Tales from the Gastro Zone

… and the joyful play of collaborative creativity.

Before we go further, the first Hexer’s Guide to the Anti-canons: Tales from the Gastro Zone, is available for free on itch.io. A baker’s dozen of wonderful people contributed their ideas and talents to this zine (though I’m not an objective critic, so please, download it and decide for yourself, rather than taking my word for it). It covers food magic, fights in restaurants, gastro terrorists, and more. It’s full of ideas for roleplay, but it’s also the product of creative play.

One of the most fun forms of play I discovered in the OSR of the Age of Jeeplas (G+) was the hivemind or gygaxian democracy thread. It’s gone by many names since. There’s an entire subreddit for this phenomenon – r/d100. Over on the stratometaship we have a channel for it called the cauldron of creation, but in classic me-fashion, I don’t think I’ve settled on a name for this game.

At first glance, it’s about creating random tables for use in roleplaying games (d100, d10, d12, d66, dWhatever). At first glance.

But, if we look a bit closer, it’s a form of play all its own. After all, most participants in a collaborative creation aren’t doing it with the proximate intent of using the actual dXX table in one of their own games.

Implements of Imaginative Creation

Let’s have a look at part of one of the tables from the Hexer’s Guide.

The idea in my head that started this round of collaborative creation was, “what would be random objects characters might grab and use in a riotous fight scene in a restaurant?”

I created the prompt, dXX Improvised Restaurant Weapons (or some such) and listed a couple of ideas of the top of my head.

From there, other hexers (or players) joined in the game, listing more and more things that the anonymous characters in our shared imaginary restaurant were grabbing and fighting with.

Much like with the poetic form of the exquisite corpse, this collaborative creation generates worlds and stories larger than any one individual could invent by themselves because the prompts and the creativity are coming from outside the individual participant.

I wouldn’t say it is roleplay for gamemasters (because one doesn’t even have to play roleplaying games to participate in collaborative creativity), but there are elements of implied world creation in every such table (or list).

As we add idea after idea, we’re guessing, imagining, and recreating a shared world behind the items we add to the list.

For me, collaborative creations also highlight how the implied, unsaid, shared world behind a game is one of the most enjoyable and attractive things in all the roleplaying and creative games. They are games of imagination and discovery both, because as soon as we collaborate in them, we’re submitting our imaginations to the constraints and challenges of factors outside of ourselves.

We can’t know in advance how the elegant chair is going to bring about a pointy chair leg that implies the existence of vampires in this game world, but there you go. One person brought a chair to the fight. Another made it about vampires.


I do find it interesting that nobody has written more about this lovely form of collaborative play. After all, isn’t there a whole game to be written here? Something like Cards Against Humanity but for online play, for roleplayers, for fans of fantasy and more?

—Luka, Seoul, November 2020

woof folk

Brought to you by the anti-canon wolffolk of Longwinter.

Coming this cold season.


—Thank You, Heroes—