1001 Odysseys

Created by Chris Cieslik

An adventure board game with storybooks full of journeys to visit new worlds, meet quirky aliens, and make many, many branching choices. 1-4 Players, 30-60 minutes per chapter.

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Let's talk about Dates
about 3 years ago – Thu, May 20, 2021 at 08:19:40 PM

Greetings everyone! We're here to talk about Dates.  Mogbog's Human to Zibzab Dictionarium, Thirteenth Edition, defines a Date as "A delicious humanworld fruit, delightfully rock-like in appearance. They grow on trees!" 

Wait, I'm being told these are not the dates you're interested in! Thankfully Mogbog also defines a Release Date as "An elusive and mysterious temporal object, often shuffled and changed by mysterious forces. It could be tomorrow, or yesterday, with equal probability." As we all know, the Zibzab have some of the brightest (and most colorful) minds in the galaxy.

We've been doing much writing and editing of blurbs (although the past month has been a bit slow due to all getting our vaccines, some various Real Life Adventures requiring Time / Personal Stuff, etc.) and with that we're able to forecast the trajectory of how things are going a bit better. We've got several more months of writing to do, and similar for the creation of art assets. We're up to over 80,000 branching paths, and still plan to add a counter to so you can see the numbers grow as we work (still later this Spring!) 

The question then is - once we're done writing and art-ing, how quickly will the game get to you? There're two aspects to this portion of the timeline: Testing, and Production. Testing will start before we're "done". We're going to be testing out completed chapters very early in the Summer, and of course our lovely database is continuously testing for dead ends, infinite loops, paradox fruit, and narrative black holes that threaten the fabric of reality. (Preventing the end of reality is easily in our top-5 goals for this project). I do not expect to be in the "testing" phase for more than a month or so after we reach the "done" point, since much of the work will be done along the way! 

Production is harder to predict. Physically printing books and cards isn't too bad, they're normal processes (no microchip shortage for our game!). The trouble right now is with galactic freight, which of course includes Earth Freight. Things are still a bit junked up right now from the Pandemic and the Suez, but I surely hope that's going to continue improving over the coming months. 

All combined, our goal is to push the print button late this year, so that the games can begin their journey to you! What we are definitely going to do this year, is continue to be excited about the game, and share positive things from the game-world. We love Insula, we love writing stories and drawing art about Insula, and we're thankful that so many of you have chosen to come on a journey with us to this fun corner of the galaxy. It's taken longer than we planned, and for that we apologize - but we're really looking forward to how cool this box of stories is going to be when it's completed :)

Plushies and pins!

These are finally at our fulfillment partner warehouse , and we're getting the packaging in line so they arrive to you safe and sound. They've had quite a long journey this year!

Lil bit of art? Lil bit of art!

First, we've been working on the Mission Control Board. This is the human-looking place where all your Momentum and Focus cards go, tracking progress through a Chapter. Your Operations Officer will be using this shiny totally-real-computer-panel throughout your adventures to help figure out where you can go and what you can do! We've mocked up a couple cards and cubes and DISCs to place on it, using very fancy Galactic Photoshop technology. 

Very smol spoilers here, if you want to avoid, but these are a couple Chapter Header images (there's one for every chapter!) I won't say when or where these things happen - it is a mystery! 

 Happy May everyone, hopefully everyone can start seeing some friends and being outside more, it's been a long year! 

How many Odysseys fit in a box? 1001, of course!
over 3 years ago – Sat, Apr 10, 2021 at 02:46:36 PM

Happy Spring (Autumn for you Southern-Hemispherians!) to everyone! In this April update, we're going to talk about a couple of the components of 1001 Odysseys, and how things have grown + evolved since we ran the campaign. If you stay all the way to the end, a Cat Picture awaits.

Story Books

The core of 1001 Odysseys is, well, the story! Using space-age technology (and a hefty database behind it), we will put many words on to "paper" in a fashion that allows you to read them out loud to your table, with fun Plumplim-like voices encouraged. We estimated that we'd have 400 pages of story split across 30 chapters in 4 stories, and we're likely going to wind up with a little more than that, to tell the stories we want to tell. The books themselves will be the very last component we finalize, since they'll exist digitally in our testing system as we make adjustments to both the story-text and the gameplay-text based on editing + game testing. 

Story Progress Update From the Writing Team:

Chapter Mission Outlines (Flowcharts and notes that show mission names, detailed story beats, essential grid locations and characters) are done and documented! These outlines let us put together descriptions and technical requirements for the Maps and other art assets, and we feel really good about the shape of the story as a whole. Now that the skeleton is squared away, we've gone back to developing Detailed Chapter Outlines (up to an estimated 27%) and writing the blurbs that you will read and experience as you play through the Storybooks. Our friendly Simulator Supercomputer is helping make sure that this process continues smoothly by keeping track of exactly which blurbs need to be written and by making it easy to experience the story bit-by-bit. We expand the story a little, write a little, and then check our work right away to see how it feels.

Currently the database contains 269 Blurbs which result in 28857 Unique Branching Paths, and we have 128 Almanac Entries.  Later this spring, we're going to add a live counter to with counts of blurbs, paths, almanac entries, mentions of the word "plumplim" and other statistics! You'll be able to see in real time as the story grows :)


The centerpiece of each chapter is the beautiful map that represents the location in Insula that you're visiting. Our original plan was to have 4 large maps (approx 24"x11"), but that expanded to 6 large maps. More recently, we decided instead to have 4 large maps and 6 small maps (approx 8.5"x11") so we could visit a wider variety of exciting locales. 

Progress: All 4 large maps completed, 3 small maps completed, 2 in progress.

Behold our latest completed map: Bassilas! 

Luxurious Underground!


Location Cards

As you proceed through each chapter, location cards appear on the map to represent the specific places you can visit and their features.  These cards don't require their own art, since they use the art from the underlying map.

A Location Card from the Demo Mission

We've updated the look a bit, but these are still pretty much what we envisioned when we started. The database manages all of the location cards that're required by the game, and when the time comes to export them to the print PDFs, makes the process a breeze. 

Mission / Focus / Momentum Cards

These cards, along with the Mission Control Board, are the components that have changed the most over time. The core exploration mechanic of 1001 Odysseys remains the same - when you want to do something in the world, you pair a Focus(previously "Action"), a Mission, and the coordinates of a Location that matches that Focus. What's grown is the way in which we present these concepts. One of our biggest goals from the start has been to make this game easy to play, you're here to experience cool stories, not flip through a rulebook! 

Originally, you tucked a Focus/Action card underneath a Mission card, so only part of it was showing. This was a bit annoying and fiddly in practice, and wasn't obvious to the folks we ran demos for at conventions, back in those golden days when we were allowed to share a table! We've redesigned the layout of the Mission Control Board to be clearer + easier to use. Right now we're prototyping art for it to make sure everything fits. We should have a fancy version of it to show during our next update.

DISCs + Crew Location Marker

Hey! DISCs aren't cards, but they get placed onto the cards, so it kind of fits under the header. DISCs original job was to track decisions made at individual locations with colored chips. This, it turns out, was super confusing! It was the #1 problem we had in demos while they were part of the game. Instead, important decisions are now recorded in the Passport, on the Chapter Data sheet. 

We also had a second issue - nothing prevented you from visiting the same location on the same mission twice (or three times, or a hundred!) Most players would figure out they'd read the same paragraph after the third time, but we wanted a system in place to actually remind you where you'd been. Instead of DISCs just for decisions, now you place a numbered DISC when you visit a location. Until it's cleared away by the game, you can't go back to that place on that mission. These discs fit into the hexagonal slots on the new Location Card design above. They're also used on the redesigned Mission Control Board in several places, so there's a consistent graphical presentation of what a mission number looks like (it's a number in a hexagon!). 

DISCs were annoying, but now they're the star of the show! Congrats, DISCs, you did it. 

How Much Longer?

Obviously, this game's taken longer than we planned. I'm going to copy some text here from a comment I wrote last month, for folks who're looking for time estimates:

This isn't a normal board game production - ordinarily, we know that we'll need a certain amount of time to complete artwork, graphic design, gameplay testing. For example, One Deck Galaxy will kickstart, need one to two months finalizing things for production based on stretch goals, and go to print. I can provide a solid delivery estimate based on that. If individual things slip, I can share with backers "We need 2 extra weeks to re-make the box art because it turns out we need a triangular box. Shapes, amirite?"

1001 Odysseys is a game *and* a book, and a lot of code-like scaffolding underneath to make that book Work Right. It's required time that I underestimated substantially at first, and then we got slammed with a productivity and creativity-sapping pandemic that we're just starting to emerge from. Even throughout that, we've been making progress continuously, building up the ideas for the stories we're putting into the database now. If you want the framiest of frameworks, I would say that it will take us months, not years, to write this book, from the point we're at now. I would also say that in the next month or two, we'll have a much better idea of how fast filling in all the paragraphs for individual chapters will go.

I know it's frustrating, as we're used to concrete dates and simple timelines in the board game world, but this is much more of an RPG-type production, and writing is harder to quantify. I'm sorry it's taken longer than we thought to put it out, but I'm very excited by how great it's turning out. We just got the finished map of Bassilas this morning, which looks beautiful, and will be in our next update.

(Oh hey! That picture of Bassilas is above! Thanks, past me!)

We're working on this every day, and we thank everyone for being patient and/or understanding. We want this game on your table as much as you do :)

Plushies and Pins!

We are still waiting on some shipping logistics issues (the US West coast is jammed up, as any of you that're also backers of Good Puppers have heard plenty about!) - hopefully able to get through that by the end of the month. It's been quite a year for freight!

Cat Picture

This is objectively the most important part of the update:

Ivy Lounges on the Porch!

 Happy April everyone! Ivy invites you to the porch for tea.

Happy First Day of the Fourth Month!
over 3 years ago – Fri, Apr 02, 2021 at 01:54:08 AM

In order to test out some database things, I wrote a very silly, very short adventure. 

It is available here!  1001 Odysseys: An A-1 Day 

Real update next week :) 

The Odyssey Simulator Supercomputer Spectacular!
over 3 years ago – Tue, Mar 09, 2021 at 09:04:27 PM

Note: Kickstarter's image squasher squashed the images more than I'd thought! If you'd like to see larger screenshots of the five images in this post, they are here:

Greetings, future Odysseys Crew! 

Today, I am here to share a fun look into the fancy technology we are using to create, collaborate on, and test the many stories that will compose 1001 Odysseys. In our last update, we shared the zoomed-out visualization of the Chapter Mission Outlines, full of shiny interconnected idea pathways and storycircuits. I've created a portal for our writing + story architecture team that lets them build and then work inside that framework, using Words. Words that you will read in the future, perhaps out friends, at an object known in the distant past as a gaming table. Spooky.

Writing Stories

Let's take a look at the Story page for Chapter 1 of Book 1. There're some very minor spoilers here, as we'll be showing a little bit of actual in-game text.  Our story database contains information on all the paragraphs (which we lovingly call blurbs) and also the game logic that results from each action your crew takes inside the game world. 

Here we have a list of paragraphs that're possible to reach during Mission 1 (spoiler: you want to be friends with the Plumplim! But really, who wouldn't want that?), along with short summaries of the writing prompt for that paragraph. By clicking on one...

...we can see the details for that bit of the story. A brief prompt (a writing aid so we can keep track of which blurb is which), the current version of the paragraph in question, and the in-game results that will happen after reading it. The edit-history for this paragraph is a click away, so we can see what changes have been made over time and by who. On the right side, each word in the paragraph that also appears in the Almanac is highlighted automatically. There's also an Architect Mode button which is for editing the in-game effects. If we click through to see the definition for Plumplim, for example...

...we can quickly see all the paragraphs in the game that use that word. Plumplim, as it turns out, shows up in a lot of stories! This is useful for us to keep track of how often we're using weird alien words, so that we can make sure to define them appropriately for the Information Officer! It also means we can make sure our writing team all has the same idea of what Saloominum or a Quadrobite is (and they can update those definitions as they create them!)

Let's Play

The most advanced portion of our system is the Chapter Traversal module. It is a very well behaved computer program that plays through the game carefully, following all the rules that you'll be following with a physical copy of the game. It has many important jobs, and if we give it enough treats, it even performs these jobs well! Here, you can see the very beginning of a chapter traversal: 

It's done the initial introduction for the chapter, and discovered 4 possible choices that a crew could make. Clicking on one of these choices expands it to show the choices possible after that choice, and so on:

The most important job of the module is to check for errors - unreachable paragraphs, dead ends, infinite loops, and more! We're able to analyze the logs to check for these errors, because with literally millions of possibilities, there's no way a live playtest group could try every available option. Odysseys' story tree and rules are a bit more complicated than a traditional "turn to page 72" branching narrative story, so we want to be very robust in making sure crews are not lost in paradoxical story loops! 

Aside from that, the module lets us build out a chapter in pieces. Every time the Traversal module runs, it checks for reachable paragraphs that don't exist yet, and creates them as blanks for our writers. This means that when we created the Introduction paragraph for this chapter, the very first thing the module did was look at the initial commands given to the crew, and create the resulting four paragraphs. Then, we added the commands to those, and it built out the next wave of potential options, and so forth. Eventually, we create the whole chapter's framework, and all of the paragraphs are available for writers to write. 

If we wind up making changes, the error-checking kicks in. We'll know if we've accidentally blocked off part of the story, created new unwritten reachable states, and so forth. It's taken a lot of time to fully build out the support program for our writing team, but the amount of time and confidence we'll save during testing has been worth it! I hope it's been an interesting little peek behind the curtain.

Physical Cosmetic Rewards

In our last update, we said we were waiting on more pins so we can ship out plushies + pins, and we are waiting just a little bit longer. Because of a variety of port-related shenanigans, it'll take probably 3-4 weeks longer than we'd hoped, so we'll be aiming to ship out all this cute stuff in early April. More info on that later this month, as we get a firmer date.

General Progress

We're writing stories! It's been a chunk of time getting everyone up to speed on using our tools, but now things are rolling along. It's even nice outside today, which helps! We can't wait to share all of our space adventure tales with you, and thank you for your infinitely appreciated patience as we make the Cool Things.

Behold: The Story Skeleton
over 3 years ago – Tue, Jan 26, 2021 at 11:28:07 PM

Hi folks!

  Just checking in with you to let you know that we continue to be alive (knock on wood) and work on this sprawling universe we love so much. In fact, this week we’ve been working with a refreshed vigor. It feels like it actually is 2021, at last. 

Writing Status:

  Book Outlines (a flowchart that shows Chapter to Chapter flow, Passport Items and Contacts discovery and usage, Maps that will be used, and key story beats) are 99% complete! The last thing that remains is to lock in a few Passport Items.

  Chapter Mission Outlines are 97% complete. Behold:

A carefully obscured selection of some of the Chapter Mission Outlines for the first four Storybooks.

  Peer into the minds of our writing team who have been tirelessly patching together this science fiction Frankenstein of sticky notes on Miro, a flowchart-creating tool. Each of these graphs represents the narrative structure of a single Chapter in the game, our Chapter Mission Outlines.

  Each week, we get on a group call and say thoughts at each other until we build a story. This is the structure of that narrative: blood (Trin had a bad paper-cut one time), sweat (Sarah had to deal with regularly scheduled explosions out her window for a while), and tears (all of us have cried a bit at this point) went into each of these sticky-note-looking squares. We’ve floated getting matching tattoos of the Miro board (it was shot down immediately).

  We’ve been spending a lot of time with a deeply neurotic character who's been away from society for a while and looking for his purpose in the universe. We’ve taken to calling him our anxious, horrible son. Looking for a place for yourself, finding your calling, discovering your purpose in life -- We’ve all been there, right? We see a little bit of ourselves in him, and maybe you will, too.

Art Status:

  We have pencil sketches for the Bassilas Map and the Araveen Map. Both are looking like places that you'll want to visit and explore, and we'll share our artists' work in a future update once things are a bit further along.

  We have also seen a few delightful new sketches for Storybook illustrations. These will provide  great opportunities for you to see our characters and details of the story up close.

Looking Ahead:

  Everything in our narrative already fits together: we’ve populated our universe with vibrant worlds to explore, whimsical characters, and everything that happens on those planets and to those people. The time has come to add meat onto the adamantium-bolstered skeleton of our story! We do this by translating all of these flowcharts into the engaging text that you will read as you play through the game. It is through these storybooks that you'll be traversing Insula and high-fiving its denizens.

Canvases, Plushies, and Pins Update:

  For folks who already backed for or ordered a Canvas, we'll be shipping those out on February 1st. You can still order them on BackerKit (and in the future from if you'd like a beautiful Insula world adorning your walls. We're prepping a plan to ship out all of the Plushies and Pins in a wave, and our estimated ship date for that is March 15th (We're waiting on some more pins from the factory, turns out we had less than we thought!). Many huggable Plumplim are ready to take a seat on your desk, shelf, or couch!