Shifting Forest Storyworks


On March 25, 2010, our lead playtester Matt Brown died unexpectedly of medical reasons.  In his honor, we are making our collection of Parlor Larps free to the public.  Matt was a brilliant and avid larper.  His passion inspired us and his faith motivated us always.  He will always be foremost in our minds in every game we ever design, run and play.  Matt, here's to being the protagonist.  When I conquer the world, I expect you to come claim your half.

-- J Li
March 26, 2010

The following game pdfs are freeware.  You are welcome to download, distribute and use them. 
However, please credit us when you use them, and retain them as intact documents.

(For the time being, hard copies are still available for purchase.  If you want a printed version, please email for details.)

The Queen of Spades

Classification: Discovery, Relationships. Dark 2. NPC 5. DIR 1. Normal Content.

Marissa Islington is a powerful and ruthless woman with almost as many enemies as criminal connections. A group of these enemies wake to find themselves trapped on a boat in the middle of nowhere with each other, a suspicious letter, and Marissa herself. Nobody knows how they got there or what will become of them when morning comes.

As the night goes on, murder will be committed and secrets revealed. Everybody has a motive and a past they thought they'd left behind.

The First of December

Classification: Atmosphere, Discovery, Strategy, Morality. Dark 4. NPC 4. DIR 3. Disturbing Content

The beginning of winter in Washington D.C. is marked by a huge snowstorm that blankets the city, stopping traffic, blurring vision, and turning gray to white. Amid it all, a group of hostages from seemingly unrelated backgrounds are kidnapped out of their daily lives. Their captors affix them with electronic collars and lock them in a room under guard.

During the next few hours, a series of tense and obscure negotiations will take place over the telephone. As urgency rises and fates are decided, the issue of just how much to cooperate gets called sharply into question.

Eridanus Rising

Classification: Discovery, Atmosphere. Dark 3. NPC 4. DIR 1. Adult Content.

The fantastically wealthy and eccentric Henry Delacroix is throwing his sixtieth birthday party in his vacation home in Antarctica, inviting the handful of associates who can actually stand to be around him. The party proceeds at the expected level of awkwardness until a seemingly trivial event forces the host to reassess his priorities and rapidly changes everything.

That night, old crimes will resurface and fallen souls will rise in rebellion. Guests suddenly trapped in an isolated parlor must untangle the old man's life and his disturbing theology in order to take sides in a cosmic battle. Their successes and failures will decide the fate of the gods and the future of the world.

The Mirror Room

Classification: Morality, Atmosphere. Dark 5. NPC 0. DIR 3. Disturbing Content.

In a moment of disorientation they are transported to a room with no doors, no windows, and mirrors everywhere. The room is stocked with food, water, and other necessities--all indications suggest that they will be there for a long time.

They are complete strangers, ordinary people with little common ground and less understanding of what has happened to them. With the passage of time, tension, and dire imperatives, they will have to sift values and make answers to both each other and the shadows behind the glass.

Garden Station 4

Classification: Strategy, Morality. Dark 2. NPC 0. DIR 4. Normal Content.

The Union of Planets and the Cerian Empire stand on the brink of war. Sixteen light years away, two civilian science vessels simultaneously reach a distant unexplored system. There, they discover the first sign of alien intelligence ever found: an eerily terraformed planet with advanced technological structures, but no inhabitants.

Midway through their approach, however, they are shot down by automatic defenses and forced to abandon ship to the nearest space station. Stranded far from home with unfamiliar people and a technology that could change civilization, these scientists must contend with the ethics of patriotism, politics, and war.

All Saints' Eve

Classification: Relationships, Atmosphere, Discovery. Dark 5. NPC 0. DIR 3. Disturbing Content.

Westenbridge, Massachusetts might be both the richest dangerous neighborhood and the most dangerous rich neighborhood in the country. Children disappear every week. High school students in dry-cleaned shirts sell high-quality cocaine in the halls between classes. It's a town that cares everything about appearances, and appearances alone.

This Halloween, old magic is rising. The influential Cunningham family is throwing a late party in their gigantic house. Before it starts, a group of family members and acquaintances are suddenly and inexplicably trapped in a rarely-used side room.

In a group where most people don't believe in magic and everybody hates one another, surviving whatever strange forces are at play seems almost secondary to surviving close quarters with each other. That night, while a party carries on outside, they will discover the secrets they never knew about the people and the town they have known all their lives.


Classification: Relationships, Morality. Dark 4. NPC 3. DIR 2. Adult Content.

A few days ago, a young hero and the armies of good defeated the great evil sorcerer, Argentin, and saved the world. They fought his forces, stormed his tower, and ultimately killed him high on the battlements.

Set in the aftermath of a classic fantasy epic, this story is not about the heroes, or the kings, but about the evil sorcerer's servants. Lost in the confusion of the battle, taken prisoner afterwards, then held automatically culpable for their master's crimes, this small group served the daily needs of a man who had tried to conquer the world and lost everything when he was defeated. Sitting in a dungeon in what may be the last hours of their lives, they must sort through the meanings of loyalty, identity, and responsibility, to learn to understand a world without Argentin.

A Little Magic

Classification: Relationships, Atmosphere, Strategy. Dark 1. NPC 0. DIR 2. Normal Content.

A simple story about love and dreamers. Brookview is an engaging New England town with a wealthy and aloof leading family, a quaint local college, and a little magic.

On a clear night in late November, a group of college friends all associated with the same enigmatic professor gather in a warm house under a full moon. Romance and magic are in the air when the local heir arrives unexpectedly, and the enchantments that follow will remake events set in motion long before any of them were born.

Snow White

Classification: Atmosphere, Relationships, Morality. Dark 5. NPC 3. DIR 2. DC.
Adaptation:  This game has gender-specific characters and takes 6-8 players, not 4-8.

Of all traditional fairy tales that were adapted and censored for children in modern renditions, Snow White has perhaps undergone the most change. Today's bedtime story of an innocent princess, seven happy little men and true love forgets the original undertones of desperation, passion, poverty, and sexuality. One cannot tell the true story of Snow White without going back to a time in which men were valued only for their size and stamina, and women only for their beauty and ability to bear children; a time in which glass was so rare that a polished mirror was truly a frightening thing of magic.

Most of the original characters and a few new ones are present in this adaptation of the older, darker, and more vivid story of Snow White. It is set in the hours before the execution of the Queen and subsequent wedding of the Prince and Princess. A time of last chances and new beginnings.


Classification: Relationships, Atmosphere. Dark 3. NPC 1. DIR 2. NC.
Adaptation:  This game has gender-specific characters and takes 6-8 players, not 4-8.

This adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet is set the day after Hamlet accidentally kills Polonius. Hamlet is about to be sent away to England in a few hours, and will not have another chance to kill Claudius perhaps for years. The majority of the court, Ophelia included, has been told that Polonius accidentally fell down the stairs.

At the queen's insistence a small gathering is held to send Hamlet off. In the middle of it all, Laertes returns unexpectedly, demanding to see his father.

Very basic familiarity with the plot and characters is required for players. The Director should have read the play.