10,000 Dungeon masters

Concept, Story, Design, Development

An experiment using Twine, an open-source tool for creating interactive, non-linear stories. I wanted to focus on process rather than story so, to make thing easier, I decided to adapt a short that I'd already written. It's one chapter, really, of a larger story and an homage to D&D and the many great memories I have campaigning deep into the evening with my friends Troy and Josh back in Kalamazoo. Read with compassion, you'll likely encounter typos and grammatical gaffes along the way. As the project progressed I found myself thinking how I might turn failure (death) into a positive experience and Carmine Guida was kind enough to sling together a script for the death counter. There are 20 ways to die. Collect them all.


Death Collection

The more I worked on this the more fun I began having writing negative outcomes and, being a zombie story, these got progressively more and more gruesome. It seemed a shame that readers might encounter only one death scenario so I added a counter in the hopes it would encourage readers to try multiple paths through the story.

There are twenty death scenarios in total and I have a list of many additional gruesome ends but I reached the point where I learned what I needed from this experiment and decided it was time to move on.

Perhaps there will be a second chapter.


From the beginning I told myself this would be a week-long project. Four months later I'm finally posting the story. I picked away at it in my spare time so it doesn’t represent full-time commitment but still, it was interesting to see how little changes ballooned into whole new threads of possible outcomes. Since there was no deadline beyond my own interest level I allowed the story to inflate and become more complex.

For future interactive narrative projects I’ll plan for more convergence of threads and add variables to allow for customized experience but push the story along a shared patch.

For the stat lovers...

  • 172,989 Characters

  • 30,311 Words

  • 154 Passages

  • 299 Links

Detail of some story nodes that lead to either success or failure.

This flow represents roughly one-third of the total story nodes.