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Laughter or a Lit Flame: A Hack of Renga • 2017rpgfinalist

Jonathan Cook • no link

Here I have a game:
Paper, pens, and three players.
It's simple to play.

First Player writes a haiku
That describes a character.

Inspire love or hate.
Make us laugh. Or nod, silent.
Good haiku delights.

Player Two writes a waki,
(Two lines, both of seven beats).

Describe there events
That befall the character.
Tragic? Exciting?

Hide the haiku from our sight.
Fold it back or cover it.

The third player's turn?
Haiku of a character,
Waki-affected.

Now hide the waki from view.
It's player one's turn again.

On each turn, you write.
First respond to what you see,
Then hide what you saw.

Alternate. Haiku. Waki.
Maintain silence as you write.

Or else, talk of things
Unrelated to the game 
TV shows, your day.

Haikus invent the people:
Lives impacted by events.

Wakis are events
That change everything for
Our small poem-folk. 

When you’ve written five times each,
Reveal all and read aloud.

Whoever read then
Sits in silence. And so
Must the other two.

The silence can be broken
By laughter- or a lit flame.

Author Comments

I have long wished there were more games based on Renga. I kind of perverted the terminology a bit here and I feel bad about it. But it’s an unexplored space in my mind. This one is basically Renga meets Telestrations (aka Eat Poop You Cat).

Judge Comments

The mechanic – composing haiku and waku to create and describe characters – felt unnecessarily esoteric until you think about what those short poems do: evoke much in minimal space. It’s a brilliant way to generate ideas and twists, while remaining constrained. And, of course, points for composing the game itself in haiku and waku. - Brent Newhall

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