This is a proof of concept for a worldbuilding game based on the world of Myst. Using these rules you can create and detail your own ages.
Before you start exploring the Ages, establish the basics of your setting.
First agree on the tone of your world. Is it an eerie lonely experience? Or are the ages still bustling with life? Decide with your group and note down a couple of adjectives.
Create a foundational age and a device (following their respective instructions in the next chapter). Describe why this age serves as a crossroads to other ages. Name this age.
Play passes clockwise. Each player may add either an age or a device.
Declaring a hint. To begin, one player declares a hint, a subject or theme for this round of play. A hint can an age, device or a note. It can also be more abstract like an idea or a personal inspiration.
Then players take turns clockwise performing one of the three actions:
Exploring ages. Ages are the worlds you visit using books. They will contain all the cards in the game. Describe the main theme of this age and give it an appropriate name. What is the essential material here? What is the atmosphere like?
Interacting with devices. Devices are puzzles, landmarks and contraptions used by those who inhabited the age before. Place a device card under an age. Describe the device’s function. Give details about its parts, how it is powered, how to interact with it. Next give the device a twist. For example an unexpected behaviour, a secret door, or a hidden artefact.
Leaving Notes. Notes are writings, schemes and clues left by previous inhabitants and visitors of this age. Place this card under a device. Describe what this note contains. Imagine a vignette of the note’s writer interacting with the device.
When all the players have taken a turn, the player who declared a hint announces a shift. A shift is a change that ripples through all the ages. It can be a change in a device, in the theme of the age itself, or a consequence of a visitors actions.
When players feel like its time to end the game, play a final round. During the final round there are no hints declared. Each player chooses what they want to focus on. If they choose, they can also create their own shift.
After the final player takes their turn, the session is over. Now you can talk about the highlights of your session and leave it at that, or use the worlds you have created for a different game.
Published on July 19, 2022.
Spooky action at a distance is a blog run by emmy verte, to muse on sci-fi, fantasy location exploration and short fiction. You can donate to support Ukraine here.