Inuma: The Red Book

Table of Contents

Discovering worlds

Inuma is a toolkit to build fictional worlds and then play out stories in those worlds. Each of these worlds are self-contained and focused on the characters you will create for that world. When thinking of this concept, imagine "worlds" like the areas explored in your favorite novels or movies. The "world" of those stories might be entire planets, but are much more likely to be countries, cities, islands, or even one forest. What we call "world" in Inuma is the equivalent of a game's "play set," but for stories.

When building a world, you first will come up with very broad ideas about that world and then focus in on the details later. Because this world-building game is intended to help you design worlds with friends that will surprise you, we call this discovering a world. This is separate from exploring a world, which is detailed in the Yellow Book.

To discover a world with Inuma, you'll need two to five friends to help out. Usually, with more friends, you'll have a larger, more open-ended world, which is not necessarily better or worse. As you play Inuma more times, you will get a good idea for what size worlds you like to play in. For the first time, let the game guide you and know there are no mistakes you can make.

Open a Blue Book to the first page. There you will find a place to name your world, and a place to write down the first discoverers of it. Your world does not have a name yet, but you can write down who is participating in discovering it. Leave the name blank for now.


Turn to the next page in the Blue Book. Here you will find the title "Sources." These are references to other worlds people have created in games, songs, books, movies, or many other places that remind you of what this special and unique world is like. This world's scribe - whoever is holding the Blue Book - should ask the group to name sources that they want to incorporate into this world. You can go around in a circle, or just call stuff out free-form. Each person should contribute at least one source, and no more than two.

"Contributing a source" doesn't mean that you have to actually give a source. There are two special phrases you can use in this step, "but with" and "but without." When someone names a source, you can say "but with" and name something you want to add to the source, or "but without" and name something you want to subtract from the source. Only one "but with" and "but without" should be appended to each source.

If at any point in this part of the process any person is unhappy with a source or a clause appended to a source, they may say so and must suggest an alternative. The group must stop and work out a way to incorporate their alternative, or find a compromise between the original idea and their alternative.


The next page in the Blue Book is titled "Elements." Here you should list the common elements in the sources you have come up with. While the sources are meant to inspire your world creation, elements are the first concrete pieces of the world that you will discover. Elements should either be concrete things found in the sources, or ones that can be easily thought of by combining sources. These are real elements like "rocky islands" or "winged children," not abstract ideas.

In this part of the game, everyone can call out elements. Again, you can go around in a circle or just say stuff in a free-form manner. The two rules are that only one person should be talking at one time and no person should add two elements in a row. There are no restrictions on the number of elements each person suggests, but seven to fifteen elements are plenty for now.

The rule for alternatives applies here as well. If any person is unhappy with an element that will be part of the world, they may say so and suggest an alternative. The two people must find a compromise between their ideas and everyone is encouraged to help them out.


On the next page of the Blue Book, you will find "Themes." Themes are abstract, overarching ideas that make up stories and make them magical. They can be general like "hope," "love," and "sacrifice," or more specific like "trust in family" or "justice found in humility." As a group, brainstorm themes found in the sources and other themes suggested by the elements you've written down. Each theme should be one word or a short phrase.

Like before, anyone can suggest themes and should follow the rules of civility when doing so. Any theme that anyone is uncomfortable with should be noted, and an alternative should be suggested. Five to twelve themes are plenty for now.

You and your friends probably have a good idea as for what you like in stories and what you do not enjoy. If there are any topics that you are unsure if everyone is clear on, bring them up now. While there is no need to list all types of graphic content here, if there is a particular thing that you cannot abide that you are worried will come up, let everyone know now, and write it down under themes, then scratch a line through it.

Naming the world

The first step of discovering your new world is nearly complete. All that you have left to do is to name the world. As a group, discuss what you should name this world. Look over your sources, elements, and themes. They should suggest ideas to you. Once you come up with a name, turn back to the front of the Blue Book and write it down.

Filling the world

After you have sketched out the beginnings of your new world, you should fill it with inhabitants. In Inuma, these inhabitants, or characters, come in three different types: Protagonists, Antagonists, and Anchors.

Protagonists and antagonists may be familiar to you from other sources. Protagonists are the central characters of a story. Antagonists play large roles in stories as well, providing resistance and opposition to the protagonists. Simply, they are heroes and villains. The protagonists may be unwilling heroes or even anti-heroes, and the antagonists may be sympathetic or even well-intentioned, but their lives are at cross purposes.

Anchors are the other characters in the story. You may be tempted to think of these as minor characters, but do not. They provide the context for the protagonists' and antagonists' stories, and often are powerful forces in their own right. They are also much more flexible, in that they may be on the side of the protagonists, the antagonists, both, or even no one's side. They are advisors, helpers, kings, queens, peasants, wild beasts, or anything else.

Creating your first anchors

In your Inuma set, you should have character sheets, which allow you to record notes about each character in the game. There are three types of character sheets: one for protagonists, one for antagonists, and one for anchors. Take enough anchor character sheets from your set so that each player has one.

On this character sheet, you should see a phrase that needs information filled in. It is "a (personality trait) (job, role, or creature) that lives in (a place or area)." Under that phrase is a grid, with a space for each piece of information. There should also be a space for the character's name at the top of the sheet.

The "personality trait" is self-explanatory. It is a defining trait of the character: happy, angry, sad, upbeat, optimistic, revengeful, noble, charming, or any other adjective.

The "job, role, or creature" is the defining role this character plays in the world. It could be any of the following: farmer, wizard, elk, woman, doctor, duke, hawk, or any other noun.

"A place or area" is any place in the world you are creating. It must be a name for a specific place like "the Orawki Forest" or "the Province of Tepeka," although it does not have to be large. It could be "Nuca House" or "the tree in the middle of the swamp," for example.

At this point, you may realize that none of the above is yet defined for your world, and the locations within it certainly are not. You are free to create new ideas for your world when creating characters, and you should. Do animals talk in your world? You can decide that they do by creating a talking animal. The locations people live will begin to define the geography of your world.

At this point, each player should have an anchor character sheet in hand. That player should fill out one of the following items on the sheet: the character's name, the "personality trait," the "job, role, or creature," or the "place or area." Pass the character sheet to the player on your right, who will fill out one of the remaining three empty spaces. This sheet should be passed twice more to the right, so that all four spaces are filled. If you are playing with only three people, you will end up filling in two spaces on the character you began, which is fine.

By doing this, you should have a number of anchors equal to the number of players, and you should have begun to flesh out the personality and geography of your world. Put them in a pile, and have someone read them all aloud. By hearing these, everyone will be able to picture the world a bit better, which will help in the next step.

Creating antagonists

The next group of characters you will make are antagonists. If you look at an antagonist character sheet, you will find the phrase "a (personality trait) (job, role, or creature) desires (a self-serving goal)." The first two pieces of information are the same as an anchor, but the "self-serving goal" is different. This should be something the antagonist wants, that drives him or her, and will make the character a problem for the currently-undefined protagonists. This does not have to be something terrible or megalomaniacal like "eternal winter" or "to be emperor of the world." When the goal is self-serving and personal, the antagonist will be more interesting to play, and may be more sympathetic to others. Good goals might be "to be crowned king of the forest," "to be the most beautiful lady in Siretok," "to keep my fortune secret," or "to have a child of my own." Whether seemingly good or bad, this goal is the most important thing for this character.

Each player should take an antagonist character sheet in hand. The process is the same as with the anchor character sheet, except the character sheets should be passed to the left. When the antagonists are complete, pile them and have someone read them aloud.

Creating a second set of anchors

At this point, you should have a set of stable inhabitants of your world, and a set of inhabitants that may threaten the peace of that world. You may begin to see initial conflicts or alliances. Given that knowledge, you should flesh out the world even more by making a second set of anchors. Follow the same process as before by having each player take an anchor character sheet, fill in one of the blanks, and then pass it to the right three times.

After this is done, read the new anchors out loud. These, combined with the first set of anchors and the antagonists, are the web of the world that the protagonists will act in. There should be a real feel for the world's geography, and a sense of what sort of people live in that world.

Creating protagonists

Like antagonists, protagonists have a different phrase to fill in on their character sheets. It reads "a (personality trait) (job, role, or creature) who is responsible for (a responsibility)." That responsibility should connect in to the characters made thus far. Perhaps a protagonist is responsible for the safety of an anchor, or even an antagonist, or they are responsible for the care of an area mentioned. Whatever their duty is, it must be related to something already established about the world so far.

The process for creating protagonists is similar to creating antagonists. Each player should take a protagonist character sheet in hand, and fill in one piece of information. The sheet will be passed to the left three times, and then one player will pile the sheets together and read them aloud.

What next?

You've finished discovering a unique world, one which you and your friends made up. You can take this world and do what you will with it. You can write stories about it, play role-playing games in it, or make a radio play or movie. One thing you can do is explore that world with Inuma. The Yellow Book has all the details about how to explore a world.

For now, take all the characters you made, and keep them with your Blue Book. You'll use the Blue Book to record the happenings in this world. Exciting adventures await!