From Ludocity
Designer: Francis Barking
Year: unknown
Players: 4-10 players or 4-10 teams (of up to four players each)
Stuff required: Lumps of coal, chalk and wood; one of each per player/team. A whistle or klaxon. Bags (non-team play only).
Crew required: One.
Preparation: Twenty minutes.
Time required: Half an hour.
Place required: Any large location, ideally a sandy, rocky riverbank.
Activities: Finding, bluffing.
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?)

With heating bills set to rise yet again, it's time to trawl the river for its hidden assets. Beware though, there are others with the same idea. Compete with fellow players for the treasure revealed by the low tide, and get off the beach before some other scoundred does you in over a lump of coal.

Organiser instructions

For each player or team, you'll need (approximately) three pieces of coal, three pieces of chalk and three piece of wood.

Before the game begins, distribute all of these items at random around the playing area.

Player instructions

The game of Mudlarking is divided into three stages - Scavenging, Challenging and Measuring.

When the game begins, you will have a ten minute Scavenging period. Explore the playing area looking for as much coal, chalk and wood as you can, and collect it in your bag. When the whistle blows, the Scavenging period ends.

There is now a ten minute Challenging period, during which you can wander around looking for other Mudlarks. When you see one, you should approach them and announce that you're challenging them. Both of you reach into your bag, and - on the count of three - pull out either a lump of chalk, coal or wood. The victor of the challenge is decided in rock-paper-scissor fashion:-

  • Chalk beats (writes on) coal.
  • Coal beats (burns) wood.
  • Wood beats (erases) chalk.

If there's a winner, they get to steal the item the loser was using, and put it into their bag.

The Challenging period continues until the whistle blows again.

Finally, there is a Measuring period. Each Mudlark reports back to the game runner, and hands over their haul. The game runner will either weigh or tally the collected coal, chalk and wood, with the most bountiful haul determining the overall winner. If playing at a riverside, the winning team can be given a washed up item found by the organisers, as a prize.

Team play

If playing with more than ten players, split people into teams. Instead of collecting their haul in a bag, each team must construct or nominate a "base" at the start of the game (if playing on a sandy river bank, they can outline and decorate an area in the sand), and store their coal, chalk and wood there.

When Scavenging, the Mudlarks must place their loot in the base for it to count. When the whistle blows at the end of the Scavenging round, all Mudlarks must immediately drop whatever they were carrying, and saunter back to their bases, whistling innocently, awaiting another whistle to signal the start of the Challenging round.

During the Challenging round, teamed Mudlarks should pick one item from their base and carry it with them. When they win or lose a challenge, they can return to their base to swap their item, or get a replacement.

Prizes (or score bonuses) can be awarded for particularly well-designed base areas, and players can be encouraged to decorate their bases between rounds, with whatever they can find lying around.

Play history

Mudlarking was played at Sandpit #1 and again (as Skylarking, where players were in an urban environment and the objects had fallen from the heavens) at Sandpit #5. It was also played at Hide and Seek 2008, along the murky beach of the Thames.