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Doll – Is there a way to run this game in a non-creepy way?

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I don’t think so. The game lends itself to creepiness, but in a good way!

Doll by Josh Jordan/Ginger Goat Games is a very short minigame that plays in 20 minutes, between two players. One player is the Doll, one is the Child.

Last night, due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, I arrived at game night to shortly discover that I had 1 player for the game.

But I had my copy of Doll in my satchel, so I pulled it out and we played.

In our first game, we played basic Doll. I played the Doll, and Carl played the Child. The child’s pet has died, and the events in the card are fairly basic– the pet died, the parents fight, the child has a nightmare, and someone goes on a special trip the next day.

The game’s central question is “are the parents evil, or wonderful?” Notice it’s not “evil or good,” but rather “evil” or “wonderful.” As though, if your parents aren’t wonderful from the child’s (or doll’s) point of view, then they must be evil.

Events are narrated by the child, from the child’s point of view. The child then asks the doll questions about the event, and the doll answers.

The doll knows the truth of what’s happening.

The doll isn’t always honest.

That last point is important to the creepiness of the story, and we ended the first session of Doll with the following chilling exchange:

Child: Well, how can I die so I can go live in the magical place with Rusty and the other children?
Doll: ....Your daddy has a gun under the bed.

As I said… creeeepy! You can also have supernatural events happen or be added in by the doll. About 2/3 of the time, the doll *can* lie (but doesn’t have to), so the interplay between the child not knowing what’s going on, and the child’s perspective on the world, is really remarkable.

For the second session, I played the child, and picked events from the Advanced Doll game card. I used the “mother’s funeral” event, and Carl decided that the mother had been murdered by the father, and that the child was killed mid-game while running across the street to play. For the second half of the game, I was effectively a ghost.

I think I may need to buy the PDF for Doll, which would allow reprinting, because I think I want to run a Doll game at Halloween. Basically, half the guests get a creepy doll (party favor!) and the doll instructions, and half the guests get a set of Child questions (which would vary quite a bit, so they wouldn’t be repetitive). Play for 20 minutes, then trade dolls and cards and circulate around a bit to find another partner. I wouldn’t run this more than two or three times in the course of a night, but I definitely think it would be a great game for a Halloween dollhouse-themed party.

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