Once Upon A Time is a game in which the players create a story together, using cards that show typical elements from fairy tales. One player is the Storyteller and creates a story using the ingredients on their cards. They try to guide the plot towards their own ending. The other players try to use cards to interrupt the Storyteller and become the new Storyteller. The winner is the first player to play out all their cards and end with their Happy Ever After card.

The second edition, published in 1995, features an expanded card set.

The third edition, published in 2012, features multiple changes, including new artwork by Omar Rayyan, a new card set, and a simplified rulesheet.


rules summary

Start: 10/8/7/6/5 story cards per player for 2/3/4/5/6+ players. 1 ending card per player.

Turn: Storyteller plays card when it is mentioned as non-insignificant part of story. Storyteller changes by: Passing. Storyteller may discard a card. Interruption by exact element. Need not be exact words. Interruption by interrupt card of matching group when storyteller plays a card 5 sec pause Not making sense In all cases of storyteller changing, storyteller must draw a card. Interruptions if disputed, are resolved by consensus of players not involved in dispute. If interrupter judged wrong, discard card used for interruption and draw 2 cards.

End: A player has played all story cards and then plays ending card. Not allowed to introduce new element after last story card played.

Variants: Give 2 ending cards. Can be used to help younger players or new players. May change ending card instead of discarding story card when passing, but must then draw 2 story cards instead of 1.

game patch

“you must keep the story moving for at least 15 seconds before you play a second card”. Don’t stick strictly to that, but if someone “machine guns”, call “too fast”, and help them keep the story moving. Give a one-card penalty for inappropriate interrupts. https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/895402/added-egg-timer

2 player version

  1. separate the interrupt cards from the story cards and shuffle each deck separately
  2. each person draws 2 interupt cards and 7 story cards(total of 9, like in the original)
  3. Shuffle the rest of the 2 decks together

simpler version

Each player gets one ending card, and ten story element cards. Ignore everything at the top of the card, the interrupts, all that stuff. Just focus on the main copy of the card. Then, each person makes up a story using their ten elements, and ending with the ending they drew.


If one doesn’t like some people carrying the story, remove the interrupt mechanic completely.

One person opens and each takes a turn laying down a card; no interrupts. Each person plays a card to continue the story. The storytelling can get more interesting because now everyone is telling the story. There can be multiple story lines. The person who starts is usually the person whose turn it is to finish the story (story ending card). But if the card can’t fit the storyline, pass to the next person, and on until a fitting ending is told. In some cases, 1 or 2 more endings were offered by players that didn’t get the chance to end the story. No points are added, no one wins or loses.

solo version with mythic gm


more structure


card lists