RPG Review: Kaleidoscope

RPG review: Kaleidoscope

[SU&SD’s coverage of the growing, amazing story games scene has ranged from sporadic to non-existent. Introducing Hilary McNaughton, a writer and gamer from the land of “Canada” who’ll be helping us out with regular reviews! Please give her a warm welcome.]

Hilary: I don’t watch a ton of movies, so I generally assume if I’ve seen something, everybody’s seen it. But it turns out I’ve watched a higher-than-average number of weird foreign films. I’ve even seen a couple I just did not get. At all.

Maybe you know the kind? Things start out sort of intelligible, then dissolve into weird symbolism and visual effects about halfway through. Or there’s no plot, at least that you can find. Or everything seems normal, except for some reason the director shot the whole thing from a bird’s eye view and you never see anyone’s face.

Sometimes the very best thing about a film like that is picking through it afterwards with your friends. What was with the giant hand in the background of that scene at the park? Why didn’t anyone in the movie comment on the fact the sets were obviously all made of cardboard? Did everyone hate the long shot inside the revolving door, or just me?

Kaleidoscope is a game that brings you all the joy and frustration of discussing an opaque foreign art film, without actually having to sit through one. You and your friends invent the details of a fictitious movie in the same time or less than it would have taken to watch.

But how? you ask. I’ll tell you how!

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Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope

Gather 3-5 players, set aside 2 hours, and make up an unwatchable “foreign” film using a pile of index cards and your crazy brains!

Use this step-by-step guide to guffaw your group through non-chronologically remembering a wildly bizarre movie that you apparently just watched together! On each player’s turn they write a part or moment into the movie (oh, I mean remember a part or moment of the movie they saw, pardon me) and insert it anywhere into the timeline you’re collaboratively creating!

Kaleidoscope, a thorough stand-alone hack of Ben Robbin’s celebrated Microscope: a fractal role-playing game of epic histories, has been simmering on my back-burner for a couple of years. I want to share the laughs! Through these years Kaleidoscope has been streamlined and made more silly, seen play in numerous conventions up and down the west coast of North America and many living rooms and several cafes, receiving amused or (on one occasion) unamused looks from folks at neighboring tables, and eliciting many decibels of laughter from its players.

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