Worldbreaker is one of those obnoxious games with one rule, but lots of stipulations after the rule, so that people can argue there's really more than one rule and the designer just wanted to be clever and say "hey, I have invented a one-rule game!" Yeah. That's what Worldbreaker is.

It also happens to be a damn slick way to generate crazy new worlds, whether for the sheer creative rush or for further use in a story, game, or piece of art.

Number of Players: At least 2, and probably no more than 6 or 7.


Players take turns making simple statements about what the setting IS or ISN'T, or DOES or DOESN'T have.


That was easy, wasn't it? Now come the obnoxious stipulations, clarifications, and hints that actually make the clever one-rule game work.

I. Don't be a dick. You think this rule could go unstated in every collaborative game ever, but it especially applies to a game like Worldbreaker. A spoilsport could ruin a burgeoningly brilliant setting with a few lame toss-ins. Don't let them. Revoke their statements, kick them out, whatever it takes. But ...

II. Let the fruit mix up. Just because you think the setting is a bushel of apples, don't get all huffity-puffity when someone lobs in a handful of pomegranates. Most of the fun of Worldbreaker is from seeing the way people will take your ideas and twist them almost--but not quite--beyond recognition. Let them. In fact, encourage it.

IIb. Mix it up yourself. Find that sweet spot where you make everyone pull a Keanu without making them want to throw things at you. Blow their mind ... and give them sparks to blow your own. This is all about creativity. Don't be bound by silly constraints, unless they're explicit in the setting. Remember, if it isn't specified, it isn't specified.

III. Let it go, baby. Yes, your idea is clever. Yes, that continent-towing spaceship would rock looking like a giant black nautilus shell encrusted with glimmering diamonds, manned by a crew of 66,666 demons who are specially engineered for Pure Evil Satisfaction. Let it go, baby. Stop when your description hits an "and," whether literal or not. Let the other players flesh it out. They may take it in completely novel (and brilliant) directions, if you just let them. And maybe they'll give you a chance to do the same. (See II, above.)

IV. Know when to fold 'em. You should be able to tell when the setting is wrapping up; contributions get more specific and less sweeping, the "setting" creeps closer and closer to "plot." Don't be shy; call something like "three rounds left!," which gives people enough time to wrap up things, perhaps mix in some more tangelos or persimmons or whatever the hell, and still have plenty to explore on your own.

V. Have fun! This shouldn't have to be explicit, but some people turn even something creative like this into some sort of endurance race, straining to the point where it becomes work. Don't do that. If you can't come up with something clever, take the easy road. It often leads somewhere quite unexpected despite its ease. This isn't being graded, except for in the court of your own imagination.

If you play Worldbreaker, I'd totally dig the transcripts. Please send 'em along to my name at this domain (without the www, if you have that there for some reason.) And let me know if you're okay with posting 'em here.

For some examples of Worldbreaker sessions, check out this little site.

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Last Updated: 2007.09.23.1735