Skip to main content
If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

Legend Has It uses a deck of cards to transform a bookshelf into a myth-making engine

Rank and bibliophile.

A deck of cards and stack of books become the foundations of an anthology of stories, myths and folktales in Legend Has It, a card game all about telling stories pulled from the pages of your own bookshelf. It’s currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter to create a physical version alongside one fit for virtual tabletops.

Created by Adam Bell, Legend Has It weaves a tapestry of tales over the course of a an indeterminate timeline. The bulk of the 52-count deck consists of cards with horizontal lines criss-crossing their face, creating a procession of beginnings and endings through the course of play. These cards only decide the ‘when’ of a story - everything else relies on material from the group’s chosen books and their collective imagination.

Sessions begin by choosing a framework for the stories everyone will create together. Legend Has It lays out six broad archetypes: origin myths, hero’s epics, objects of legend, religious texts, war stories and local folklore. Some frameworks narrow the focus to a cast of characters, while others are necessarily more encompassing. Groups might draw maps, create rules both natural and philosophical and watch life sprout from the ashes of some previous catastrophe.

Watch on YouTube

Once a framework has been established, play begins with a single story. Legend Has It splits its timeline cards across three phases, with each adding another concurrent myth to the mix. Individual players take turns choosing the next card in the timeline from a random grouping of four, along with which story to expand. Each role has its own responsibilities, but the group collectively decides when to move to the next phase or to end the game with separate bookended cards.

One of four elemental symbols printed along the bottom of the timeline cards references a quartet of number cards that tell the group the page, paragraph and line to read out of their selected book. That passage, whatever it may be, becomes the round’s prompt - everyone deliberates on what it might mean in the context of a religious parable or where the cursed king’s crown travels next.

Legend Has It doesn’t limit the kinds of books that can be used. In fact, vagary and genre non-specificity may better suit the creative process. Could the ingredient list in a cookbook become the metaphysical parts of a new world? Perhaps the aspirational quote from that self-help book inspires a demagogue poised to create a new religion.

Watch on YouTube

Solo gamers can use additional tools to randomise and automate some of the group functions for what Bell describes as a seamless one-player experience. Alternate rules tweak the base design for shorter or longer sessions, swapping out books for Wikipedia or other information sources and more.

The compact card game was created by independent designer Adam Bell, who previously created the solo ADHD simulation RPG My Brain Is A Stick Of Butter and generational worldbuilding game Grasping Nettles. The box is a clever design from GameCrafter called the Hook Box, and it folds out to show that all the necessary rules text has been printed on the interior. Bell also designed a digital version that can be imported to virtual tabletop platform for a browser-based experience, along with print-and-play files.

The Kickstarter campaign for Legend Has It runs through February 15th and has already met its funding goal. Backers can secure a physical deck box for $30 (£22) or opt for the digital versions at $20 (£15). Bell expects fulfillment to begin in May of this year.

Read this next