I know it’s taken a while, but I am back to the discussion of inspiring creativity in games. My last post on this topic dealt with Creative Constraints, where people built off the restrictions in a game system to create something new. This time, I would like to discuss Oracles.
Oracles are nuggets of information without context, that you can interpret for your game. As a group, you interpret the oracles use them to build some kind of cohesive context. The astounding work, “In a Wicked Age” by Vincent Baker is likely the earliest and best known work using this little technique. That game includes oracles like;
*A hermit priestess, practicing obscure deprivations.
*A fallen-in mansion, where by night ghosts and devils meet.
The group gets to use these evocative descriptions to build a cohesive setting. Our monkey-brains are remarkably good at pattern recognition and quickly build webs of associations. It turns out that with a few seeds of inspiration, we can quickly build a narrative. So long as the descriptions are open to interpretation, they can be very helpful.
Be sure to check out Houses of the Blooded for another interesting use of Oracles.
Edit: And of course, the playsets in Fiasco are full of Oracles which lead to such inspired play. Thanks to @Linneaus for reminding me.