Fable Playtest #1

The original “back of the napkin” design for Fable

Playtest #1 in-class 1/19

We designed a storytelling game called “Fable” for children aged 6 – 9* accompanied by at least one adult (2-3 players in total). The educational goal is to encourage creativity, teach kids how to structure a story, and increase vocabulary. Each player would play a character with a profession and a trait of their choice out of three cards drawn. All players share a “motivation” randomly drawn. Each player resolves one “conflict” randomly drawn from the pile on their journey to fulfill the motivation, and all players come together to resolve a bigger conflict (climax) before reaching a “resolution.”

We playtested “Fable” for the first time with three classmates during studio 2B. The playtest and the discussion lasted 10 minutes each. The test ran smoothly and people gave us highly positive feedback regarding the design and game dynamics.

*Our original intention was to design this for children, but since we playtested with college-age players, we’re thinking of repurposing the design here to make a game for more mature players. Pending if we can get a child to playtest for Playtest #2.

Things to keep

  • Players love how this makes them creative.
  • Players love to see their unique combinations of traits and professions because they are funny.
  • Players loved the creative freedom within the game’s boundaries
    • Didn’t feel overly restricted by the rule that you must refer to your profession/trait at least once per conflict (something we were concerned about)
    • They like that the traits/professions were still simple enough to allow them to improvise freely.
    • Players love the conflicts(hints) that drive the story so that they don’t have to come up with a story out of nowhere.

Things to change

  • Instead of a relationship between every pair of characters, the players will have a universal relationship (friends, strangers, enemies…), since players found the pairwise relationships too complex to manage
  • Modify the “1 year later” resolution card to “1 month later”; we want to encourage players to create a resolution with continuity to the story, and 1 year wasn’t soon enough
  • Change player cap to four (worked smoothly enough with three players to add one more!)
  • Add pictures to the professions to make it more educational


  • Game lasted ~10 minutes (3 players), we were concerned it might end too quickly but turns out not to be the case since players enjoy storytelling naturally.
  • Sometimes players forgot about overarching motivation; writing this as a note-to-self, if this continues for future players, we suggest enforcing that the motivation must be referred to in each conflict resolution

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