tales of the Fabulist so we're eager to see how the game develops over the course of its time on Kickstarter. Click here to check it out for yourself.