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Phil Dutré

Narrative wargaming for me is about putting the narrative first instead of winning the battle. The setup of most wargaming is two sides vs each other, and one side wins the battle and hence the game.

A narrative game deviates from that in that the winning the battle is not the object of the game, but developing the story is.

In my gaming group we have developed several narrative techniques that explore such setups. One succesful experiment involved many players, and to each player objectives were given that had to be reached. Objectives could be related to both armies. E.g. “Charge with cav unit x”, or “hide from the battle with inf unit y”. Each player takes turns, influencing the flow of the battle, usually through matrix-style mechanics, possibly using voting such as in committee games. But the battle is only the backdrop against which the individual story of units and officers is written. The battle is not the goal of the game, but the various objectives of all sorts of units and individuals on the field. I wrote this up for Battlegames #33 a few years ago.

Another experiment involved the GM telling a story about an historical battle, moving the actors (units and individuals) around the table to illustrate what is happening. All players have interrupt cards, listing verbs, adjectives, etc., which they can use to interrupt the story and influence the story. It is up to the GM to incorporate these interrupts in the main storyline. Players “win” by trying to influence the story the most.

Anyway, i do think that elements from storygames can be included in wargaming, but I also think we then need to reinvent  the classic setup and break away from the classic each-player-controls-one-army setup.


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