Lost Poetry Squad

From Ludocity
Lost Poetry Squad
Designer: Invisible Playground
Year: unknown
Players: 8-32, in teams of 4.
Stuff required: Mirrors, headlights, fluorescent self-adhesive band, walkie-talkies.
Crew required: One non playing character per team.
Preparation: 4 hours.
Time required: ca. 20 minutes.
Place required: Small park with a lot of benches preferably in the dark.
Activities: exploration, teamwork, collecting, memorizing, do some magic .
This is a playable game - it's finished, tested and ready to play.
This game is made available under an Attribution-Noncommercial Creative Commons licence. (What does this mean?)

The garden is full of poetry. Yet it is thoroughly hidden and has to be brought to light. With special devices Squads spread out in the garden, leaving glowing poetry lines on their trails and filling the air with conspirative whisper. Will any of the teams be able to save a complete poem?


  • Build poetry detection devices The poetry detection device is a combination of mirrors and lights that are mounted on the shoes of the players. Some players will wear mirrors, others will wear lights. Get round mirrors of ca. 20mm diameter, velcro and duct tape, headlights.
    • Apply duct tape around the outline of the mirror (mostly for security reasons to prevent injuries by the sharp edge).
    • Apply velcro band on the mirrors backs that they can be mounted on shoes. Two mountings per mirror will do.
    • Apply velcro band on the headlights that they can be mounted on shoes.
  • Build poetry lines Take the poems provided or choose lovely poems of less or similar length. Using longer poems makes cashing in consecutive lines easier, but using shorter ones creates more feeling of achievement. Five 4-liners might be best. Use fluorescent self-adhesive band to write single lines on it. For this you need to cut the fluorescent band in pieces according to the length of the poem lines, and write the poem lines on them in REVERSE WRITING (as it will be read out with a mirror).

Image:Lost_Poetry.jpg|200px|Handout thumbnail for Lost_Poetry.pdf. desc none

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Download Lost_Poetry.pdf
Poems for Lost Poetry Squad (do not hand out to players!)
Map for Lost Poetry Squad (use it to prepare the benches). The rule for lines is "always under benches on the right side of a trash bin".
  • Install the poetry lines with self-adhesive band on the bottom side of benches. Use our handy map or create your own. When you deal with a place that has too many benches (> total lines x 2) use a strict rule to make finding the lines easy ("every third bench"; "only benches on the right side of trash bins"). When designing a level remember to spread out the lines in an interesting way, randomness works, but tweaking it by making some clusters at fun places is even better. Tread poems differently that players are able to associate parts of the garden with different poems. In the dark the fluorescent band and the writing will become visible if players charge it using the headlights mounted on their shoes. After that players equipped with a mirror can place their feet under the bench in order to read the glowing line of poetry.
  • Build teams of 4 players. Within the team, hand out 2 mirrors and 2 headlight (you might want to assist in mounting them on the players shoes). Hand out 2 walkie-talkies to the players with the headlight.
  • Assign a poetry expert (NPC) to each team. Each poetry expert needs a clipboard with the complete poems on it and walkie-talkie. Make sure that the walkie-talkies within a team and that of the poetry expert are on the same channel.


Rulecard for Rulecard for Lost Poetry Squad (hand this out to players!)

The goal of the game is to rescue as many poem lines hidden under the benches as possible. To rescue them players will have to find them, read them and broadcast them to the poetry expert through the walkie-talkie. The team scores 1 point when a poem line is transmitted correctly to the poetry expert. There is a bonus point for each line that was transmitted along with other successive line in the correct order. For one line the team can cash in the point and the bonus point only once in one play session. If the team already has earned a point with a poem line, a second transmission of the line won't earn them a plain point, but could still earn them the bonus point if transmitted along with other points.

E.g. Team Echo finds line 3 of poem 1 and rescues it. They get one point. Now they find line 4 of poem 1. If they only transmit line 4 they will get one basic point for a new and never transmitted line. If they transmit line 3 again immediately before transmitting line 4 they will get the basic point for transmitting line 4 (no basic point for line 3, they already cashed it in) and for each line one bonus point. If they now find line 5 and transmit line 4 and line 5 they will get one basic point for line 5 and a bonus point for line 5.

The poetry expert keeps track of the points earned with transmitted lines and at the end of the game the poetry experts announce the winners. But before announcing the winners, the poetry experts recite all the poems in canon by reading out the saved lines loud but not reading out the unsaved lines.

Possible variants

  • Larger teams: If you don't have enough walkie-talkies for teams of four you can make teams of five or six by separating the role of light bearer and walkie-talkie handler teams of seven or eight by using more mirrors.
  • Completion bonus: Complete poems double their value.
  • More team play: There are not one but three bonus points for transmitting lines in succession: e.g. cashing in lines 2 and 3 of poem 1 are worth 8 instead of 4 points. (1 (basic point) + 3 (bonus point)) x 2 (number of transmitting lines) = 8 points instead of (1 + 1) x 2 = 4 points. Cashing in lines 2 and 3 after having already cashed in line 2 alone is worth 7 instead of 3 points. (1 (basic point) + 3 (bonus point)) x 2 (number of transmitting lines) - 1 (line 2 already cashed in) = 7 points instead of (1 + 1) x 2 - 1 (line 2 already cashed in) = 3 points
  • Simpler Rules: You can only cash in two consecutive lines and you have to start with an odd number.
  • Simplest Rules: Every correct line is worth one point per game.

Flickr gallery

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Design and Play history

Lost Poetry Squad was developed by Invisible Playground at Field Office Prague during 4+4 Days in Motion Festival.

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