Creativity and the Busy Adult
I love playing games with my child. One of our favorites is No Thank You Evil. But, as an RPG, there’s a lot of overhead, if I want to do it well. I enjoy creating scenarios, despite a big time investment.
“Story Please” is an expansion for the game that seeks to provide prompts and a loose frame for people like myself to use to create a compelling experience on the fly. Does it succeed?
Well, as anyone who has purchased a game manual or supplement for an RPG system can probably attest, the value is all in how you use it.
That said, I initially balked at the $25 dollar price tag, but softened on that, when I saw that the box had quite a bit of variety. The cards come in many flavors–from story cards, to map cards, people, to miscellaneous items and even plot twists! There’s sure to be something to jumpstart a sagging storyline, if you have one.
The instructions suggest picking a story prompt, a place (or two), a few people, and some other card types to round out the adventure. That seemed a bit math-y for me, so I went with my gut.
Cards in the Box
In our first story, I needed a cave for a wizard to be trapped in, and I fumbled through the cards, while my daughter waited on the edge of her seat (literally) for more adventure. I found a set of map cards!
This was just what I wanted. I was able to give my kid a sense of place, and she had to find her way to a certain room (the top right).
Speaking of a sense of place, another favorite addition were locations. My daughter just stopped and said “ooh!” when she saw some of the striking art. I wasn’t far behind.
These locations worked well. I needed a forest, and I flipped through the cards, until I found something reasonably sylvan, and away we went!
Other times, I let the actual explanation of a location drive the story: we were searching for a missing, purple dragon cat, so the zoo seemed like a logical place for such a creature to blend in.
The back of the card said there were Dandy Lions in the zoo, so we approached them–and made sure they were well-fed–before enlisting their help.
Locations are only as interesting as the characters in them. If you are in a beautiful or terrifying setting where nothing ever happens, then it doesn’t matter much.
It’s nice to have more characters to fill different roles, from frenemies to outright villains, to NPCs. My daughter grew quite attached to some of the base game characters, perhaps her new favorite is in this stack!
Another type of card, Handout Cards, basically represent perils or opportunities for heroes to start or chain together adventures. Did you find a note in the forest cave while rescuing the wizard? Huh. Wonder what that’s all about… Yet another lever you as the GM can pull to tweak the adventure.
RPGs thrive on loot, or epic items. This expansion introduces some of that extra stuff (in addition to what’s in the base game book) into the system. Maybe it’s a reward for a job well done, or maybe it’s just lying about. Either way, this stuff can definitely provide fuel for the imagination.
Into every game, a little rain must fall. Is everything going too simply for the heroes? Are they simply mowing down enemies and taking their stuff? Maybe a twist is just the thing!
And Finally, Story Please!
These cards are the main reason I invested in the expansion. Having more characters, places, and stuff was all a welcome addition, and I loved the map cards. But, I really enjoy having the direction provided on these cards.
Maybe Wag the Werewolf could benefit from that potion we saw earlier, but the only person who has it lives in the futuristic city, and sent a note back through time asking for seven rainbow berries to be picked when wolves are howling loud so she can make it… (See the handout card picture.)
Hey. That’s not a bad idea for a story!
The Final Verdict
I’d recommend both, but with a few caveats. You, as the adult, have to enjoy generating a story, and you have to be able to do so in a way that keeps your kid(s) engaged. The Story Please expansion is a toolbox that makes that easier.
However, it’s worth noting:
- The kids won’t likely lose. My daughter’s stats for her character are such that, unless I really wanted to hammer her weak points frequently, she would pass any test with flying colors.
- The flexibility is a good thing, but can also lead to analysis paralysis in kids and the GM if you’re not careful. A few times, I had to just push my daughter through by saying “this is what happened.
It came to my attention, while writing this article, that No Thank You Evil and its expansions are currently (May 15th through June 5th, 2018) on offer on Kickstarter.
While this is an excellent opportunity to get the game, my review is unaffiliated with that campaign insofar as it was not solicited by the creators or producers (i.e. I spent my own money on getting the game and expansion).