Into the D... C...

These comments copyright 1998 by Steffan O'Sullivan
This page last updated July 24, 1998

These are a series of storytelling games, each with a specific theme. The games, and themes, are:

  • Into the Dark Continent (19th-Century Colonial Africa)
  • Into the Deserted Chapel (Horror)
  • Into the Dragon's Cave (Fantasy)
  • Into the Domain of Capella (Space Opera)
  • Into the Dear Caress (Romance)
  • Into the Dream Centre (Surrealism)
  • Into the Death of Civilization (Apocalypse) [NOT YET PUBLISHED as of May, 1997]
They're published by Magellanica, a British company, and distributed by Esdevium in Britain, which most British gamers have at least heard of. I've never seen any copies in the USA (beyond the ones I own), but some store or mail order place could easily carry them without my knowledge.

Into the D... C... are not really games by some folks' standards. They are, instead, tools for creating shared stories. If you think of them in that respect, they work better than if you try to cram them into a "game" mold. But then, I'm funny about the word "game" - for example, I think Games Magazine is misnamed, and should be called Puzzles Magazine, and computer games aren't games to me ...

At any rate, Into the D... C... are entertaining, whether or not they're games. There are, I think, 200 cards in each game. The cards must be cut out by the end-user, so be prepared for some work - especially if you buy more than one theme! They're printed on A4 cardstock, and are therefore somewhat flimsy and not laminated - not for people who crush their cards (a habit which always makes me wince, I must say). The backs of all the cards are blank - this is actually good, as you can make your own and they'll blend in easily enough. Likewise you can mix cards from the various genres to your taste (I recommend a Surreal Romance). They're easy to sort out again afterwards, if you want, since they each have the name of the game on the front of the card, along with the game element word(s).

Each card contains a word or phrase - many of these phrases come from old books on the topics, so there is some authenticity to the sound of the cards, as well as the selection. (On the other hand, how anyone could possibly publish a Surrealist storytelling game and not include Umbrella, Sewing Machine, and Dissecting Table is beyond me.) Some of the phrases, authentic or not, are deuced hard to work into a story - fortunately the game has a discard mechanic to help you out.

The rules are simple - so simple, I don't really want to give them here lest you not need to buy the game, and I get the publisher mad at me. Suffice it to say they're simpler than Once Upon a Time [OUaT] (from Atlas Games) - no interrupt cards, and every one takes turns playing cards instead of playing as many as you can before being interrupted. Also, there are no special story end cards - use a card from your starting hand as an end goal card.

The rules do not make for a competitive game - although they pretend to. They do tell you how to determine a winner, but it's frankly pretty weak in that respect. This is fine if you enjoy such gaming, but most gamers I know don't really want to play Into the D... C... because of that. I like these games, though, enjoying the stories the game generates, not really caring about a winner. As I said, not really a "game" as such ...

And we have created some interesting stories using them. Two of us had a good story going at a game store, once. There was a CCG being played next to us, and every now and then we'd notice they'd grow silent to listen to our story! We had some difficulty getting out of some trouble spots, so the story was a bit tense at times!

The rules are easily used with children, more so than OUaT. They would be a snap to adapt to educational use. They're also useful for generating role-playing plots ...

The final summary is that if you like tools to help you create shared stories, and don't mind desk-top published cardstock, they're excellent. If you only prefer competitive gaming, and/or spiffy-polished production quality, they fall short of the mark.

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