Hubris Box is a diceless roleplaying game that I wrote based on a core mechanic created by Paul Richardson.1 In a game of Hubris Box, players collaboratively tell the story of a protagonist whose ambition spurs them to greatness before they are destroyed by their own flaws.
I posted about Hubris Box before, in a three-part series (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) that presented the rules I developed for the game and an example of play that depicted the musical Hamilton as a session of Hubris Box with three players. Hamilton made sense to me as an example because it fit the narrative structure I was aiming for, but it turns out that a lot of people avoided reading those blog posts because they hadn’t listened to Hamilton yet.
Therefore, here are the rules for my version of Hubris Box with the play example removed. If anyone gives it a try, please please please let me know how it goes and what you think. This is a first draft and will almost certainly need tweaking, and I’d appreciate any feedback I get. Thanks!
This is the third and final part of a blog series modelling the musical Hamilton as if it was a session of the (work-in-progress) roleplaying game Hubris Box, which is about the rise and fall of tragic heroes.
What’s going on?
In the first blog post, I introduced the idea behind Hubris Box and introduced the fictional characters who are playing the game. In the most recent blog post, I showed an example of the game’s first Act, in which the Protagonist wrote several cards and posted them to the Hubris Box in order to chase his ambition and accumulate power and glory.
The example game is played by three roleplayers (Lin, Manuel, and Miranda), and it set in a fictional land called America. Lin is playing the game’s Protagonist, Alexander Hamilton, who rose from humble beginnings to be a war hero and is now Secretary of the Treasury under President George Washington. Manuel and Miranda are playing everyone else, taking the role of the game’s Antagonists.
You can listen to the musical Hamilton at the link if you haven’t already. Some people who haven’t heard it yet seem to think it’s a barrier, and have avoided reading the blog post. Instead, I think it’s an opportunity for you to listen to an amazing show, even if musicals aren’t usually your thing.
This is the second part of a blog series modelling the musical Hamilton as if it was a session of the (work-in-progress) roleplaying game Hubris Box, which is about the rise and fall of tragic heroes.
What’d I miss?
In the previous blog post, I introduced the idea behind Hubris Box and introduced the fictional characters who are playing the game. Three roleplayers (Lin, Manuel, and Miranda) have set up a game in a fictional land called America, just before the Revolutionary War that frees the country from the tyrannical British. Lin is playing the game’s Protagonist, Alexander Hamilton, an orphan immigrant with a brilliant mind and a hunger to prove himself. Manuel and Miranda are playing everyone else, taking the role of the game’s Antagonists.
Before you continue, consider listening to the musical Hamilton if you haven’t already. In this blog series I’m only hitting the beats without the melody. It’ll make more sense if you’ve heard it before.
Hubris Box is a roleplaying game by Paul Richardson that is designed to emulate classic stories of tragic heroes, especially ones with great ambition who do incredible (if often villainous) feats and are later destroyed by the consequences of their past actions.
The game’s structure mirrors Aristotelian tragic plot structure. In Act One, as the protagonist takes actions to achieve their ambitions, players write on index cards (or scraps of paper) phrases that reflect the way that the protagonist has influenced the world. These cards are then posted into a box, the eponymous Hubris Box. Eventually, there is a Turn leading into Act Two, in which the players take cards out of the Hubris Box and use them to frame scenes that tear the protagonist down. For example, in Act One a card may say that the protagonist has defeated an enemy; when this card emerges in Act Two, perhaps the defeated enemy’s people return for revenge.
It’s a very cool game. Unfortunately, it also doesn’t exist yet.