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Entwined In Folklore: The Domovoi

Twine games come in many forms, from the autobiographical confessional to the surrealist equine Bildungsroman. I’ve never seen one quite like The Domovoi though, which takes on the role of a storyteller communicating directly with the player/listener. This particular tale is plucked from Slavic folklore and the actors are new to me, which made playing through the brief encounter a pleasant educational experience. It helps that the story is delightfully – if sparsely – illustrated, flickering with a glow that fits the setting and mood. And if your interest in Slavic folklore is minimal, you could always supply the most inappropriate suggestions possible to derail the storyteller’s flow.

Oral storytelling meets games in a peculiar way that can be extremely compelling. It has, for obvious reasons, been adapted to the social setting of board and card games with ease, and anyone who has played Tales of the Arabian Nights or Once Upon A Time will have stories to tell about the stories they told. And then there are tabletop RPGs, direct descendants of the oral tradition – Homer was basically the world’s best Dungeon Master. Or perhaps he was a long-winded bag of pipes, flatulently in love with his own voice.

I hope for more games that treat the player as a listener or a speaker. Sleep Is Death is a decent example but there’s another game, which came out much more recently, and the name escapes me. A multiplayer collaborative semi-randomised storytelling experience. Does that ring any bells in your belfries?

It should be noted that The Domovoi comes from the same group who have previously told their tales of Dwarf Fortress in a similar fashion, although without the interactive elements. Matul Remrit is essential reading.


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Adam Smith

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