Your character just had a life-changing experience, something that changed everything either in a big spectacular way or in a small but very personal way.
The game will take us through the aftermath, exploring this brand new and somewhat strange life.
The character will cross paths with people from their old life, but the relationships will almost never be the same.
You might choose to rebuild and evolve those relationships or abandon them altogether.
As a character, you will discover new places, new communities, and new people.
You will redefine what it is to be you, who you love, and how to live this new life.
– Description from game author
How to Play
The game is broken into three phases
- Setting up the story deck
- Readying your character
- Drawing cards and exploring connections
Creating a Story Deck
You will need to setup the story deck before you start playing the game
Sort the deck by suit: hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades.
Place the ace of spades face down.
– Shuffle the hearts and deal 6 face-down cards on top of the ace of spades. (This is the start of the story deck)
– Shuffle the diamonds and deal seven cards on top of the deck.
– Finally, shuffle the clubs and deal 6 cards onto the top of the deck.
You have now built the story deck.
Pull out the Jack, Queen, and King of Spades, and keep the remaining spades to one side. They will be used to introduce connections into your story.
Writing your story
Each card represents a period of time in the story.
Your story is put together by looking up each card in the prompts as they are drawn from the deck.
Some of the prompts will have connections associated with them. They are written in italics. Connections are an opportunity to bring someone new into the story.
You can either ignore them, or select the one that sounds most interesting at the time.
If you decide to explore a connection, take time to talk about them in your journal entry for the day. Think about how they relate to the questions posed.
After recording the entry, select one of the spade cards and write the connection opposite it on the connections list. Then take the top 5 cards of the story deck and shuffle the spade card into the selection before placing them back on top of the deck.
Within a couple of days, the connection will come up again. This is a time where you can explore more about the connection and how they have affected your new life.
The Card Prompts
Each of the cards have a prompt that will advance your story
Act 1 : Clubs – tell the story of how you adapt to the changes that have occurred in your life.
Act 2 : Diamonds – tell the story of how you start to heal and the choices you make.
Act 3 : Hearts – are the prompts about your new life and what it means to you.
Most of the prompts are fairly open. They tend to ask questions about how you feel, what you do, or what it means. They don’t hem you into a predetermined outcome.
Note: I don't post actual prompts in my reviews. This is to protect the IP of the designer. You will need to buy the game to read the actual prompts.
When you draw the ace of spades, that’s the end of the game. Draw a card from the King, Queen and Jack of spades to select the prompt for your final journal entry.
What makes it it different
The rules provide a list of people that can be introduced into the story.
Normally these are called “leads”. However, in this game, the designer has called them “connections”.
Connections are nothing more than a name. Its up to you to imagine who they are and what they want.
To give you an idea, an example of one of the connections is described as “The trusted teacher”.
Inspirational Songs and Games
A nice addition to the rules is a list of inspirational music to help you get into the mood of writing.
The choices are wide and varied.
Its always interesting to discover new artists when you play a game.
What I liked
I like the idea of having acts in the story for adapting, healing and discovering your new life.
Having questions to build up your character before you start is excellent.
But most of all, I like the idea of introducing connections instead of traditional leads. When you are into journal writing, adding people into the mix gives the opportunity for including interesting interactions and back stories.
What I didn’t like
A couple of the music choices were really good. Conversely, a couple didn’t do it for me.
But that’s just my personal taste. You can always substitute your own choices while playing.
A solid story of change, adaptation, healing, and recovery.
The open ended prompts allow you to go off in almost any direction and will ensure that every person gets a different experience from the game.
I love the idea of using connections instead of leads. The deliberately vague, and highly descriptive names given to the connections are one of the best part of the game. They offer so many possibilities.
If you take the time to write up a journal, this game will grow on you.
Verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
A word of caution: The story will be whatever you make it.
Whether it will be a path of tears or a stroll through a beautiful park depends on your choices.
Listen to yourself, to your mood, and to what feels right when you play.
Take a pause, breath, and sip a hot tea if that’s your thing.
When you play this game, things can be pretty intense.
The LEADS System
The LEADS SRD is licensed for use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/). The LEADS logo is a creation of Nicolas Ronvel, and is used with permission.
How to get the Game
A New Life is designed by French speaking designer Cendrones