braid fiction

interactive storytelling
Published in 29 Jan 2020

Mailchimp (a mailing list manager) has a feature called conditional merge tags and it’s a way to write one newsletter with blocks of content that can be seen by some recipients but not by others, based on their variables. like:

*|IF:AGE >= 21|* 
Check out our special deals on wine!

The idea is to use it to co-write stories via email.

The game master creates a small audience of players, let’s say 3, and assigns a code to each one of them: P1, P2, P3.

Players and GM agree on turns per week (called pace), the more turns per week the faster (and more time-consuming) the story runs.

screen 02

Let’s assume they agreed on 2 turns, wed and sun. Each turns goes:

  1. GM writes using mailchimp, with conditionals.

    Let’s say one character is psychic, so GM describes the aura of the people close to them. Just to this character.

    Or what seems to be best friends, one character is trying to avenge the death of his family. They know their “friend” is the killer. So GM writes character memories, their anger and frustration and how they need to keep faking to get revenge in due time. Just to this character, and no one else.

  2. Players receive a new newsletter, with GMs descriptions, personalized. None of the players know what others receive. They only see their point of view.

  3. Players write their reactions and what they did, with dialogue. To DM alone.

  4. DM unifies reactions into a new turn (see step 1)

This if/else fiction creates intrigue for co-writing of stories, and it works not only for players and GM, but since it’s online, I can also create an audience.

screen 01

The audience needs to read all different POVs to get a sense of what’s going on. That’s why I call it braid fiction.

The audience knows more about the plot than players, like a reality show.