Coffee Shop Screenwriter is a storytelling role-playing game for one or more players. Each player takes the screenwriter’s role as they are frantically trying to write an original screenplay while sitting in a coffee shop. By the end of the game, you will have come up with an idea for a screenplay while also developing your screenwriter’s Character and discovering more about the coffee shop you are writing from.
Coffee Shop Screenwriter is an interesting and innovative game. It’s playing with metanarrative in a way that few other games do. The genre of RPGs plays with metanarrative because of the shared storytelling experience. This takes the idea and magnifies it. The Writers are furnished with prompts for creating the hero of the story and the Character who is writing that story.
The challenges the players face usually do not start off overwhelming, but gradually grow. The decisions of the story arcs depend on the writer’s caffeine levels and the allotted coin to up the caffeine level. Essentially, the currency of the story is modified on the group’s judgment. Each beat of the story prompts the caffeine level to decrease and with limited funds, the choice to ultimately save the caffeine boost for the big ending or bet on a strong set up to drive the story line.
There are four options to pull details of the story on the screenplay’s beats. These are generated by the players at the beginning of the game. Original idea: literally come up with one on the spot. Life Experience: draw from current and past experiences in your life. A Movie: the players pick multiple movies to determine that their Character writing the screenplay would love and hate. The Coffee shop: the players have created a narrative of where the Character is writing this screenplay. Detailing who is in the coffee shop, what businesses surround it, and why the Character spends most of the time there in their real life. The player’s Caffeine Levels delineate which prompt you must pull the next prompt from. This defines a significant direction of the screenplay.
Role-playing games make numerous decisions about how and where to put challenges for the players to overcome. Having the decisions of the story arcs dependent on the writer’s caffeine levels is a clever game mechanic. When reaching the beats and weaving the story was a negotiation and could have spawned in vastly different directions. The intersecting of options of the generated Movie or Coffee Shop choices and the time limit genuinely got our minds motivated. We took the time to hash out the somewhat nonsensical notions to build a cohesive screenplay.
*The time limit was a self-imposed house rule to boost our experience.
Our screenplay, in the end, was a Futuristic SciFi Buddy Drama. The hero, Hope, is an unsuccessful comic book writer who stands up for the injustice and inequality of dragons in their realm. In the end, the best friend was saved, when found in her dreams, and ousted her father, the greedy King. The dragons now live equally with townsfolk. The hero tells the tales of the dragons and is now a prosperous writer.
We would have appreciated more interaction with the dice, which are place holders for caffeine and coin. We found Coffee Shop Screenwriter experience to be a great distraction from our actual writing and entertaining with a group. The more the players, the wilder the story!
Coffee Shop Screenwriter
Player Count: 1 or more
Game Length: 1 to 2 hours
Pages: 22 (including 5 pages of easy-to-read instructions)
Additional Materials: You will need two six-sided dice and a pen or pencil
Designer: William Long
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Let’s be honest; there is still a bit of drama when we play.
Sit Down – Join the Game