How to Play Taleblank

This guide shows you how to play Taleblank, by following on with a real Tale.

You don't need to memorise anything you see here. The intention is not to teach you the interface or the rules, but to show you how Taleblank is played, because it's quite open ended, and therefore not immediately obvious — especially if you're new to role-playing games.

Fundamental principles

Playing Taleblank is a bit like writing an exciting novel with your friends, where each player is responsible for one protagonist, and the Game Master is responsible for the forces of antagonism. You work together to tell a fantastic tale, with a sprinkling of rules to guide you along the way, and a large dollop of randomness to push the narrative into places you may otherwise have ignored.

There's no obvious “winner” in a game of Taleblank. Rather, the ultimate aim is to enjoy yourselves. And because it's so open-ended, there are many ways to enjoy Taleblank. If it works for you and your fellow players, it's all good by us.

Keep reading to see these principles in action.

Initial setup

In this Tale, there are three players. 👩🏻 Gloria is the Game Master. Her role is a cross between a novelist and the rules of a computer game. She describes the world, its inhabitants, and the consequences of the actions taken by the other players.

We also have 🧕🏼 Aliz and 🧔🏾‍♂️ Bob, who are each playing a character. Their role is a cross between a novelist and the player of a computer game. They describe what their characters want to do, and — when things go well — what happens next.

During the setup, 👩🏻 Gloria chooses a scenario, and customises it by answering a handful of multiple choice questions. 🧕🏼 Aliz and 🧔🏾‍♂️ Bob, meanwhile, answer a different set of multiple choice questions to craft compelling, three-dimensional characters with approaches, motivations, virtues, abilities and quirks.

🧕🏼 Aliz's character is called Farandorf Trumpleton. She can talk with animals, hide in the trees, and is generally adept when it comes to the natural world. She solves problems using her brain, and her underlying motivation is to restore a noble title that once belonged to her ancestors. She also speaks in folksy proverbs.

🧔🏾‍♂️ Bob's, character is called Gaius Valterra. He can summon fire and command it to his will, and is generally adept when it comes anything flammable. He solves problems using his brawn, and his underlying motivation is to protect the kingdom. He is also an incurable pedant.

To begin the Tale, the game provides 👩🏻 Gloria with the opening paragraphs, with numerous sections that she can edit to her liking. These are highlighted in blue below.

👩🏻 Gloria

It was dawn on an early spring morning, and banners from all corners of the Four Warring Kingdoms adorned the walls of Castellarion. Within those walls, the assembled knights readied themselves for a day of feats of arms, while shrewd peasants shucked additional corn in anticipation of favourable corn-selling conditions. The merchants polished their wares, the bards developed rhymes for ‘ouch’, and the horses, sensing battle, whinnied in anticipation. On this, the day of the Tournament of the Four Kingdoms, only children and lords still slumbered.

One man who had not slept at all was Sir Francis, Castellarion's state secretary. The second most powerful man in the city (and fourth heaviest), Sir Francis sat crumpled and exhausted behind a makeshift desk in his temporary quarters. He clutched a white linen rag in his hand and spoke softly to the small band assembled.

“I have gathered you here to save my King’s life,” he said simply. He unfolded the rag carefully, as if to preserve it. Holding it close to his favourite eye, he read aloud from a message written carefully in black ink:

Persuade your king to abandon the defences of Soberain Castle, or his life and his legacy will tomorrow be forfeit.

“This message was delivered to me last night, left in this chamber while I was dining,” Sir Francis explained. “Soberain Castle borders Falnesland. If our garrison were to withdraw, Falnesland could occupy it within minutes.

“Strategically, His Majesty would be unwise to agree to this demand. If he meets it, there is no reason why more demands should not follow. So instead, I task you with protecting King Thamar and his daughter Princess Renata as they enjoy today’s festivities. Find out who is behind this threat, end it, and I will reward you.”

He put down the rag and looked around the chamber, awaiting a response.

Introducing the characters

Each player then gets the chance to introduce their character. They do this by filling in the blanks in a paragraph provided by the game. 🧕🏼 Aliz's is going first, and this is what she sees:

🧕🏼 Aliz

in the corner of the chamber, . With a , nobody could have mistaken .

She fills in the blanks as follows, to introduce her character.

🧕🏼 Aliz

Lounging in the corner of the chamber, a hooded figure sat whittling an exaggerated likeness of Sir Francis from a short, hefty log. With a face that looked more tree than human , nobody could have mistaken her for a resident of Castellarion, or indeed of any of the Warring Kingdoms.

Her name was Farandorf Trumpleton, and she was a friend of the forest, one who made her home among the native wilds that separated every settlement from the Great Sea to the Cragtooth mountains. Citizen of nowhere, she roamed wherever the winds took her, and had a deep understanding not just of the natural world, but of all the various factions of human that inhabited it. “My reward,” said Farandorf, “is like the first buds of spring: eagerly anticipated, but beyond your power to give.”

🧔🏾‍♂️ Bob's, goes next, and this is what he has to work with:

🧔🏾‍♂️ Bob

Gaius Valterra was Castellarion’s finest . He examined the , and shook his . Only the seemed .

“Easy,” thinks 🧔🏾‍♂️ Bob's, and pens the following:

🧔🏾‍♂️ Bob

Gaius Valterra was Castellarion’s finest purveyor of accelerated mortality. Born with the power to create and direct flames, he had through meticulous practice honed this ability to the point of lethality, something few achieved. At the same time, he knew some of his king’s problems could not be solved by burning them, so had studied and mastered all manner of weaponry. He examined the woodsman, and shook his finger. “I am, as always, at His Majesty’s service. But this woman lacks attention to detail. See how she has exaggerated your jowls and cheeks, Sir Francis. I cannot abide a partner whose imprecision tells even in her whittling.” He examined the woodsman again. At a least a foot shorter than Gaius, and nowhere near as clean or carefully groomed. Only the best would assist Gaius, and this woodsman seemed far from that.

The Action Begins

To kick the Tale into action, the game offers 👩🏻 Gloria three options:

👩🏻 Gloria

She chooses the first one, and fills in the blanks. She could write a little, or a lot. Here, she she has opted for a lot.

👩🏻 Gloria

Sir Francis sipped from his goblet and opened his mouth to consume a large pastie. He spoke while chewing. “You will do this together. Your talent for slaughter, Gaius, is of little use if you know not whom to slay. Farandorf knows the ways of the Falneslanders, and you will be a formidable team, if you can learn to work together. Should you root out the assassins as quickly as I anticipate, you need not tolerate each other for long. As for your reward, Farandorf, it may be beyond my power to grant. But less is beyond His Majesty’s, and you will have his gratitude along with my gold. Tell him your desire, and perhaps he will grant it. But choose your moment wisely: His Majesty has a tendency to see ulterior motives where there are none. “Now, I have told you all I know. His Majesty is about to take breakfast, and Princess Renata is likely at prayer. May the Light of the Nine Heavens speed your way.” Sir Francis pushed his plate aside and ushered Gaius and Farandorf out of his chamber. With a glance over his shoulder, Farandorf caught Sir Francis’s candid expression, his face revealing his concern.

Gaius and Farandorf exited into a courtyard. The King’s chambers were to the east, and the chapel to the west. Meanwhile, to the south, dozens of knights from the Four Kingdoms prepared for mock battle.

Characters take action

The introductions are over, and the story has well and truly commenced. It's back to 🧕🏼 Aliz's now, who gets to decide what Farandorf will try to do next. She knows that Farandorf's approach is to solve problems with her brain, and that she's forbidden from using brawn – that's more Gaius's thing. Having a defined approach helps 🧕🏼 Aliz's choose a course of action that is in keeping with her character, while creating natural tension with her fellow adventurers.

🧕🏼 Aliz's reasons that the first step is to determine the current whereabouts and status of the king. She writes her intentions as if it were a novel, right up to the part where something could go wrong. At that point, she chooses an appropriate action and likelihood of success (based on her assessment of Farandorf's abilities, and the task at hand). She can chain multiple actions together in a single turn, which increases the scope of what can be accomplished, but diminishes the odds of success.

🧕🏼 Aliz

“I suggest we start by verifying the king's whereabouts and vital signs,” said Farandorf. “After all, a squirrel doesn't hoard a rancid nut.” Farandorf and Gaius made their way across the courtyard to the king's chambers, intending to talk their way inside to make sure he is safe.

Notice the Perform action, which 🧕🏼 Aliz's self-assessed as being Unlikely to succeed, because Farandorf is an average performer (and poorly groomed!). On the other hand, 🧕🏼 Aliz's self-assessed the task of verifying the king's good health (once inside) as being likely to succeed, given Farandorf is exceptional when it comes to brains.

Self-assessment of difficulty is an important part of Taleblank. It allows the game to move quickly by not having to go back and forth with the Game Master every time you want to take an action. But it does require honesty on the part of the players, and it also requires the Game Master to be up-front about the presence and magnitude of any obstacles. If the Game Master doesn't say that something is particularly easy or particularly hard, it's up to the players to use their best judgment.

The game spins the wheel, and the outcome is revealed...

🧕🏼 Aliz


As Farandorf used her approach (brains) and succeeded, the bond between her and Gaius increases by +1. Bond is a handy thing to have, because it will allow you to perform more powerful moves down the track.

To advance the story, the game once again provides three options, and 🧕🏼 Aliz's gets to choose one and fill in the blanks.

🧕🏼 Aliz

She chooses the second option, and fills in the blanks. Watch how she writes ‘____’ a few times. This creates a new blank for 👩🏻 Gloria, the Game Master, to complete. This is really useful because 🧕🏼 Aliz's doesn't actually know what the King is going to say — only 👩🏻 Gloria, does.

🧕🏼 Aliz

Farandorf floated across the courtyard towards the King's chambers, more confident than she really had any right to be.

She tossed her whittle-Francis to the guards outside the giant wooden door. They caught it, and began laughing so happily that they did not bother to even question Farandorf or Gaius. “It's called a caricature,” Farandorf observed casually to Gaius, “and it has demonstrated one of, I fear, many holes in His Majesty's security.” They marched boldly into the King's bedroom, catching him in the middle of ____. “_____,” the King exclaimed. Farandorf introduced the two of them, recounted Sir Francis's briefing, then asked if the King had noticed anything suspicious lately. “Now that you mention it, ____.”

Now it's over to 👩🏻 Gloria, to fill in these blanks, and advance the story. Her additions are shown in orange below.

👩🏻 Gloria

Farandorf floated across the courtyard towards the King's chambers, more confident than she really had any right to be.

She tossed her whittle-Francis to the guards outside the giant wooden door. They caught it, and began laughing so happily that they did not bother to even question Farandorf or Gaius. “It's called a caricature,” Farandorf observed casually to Gaius, “and it has demonstrated one of, I fear, many holes in His Majesty's security.” They marched boldly into the King's bedroom, catching him in the middle of a mouthful of quail. “New guards, we hope,” the King exclaimed. Farandorf introduced the two of them, recounted Sir Francis's briefing, then asked if the King had noticed anything suspicious lately. “Now that you mention it, yes. Our quail tastes odd. It pleases us to meet you, Farandorf. Hello, Gaius. We hope you shall be at our side in today's melee, should it be safe for us to take part. Now, one of you shall try this quail, as your King wills. It is difficult to find good tasters these days,” he said as he pointed his fork in the direction of a simple looking man with oversized teeth, “tasters who will be honest with us, and not merely tell us what they think we want to hear.”

Now 🧔🏾‍♂️ Bob's, gets to take an action. Remember that Gaius's approach is brawns, and he is forbidden from using his brains. He describes what Gaius wants to do, then spins the wheel to see the result.

🧔🏾‍♂️ Bob

Gaius had never tasted quail before. Or poison, for that matter. He knew if he ingested a morsel of the exquisitely roasted bird he would have nothing useful to contribute, so he unsheathed his sword and held its tip to the bucktoothed taster's throat. “Do as your king requests,” he snarled, “or you will never taste anything again. Do I make myself clear?”


Notice that 🧔🏾‍♂️ Bob's, has self-assessed the action as being Likely to succeed, given he is a trained warrior attempting to intimidate a mere servant. But it looks like Gaius has met his match!

Because Gaius used his approach and failed, the bond between him and Farandorf decreases by –1. Play now passes straight to 👩🏻 Gloria, who describes how it all goes wrong. Importantly, she does so in a way that moves the story forward in an interesting manner.

You're probably seeing a pattern here, but 👩🏻 Gloria, gets to choose from three options:

👩🏻 Gloria

She picks the first option, and fills in the blanks.

👩🏻 Gloria

Gaius felt a sudden, magical tingle run down his sword hand. Before he could deduce its provenance, the doors to the chamber were flung open with a crash. Gaius pushed the servant aside, and turned to see a trio of holy knights advancing towards him.

The holy knights were the King's most loyal — and most feared — guards, their swords imbued with divine righteousness. “That explains the tingle,” Gaius thought to himself. “Your Majesty must have read my mind,” Gaius said, “as I was just about to suggest increasing your security–” Before he could finish, a spectral force knocked his sword from his hand, and the knights seized him and Farandorf. The king motioned for them to be taken away. “We cannot be too careful with assassins about, can we?”

calligraphic divider

What else do you need to know?

Those are the basics, but there's a lot more to Taleblank. Everything below will be explained to you when relevant during the game, so you don't have to read it here, let alone remember it.

But, we know there are people who love to read the rules ahead of time, so here they are!

Mixed Success

In addition to Success and Failure, it's also possible to achieve Mixed Success:

🧔🏾‍♂️ Bob

Mixed Success!

Mixed Success means the action succeeded — but there are consequences. The player starts by describing the things that went well, before the Game Master describes the negative consequences or unwanted side effects.

Special abilities

We mentioned that Farandorf could talk with animals and hide amongst the trees, and that Gaius could summon and control flames, but we didn't see either in action.

Using your special abilities is as simple as using your regular abilities. For example:

🧔🏾‍♂️ Bob

Gaius clenched his flame-hand into a ball, attempting to send the flames from the fireplace flying into the wizard’s eyes.

You can also improve your regular abilities when they relate to your special ability. For example, Gaius has a general competency when it comes to fire. If he is fighting in a burning building, for example, he will be able to use the flames to his advantage, so will be even more powerful than usual.

🧔🏾‍♂️ Bob

Gaius ducked and weaved between the flames, kicking embers at his opponent and slashing his sword with the fury of the inferno itself.


We touched on character approaches above, as being a helpful way to guide your role-playing by restricting the choices your character can make. Now let's take a look in more detail.

In the character creation stage, each character gets an approach that conflicts with each other character's. For example, one might use flattery to achieve their goals, one might use intimidation, and one might use snobbish belittling. You can think of this like a buddy cop film: he's by the book, she's a loose cannon! Over the course of the adventure, your characters will form a bond and will learn to work as a team.

When your character uses their approach and succeeds, the group's bond increases by +1. This represents the other characters witnessing your success, and thinking that maybe you might be onto something.

On the other hand, if you don't succeed, the group's bond decreases by –1. Your actions have confirmed, in the eyes of everyone else, that your approach is the wrong one.


Each character has a virtue, which specifies a range of actions that they must not take. For example, a character with the Courageous virtue must not chicken out or take the easy option.

If upholding your virtue costs you an opportunity to progress your objectives, you receive a point of Karma, as well as increasing your bond by +1.

🧕🏼 Aliz

Farandorf chuckled. “No, good sir, I am not his majesty the king, though the resemblance is somewhat uncanny. Despite my non-regal pedigree, I would still like to enter your fine establishment. What say you open the doors anyway?”

+ 1 +1


You earn karma by staying true to your virtue and refusing an opportunity to unscrupulously advance your position. You can spend karma to re-spin a bad outcome, keeping the most favourable result.

🧕🏼 Aliz

Mixed Success!

That said, you have 1 point of karma. Would you like to spend it to spin again?



You are aiming to increase your bond to its maximum value (which will depend on how many people are playing). Once there, you will be able to work as a team (more on that below). There are special actions you can take which increase your bond but decrease your odds of success. And there are other actions you take which decrease your bond but increase your odds of success. These are all discussed below.

Special actions

“You're not going to like this”

You do something that is so in keeping with your approach that it makes the other characters even angrier than normal. You lose –1 bond instantly, but you get to spin twice and keep the better result.

For example:

🧕🏼 Aliz

Farandorf considered the wizard’s offer. The magician was old and frail, and Gaius could easily strike him down now that his wand had been cast into the pit of flames, but Farandorf always loved a good chance to flex her mental matter. “Very well then,” she said, “we shall play chess to determine whether you are allowed to sacrifice the princess to the Blood God. Best of three?”

😏 “You're not going to like this” –1


“Let's give this a shot”

You have seen enough of the other approaches to give them a shot. When you take this action, you can go against your normal approach. You gain +1 bond instantly, but you must spin twice and keep the worst result, as you're outside your comfort zone.

For example:

🧕🏼 Aliz

Farandorf considered the wizard’s offer. The magician was old and frail, and Gaius could easily have struck him down now that his wand had been cast into the pit of flames. But Gaius was occupied with the skeletal horde. Could Farandorf strike down the wizard himself? It was worth a try.

🫣 “Let's give this a shot” +1


“Let's do it your way”

Once your bond increases a little, you have enough trust in the other characters to let them demonstrate their approach. You gain +2 bond instantly, and the other character must use their approach. But, now they're under pressure to succeed, so they have to spin twice and keep the worst result.

For example:

🧕🏼 Aliz

Farandorf considered the wizard’s offer. The magician was old and frail, and Gaius could easily strike him down now that his wand had been cast into the pit of flames. And besides, Farandorf didn’t particularly feel like chess right now. “He’s all yours, Gaius.”

🤷 “Let's do it your way” +2
🧔🏾‍♂️ Bob

“With pleasure,” Gaius replied, and drew his sword.

Mixed Success! –1

Work as a team

Once you have bonded with your fellow adventurers, you can take the Work as a team action. Your character does something which does not directly solve the problem, but which makes it easier for someone else to solve the problem. The next player then gets to take their turn with advantage (spinning multiple times and keeping the best result).

For example:

🧔🏾‍♂️ Bob

Gaius drew his sword and set about defending Farandorf from the ring of skeletons that were edging their way nearer. If he could minimise the distractions, Farandorf could trick the wizard into checkmate in no time.

🤝 Work as a team


🧕🏼 Aliz

Farandorf settled into the chair opposite the elderly wizard. She was playing white, her least favourite chess colour, but she would make do. She felt calm, and that gave her confidence. “Let’s dance.”


Sowing discord

From time to time, a player will be forced to describe a moment of discord within the group. Your bond will decrease by –1, –2, or –3, and you will have to craft a narrative reason for this weakening of the party's bond.

🧔🏾‍♂️ Bob

“Can you please. Stop. Killing. People?” Farandorf wailed. “It’s not helping us escape this predicament!” No sooner had she spoken the words, than three recently dispatched cultists rose to their feet as animated undead warriors.

You may be right,” said Gaius, “but maybe if you didn’t stop to trade pawns with every megalomaniac with a chessboard, we wouldn’t be in this predicament in the first place.”

Forced action: Discord –2

Touching moments

The opposite of sowing discord. Sometimes, a player will be forced to describe a touching moment that brings the characters closer together.

🧕🏼 Aliz

Farandorf looked at the decapitated wizard seated opposite her at the table, then up at Gaius and his bloodied sword.

You may be little more than a glorified thug,” said Farandorf, “but you aren't completely useless. It would have taken me several moves to manoeuvre that wizard into a checkmate position. Killing him was expeditious.”

It didn't sound like much, but Gaius knew Farandorf well enough to know that it meant a lot.

Forced action: Touching moment +2


When a character fails (or has mixed success) the Game Master can add an injury to that character. Injuries will typically reduce their effectiveness in one or more areas, and if a character sustains too many injuries, they die!

👩🏻 Gloria

Gaius mis- judged the width of the canyon, and fell fifteen feet through the air before crashing into the rocky riverbed below. The impact shattered his tibia, causing a primal scream of pain to be carried on the wind all the way to the village they had left two days' earlier.

Gaius Valterra is injured: broken tibia (2 slots)
Cannot run or jump, extreme difficulty simply standing or walking.

It's up to players to adjust their self-assessment of difficulty as a result of injuries, but the game will remind you of your injuries whenever they are relevant.


Each character has a number of injury slots, determined by their toughness. Each injury occupies 1, 2, or 3 slots. When your character runs out of injury slots, they die. In most games of Taleblank, this is a rare and highly dramatic occurrence – but the risk is always there.

👩🏻 Gloria

Challenging an entire room full of undead cultists to a duel was never going to end well, but Gaius couldn’t have predicted how badly it would turn out. Outnumbered ten to one, he was overpowered within seconds, and beaten to within an inch of his life. The brainless undead then departed, and Gaius might have pulled through, had an oversized harpsichord not fallen on top of him from above.

Gaius Valterra has died: crushed by baroque musical instrument (3 slots)

Once a character has died, they can still influence the story from beyond the grave, to grant inspiration or other assistance to those still living. The living character gets to spin multiple times and keep the best result.

🧔🏾‍♂️ Bob

Farandorf considered the wizard’s offer. The magician was old, frail, and powerless now that his wand had been cast into the pit of flames. If Gaius had not been crushed in that unfortunate harpsichord relocation accident, he would have sliced the wizard in half in one clean motion. Farandorf owed it to Gaius's memory to at least try.

Posthumously intervene


🧕🏼 Aliz

She drew her ceremonial letter opener from its leather sheath and thrust it forwards at the ancient magician.

Mixed Success!

All done

Now it's time for you to play.