Catherine Hughes ’22 Creates Game ‘Tales of the Fabulist’

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  • Tales of the Fabulist, a game created by Catherine Hughes ’22 and her family, combines many elements for a fast-paced and humorous card game. Photo courtesy of Catherine Hughes.

    Photo courtesy of Catherine Hughes
  • Tales of the Fabulist is now live on Kickstarter. Its funding deadline is Tuesday, December 15th.

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Three years in the making and created by Catherine Hughes ‘22 and her family, Tales of the Fabulist is a tabletop storytelling game that combines improvisation and teamwork. Up to ten players of all ages can weave a fantastical story together in just under six minutes with the help of the game’s Plot Twist, Character, and Quest cards. Tales of the Fabulist was inspired by a tradition between Stacy Welchley, Hughes’ stepmother and co-creator of the game, and her father.

“She and him used to go to these art galleries, and they would jump into these stories about this art,” Hughes said. “And they know nothing about what these artists had painted, but they just created these elaborate tales. And of course, it was wildly inappropriate, because at an art gallery you’re supposed to be quiet, and they started laughing.” 

After Ms. Welchley introduced the idea of storytelling through images to her family, they worked together to translate the idea into the card game which would eventually become Tales of the Fabulist

“One night at dinner she was telling us [about her game with her father], and said she had wanted to make a deck of polaroids to this so that other kids could enjoy making stories to these photos. And my dad, the pragmatist he is, said that’s a cool idea, except that’s not going to be fun. Let’s gamify it. And so we started with the Fabulist,” Hughes said. 

Tales of the Fabulist evolved from this idea, after expanding it and adding new elements. 

“Originally it was just going to be characters. But then we thought, oh, ok, Plot Twist. So we added a Plot Twist [card] and a Quest [card]. And it became this massive deck of cards that is just fabulous,” Hughes said. 

The game begins with each player drawing two Plot Twist cards. For the game’s initial setup, two character cards and a Quest card are placed on their respective spaces on the playmat. The artwork for the cards was drawn by Christiana Clark of the Gemini School of Visual Arts, and features eccentric and enchanting characters.

“There is this rabbit, and he is a runaway magician’s rabbit and he is this fierce little bunny.. and he’s vicious,” Hughes said. “There’s also Usir Onewing, whose one wing is a little tiny, and then he has this one giant wing…and underneath him are all these black bunnies, because he’s the eater of bunnies. Those are probably my two favorite cards.” 

Then, players begin a fast-paced clockwise storytelling rotation, with each player building on the story with their Plot Twist cards. At the end of the game, the players can decide on a “moral of the story”. For a competitive element, the player with the funniest moral of the story wins the round. For Hughes, what makes Tales of the Fabulist special is its unique setup that allows for numerous story situations to take place. Tales of the Fabulist boasts 156 different cards, making each game a unique experience. 

“We have pulled it into vast directions… a lot of the iterations were vastly different from each other. What seemingly might be minor changes could take a huge spin on the game.” 

It took lots of revising and reworking to perfect Tales of the Fabulist, however. 

“We were out of town, in a hotel, and we were playing the game together. And we had just printed a new deck, and we were so excited to try it out. And I said, this isn’t fun. It was too specific. And the entire night, [everyone else] went to bed. And I sat and I wrote on the cards, and I crossed things out, and I made different changes to the cards,” Hughes said.

The heart of Tales of the Fabulist is experiencing comedy through imagination, an element which Hughes feels everyone will be able to experience when playing Tales of the Fabulist. 

“I really hope everyone gets the chance to unleash their inner spirit of creativity,” Hughes said. 

Tales of the Fabulist is currently being funded on Kickstarter, with a deadline of Tuesday, Dec. 15. The game will be first manufactured after the project is fully funded. After pledging eight dollars or more to the Kickstater, buyers will be able to receive an extra print-play version of the game when it’s funded. 

A mini version of Tales of the Fabulist can also be played online at To learn more about Tales of the Fabulist, and contribute to the kickstarter, visit this link