the Fairgame Archive

2006-05-26: 1001 Nights: T equals zero!
by Meguey

Here it is. I'm pretty darn pleased. I've played it and it works, and I think it's pretty clear. Let me know what you think.

For any game, there are distinct kinds of feed-back:

Concept/Content - How's it 'feel'?

Editorial/Grammer - Anything stick out?

Play-testing - You played it? Great! Tell me all about it.

Questions/How-to-play - Just ask!

Please say up-front what type you're giving. Thanks, y'all.

2006-05-27 02:07:34 Mo



I'll definately set to reading it this weekend, and we'll try to find some time to playtest soon.

2006-05-27 02:15:11 Meguey

Cool! It takes about 3 hours. Fits well in our rock-n-roll parenting world.

2006-05-27 20:56:47 Jonathan Walton

Hey Meg!

Overall, awesome!  Yay!  Great!


Feels great, except for the lack of support for stories-within-stories, which seems like one of the major characteristics of the 1001 Nights tales.  Surely you could add that with just a couple paragraphs?

Also, I was thrown by your use of "GM."  The characters are just taking turns telling each other stories, right?  So one character is being the storyteller while the other characters are filling in roles in that character's story, right?  This doesn't sound like a traditional GM role to me.  Maybe it makes writing the game easier if you have a term for "the person telling the story" but it makes it confusing to read about.

I'm a little concerned that the die system is so arbitrary and that progression towards various goals is not necessarily consistent with character actions, just on how many dice players choose to roll in various categories. But let me try this out in play before suggesting anything.


Gems that have been rolled should be kept seperate from those that haven't, right?  Because you can't roll gems twice in the same story, can you?  I'm a little confused about this part of gem management.  You have 1) the gems you've assigned to specific story thingees, and 2) your cache of gems that you've earned over the course of this story and other stories, right?  Is this one pile or two?

Also, when do you roll any gems that you've brought with you into the story, but are not assigned to a specific story element?  Only at the end, as part of determining "fallout"?  Help!

2006-05-28 00:40:06 Meguey

Jonathan, thanks.

Story support will be more clear with examples.

You understand the roles correctly, despite the use of "GM".


All your gems go into the same pile, and yes, they only get rolled once, at the end. Any gems that are brought with you into the story also only get rolled at the end. In this way, the GM gets at least those to roll at the end. Read Vincent's playtest write-up, if you haven't yet.

Let me know how it plays!

2006-05-28 01:57:41 Shane

Hey Meg, I love it ;)

Play-testing - alas, exam time. But soon!

Editorial/Grammer - The list of story titles seems to have fallen off the back of the book.

Questions/How-to-play - How much do you find the GM* narrating? As I read it the game could play with no story input from the players apart from setting stakes (backed up by "unfurl the Story just before the feet of the players"), or it could play trad-RPG style with players having complete control over their story-character and the GM being 'everything else'. Somewhere in between?

*I'm with Jonathan, "GM" seems like an odd usage.

Re: Jonathan's "one pile or two" question. It's two piles, right? I can't see any way to play with just one, but I had the same confusion reading through. It might make sense to phrase 'gems in your possession' more clearly/earlier or find a specific term for it as distinct from 'gems I've declared interest in but haven't rolled yet'.

Concept/Content - Five senses, Awesome. Advice I've seen for years and gone "that's cool", but never really looked at until someone goes "Five senses is your character, beginning and end. Go do relationships".

I note it's all one-way progress. You get closer to your Freedom/Execution, never further away. The game text mentions "losing or gaining the Sultan's favour" but mechanically, you never regain, just lose it at different speeds, right?


"progression towards various goals is not necessarily consistent with character actions, just on how many dice players choose to roll in various categories."

Does it help that (from my reading of Vincent's Actual Play) the character actions follow from progress on the dice, not vice versa? AIUI The court level activity is more a result and an echo of the stories, which are the focus of the game. If it helps, assigning dice to different areas *are* character actions, you just haven't described them yet.

Could you unpack that "Stories-within-stories" for me? It's been long and long since I've read 1001 nights.

2006-05-28 02:03:22 Shane

oops. crossposted.

Meg, about "All your gems go into the same pile, and yes, they only get rolled once, at the end." I think Jonathan and I are sticking on a different model of "my gems", thus:

1) I start with 5 gems in a pile, those are mine.

2) During the game I grab a new gem from the bowl and stake it on a question. That gem is also mine in that only I will get to roll it as the issue is resolved, it will go only to the GM or myself.

Jonathan and I are asking is the 'mine' the same in both those paragraphs. I think you mean they are not, I have a pile over here, and staked issues over there, right?

Does it help to say: In para 1 the gem is mine. in 2 the *issue* is mine, the gem is not (not yet).

2006-05-28 09:57:50 Meguey

Play-testing: ok, cool.

Editorial/Grammar: Yep, good catch. Thank goodness it's not at the printer's 'as is'.

Question/How-to-play:How much do you find the GM narrating?

Answer: It varies a bit. We've had two sessions.

In the first, the GMs did little more than set the opening scene. The other players spun the story between them, staking gems as desired, and the GMs just gave it a nudge now and then.

In the second, the GMs had a bit stronger presence, but also got awarded gems for details of their Story, which didn't happen in the first session.

The players have to be involved because this is where the Courtiers get to make the hints, innuendoes, and insults that would be impossible in Court. This is what helps drive the Court scenes. (And thanks for asking, because I see this isn't clear in the text.)

Concept/Content: Yay!

About it being a one-way process towards Freedom or Beheading - you are right, mechanically. However, you can spend a gem from your pile to Interrupt a Story, sending all unresolved gems back to the bowl. This can act as a way to undercut someone who has a ton of staked gems, and make it less likely that they will remain safe, or progress towards their goals.

Your last sentence in your second post is a great way to explain when/how the gems become yours and are added to your pile. I'm thinking of adding little bowls for gems you own, so as to distinguish them from the Sultan's bowl and from the staked but unresolved gems on the tale.

2006-06-10 02:37:54 atholbrose

Followed a link to the game from; I'm intrigued, and I actually might be able to talk my group into trying it sometime.

Editorial/Grammar: in the "Court Level" section, there's an unfinished sentence: "If there are no Court scenes explicit by the gem rolls," and then it goes on to a parenthetical note about interrupting stories. There's a mysterious rule there that's not there! No fair!

2006-06-10 14:02:29 Meguey

Atholbrose - thanks for the catch!

If there are no Court scenes explicit by the gem rolls, as the GM just completing your Story, turn to the next player to be GM and have your Courtier invite their Courtier to tell a Story. This is the place for the subtle barbed politeness and carefully veiled comments that Courtiers can say, whereas in the Story, they may speak more freely.

2006-06-18 01:17:20 Lokisdottir

I translated this into Korean in hopes of playtesting with some of my friends, I hope it's all right? The translation is here:

2006-06-19 13:00:23 Meguey

Dude! I'm all chuffed! Yes, it's totally cool that you translated 1001 Nights into Korean!!! Awesome! Let me know how it goes.

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