Interstellar scouts



This improvisation game aims to activate the collective imagination of the group, without any classical negotiation. It can be useful to explore and expand the common vision of a possible future or another world. But it can also be used as a Pre-enactement (p. ) in itself.


The premise of this game is a fiction: the governing body of a planet X has sent out a number of scouts to explore a planet Y. The scouts have have now returned home, and made a report about their voyage. A commission has been assigned to inspect the report and draw conclusions. After the commission has processed the report, there is a meeting between the two parties. This is the occasion for the commission members to ask for more detail or clarifications, or maybe question the scouts about their personal viewpoints and their own experience of the visit. The common goal for scouts and commission members alike, is to understand as much as possible how the life and society of planet Y is organised and functions. What could they potentially learn from life on planet Y? How should they interpret certain things that none of them really understands (because of a lack of information for example)?

The game consists of enacting this fictional event of the meeting between scouts and commission members.

Before starting the game, every player takes some time individually to refresh the world or future that the group has collectively imagined. Before starting to play, remind the players of the goals of the game: to work together and use the collective imagination to build a common image. Every proposal should be considered a brick of the wall you're constructing as a group: so don't throw it away but try to use it.

When everyone is ready, start the game. From now on the players performing the scouts pretend to have made the travel and the report, and the commission members pretend to have processed the report. Don't stop pretending.

During the conversation the players drop references to elements that are supposedly mentioned in the fictional report, and try to develop other elements proposed by other players. There is only one basic rule here: never contradict or go against someone else's suggestions or implications, but try to build further on them. (If a commission member implies in a question that on planet Y there is no sky, try to work with that in your answer as a scout. If a scout mentions a chapter in the report about the educational system on planet Y, try to invent what you have supposedly understood from that chapter as a commission member.)

If the game is played well an image of the imagined planet slowly appears. This image is built by the elements the players propose and develop together. At the end of the conversation the group should have a rough idea of the fictional report (that in reality never existed) and of the fictional planet (that in reality no one ever visited). It is like pretending all together to have seen a film that never existed, and figuring out along the way what this film was about.

The president of the commission is responsable for moderating and ending the meeting.

Some Recommendations

  • It is wise to allow some time for everyone to get into the fiction and enjoy it. Allow some time to get over the initial awkwardness that 'enacting' this kind of fiction sometimes provokes. If it helps, scouts can bring up an anecdote from their travel, or complain about jet lag – commission members can congratulate the scouts on their safe return, etc.
  • Feel free to alter and shift the imagination of the fictional event. Interstellar scouts can easily be changed into time travelers if that suits you better. The 'governing body' can be imagined as a bureaucratic government, or maybe a family structure, an ancient tribe, etc.

Industrial Espionage Variant

In this variant the interstellar scouts are replaced by industrial spies that have visited a company or organisation. The other players pretend to be members of another organisation's board of directors, who are interested to learn how the first organisation is structured and functions.


We explored the Interstellar Scouts game while walking in the forest of Jurmala, close to Riga, in September 2021. The fact of being only two participants made the exchanges quick and fun and we entered into a semi-lysergic state together. The natural environment and the rhythm of our breathing took part in the construction of the scenario. The rule of never contradicting each other made the story grow and grow further till touching speculative territories but keeping a certain coherence. We definitly felt like we were not 'inventing' the scenario but that the parallel reality of the Interstellar Trip was visiting us in all its concreteness. We think that the game is also very fun when played with many people but you need to accept that it will open up to more diverse details and sub-narratives.

Below you can read our report from another planet: the story of the bears' language.

Dear members of the Security Council, good morning! We have just received a report from the Interstellar Scouts Group that they have made significant contact with another planet. This news is extremely significant and the report has aspects that have impressed us greatly.

According to the report human beings have managed to become fluent in the language of the bears on that planet, which means that they have been able to communicate with them on a rather sophisticated level: they have engaged in an intellectual conversation with the bears about different types of science, and in particular philosophy.

All of this should fill us with joy and intellectual curiosity, but there is one element that worries us and which unfortunately the Scouts are not aware of: that in past times we were all able to speak the language of the bears, but have developed mechanisms to forget this language in order to protect our own survival.

First, we probably need to explain how the spatio-temporal dimension of bears, or the life experience of bears, works. They certainly live in non-linear time, so they can easily jump between different moments of their experience. They can, for example, relive childhood as often as they want and feel less of an urge to become parents. In a sense, their non-linear experience of time takes away their instinct to reproduce, to create new life. We read in the report that language is the way bears have developed to travel through time. There is a strong connection between the use of language and the non-linear experience of time that they are able to have.

Although this is extremely intellectually stimulating, the physical, philosophical and ethical consequences of this form of intelligence are quite heavy, because it drains the bears of their hunger for life. They do not need to reproduce. They do not need to achieve anything. In a way, they have no fear of death, and this leads them to a kind of fluid state of being that resembles a kind of paradise or Eden. But that has a very big bug: for although the bears' minds can travel at will into the past and future, their biological bodies are not immune to the passage of time, and indeed accelerate their decay by jumping from one temporal dimension to another. This is why they are doomed to extinction. They do not reproduce and they decay very rapidly.

We, as outsider witnesses, are concerned that the Interstellar Scouts are victims of the bears' fascination and that they want to imitate their ability to time travel through language. We see that the human explorers who have managed to make a connection have learned the language of the bears and are now able to travel through time, albeit somewhat awkwardly. They are extremely enthusiastic. They are convinced that this is the next stage of human and interspecies evolution. They have plans and prospects. They want to use the GreenBoomPartoutPass to merge the two species into a new time travelling inter-species.

We see a huge danger in this scenario. Also in the report there are still many grey areas. One of our fears is that this genetic exchange between bears and humans will accelerate the extinction of both races, which will speak the language of non-linear time, but will lose the instinct to reproduce.

In fact, we even suppose that bears are secretly pushing humans to hybridise with them, in order to survive longer. We might even suppose that bears have understood the danger of exctinction and are seeking to swap roles with the human species. Perhaps they hope to learn from humans the ability to forget the language of non-linear time. Which is what humans did many, many centuries ago. They forgot the language in order to survive as a specie. And now the risk is that they re-learn the language and disappear.

We are really worried about the consequences this Interstellar Scouts report could provoke.

Anna R. and Adva Z.


Diederik P. invented this game somewhere along the way. Without even realising, he based it on the Political Fictions Crisis Cabinet, a project by Uriel Fogué, among others. Diederik never had the luck to attend one of their gatherings, but from what he heard about them the Cabinet invites real-life experts (medical doctors, scientists, military, politicians...) to take part in a staged crisis-meeting about a fictional (but urgent) problem. This is their website:

Diederik also based this game – consciously this time – on Générique, an extremely nice open-source improvisation game developed by Everybodies Toolbox. (“Everybodies is a data base and a library, a toolbox and a game creator, a publication house, a score container, a site for distribution and for long term investigatory discussions. It is a platform for the development of tools and content, for research and performance, for exchange and desire. Everybodies is a collective effort to develop the discourses that exist within the performing arts and to create a platform where this information can be accessed by a wider audience than the practitioners it involves.”)

Générique is based on the format of an 'after-talk' – a format well known in the stage-arts, where after a show some of the artists talk about their work, and the audience can ask questions. Often these after-talks take place on the stage, and are moderated by someone of the hosting theatre. The game uses this format to invent a show or a performance that never took place. Some players perform the role of artists (director, choreographer, performer, set-designer...), another player performs the role of moderator (often the programmer or theatre director), and all the other players perform the role of the audience. One rule that seems particularly productive and important is to never contradict the others. (If someone in the audience asks why a pink elephant crossed the stage at a given moment, don't say that this wasn't true, and that there was no pink elephant – instead you invent a good reason for the pink elephant to be there, and have it make sense in relation to everything else that has been said already.)

Diederik took part in some sessions of Générique around 2008, and started to play it himself. ‘I had different experiences with the game and I like it a lot. I would recommend it to anyone. It's very easy, very satisfying, and fun to do. And beautiful how at the end of the session, the whole group has collectively imagined a show or a performance that has never existed.

Here's the original description from the Everybodies Toolbox website back in the day:

Thu, 08/16/2007 - Author: Nicolas Couturier

Générique is an open-source performance project, which develops depending on the interest and investment of a variety of performers. It is based on a game structure that nurtures make-belief and collective creativity: the whole community of performers and audience discuss as if the performers just had presented a performance, and as if the audience had seen it. This discussion allows them to invent the performance together. A set of tools is developed and used by the performers in order to enhance the fictionality of the situation and encourage the game to go forward. Everybody is invited to use, develop and share further tools and experiences that can help Générique to expand, as well as to perform it. Générique means in french, generic as well as the credits at the end of a movie. The performance is thus characterised by those who perform it.


  • post-show talk set-up
  • at least 3 performers + audience

This article has been compiled by Diederik P.