THE ASTRONOMICAL-NARRATIVE BOARD GAME

The Astronomical-Narrative Board Game is a board game, which aim is to generate stories that combine stellar constellations by fusing characters, actions and situations with the Morphology of the Folk Tale by Vladimir Propp (1928). Originally, it was conceived to facilitate  the creative artistic process within the framework of Astrolabe Project. Astrolabe Project is a transmedia project which evokes an ancient connection with the sky through interactive and non-interactive works in different formats. But The Astronomical-Narrative Board Game can also be utilized by other people who wish to experiment with storytelling related to fantasy stories set in the sky. In the context of this project, constellations are considered as regions of the sky as well as characters projected on groups of stars.

The Astronomical-Narrative Board Game is a circular board composed of star charts, a spinner arrow and a wheel containing the thirty one narrative functions of Vladimir Propp’s Morphology of the Folk Tale. These narrative functions are actions and situations experienced by characters. The game also includes a six sided die whose sides correspond to six character types, a set of instructions and pencil and paper to roughly sketch ideas with drawings and take notes. The six types of characters are: hero, heroine, donor, helper, dispatcher and offender (not villain), which are reconfigurations of those seven enumerated by Propp in his fairy tale’s structure. The constellations, insofar as characters, their typology and the narrative functions are fragments of information which emerge by chance when throwing the die and spinning the arrow to create a new stellar scene.

In The Astronomical-Narrative Board Game, Propp’s narrative functions are assimilated to his summarized definition, that is, they are associated with a more general thematization. For example, function No. 8, the aggressor harms one of the family members or causes harm, translates into its summary definition: misdeed. The objective of this design maneuver is to simplify the generation of stories from the elaboration of situations with broader themes, which do not stipulate such specific restrictions regarding the relationship between the characters and which do not invoke overly complex characterizations of them. In this way, the creative impulse on the part of the players is also enhanced, rather than the stricter following that would entail instructions with overly elaborate explanations and details.

Game mechanics are based on three-turn rounds. On each turn the player is invited to roll the die over the star chart to randomly select one constellation and one type of character. Then, it is necessary to spin the arrow of the wheel to determine the situation or action that the selected character will have to perform. The player takes notes about these features.  When the third turn ends, they produce a text or drawing which represents the connection between the three constellations involved in the round.