An Example _Plan – Encoded


Going through my drive and cleaning up, I found this outline for a possible print-and-play scenario game. I’m putting it up here, not to build hype for a project I’m not going to make, but rather to show you an example of the process I go through for _plan files.

Oh and if you’re curious, I label them as _plan files, because it means they show up at the start of the directory.


Enc0ded is a print-and-play game. Players sit in a circle around a table which has a stack of folded files, and work their way through a story of triggering hypnotic codewords, mysterious government conspiracy, and conflicting goals and impulses.


Cold-War Detritus. Millenials grappling with the systems put in place by cold war nations in human experimentation without ever really considering what might happen if they themselves disappeared. Orphaned technology. Black ribbon typewriter text and paranoia.


  • A printable file for each player, with extras to ensure some randomness
  • A deck of playing cards to make random components to put inside each file

Play Concept

The characters in this game concept are young people who have been implanted with MKUltra-style human mental programming that was then wiped from their memories. The play experience should start with the idea that players have only ‘just now’ been triggered to remember that it ever happened to them at all, and the story then explores them trying to divine their individual identities and purposes as programmed people.

Each player has a randomly-distributed file which contains a list of all their characters’ information. In this file there’s a list of keywords and information to try and piece together. Players negotiate who opens each file going downwards, but complicating this is encoded programming in each players’ head that means they’re required to respond to certain phrases used in the files.

Some players will have keyword or phrases they say or are triggered to say by things in others’ files.

Hypothetically, the ‘big puzzle’ in each file that players are trying to pull together (and they cannot show one another their files) is the creation of/expression of a single, complicated phrase, a phrase that requires some degree of cryptography/deduction and which unlocks a certain plot ending to the scenario, to be read aloud by one player.

This can be complicated by other ideas!

  • What if one player is a sleeper trying to prevent the message from being correctly revealed?
  • If a set of playing cards are being held by the players, divided up per file, the remaining cards could be part of the matrix, requiring trust to provide a meaningful result.
  • What if one player is an assassin triggered to eliminiate a player who is lying?
  • What if an assassin is triggered to give the team a second chance, a moon-shot attempt to eliminate the ‘handler’ in the group?


How do you write this without it being super creepy?

This is naturally going to overlap with ideas of hypno and with ideas of puzzle-solving.

How collaborative do you want it to be?

Can it be done as one single scenario?

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