steve cake
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Hi,

I run a children's literacy charity and we have a workshop game to help children generate random story ideas for their own comic book stories. Right now we use different coloured cards numbered 1-4 on the back with the story ideas on the reverse, #1 cards being character, #2 cards being a story event etc.

I am developing a pack for schools and youth clubs to share our idea and I want to design a neater way of generating the four different ideas. One option is to print some cards up at Game Crafter or somewhere similar and have four different card shoes with a deck in each one, but I wonder if there is a cooler way of doing this that would capture the imagination of the children.

What about a spinner or disks or dice or something? Is there a component or mechanic that you have seen that could work here?

Any ideas most welcome. We are working with vulnerable children and young people from some deprived areas and we want to inspire them to start writing their own stories and reading more comic books as the start of their lifelong reading. This pack will help us make a bigger impact and change more lives.

Many thanks,

Steve
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Rob Harper
United Kingdom
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Pulling tiles out of a bag could be good. Pulling a set of tiles out of four bags could be even better. Everyone loves to rummage in a bag.

More generally, do you want each kid to get their own, unique set of story elements to work with? Or is it one set of elements for a group? Do you want them to be able to take their elements away with them? How many kids would be taking part at a time? Do you want there to be a sense of theatre and excitement over the selection of the elements? Should every element turn up once only, or is it OK (or desirable?) for multiple kids to share an element?

The cards sounds great. Dice are also good (check out Rory's Story Cubes and its expansions). The best thing to use would, I think, depend on the vision you have for these workshops.

Oh, and I just wanted to add, it is totally awesome what you are doing there. Keep up the great work!
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Johnathan Ness
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You could have six each of the four decks laid out facedown in a grid, then the child rolls a die four times and picks the card in each column that matches their roll. Then you replace the cards and the next child goes.

The bag with tiles mechanic is also good. Personally, I'm not as big a fan of spinners because in my experience, they break too easily or can start arguments if it ends up on the line ("That's a 7!" "No, it's an 8!") Great idea to get kids writing, though.
 
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JT Schiavo
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What giving each child two or three cats from category one, they pick a favorite (so they can pick something that inspires or appeals to them). Then repeat with each category, letting them put together a story that they want to tell and provide more agency?

I guess you could call that a form of drafting.
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Jeremy Lennert
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Cards are the component I would probably use for this.

+ They've got space for pictures or supplementary text (maybe examples, or definitions for obscure words, or translations into other languages?)

+ The next player can draw even if the previous player is still reading their card.

+ Unlike dice or spinners, they allow you to easily add more options later (expansions!) or remove some options (if they don't work out, or are inappropriate for a particular audience) without affecting the remaining options.

+ No choking hazard.

Drawing tiles from a bag is an attractive alternative if you want to reshuffle after every draw (since mixing 1 tile back into an already-mixed bag is faster than shuffling a deck of cards).
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Freelance Police
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Cards are the best, I think. They're easier to manufacture than dice, spinners, etc. You can even put up the files on Artscow so clubs can print their own copies and have them shipped to themselves.

Are you familiar with Once Upon a Time? It's a fairy tale-based storytelling game. There might be a bundle on Massdrop. PM me if you end up buying it.

An even brainstormier method is to have the kids make up their own cards, using index cards. Have the kids come up with the story elements, and either they or someone older can classify the cards on the back, even new ones that might not fit with others. See the "1001 Blank Cards" party game. The group could even discuss how they used the cards in their stories.
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steve cake
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Thanks, Rob. Tiles are a neat idea we would not have thought of!

I appreicate the support.

Steve
 
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John Breckenridge
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Instead of four different decks, give the kids cards with several things on them and let them pick which one to use.

Like if a kid's four cards are:

Jewelry Store
Kangaroo
Ice Cream Truck Driver
Hurricane

Library
Xylophone
Airline Pilot
Birthday Party

Hospital
Banana
Jockey
Long Hike

Mars
TV Camera
Dancer
Baseball Game


They'd pick the first thing from one card, the second from another, and so on.
So maybe my story is a serious one about a news reporter who's ready with a camera to catch the brave pilot, who flew the airliner through the hurricane, as he checks out of the hospital.

Or maybe it's a sillier one about a Martian jockey who threw his kangaroo a birthday party after they won the race. (Jockeys on Mars ride kangaroos; everyone knows that.)



It gives them more flexibility in case they can't come up with a good story for one particular element they can switch to a different one. And the sneaky part is it makes them do more reading.
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steve cake
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This is a good idea too.

Thanks to everyone who suggested ideas. We will playtest all of these and see how they run with the kids.

The charity is called Upside Comics and this is part of our new project that we call Project Kamandi. Hopefully by the end of the year we will have a kit or box of tricks that we can distribute to teachers and educators to help them working with kids who are less keen readers to inspire them through the power of comic books.

Many thanks!

Steve
 
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