Serial Experiment Jump is a role-playing, story-telling game designed to be run online and face-to-face.
You will play one of several characters who work as part of Team Seven of the Temporal Research Agency. Each character has a special power. They work mostly in the modern world, but are occasionally sent to other times.
Mike can lay his hands on any metal machine and understand its mechanics. By touching a lawnmower, he will immediately know how to turn over the engine, where the throttle is, etc. More complex machines (bulldozers, construction cranes, guns) require more time to comprehend. Unfortunately, this is very distracting when he's, for example, holding a gun.
How He Sees Others: Natalya is sexy but weird. Amber is intimidating but awesome. Ken is strange but very useful.
A brash young woman, Natalya can pump up her supercharged bio-electrical field to affect electrical devices or discharge a painful electrical pulse into a target through her fists. She eats like a horse and stays rail-thin.
How She Sees Others: Mike is cute but a bit too wimpy. Amber is way too detached. Ken is kinda sexy but that gun thing is a turn-off.
Amber is a tall, serious woman who wears glasses. If she touches a conscious person, she can read their surface thoughts and emotions. If she can touch a sleeping person for ten minutes, she can read their current dreams. If she touches a drugged person, she can direct that person to reveal memories. Cool and detached, she nevertheless has feelings for Mike, who is the only person not freaked out by her ability.
How She Sees Others: Mike needs her as a mentor. Natalya is too brash for her own good. Poor, poor Ken.
A former Secret Service agent with extraordinary vision, Ken can see distinctions on the order of one tenth of a millimeter and can identify a car model from five miles away on a clear day. He also has a lot of guns. He lost his family a few years ago, and has thrown himself into his work. This is his family.
How He Sees Others: Mike needs to man up. Natalya is a kid who needs discipline but has a good heart. Amber's gorgeous and such a professional.
Each player also chooses a character. Each player receives one dark token and one light token.
Randomly, choose one player to be the Storyteller, and another to be the Pusher.
Set a timer to go off after one third of your scheduled time has elapsed. So, for a one-hour game, set the timer for 20 minutes.
The Storyteller's job is to tell the story. The Storyteller describes how his or her character actively pushes the story forward, attempting to achieve the group's goal and his or her character's goal. The other player-characters may react and respond.
Every time the storyteller puts his or her character in a tight spot and wants to succeed, the storyteller must place a light token back into the center of the table, at which point the storyteller receives a dark token. If the storyteller has the character suffer a setback, the storyteller places a dark token in the center of the table and receives a light token.
The Pusher has two jobs:
Example: Mary, John, and Rob are playing. Mary is Storyteller, and John is Pusher. Mary narrates for a while, then gets stuck and goes silent. John calls out “Switch!” Mary now chooses another player by calling out “Rob!” Rob is now the Storyteller, and Mary becomes the new Pusher.
Note that the Pusher may also play as his or her character while acting as the Pusher, but should always prioritize Pusher duties over his or her character.
If a player is neither Storyteller or Pusher, they may react to the Storyteller, talk in-character, and describe his or her character's actions. However, a side character may only propose actions that change the story's direction.
When the timer goes off the first time, the Pusher must introduce a significant plot twist. Also, everyone checks his or her goal for the scenario (are you making progress?). Reset the timer for the same length of time, so it will go off two-thirds into the session.
When the timer goes off the second time, the Pusher must introduce a major plot twist that pushes the characters towards a final confrontation with the antagonistic forces of this scenario. Also, everyone should again check his or her progress towards his or her goal.
Agents are allowed to travel back in time in disguise and prepare for a mission after they completed it. For example, during a mission, you can declare that you previously hid a gun in the glove compartment. After the mission is over, you're allowed to jump back and hide the gun before you arrived for the mission.
However, agency funds for such “cleanup” jumps are limited, so each agent may only do this once per mission.
If playing face-to-face, label one index card “Storyteller” and another “Pusher.” Place these in front of the appropriate players.
If playing online, have each player change their text overlay/lower third when they become Storyteller or Pusher. If that's too onerous, have the Storyteller/Pusher hold up a labeled index card so it's visible on-camera.
Team Seven is sent back in time to 12 May 2010 onto Afriqiyah Airways Flight 771 to Tripoli, which crashed at 6:10am local time, killing everyone on board.
Group goal: Ensure that only 9-year-old Ruben van Assouw survives the crash.
Mike's goal: Find out why the pilots drove the plane into the ground, ignoring multiple system warnings.
Natalya's goal: Protect Ruben from the actual threat.
Amber's goal: Find out what's so special about Ruben.
Ken's goal: Have a quiet moment with Amber.