Pip Decks

Universal Stories

From Episode 10 of the weekly Storyteller Tactics episodes

Each week we release a new story and two Storyteller Tactics cards from the deck, launching on Kickstarter later this year.

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What is the Universal Stories tactic?

Every society ever studied tells stories. It's the best way we've found to pass on vital social information.

Myths, fables and fairy tales repeat down the ages and across cultures. Storytelling is one of several traits that all societies have evolved. And there are other universal traits that keep coming up in the stories we tell about people around us.

Tip: try this tactic alongside Shock of the Old, which also shares a Darwinian perspective.


How to use Universal Stories tactic

Anthropologist Donald Brown identified hundreds of universal human traits, seen in every society ever studied. How could you tell a story about people involved in your project, based on these traits?

  1. Free Will: we see ourselves and others as individuals, acting deliberately. We pay very close attention to other people's choices.

  2. Conflict and Cooperation: everyone is capable of both. We can choose either. (see also Three Great Conflicts)

  3. Inconsistencies: we all have gaps between what we do, say and think. (see also Abstractions)

  4. Fear and Bravery: we all understand that fears can be overcome. (see also The Dragon and The City [coming soon])

  5. Right and Wrong: we all understand the difference. We expect fairness and judgement from our peers. (see also Moral Conflicts [coming soon])

  6. The Future: we all make attempts to predict what's coming next.

  7. Rites of Passage: all cultures mark childhood, adolescent and adult phases of life. (see also Circle of Life)

  8. Play: we share this unlearned, joyous bonding behaviour with all mammals. It improves practical skills. (see also Abstractions)


Read more: D.Brown, Human Universals

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- Charles & Steve.

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