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Ex Libro • 2017 rpg finalist

Justin Colussy-Estes •

In Ex Libro, players choose characters from novels, trying to find objects or characters held in another book. That other book, the setting, is controlled by the gamemaster.

Preparation: Choose a book ≈300 pages*.

Gamemaster: Read through your chosen book, flagging locations, scenes, characters. Tell the players your book. Create or find any helpful supplements (maps, etc). Choose an object or character from each player’s book to rescue. Identify where in your book these are located.

Players: Read through your chosen book, flagging helpful actions and reactions of your character. Tell the gamemaster your book and character.

Gameplay: The Gamemaster runs characters through the GM’s novel, roleplaying the setting, NPCs, etc. The players roleplay their character. Players choose lines from their novel to resolve conflicts. Once a line is quoted, it cannot be reused, and you cannot choose lines from earlier pages. Characters vanish and return to their novels if they get their quested object, die, or run out of pages. 

*For every 50 pages over, players may not use lines from the first 25. For every 50 pages under, they may at any point jump back 25 pages to choose lines, but they still can’t reuse any lines.

Author Comments

The core concept, role-playing your favorite book character running through another novel, seems so obvious to me that I fear it’s been done before, and much better than my simple entry here. If so, I apologize– my Google-fu was not strong enough to find it. I do like the mechanic, though, and think it could prove to be robust given a proper fleshing out.

Judge Comments

Clever idea encouraging people to read and roleplay. The idea that you play your character and use quotes from your book while the GM navigates you through their book is fascinating. Weaving stories are what these games are all about. This also gives people tastes of books one might not know. This is my favorite. It’s simple and easy to play. My top pick from the list. - Satine Phoenix

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