Day 61: Take as long as you need; you have six seconds.

September 26, 2009

Key phrases are little, ritual-like one-liners that either implicitly or explicitly drive a game.  Some games, like Polaris, have them baked right into the game’s mechanics, and for other games they’re just extremely handy.

There’s several improv games that are built around a key phrase, like the one where someone says “We’re going to start a band.” and everyone replies with something like “Yes, and…” – like so.

Player 1: “We’re going to start a band.”

Player 2: “Yes, and we’re going to play heavy metal music.”

Player 3: “Yes, and we’ll have an orchestra that will play with us.”

Player 4: “Yes, and we’ll have awesome special effects.”

Player 1: “Yes, and we’ll be very popular with goth chicks.”

Player 2: “Yes, and our special effects will breach fire codes.”

and so on…

A major example in D&D is the phrase “Roll for initiative.”  Many, many players I know treat that as a great big “HERE IT COMES!!!!”

Likewise, I started my games of In A Wicked Age with the phrase “In A Wicked Age…” to say “OK, chat’s over, we’re gaming now.” and I used “And so it was.” to say “cool, we’re done.”

In the Tag’s Folly game, I used a phrase that was recommended to me by this thread on Story Games.

The phrase is “Take as long as you need; you have six seconds.”

That serves to remind players that a round of combat is supposed to only take that long, and that there’s really not a lot of time – in the fiction – for helpful suggestions from other party members.  Also, it works!  Players get back to the rolling and decision-making.  I like that.

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2 Responses to “Day 61: Take as long as you need; you have six seconds.”

  1. Sandy Says:

    Stolen for personal use 🙂

  2. Monty Says:

    It was wonderful in play. Like a little psychic nudge that encourages you to make a decision and get behind the “here and now” of the action.


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