Theme and What is It?
Untold is a cooperative storytelling adventure powered by Rory’s Story Cubes. Players take the roles of heroes in an adventure television series. They will work together to define the setting, set the scene, and determine how their heroes respond as events unfold. How will your heroes handle the twists and turns of the plot?
A game of Untold will see one to four heroes facing a dilemma and working through the narrative of trying to solve that problem. Each game is considered an episode and plays out over five scenes. While the scenes have predetermined headings, A Dangerous Dilemma, The Plot Thickens, The Final Showdown, etc., there are six scene cards for each heading. When players set up the game, each of the scene decks is shuffled and a random card is placed onto the board. When players begin a scene, they will reveal the card. The rulebook gives guidance for how to interpret the symbology of the scene cards and the sentence structure for reading them and the player dashboards also include a guide. The players’ choices and the story cubes serve to fill in the gaps. Ex. “The Episode begins at [this Location] where [this Threat][is pursuing/is attacking/is accusing/ has captured] someone or something.”
After the first scene, players will introduce their characters. They will roll the remaining story cubes (some will have been used in the first scene) and use up to three to inspire their answers. Players are free to imagine their characters without the aid of the cubes as well. Players will give their characters a name, a job or role, and state what compels their character to go on adventures. Each character also has some Specials and at the beginning will choose two options of different types from the available options of Ability/Power, Helpful Item/Companion, or Area of Expertise/Knowledge.
Scenes will also dictate how many Questions and Actions the characters can use to influence the scene. When characters ask questions, they will roll any story cubes not on scene cards and use up to three of them to inform how their question is answered. If a player is taking an action they will make a statement of what they are trying or want to do and also give how they intend to accomplish the action. Players should be as detailed as possible in their descriptions. The more detailed the description, the easier it is to determine the outcome card. Outcomes range from Incredibly Successful to Disatrously Unsuccessful. Some outcomes require drawing a Reaction card. All of this informs how the players should build the story and the particular scenes.
Play continues through the remaining scenes until The Final Showdown where the players will face two separate threats and are encouraged for at least one of the threats to be a previous threat from the episode that is pulled forward. Whether the heroes succeed or fail, the episode ends after this final scene. Players have the option of using Untold for single episode stories, or for continuing their heroes’ adventures in further episodes.
Untold: Adventures Await was a product that immediately caught my eye at PAX Unplugged. In a time when more and more people are discovering the tabletop gaming hobby, it presents an easy to use format for collaborative storytelling or light roleplaying with accessibility at the forefront of its gaze. Additionally, because it is powered by Rory’s Story Cubes there are dozens of expansions already available.
Game Build Quality
Untold comes with a rulebook, a main Story Board, a dice tray, one set of Rory’s Story Cubes (this is identical to the original set of cubes available separately), an Episode Guide Pad, a Character Profile Pad, 10 Question tokens, 14 Action tokens, 15 Outcome cards, 10 Reaction cards, four Dashboards, four Play/Pause cards, four sets of Edit tokens, and 30 Scene cards (six for each of the five scenes) all of which is held nice and snug in the well-designed insert. The boards and tokens are of thickness and are sturdy. The cards are a good quality and will hold up to the repeated plays Untold is going to get in your collection. The Story Cubes are the same as those found in the previously available sets.
The art of the game is a simple style that gives a little flavor, but emphasizes the iconology that is so pivotal to interpreting the scenes as the episodes unfold. Everything looks neat and is easy to read.
Difficulty and Age Range Suggestion
As a collaborative storytelling game, really anyone with an active imagination can enjoy Untold. The box lists ages eight and up, but my five year old can get some mileage out of it as a structured activity, rather than the game as intended. The Story Cubes power the narrative and the players merely interpret the results. Players with strong improvisational skills and who think quickly on their feet will excel at Untold, but the mechanisms in place ensure everyone has a good time.
I love Untold: Adventures Await. I was already fond of Rory’s Story Cubes as an activity with my family for exercising a little creativity. To see that system so cleanly adapted into a defined structure for telling a collaborative narratives is a perfect next step for the franchise. Any sets of Story Cubes can be used in a game of Untold, and sets can be mixed if you prefer. Simply select nine Story Cubes and off you go. Be it single session stories or multiple episode campaigns the system just works. You could even embrace the idea of a campaign being a television series and do a spin-off of your campaign with characters in the same universe. Collaborative storytelling is a great activity for spending time with your friends and family and with the current growth in the hobby, Untold: Adventures Await provides a streamlined point of entry with an emphasis on accessibility. Untold was one of my Top 10 games out of PAX Unplugged and I can’t wait to see the system continue to succeed as it reaches a wider audience.