# Formats and Templates

Story Synth currently has six different game formats, each with their own template you can use. Here’s an overview of each format, its influences, and a link to the template spreadsheet.

# Shuffled

Shuffled Template Spreadsheet (opens new window)

This format is inspired by Alex Robert’s game For the Queen (buy (opens new window)) (SRD (opens new window)).

Games following this format have:

  • A series of instructions, spread over short cards that appear in a fixed order
  • A number of storytelling prompts that are shuffled in order
  • A final card that brings the game to a close, which is always the last card
  • An X-Card (opens new window) for safety

Unlike For the Queen, there are no Queen cards to choose from and the final card is always last, rather than shuffled into the deck.

The default template has just one shuffled deck of prompts but Story Synth can handle multiple decks. Each deck (except the instructions) will be internally shuffled but the decks will be served in order (i.e. all of deck one, followed by all of deck two). This enables you to play games in the style of Avery Alder’s The Quiet Year (buy (opens new window)). Check out the Sequential Shuffled Decks template (opens new window) which shows off the multipack capabilities of the Shuffled format.

The broader format of ordered instructions followed by random prompts lends itself to a wide variety of games that stray far from For the Queen.

# Timed

Timed Template Spreadsheet (opens new window)

This format is inspired by Jason Morningstar’s game Find/Fix/Finish (buy (opens new window)).

This game has a shared timer and private prompts are sent to players at specific times. Players can pause, unpause, and restart the game at any point.

Unlike Find/Fix/Finish, there aren’t any decision points where a player can choose from different options and which result in different content later. There also isn’t space for links to reference material, though you could include them in the prompts.

# Secrets

Secrets Template Spreadsheet (opens new window)

This format is similar to the Timed format but prompts are tied to each turn instead of a timer and turns are manually advanced.

In each turn, each player will receive one public prompt (seen by all) and one private prompt (seen only by them).

# Monster

Monster Template Spreadsheet (opens new window)

This format is inspired by Randy Lubin’s game Dawn of the Monster Invasion (play online (opens new window)).

This format has:

  • A series of ordered instructions at the beginning of the game
  • A series of rounds, with each round containing several prompts to choose from
  • The prompts are fixed to the specific rounds (i.e. not random) and players will face the same options each playthrough

# Slot Machine

Slot Machine Template Spreadsheet (opens new window)

This format has:

  • A series of ordered instructions at the beginning of the game
  • A series of cards that each randomly draw elements from a number of categories (e.g. one from category A, one from category b, one from category c)
  • There's no limit to the number of cards or categories

This format might be useful for those who want to generate random encounters, random locations, random characters, or a any other random prompts that are created from several categories.

# Phases

Phases Template Spreadsheet (opens new window)

This format takes place over rounds, where each round has a series of phases that happen in order. For each phase, a prompt is drawn from the corresponding phase deck.

A game about travel might use phases: new mode of transit, trouble on the road, new location, and trouble in location. In each round, each phase will be visited once in sequence and a random, relevant prompt will be show.