Morton's List: The End to Boredom AKA The Game of Real Life Adventure was published (July 2001) by Dark Carnival Games, LLC (since dissolved, with all intellectual property and assets going to the SuperiCore Group, LLC) and co-authored by Robert William Bruce (as Robert "Jumpsteady
" Bruce, now Robert William Bruce-Encarnacion), Richard Jess Deneaux (as R. Jesse Deneaux) and Nathan Andren Fostey (now Nathan Ichiro Noris Jay Andren). ISBN: 0971090513. Paperback: 402 pages. 1 30-sided die. 6 six-sided dice. 1 velveteen dice pouch with debossed Morton's List logo.
Morton's List makes entertaining, new experiences happen. The game covers every fun activity ever conceived of by human kind, arranged into 360 activities. Literally anything is possible. A group of players may be having a deep philosophical conversation with strangers one session and patrolling their neighborhood for crime the next. They may be improvising a bowling alley one day and playing a board game at a strip club that night. All this has happened, and so much more is happening right now and will happen because of Morton's List.
== Game Play
1) Agree to Play
A group of players (generally 3-12 and hereafter referred to as the Inner Circle for the duration for game play) gather together and begin by agreeing to play Morton's List. Although they do not yet know what activity (called a Quest) the game will give them, they commit a certain amount of time to accomplishing it (generally one hour).
2) Determine a group leader
A group leader (called the Table Master) is randomly determined. This may be done by any random means the Inner Circle unanimously agrees upon, such as Rock Paper Scissors or drawing straws, but is most often an elimination style roll-off using six-sided dice. The larger the Inner Circle the longer this process stakes, so those numbering seven or more often modify the roll-off or choose another method entirely. The Table Master's role is to guide the group towards activities that will be the most fun for the most people, and has final say in any disagreement.
3) The Table Master determines the Quest
The Table Master is encouraged to lead the Inner Circle in a simple ceremony (called a Karmic Gathering). The purpose of this is to instill the energy or "Karma
" of the Inner Circle into the 30-sided die (called the Morton Boulder) which the Table Master will roll to determine the Inner Circle's Quest. The Karmic Gathering often involves all Inner circle members touching or otherwise interacting with the Morton Boulder, and can be as simple or elaborate as the Table Master wishes. Dimming lights, playing music, wearing headdresses, rolling on unusual surfaces, etc. - anything that turns a simple roll of the die into one befitting a roll that will determine the Inner Circle's real life fate for the length of the game.
The roll to determine the Inner Circle's Quest begins on page 13
of the Morton's List game book, which is titled "Morton's List" (where the game gets its name). The Table Master simply rolls the Morton Boulder, compares the result to the list, and turns to the page indicated. This will usually be one of the 13
sections (called Tables) the game is subdivided into. Each Table has a different theme, and contains 27-30 Quests:
TABLES - followed by the type and number of Quests included
The Nine Prime Tables:
Solar Rise - 28 daytime Quests
Cosmic Law - 27 orderly, rule-following Quests
Mortal Ties - 28 social Quests
Lore Galore - 28 mental Quests
"I'm Neutral" - 27 miscellaneous Quests
Mountain - 28 physical Quests
Vision Quest - 28 creative Quests
Chaos - 27 unruly, risque Quests
Nightscape - 28 nighttime Quests
The Triumvirate Tables:
Yang of the Sky - 27 selfless, helpful Quests
Rainbow Dragon - 27 inwardly focused Quests
Yin of the Earth - 27 selfish, mean-spirited Quests
The Singularity Table:
Twilight Scroll - 30 lofty, life-long Quests
Once at a Table the Table Master rolls another time, usually resulting in a specific Quest. There are many Special Results that can be rolled on a List or Table. These include...
Gateway - Roll three separate Quests and choose one (on Morton's List and List of Life)
13 - Results vary, but always move towards stopping the game or eliminating options (on every Table and List except Twilight Scroll)
Mutations - Activities done before and/or during a Quest, such as wearing a costume, adopting an accent, etc. (on Morton's List and List of Life)
Deviations - Modifications to the game's rules, such as changing the Table Master's role, combining Quests, etc. (on Morton's List and List of Life)
Pandora's Box - A combination of Gateway, Mutations and Deviations (on Morton's List and List of Life)
Window of Dreams - Choose a Table. Choices based on where Window of Dreams is encountered (on Morton's List and List of Life)
The Window - Roll again and choose from among the Quest rolled, the one above or the one below (on Solar Rise, Mortal Ties, Lore Galore, Mountain, Vision Quest and Nightscape)
Dimension Window - Roll again and choose that numbered Quest on the same Table or two others. Choices based on where Dimension Window is encountered (on Cosmic Law, "I'm Neutral," Chaos, Yang of the Sky, Rainbow Dragon and Yin of the Earth)
4) The Inner Circle discusses the Quest
Once the Inner Circle's Quest is determined, they discuss how they will accomplish it as a group (called The Winds of Change). The Table Master listens to all ideas and decides on the best course of action.
NOTE: Although the Inner Circle committed to completing their Quest before it was determined, there are three types of objections that any Inner Circle member may raise. If this occurs, the details of how they carry out the Quest may need to be modified, or it may need to be abandoned and a new one randomly determined. These caveats are: Moral Code, Impracticality and Warning Icons.
Moral Code - A person's Moral Code is defined as the blurry line separating those activities they are comfortable doing and those that induce strong negative reactions. For instance, the game may direct the Inner Circle to drink alcohol, but one or more players object to drinking on moral grounds (a willful behavior restriction). Allergies and phobias (un-willful behavior restrictions) also fall into this category.
Impracticality - The impracticality caveat can be raised any time a Quest is deemed impossible or nearly impossible to accomplish after attempting to come up with creative work-around. Seeing a live show at 4am may not be realistic, etc. It should be noted here that two Tables (groupings of 27-30 Quests), Solar Rise (day time Quests) and Nightscape (nighttime Quests) automatically allow the Inner Circle to invoke the impracticality option if reached at the wrong time of day or night while determining their Quest.
Warning Icons - Finally, some Quests have any of the six Warning Icons, indicating that they may require more than the $6 each Inner Circle member should have and be prepared to spend, necessitate a car or other access to transportation, take longer than one hour, be especially dangerous or unlawful depending on the player's age and/or location, or require reasonably pleasant weather conditions. Inner Circle members may raising objections to a Quest that has any of the Warning Icons.
5) Enjoy the Quest
The Quest begins but what happens is entirely dependent on the how the Inner Circle chooses to interpret it. You have to be there.
6) End the Quest
When the Quest is done, the Table Master officially declares it complete and dissolves the Inner Circle. Players may continue playing that Quest, roll a new one or do something else.
Since its release Morton's List has enjoyed a roller coaster ride of successes and challenges. It achieved strong initial sales at The Second Annual Gathering of the Juggalos in Toledo, Ohio in July of 2001.
Plans already in place to debut Morton's List to the gaming market at GenCon
, the country's largest annual gaming convention (then in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) that August were disrupted. Ads and booth space had already been purchased when Wizards of the Coast (then owners of the convention) told Dark Carnival Games it could not demo or sell Morton's List at GenCon
. The reason given was that Morton's List contains real life magic spells in violation of an obscure Wizards guideline meant to cater to the religious right.
They also sited concern about an interview earlier that year where the authors discussed possible ways an Inner Circle could interpret a Quest called Neighborhood Patrol. In the interview the authors stated that some players might decide to call the police if they discovered suspicious activity, while others may decide to emulate the vigilante tactics of the Guardian Angels, making citizens arrests.
Wizards refunded the money for booth space, but the ads had already gone to print and were not refunded. With thousands of dollars tied up in GenCon, but no official Morton's List presence, fans of Morton's List decided on the controversial tactic of playing up the situation by creating and disseminating tens of thousands of colorful fliers, blanketing the convention center and all parking facilities within a two block radius. The flyer front sparked interest with a graphic of GenCon with a circle and line through it and the word "BANNED!" The back explained the situation as it happened, and railed against Wizards of the Coast for unnecessarily dealing such a huge blow to an upstart gaming company for no good reason. By the end of the four-day event most GenCon attendees had seen the flyer and staff members were tasked to remove them.
This publicity stunt catapulted Morton's List into infamy, causing it to appear on the national black list of companies banned from conventions. Struggling to find distributors who would touch such a "controversial" game, Dark Carnival Games was facing a crisis.
A new hope appeared in Hot Topic
, a national chain of mall stores catering to the perfect target market, and already actively carrying Insane Clown Posse and other Psychopathic Records artists' merchandise. Morton's List was accepted and distributed to Hot Topic
nationwide after a highly successful trial period in select stores. In its first two weeks the game flew off the shelves, causing a senior west coast VP to contact Dark Carnival Games and state that he had rarely before seen such sales and never from an unheard of company.
Disaster struck again in early 2002, shortly after 9/11/2001, when a concerned parent complained about the game's content to the store her son purchased the it from. The complaint quickly led Hot Topic to remove Morton's List from sale, listing bomb making and illegal firearm procurement as the two activities in the game making it too controversial to sell. It should be noted that illegal firearm procurement is in no way mentioned or suggested in Morton's List, and although bomb making is covered, the "bombs" are on the magnitude of children's fireworks.
In response to this financial blow, the loan taken out to finance Morton's List was bought off by Psychopathic Records. The following three years were spent growing the fan base. The advanced rules supplement, 360 Degrees of the Inner Circle, was released in 2002. Fan web sites began to appear and a true community of Inner Circles developed. Dark Carnival Games made official appearances at each Gathering of the Juggalos, encouraging, then hosting games, and began appearing at gaming conventions around the Midwest.
The Morton's List renaissance began in 2006 with the anticipated fall 2006 release of the joint Psychopathic Records/Dark Carnival Games board game: The Quest for Shangri-La
. Energized by this project, Morton's List authors Jesse Deneaux and Nathan Andren aggressively pursued a campaign to spread word about the game. They returned to Origins
, one of the largest and most industry-affiliated gaming conventions, for the first time since 2002, and met with an overwhelming response.
During 2006 all Dark Carnival Games operations were taken over by the SuperiCore Group, LLC, a conglomerate that bought all Morton's List intellectual property and assets. This reorganization was agreed upon by all managing members of Dark Carnival Games and set the stage for further growth.
Morton's List was removed from the convention black list and the first Karmic Gathering all-Morton's List event was held in October 2006, drawing players from as far as Alaska and Florida. In 2007 Morton's List returned to GenCon and has been maintaining a presence there, while expanding into other gaming and anime conventions across the Midwest.
== The Tao of Morton
Morton's List is ostensibly a simple game. Underneath the surface, however, lies a complex system of Eastern philosophy
mixed with Kabbalah
, featuring its own mythological symbols, sometimes referred to as Mortonology. The numerological basis for Morton's List revolves around the power numbers of 1, 3, 6, 9, 13, 30 and 360:
1 = The Singularity Table
3 = The Triumvirate Tables
6 = The six six-sided dice
9 = The Nine Prime Tables
13 = Crow
, bad omen/luck, the 13 annual cycles of the moon
; when rolled it moves the Inner Circle away from Morton and closer to the mundane world
30 = Morton, good omen/luck, the transcendent; when rolled it moves the Inner Circle closer to Morton and away from the mundane world
360 = The 360 Quests, the 360 degrees of a circle
The philosophy behind Morton's List revolves around understanding and transcending the ego
/self through letting go of the illusion of control. By allowing chance
to determine your actions you experience freedom from the control of the ego and personality. We discover that our true "is-ness" is much more expansive than previously experienced. By doing something that we would not normally consider doing, but which would be a normal, fun activity for somebody else, we take a step closer to understanding, becoming, and expanding into that someone else. That someone, that other who is and always has been apart of us all along. Not apart of the limited ego, but part of the limitless, transcendent, all encompassing self beyond all self. This accounts for the spontaneous, explosive, positive energy oftentimes released through playing Morton's List.
One of the most commonly asked questions about Morton's List is "Who or what is Morton?" This mystery may never be addressed. If the authors know, they have remained totally tight lipped, revealing no clues. All that is known is that the 360th Quest of Morton's List is "Find MORTON." This following the penultimate Quest, "Enlightenment," where Inner Circle members are tasked to become enlightened. Many ideas and much speculation surrounds the mystery of Morton. Some theories are:
* Something to do with the Morton Salt company.
* A tribute to a dead homie of one or more authors.
* Entirely made up and meaningless.
* A code or cipher having to do with the original Chinese manuscript.
* A purely symbolic meaning where Morton stands for "true self" or "being here now."
* The name of a/the (Chinese?) Twilight Lord consulted before/during/after the discovery of the manuscript.
* The name of the Twilight Lord who wrote the manuscript centuries/millennia ago.
* The name of an ancient (Middle Eastern?/Chinese?) god(dess).
The roots of Morton's List, with its Tables and random rolling come from role-playing games, most notably Dungeons and Dragons
. The structure of Morton's List also follow the Dungeons and Dragons
Dungeons & Dragons Alignments - Morton's List Tables:
Good | Lawful
Neutral | Lawful
Evil - Cosmic Law
Good | Pure Neutral
Evil - "I'm Neutral
Good | Chaotic
Neutral | Chaotic
Evil - Chaos
| Neutral Good
| Chaotic Good
of the Sky
| Pure Neutral
| Chaotic Neutral
| Neutral Evil
| Chaotic Evil
of the Earth
Another role-playing influence is Marvel Superheroes RPG, contributing the Morton's List term, Karma. In Marvel Superheroes, characters keep track of a pool of Karma points, spending them to succeed in situations where they would normally fail. Thus a character with many Karma points was said to be have "high Karma" or be "high on Karma," while one low or out of Karma points had "low Karma" or was "low on Karma." In Morton's List, the term Karma translates best as "energy," "motivation," "drive" or "excitement," being the opposite of boredom. It is also used to mean synchronicity, being half way between luck and fate, and thus the experience of realizing synchronicities and living on the edge between luck and fate.
Morton's List was in no way inspired by the excellent series of books by Luke Rhinehart
), the most notable of which is The Dice Man
, published in 1969. The authors of Morton's List discovered and read The Dice Man in 2005 and were amazed and shocked to discover such a clear example of convergent evolution
and/or the universal unconscious
. To date these books are the closest known works to Morton's List.
Morton's List is influenced by countless other people and works, drawing inspiration from hundreds of interviewees, play-testers, books, films, albums, etc.
== External links
www.MortonsList.com - official website
crowsnest.conforums.com - official forum
FaceBook.com/MortonsList - FaceBook page