All Nerdoms Board Games

Universal Storytelling System Streamlines Infinite Gaming Possibilities

About a month ago I went to a tiny gaming micro-con run in my Minnesota hometown by the guys from Fear The Boot and Kicked In The Dicebags, two gaming podcasts. While at the con, we got to playtest a gaming system written by Derek Knutsen from Indiana. Called The Universal Storytelling System, this set of rules was incredibly simple and made for a very streamlined session that let us focus on the story rather than on adding up modifiers.

Full success!

Full success!

In his initial description, Derek told us he wanted to make a game that anyone could pick up instantly and run with. In order to accomplish this, he simplified everything down to a success/failure system, akin to World of Darkness. The system also runs on decks of playing cards, an item many people have, rather than the polyhedric dice which can be hard to find if you’re new to the tabletop gaming world.

The session we ran was a wacky sunday morning superhero cartoon universe, complete with PSAs and product placements. It’s a testament to the system that something that seems so specific can be created out of a rule set designed to cover every genre of gaming.

Now, when I rave about how streamlined and easy to pick up the system is, I do not want to make it sound like some sort of Gaming Lite™. I’ve been gaming for twelve years now and some of the people in my playtest group doubled that. This is a gaming system that is engaging for ALL gaming levels. Derek introduced the system to us saying that “while the system is designed for new gamers, experienced gamers will find it to be a great system for them too” and he was definitely not wrong. If any reader has played World of Darkness or similar games, they’ll know just how satisfying the success/failure system can be – or how devastating it feels when you miss your mark, if that’s how your luck runs.

Playing through The Universal Storytelling system was one of the most entertaining gaming experiences I’ve had. It took maybe five minutes maximum to learn the game and become acquainted with my character, a glamorously be-spandexed manipulator of light with my own catchphrase of STARBURST! (which I gleefully yelled every time I did ANYTHING, much to my teammates’ chagrin). I can’t remember once stopping to look up a rule or settle a numbers dispute. Seriously, it’s a well polished system, and after years of development and playtesting, it shows.

The Kickstarter for this project runs until August 17th and can be found here.