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Gate Watch: A Playset for Tableau ("Just the Cards" Edition)Click to magnify

Gate Watch: A Playset for Tableau ("Just the Cards" Edition)

with deckbox

(This is the "Just the Cards!"edition of the Gate Watch playset for Tableauwith 54 US Poker Cards containing the full playset & core rules, delivered unboxed (tied together in with a transparent wrapper). There is also a edition available with a Tuckbox, and another with a "Print-N-Play" PDF.)

About Tableau and this Gate Watch Playset

“The best stories are the ones we tell together!”

You and your companions are members of the Gate Watch – charged to keep an eye on the border between realms. Who built The Gate? What is on the other side? Why are you watching? What are you guarding against? These are the questions you will answer as you explore the Enigma that is The Gate. Every game session is different, every world, every gate unique.

Venture into the mysterious as you stand at the edge between worlds, unraveling mysteries and facing the unknown. Delve into themes of exploration, trust, and loyalty as you guard the threshold. Experience a gripping adventure filled with mysteries, challenges, and characters from many cultures and enigmatic beings as you navigate the precarious balance that is the Gate Watch.

Gate Watch is a diceless, GMless storytelling game played using 54 poker-sized cards with rules & inspirational images. Game includes everything you need to play except for your own index cards, markers & two sheets of paper. Gate Watch cards may be mixed & matched with other Tableau Games playsets.

Tableau Games offer cinematic storytelling in 2-3 hours, with no prep or GM required. Composable rules on poker-sized cards available from multiple playsets offer versatile gameplay for 2-5 players, ages 14 and up. Explore the opportunities for collaborative storytelling and thrilling cinematic adventures possible with Gate Watch and the Tableau Games system.

Kinds of Gate Watch Stories

Tableau: Gate Watch Playset - Inspiration Card

Tableau Games inspires players to be creative, supporting a nearly infinite variety of potential stories.

While playtesting the Gate Watch playset, games have included:

  • a classics fantasy, with the gate lying between the real-world and the Greek heaven & hell, and Watchers possibly hired by Charon;
  • a 1950's noir mystery, featuring the gate between a Hollywood producer's mansion and the hardscrabble blue-collar world of post-war Los Angeles;
  • a sci-fi adventure, where a collapsing underground mutant civilization had a hidden exit to a post-apocalyptic landscape;
  • a wacky parallel universe, home of mechano-electro elves, who had discovered a gate to our reality at a California game convention, full of people who didn't understand them.

A game mixing storytelling cards from both Gate Watch & Twilight Road playsets was:

  • a dark historical fantasy, where a water well located in a German farming village at the end of WWII was the only escape from invading Russians, but led the villagers into a perilous journey through the lands of the fae, with no way home.

We've found the mechanics of Tableau Games work well for experienced gamers as well as those who are completely new to collaborative story games. From improv actors to experienced role players, a wide range of people have found the instructions and mechanisms easy to understand and fun to play. The resulting stories were imaginative, the settings and genres intriguing, the play dynamic, and most importantly, all had a satisfying ending in just a couple of hours of play. Tableau Games offer a fun evening's entertainment.

Overview of Play

Following the instructions from the Playset setup, Players first choose The Gate for this session, optionally selecting or drawing one from the 18 inspirational images. Reading through the Narrative Rules cards, they together create a Map and describe Locations, establish Truths & Enigmas, and ask Leading Questions of fellow WatchersStory cards help players set key goals for the opening Beat, then take turns as The Director to set Scenes that drive the story forward. Drama Rule cards increase tension or resolve complications until a clue reveals one of the Gate's Enigma in the last Beat.

Reviewer Quotes

Tableau is a versatile, flexible framework for collaborative storygames grounded deep in the fundamentals of story and character. Mix and match cards to shift what themes, rules, archetypes, and ideas are on the table, helping your group tell a compelling and satisfying story.” ~ Aaron A. Reed, author of the Archives of the Sky story game.

Gate Watch is an intriguing, distilled world-crafting, story-telling, and role-playing experience in the guise of a simple game. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the principles it is based on are used in basic literary, plot-writing or directing courses. Involve everybody around the table and collaboratively set the background through a pool of questions. Create exciting scenes involving both the background and the participating characters with nothing but narration. Dice? Nah, too random. Cards? Yes, but only a handful. Rules? Less than a single page. Duration? As long as you wish. Fun? Loads! The game can explore any setting and genre you want it to, with everybody simultaneously starring and directing. Veteran gamer? Hardcore role-player? Total newbie? It doesn't matter. All you need is a vivid imagination.”— Antonios Reviewer & Columnist (in regards to the first edition of Gate Watch).

Inspirational Quotes

“The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck.”  — Ralph Waldo Emerson 

“Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth.”  — H. P. Lovecraft

“My paintings always feature trails that dissolve into mysterious areas, patches of light that lead the eye around corners, pathways, open gates, etc.”  — Thomas Kinkade

“The enemy is within the gates; it is with our own luxury, our own folly, our own criminality that we have to contend.”  — Marcus Tullius Cicero

“Still round the corner there may wait, A new road or a secret gate.”  — J. R. R. Tolkien

“It is easy to go down into Hell; night and day, the gates of dark Death stand wide; but to climb back again, to retrace one's steps to the upper air - there's the rub, the task.”  — Virgil

“Near the gates and within two cities there will be scourges the like of which was never seen: famine within plague, people put out by steel, crying to the great immortal God for relief.”  —  Nostradomus

Peter Venkman: ‘She says she's the Gatekeeper. Does that make sense to you?’ Egon Spengler: ‘Some. I'm with the Keymaster now.’ Peter Venkman: ‘Oh, we have to get these two together.’"— Ghostbusters by Dan Aykroyd & Harold Ramis

“We did not choose to be the guardians of the gate, but there is no one else.”  — Lyndon B. Johnson

About Christopher Allen (Writer & Designer)

I am fascinated by the art and craft of collaboration, and have its practice and the study of how and why collaboration works at the center of my professional career as an entrepreneur, a software architect, as well as a creator, producer & publisher in the game industry.

I have been a fan and supporter of games (especially roleplaying games) for decades, with old favorites including Call of Cthulhu and RuneQuest II, while my new favorites are the collaborative games that have emerged in the last couple of decades, both in the form of GMless story games as well as in board games.

Professionally, I've done considerable work in the computer game industry: I was the lead designer for Castle Marrach and Lovecraft Country online games and producer for mobile adaptions of several strategy games by Reiner Knizia and Michael Schacht.

In the tabletop games industry, I produced Chaosium's award-winning Beyond the Mountains of Madness RPG supplement, resurrected Arkham Horror cooperative board game before licensing it to Fantasy Flight for their bestselling 2nd edition, and I support the tabletop gaming community as the owner/publisher of the popular website

Recently, I have been doing more personal projects, directly creating releases for the tabletop industry: I co-authored with Shannon Appelcline Meeples Together: How and Why Cooperative Board Games Work published by Gameplaywright with a successful Kickstarter in 2018, a successful Kickstarter in 2019 for the origina 18-cardl Gate Watch, and a 2023 Kickstarter for the first two Tableau Games, my cooperative storytelling card game system. I will be releasing games & media through Dyvers Hands Productions. I am also an avid supporter of other game designers on Kickstarter and Patreon.

About Dyvers Hands Productions (Publisher)

“Dyvers Hands” is an archaic phrase used to refer to a project that has been contributed to by many people. Divers is a word of Latin origin (diversus) that is still commonly used in modern French language; it literally means “many and varied”. ~ Wikipedia

At Dyvers Hands Productions, we are passionate about creating and developing collaborative storytelling experiences across a wide range of media. Our focus includes tabletop games, online communities, graphic novels, short-story anthologies, and we hope to one day expand into TV and movies.

We believe that the best stories are the ones told together, and our mission is to foster creativity, promote collaboration, and bring people together through immersive and engaging gameplay.

Our latest project, Tableau, successfully funded on Kickstarter, is a storytelling game system that emphasizes shared storytelling and character development.


Gate Watch: A Playset for Tableau was written & designed by Christopher Allen.

©2022-23 by Dyvers Hands Productions, LLC. — All Rights Reserved (no license is granted for redistribution or derivation without permission). Images © original creators & are Permissively Licensed. More info & image credits at Dyvers Hands website.

Based on a 2019 First Edition of the game and adapted in this version for use with the Tableau Games system.

Tableau Games™, Dyvers Hands™, and Gate Watch™ are trademarks of Dyvers Hands Productions LLC.

Creative Contributors: Shannon Appelcline, Aaron Reed

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File Last Updated:
June 22, 2023
This title was added to our catalog on June 30, 2023.
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