Search The Sky For Stories In Before There Were Stars

August 7, 2018 by cassn

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Map constellations and use their wisdom to shape folklore in this stunningly mythic game from Smirk and Laughter.  Released at Gen Con, Before There Were Stars is a narrative game which rewards creative thought among its players.

Before there were Stars is a storytelling game where each player tells the mythic creation story of ‘their people.’ Featuring star-pipped dice that are rolled to form the ‘night sky,’ one scans the stars for constellations to use as keywords for the story. Inspired by Constellation cards, players craft tales about the creation of the world, the origins of civilization, the rise of their great hero, and an end of days.

On their turn, players roll dice to create the stars and try to match these to the constellation cards.  When a successful match has been found, the player uses that constellation to form a basis for the stories of their culture.  There are four rounds, each recounting a different element of your culture's folklore.

Interestingly, unlike other storytelling games, Before There Were Stars does not rely on a co-operative element.  Instead, each player is in charge of their own story; they direct their narrative without other player interference.

Furthermore, the scoring system is completed in secret by the other players and is awarded for interesting moments within these mythic tales.  To keep the game moving, a companion timer app is provided for Android and iOS which limits each player's story to one minute however it isn't necessarily needed if players have previous experience with storytelling games.

I am absolutely enamoured by every element of this game, from mechanic to dynamic to aesthetic.  Before There Were Stars takes the ancient art of creating narratives from the night sky and revitalizes it into a board game, allowing players to embody that same feeling of ethereal creation.

Points aren't awarded for the greatest storyteller or even the greatest folklore, but instead for little moments and ideas - the true gems of creative thought.  There's even a bonus point awarded by each player at the end of the game to the moment they appreciated the most; the moment another player's narrative came together perhaps, or simply a beautifully described segment of another person's story.

And it's this scoring freedom which really sells Before They Were Stars as a storytelling game which awards the process of being creative, rather than metagaming itself.  With such narrative freedom and simplistic gameplay Before There Were Stars should appeal to a wide demographic, as young and old together cast their eyes towards the heavens to try and answer the ancestral question of who we truly are.

Do you enjoy creative storytelling games? Let us know!

"players craft tales about the creation of the world, the origins of civilization, the rise of their great hero, and an end of days"

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