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You live in the dark.

No one knows why the lights of the world went out. Why the sun suddenly flared up, scorched the Earth in a split-second incandescent flash, then faded. Why it became a dull orange-red color, cool and distant, and only just warming the planet. Only just holding back an eternal, icy night. 

No one knows why power stopped. Why the cities went black when the sun faded. If it was the solar flare that did it, or if electricity had simply fallen to whatever had dimmed the sun. No one knows why it all went away.

But it did.

You live in the dark.

It’s been 50 years since the Flare. Your community can take care of itself now. Maybe it pulled itself out of the ashes and ruin that came in the wake of everything changing. Or maybe it was built on top of the rubble of older cities, older communities, that turned and ate themselves when the sun rose different. Either way, life will out, and people will find a way to survive.

So you live on an island in the sea of a dark country, knowing only the people of your community, and the stories of the few travellers who brave the blackness. Your world is only as large as the walls of the community.

You live in the dark.

Or you did, until the computer came to life.

Until it whirred, and clicked, and found power where none had been.

Until the screen blinked on, and bright while words began to print themselves across it.

You were alone, until messages began.


When the Messages Began is a 2-player role playing game of digital exchanges.

The Receiver is a member of a functioning community built in the ruins of the post-Flare world. 

The Sender is a string of words appearing on the screen of a long-dead computer.

Receiver and Sender, knowing each other only through what they write, communicate in the hopes of learning who exactly the other is, and how they can be used to further their own goals.

CategoryPhysical game
Rated 4.9 out of 5 stars
(7 total ratings)
AuthorLaw of Names Media


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Click download now to get access to the following files:

When the Messages Began.pdf 3 MB

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In the spirit of valuing the creative labor of game writing, I am choosing to charge for my games rather than list them as pay what you want.

But more than anything, I want people to be able to play them. So if finances are a barrier, please go ahead and download it for free. 


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Hi, I'm a bit confused at how to lose.

"The goal, the hope, is that at the end of the year,
after 12 messages have been sent and received, the two
parties will agree to meet."

This goal is not written on just one of the players, but on both.

It seems like both players should just give coordinates in their introductions to immediately win?

None of the 6 objectives of the Sender seem to conflict with the objectives of the Receiver, which means they can always be trusted. The Sender's writing prompt also suggests that they always have resources ("absolutely"), but "need people".

My criticism is that this seems to be more of a seed for a series of collaborative writing prompts than a game that can be lost.


“My criticism is that this seems to be more of a seed for a series of collaborative writing prompts than a game that can be lost.“

That’s exactly right. This isn’t a game where one’s goal is to win, as in “complete a condition by the time you’re finished playing it.” It’s a collaborative story-telling (well, writing) game. The win condition is that both players are pleased with how the story turns out.

The goal is to creative a cool narrative in the letters. Whether or not Sender or Receiver can be trusted is entirely up to the characters— there aren’t conflicts built in, because the players aren’t in opposition. You’re building the story together.

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Okay, that's cool lol. Might try it some time, just was confused cause I thought it was a more traditional type of game. If you're aware of any publicly accessible stories that have been created off this prompt, I'm probably more interested in reading than writing.

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I’d be glad to help you out, but I don’t quite follow your question. The pdf should be the full rules for play. Can you let me know what difficulties you’re having?


This is so good !! I recommand it.  I played it with a friend and the concept is really innovative and fun. 

Deleted 3 years ago