Low and behold, an Adventurer stepped up to the plate after my previous blog post. To bring you up-to-date, I created a choose-your-own-adventure / dungeons and dragons game to be played over text messages. I called it SMS RPG and was looking for someone to test it out on.

Meet Loren the Resilient

A text with the magic words showed up on my phone and just like that, a new Adventure began. The really fun part was that I didn’t know who was on the other end of the line! Long story short, the quest was completed. Our Adventurer, who I came to know as Sir Loren the Resilient (AKA “Lorrie Ulsterbald”) was a compassionate Knight whose keen sense of empathy and justice coalesced into an ending which I completely didn’t see coming. What a pleasant surprise!

The quest lasted 10 days and was called “The Lost Memories”. To tease the premise a bit, you (the Adventurer) wake up in a dark room with amnesia. As each “segment” (one day in RT) of the journey progresses we learn more about who you are and your mission. I’ll stop there to avoid spoilers.

So each morning, Lorrie learned more of his story and made choices. In the evening, I drew a simple sketch from the encounter and sent it along with the results of the choice. At the end of the quest, I created a character coloring sheet out of all the sketches.  The space is in the middle is for the player to draw their own character.

Project Post-mortem

What worked?

  • The Concept: The Adventure was successfully completed, Lorrie had a good time playing
  • Quick and dirty online tools: A Character Generator, Google Die Roller, TextFree (for an anonymous SMS number)
  • Storytelling: Telling the story “together” brought challenges and surprises

What didn’t?

  • The daily schedule: Sometimes it took 2 days to complete a segment, 10 days was a long time
  • Lack of feedback: It would’ve been beneficial to have more feedback during the process so I could know how to better narrate the story. Also, I need to hear people laughing at my jokes… for my ego
  • Player “choice” mechanisms: This wasn’t a total fail, but could be way easier. I tried multiple choices, die rolls, open-ended decisions, etc. Combat was where things got clunky. In the end, I relied on storytelling to carry the majority of the suspense and fun

My Three Takeaways

  1. The fun part for me was improvising the story (although I did not like telling the same story twice). Collaborating was a great way to “discover” a story. Lorrie’s choices forced me to take the plot in directions I would never have come up with on my own. For example, the main baddie ended up being an ally.
  2. The gender of the player and my relationship to them affected my storytelling. In the first game, the player was a male from my extended family. In the second game, I eventually discovered the player was a female friend and fellow artist. For example, I cut out the middle school humor on the second run through.
  3. When a new creative idea pops into my head, it’s accompanied with unbridled energy and excitement. I start projecting out into the future. The problem is that when the idea loses its newness, I often get bored. That’s one of the reasons for this website, to get better at picking and finishing my projects.

So with that said, I consider this Project Complete! Thank you very much to Sir Lorrie for helping me out!

As the world turns,


P.S. Want to run your own SMS RPG game? Feel free to use my template to illustrate the journey.