Introduction: Shared Universes is an addition to the universe of wargaming
and roleplaying. Gamers are often very creative and talented people.
Unfortunately there is often nowhere to go for the amateur writer or
artist. Poems get buried away never to be seen again. The doodles never get
turned into paintings. Ideas die, never having been fully explored. Most
gamers have a few drawings and adventure ideas hidden in old folders.
Shared Universes is an attempt to give this raw undeveloped talent a place
to go, to grow, to be seen, and to communicate. In Shared Universes,
like-minded artists band together, for inspiration and support, in
organizational units called journey groups. Players may decide to work on
group projects together called, appropriately, shared universes. Artifacts,
such as drawings and stories, not only have their own intrinsic value but
also contribute to a larger work of art, the shared universe. As players
build up their portfolios and the groups archives grow, the players and the
group will move onto continually more sophisticated and fulfilling projects.
Shared Universes is a gaming system that provides players with a framework
in which to create their own art and literature. The rules give guidelines
and starting points for the creative process. Players are not just playing
a game, they are producing permanent records of their ideas in writing and
in art. As players refine their skills the game becomes richer and more
The Journey: All players are considered to be on a journey. A journey
of imagination, self exploration, learning, creating, experience, ideas,
growth, sharing, and mastery.
Journey Names: Every player should take a journey name. These names
should be descriptive and fanciful. Some examples include: Earthborn,
Starbright, Dreamdancer, Lost Angel, Birdman. The journey name is one of
the players' many alter egos. Players should draw a picture of the
physical incarnation of their journey name. A player, of course, may use
different names for different journeys.
Journey Groups: Every artist and writer needs an audience. This is the
primary function of the journey group. Groups may be composed of just
several friends or they may be larger, community based, clubs or
organizations. Journey groups are called J-groups for short.
Journey Group Names: Every journey group should give itself a name. Some
sample names: The Ghost Writers; Anonymous Artists Political Action Group;
Sidereal Messengers; Prometheans; The Underground; Undead Poets Society;
The Fellowship; Futurians; Tech Hombres Gang; The Journeymen.
Journey Sessions: When a journey group meets it is called a session.
Formal sessions may occur once a week, once a month, or whenever
convenient. A session is broken down into two main parts: show and tell,
and brainstorming. During show and tell, players take turns showing off
and reading out loud whatever art and writing they have done since the
previous session. During brainstorming players work on group projects and
give feedback about each others personal projects.
Guardian of Knowledge: Abbreviated GK, this individual is the groups'
leader, organizer, record keeper, and judge. The actual responsibilities
of the GK may be spread among several people. This position has more
responsibility than authority as most decisions of a group will be arrived
The role of the GK includes the following tasks:
-Maintain interest or call for a change of topic
-Mediate disputes; Keep the peace; Negotiate compromises
-Award Story Teller Points
-Offer suggestions and advice
-Maintain the archives
-Provide focus and organization if and where it is needed.
Artifacts: Artifacts are another name for anything created for a journey
universe. Drawings, songs, stories, and jewelry are all artifacts.
Artifacts also include events such as performances and festivals.
Special Projects: A player or group may decide to do a special project.
Special projects, in the most general sense, are collections of artifacts,
usually with a unifying purpose or theme, displayed together. An example of
a special project would be a series of books, each containing a collection
of short stories and illustrations. A special project may incorporate work
from many universes.
Universes: The concept of the ‘Universe' is central to the Shared
Universes game. A universe is simply a fictional background that players
use as a framework for creating artifacts. Artifacts help to detail a
universe and detailed universe gives inspiration for the creation of more
artifacts. Imagination is the only limit to the number of possible
universes. Universes may be of several types: shared, closed, personal, and
Shared Universe: Everyone in the journey group may use a shared
universe. The GK may keep a file in which anyone who wishes may keep a
copy of their work. All players should have full access to the GKs Shared
Closed Universe: In this universe only certain people may contribute
under certain conditions. Players should make a charter document detailing
who has access to the universe.
Personal Universe: This includes very personal, private work of a single
Parallel Universe: This is material that supplements another universe
but is kept separate for whatever reason. For example, if a player creates
an artifact for a specific universe and the other players do not feel it
belongs there, the GK may decide to put the artifact in a parallel universe
file. The most common use for a parallel universe is as a place to keep
rough draft material which will outnumber finished artifacts.
Archives: An archive is a collection of artifacts. Players will have
their own personal archives and the GK will keep the journey groups
archives. Artifacts of a single universe may be kept together in what is
known as a single "library". To help keep the archives organized,
individual artifacts should be recorded, cataloged, and labeled with the
creators name, the date of creation, the artifacts title, the universe it
was created for and any other important information.
Possession: They say possession is nine tenths of the law. No player is
under any compulsion to give their work to another player. Avoid potential
problems by making copies of your work. Players should avoid plagiarizing
published authors. Always include references and credits where necessary.
Story Teller Points: Story teller points or STPs are an abstract measure
of productivity, quality, and ideas generated by players. The GK awards
STPs either during or after a Journey session. The GK's award may be
influenced by players opinions. Players keep track of their STP totals
from session to session. As players accumulate STPs they increase in level
and corresponding title. An artifact may be used to acquire points only
once in a particular Journey group. If a player belongs to more than one
group that player will have different STP totals and ranks in each.
Awarding Story Teller Points:
1 for attending a Journey session
1 for being a GK at a Journey session
1 for a quick Sketch
1+ for a Poem, story outline, or character concept
1+ per page of writing
1+ for a really good idea
1+ for creating a new Universe
5+ for a detailed Illustration
5+ for a Short Story or Essay
5+ for a game design or set of RPG rules
10+ for a detailed Painting
20+ for a Book or Novel
5+ for a Comic Strip
1+ for a Photograph
5+ for completing a special project
1-20+ for Craft items: Metalwork, Sculpture, Jewelry, Glass, Costumes, Clothing, etc
5+ for Acting, Orations, Speeches, Monologues
10+ for putting on a Play, Concert, or Festival
5+ for a Song or Instrumental piece
10+ for an Album or Video
1+ for attending Craft or Renaissance Fairs
1+ for selling an Artifact
10+ for having your work published or displayed in public
10+ for having your own Webpage
1+ for every 1,000 hits
A single artifact or project may acquire points in several categories.
STP Rank & Title Table:
STPs RANK TITLE
0 0 Initiate
100 1 Novice
200 2 Aspirant
300 3 Adept
400 4 Artisan
500 5 Artist
600 6 Seeker
700 7 Loremaster
800 8 Dreamspeaker
900 9 Shaman
1000 10 Oracle
2000 11 Prophet
3000 12 Demi-God
4000 13 Lesser God
5000 14 Greater God
Journey Roleplaying & Storytelling Resolution: Many of the shared
universes will, after some development, become ripe settings for
roleplaying. In Shared Universes style roleplaying the distinction between
players and game master is blurred. Players are collectively creating a
story and have some control over all elements of the story. Players
resolve events, actions, and plot lines by debating what result would be
the most dramatic and appropriate to the story. If it improves the story,
players may change events that occurred earlier.
SHARED UNIVERSES The following universes are available as starting points
to any player and any group. These suggestions are by no means exhaustive.
Discover and explore new universes:
ANIME MAYHEM Japanese animation is sterotypically postapocalyptic,
violent and intensely sexual. Common elements include big eyes and
transformers. Players may enjoy taking turns drawing sequential scenes for
an action sequence. Artifacts: Character sketches; Storylines; Technical
diagrams; Haikus; Film festivals; and of course, merchandising.
FANTASY ARMIES Two player-generals draw 10 or more units that are in their
armies. The GK draws a map of the battlefield. Other players determine the
result of the confrontation. Artifacts: First hand written accounts of the
battle by soldiers and commanders; maps depicting troop movements;
General's battle plans; Historian's notes; and drawings of the battle in
PERSONAL MYTHOLOGY This concept is best suited for a personal universe.
Examine your own psychological landscape. Depict personal problems as
battles between heros and monsters. Transform places in the real world into
legendary lands. People become gods and titans. Goals become quests. Sorrow
becomes the destruction of nations. Anger becomes earthquakes and tidal
waves. Obstacles become mountains. Love is a golden age. Minutes become
eras of a thousand years. Artifacts of this soul searching include: Poetry;
Fables; Pantheons; and fine art.
MYSTIC JOURNEYS Players create artifacts with mystical, occult, spiritual
and religious themes. The goal is for players to create a personal religion
for themselves. Through the meditative and reflective act of creating
artifacts players discover what they really believe in. Artifacts: Rituals;
Holy symbols; Scriptures on Universal truths, Mans relationship to the
universe, the structure of the cosmos, Self actualization, and the nature
ART HISTORY Get Some books on an artist, such as Picasso. First try
duplicating some of their paintings, then try making some new paintings in
the same style. This journey will be the most rewarding if the players have
adequate supplies (paints, brushes, canvasses) on hand.
STELLAR LANDSCAPES Draw, or preferably, paint a landscape of one of the
planets or moons in our solar system. Some are rocky, some are volcanic,
some are icy, some have atmospheres, some do not. This journey will be most
rewarding if you first do some research on the heavenly bodies you are
depicting. From Triton you can see the rings of Saturn. If you run out of
places in our solar system do landscapes of alien planets.
FLOORPLANS OF A SPACESHIP Make a detailed technical diagram. Types of
ships might include: research vessels, space stations, colony ships,
fighters, battleships, world ships. If everyone in the group does a few,
you may have enough for a whole fleet. Tie this in with Space Fury.
Artifacts: Captains logs; Ship recognition manuals; Histories of each ship
INN OF THE GOURMET GORGON The Inn is located in Findell, a fantasy realm
filled with magical creatures of every description. The house specialty is
Dragontail steak and Fireberry wine. Artifacts: Menus; Recipes; Actual
edible meals; Bistro magic; and short stories.
LANTASIA A classic fantasy realm complete with elves, dwarves, orcs,
wizards, knights, dragons, and mighty spells.
FANTASTIC ARCHITECTURE Using the laws of physics, magic, and aesthetics,
players design buildings. Mix ancient with modern styles. Experiment with
materials, cultures, and locations. Artifacts: Exterior and interior
FUTURE HISTORY Players speculate about what changes in science, medicine,
technology, transportation, culture, government, art, sports, computers,
agriculture, energy, entertainment, economics, work, and human evolution
will occur in the next 25, 50, 75, 100, 200, 500, 1000 years. Artifacts:
Essays; Histories; Timelines.
DREAM LOGS Players make records of their dreams. After doing this for
awhile players might try lucid dreaming. Artifacts: Dream journals; Dream
RAYGUNS & ROCKETSLEDS This universe is straight from 1930's science
fiction comics. Be sure to include bubble helmets, jetpacks, and
cliffhangers. Artifacts: Serial adventure comics.
GIANT ASPARAGUS FROM PLANET X This universe is that of the 1950's
B-movies. Common elements include: earth invasions, mutant monsters, and
mad scientists. Artifacts: Movie posters; Short films in black and white.
KUNG FU FIGHTERS This universe is that of contemporary martial arts
movies and arcade games. Common elements include gratuitous death and
special moves. Artifacts: Character descriptions, high scores.
EXPLORERS Human exploration of the galaxy is still incomplete after
hundreds of years of missions. The history logs are filled with thousands
of incredible accounts of first contacts. This shared universe is
particularly good for short stories. Artifacts: Survey crew logs.
PRIMEA An alternate universe of human and dinosaur evolution on planet
Earth. Dinosaurs still exist and several races of hominids have built
civilizations. The cities of Cro-Magnon, Homo Erectus and the Neanderthals
live in a delicate balance of competition and coexistence. Artifacts: Maps;
Descriptions of the relationships between the races of man; Dinosaur based
CHILDRENS BOOKS Players create stories and illustrations for childrens
books and fables. A lot of great art has been created since the mid 1800's
for childrens books. Artifacts: Illustrated Fairy tales.
UNDERGROUND This is the universe of 1960's under-ground comix. Common
themes are sex, drugs, rock n roll, changing morals, psychedelia, political
protest, and dark humor. Players should experiment with the possibilities
of the comix format.
CITY PLANNER Players design in detail a utopian city that they create
using current technology. This should also include the cities government
and legal system.
NATURALISTS Players make collections of natural phenomenon. This can
turn into a very satisfying pastime and a nice change from wargames.
Artifacts: Rock and crystal collections; Pressed leaves; Insects;
Seashells; Bird watching; Camping trips; fishing trips.
BEATNIK SCENE Players dress in black, make some coffee, and read some
homegrown poetry. As extra incentive give the hippest cat a prize, dig.
Make sure to have some jazz in the background.
FILKING Players write songs and music for their favorite novels. This is
a sign of a real fan.
SCIENCE FANTASY THEATER Costumed players enact scenes from their favorite
works of fiction. Big STP's for this category, especially for long
DRAGONBAIT Do a RPG in a cartoon style with gags, puns, mayhem, and
punchlines. Artifacts: Character sketches, strips.
NOVA A science fiction universe where human empires fight using every
weapon of war and every form of treachery at their disposal.
HISTORIAN Players do projects using their favorite historical period as
subject matter. This may require some research. The possibilities for
Historical Roleplaying are very rich.
MUTOG This universe details the years and centuries on planet earth after
a nuclear holocaust. Menaces include radiation, mutants, and rebuilding
HORROR SHOW Save your scariest and strangest stuff for this universe.
Stories may or may not be unconnected.
CONSPIRACIES In this universe there is some truth behind most conspiracy
theories. Watch your back.
THE PUZZLING Players create mathematical, word, and visual puzzles to
confound each other.
BROKEN LANDS The broken lands is a fantasy setting populated with savage
barbarians, beautiful amazons, foul beasts, filthy cities, constant
warfare, and exotic locations. Magic is ritualistic and diabolic. This is a
good universe for artists who love drawing muscles, and writers who love
describing fierce, grisly combats.
D-TRAVELERS D-Travelers is a universe in which dimension travelers have
both high tech and magic at their disposal.
SUPERHEROS A universe where super heros and supervillans are behind every
nook and cranny.
CYBERPUNK In the not so distant future
EROTICA Players Artifacts: Drawings, Letters, Photos, Sculpture,
LOVE BONDS This is a closed universe shared by two lovers.
HISTORICAL WHAT IFs Players recreate history. What if the Roman Empire
did not fall?
NEW SPORT Players design a new type of team sport. Artifacts: Rules;
Playing equipment; Demonstration game.
ANATONOMY Players produce artifacts describing human, animal and
SCAVENGER HUNT The GK creates an elaborate scavenger hunt, puzzle or
mystery for the players to solve.
COSMIC BALANCE Demons, Titans, Gods, Deities, and Avatars are locked in
an eternal struggle for control of the multiverse. Artifacts: Epics
ALL THE QUEENS MEN Set in the Victorian era, intrepid English scientists
and their companions explore the hollow earth, the planets, and other
VEHICLES Players produce designs for fantastic vehicles. Artifacts:
WESTERNS Players pay tribute to the legends of the old west.
COMPUTER ART Players produce artwork using computers.
THE SIMULATORS What do humans of the 5th millennium do for entertainment?
They engage in highly elaborate holographic simulations. The simulation
controllers easily mix historical and fantastic elements in the most
bizarre combinations possible. Roleplayers will often find themselves in
very awkward situations.
GAME DESIGNERS NOTES
This 'gaming system' was written before the advent of the Internet & the Web.
Star Shield RPG Guardians of Knowlege
Matrix Gaming A better way to game
Blakes 7 RPG Sample online Matrix Game
The World of Slobbovia Example of a Shared Universe
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