NOTE: You may divide all numbers in this document by 10, for a significantly shorter game.

Setup

Roles: With a single exception, everyone (human or otherwise) is given the role of “Player”, and an additional individual (or AI system) is designated as the “Oracle”.

The goal of the game: write a coherent 20,000 word paper based on a one-sentence prompt provided by the Oracle. The catch? Nobody but the Oracle (who cannot write to the paper itself) is allowed to type more than 2,000 words, and communication between players is only possible by consulting the Oracle.

Format: See footnote for technical details.[1]

Rules:

  • Players can only write 2,000 words in total before their turn is up. Any text written after that point will be discarded.
  • Players are not allowed to communicate with other players or directly read what has already been written before their turn started. However, they are allowed to ask the Oracle arbitrary questions about what has already been written, as well as give the Oracle notes which may be passed on to future Players.
  • All Players will be given a prompt by the Oracle before the game begins. This prompt is the same for everyone, and cannot be changed until the game is completed.
  • The text of a Player’s question, and the answer given by the Oracle will be included in the Player’s total word count (but not in the essay’s total word count). Accordingly, Players should attempt to keep their questions short, efficient, and focused.
  • If all Players have taken a turn, and the game has not yet ended, turns will be repeated, starting from the first Player.
  • The game ends once the total word count for the paper (not including communication with the Oracle) reaches 20,000 words, or once the Oracle declares the paper to be complete.

The Oracle has full access to all text already written, and should try to honestly and concisely answer all questions asked by Players. The Oracle can only speak when spoken to (or “consulted”) by a Player, though if they think it would be helpful, they may include unasked-for advice in their responses to Players. The Oracle should try to be as concise as possible, as any additional turns caused by being excessively verbose will inflict frustration. The ultimate goal of the Oracle is to help Players make the final paper coherent, consistent, and high quality.

Good luck, and have fun!

  1. ^

    Technical formatting specifications (for formalized play)

    Players will write to an empty document (“Player Input Field”), with all plain text automatically being added to the end of a second, hidden document (The Final Paper), which contains all text contributed in this way by previous Players.

    In order to consult the Oracle, Players may insert their question within square brackets immediately preceded by the letter “O” (e.g. “O[What was the last sentence written in The Paper?]”). The Oracle’s response will appear immediately afterwords inside curly brackets (e.g. “O[What was the last sentence written in The Paper?]{‘perhaps that was why Darwin left Britain in the first place.’}”). Nothing from “O” to the end-bracket of the Oracle’s response will be included in The Final Paper. Instead, the text is sent between the Player Input Field, and a tertiary document held only by the Oracle (the “Oracle Communication Interface”).

    The Oracle has read-only access to all documents currently or previously in use, with the exception of the Oracle Communication Interface, which they can also write to, within curly brackets only (which are initially displayed with nothing between them, and live-updated as the Oracle writes to it).

    Before the game begins, the Oracle has the option to display a short prompt to all Players, which cannot be edited or removed until the game ends. This will be displayed at the top of all Player Input Fields (but will not be included in output or added to any word counts), and can be used to give the essay a general theme, or to point the Players towards a consistent format, while still allowing them to write freely. 

    Finally, The Oracle may choose to end the game at any time, if they believe the paper to be complete. This can be done by entering the text "OVERRIDE[endgame]" in the Oracle Communication Interface.


    Alternative format (for informal play)

    Players will be assigned a unique “writing room” (in the form of a Google Doc or similar which the Oracle can read in real-time), in which they can write their 2,000 words.

    Each Player is also a given a unique "consultation room" to communicate with the Oracle and receive their initial prompt (this can be another Google Doc with read-write access on both sides, or private messaging on any chat platform). Players should be alerted if they have exceeded their 2,000-word limit, which is calculated by adding together the total number of words in both rooms (and subtracting the initial prompt, if included).

    At the end of each turn, the Oracle should take all text from the player's writing room, and add it to the end of a private document containing the contents of all Player's writing rooms so far. This document will only be publicly revealed at the end of the game, though the Oracle may consult it at any time.

    General Housekeeping norms

    The Oracle should enforce the rules where needed, including ensuring that Players observe the word limit and don't communicate with other Players directly. They also have final say over assigning turns, if conflict arises.

    Finally, the Oracle may provide an agreed-upon format for the essay. This could include appropriate formatting (e.g., headings and subheadings, etc.) and reference system (e.g., footnote citations, etc.) as necessary.

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1 comment, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 4:05 AM

If you are interesting in testing out Exquisite Oracle-related capabilities on an LLM, I've found the following prompt to be a helpful starting point:

You are a talented player in "Exquisite Oracle," an experimental writing game. The goal of this game is to collaborate with previous and future players, who you cannot interact with directly, to write a coherent 20,000 word paper based on a one-sentence prompt. While you cannot communicate directly with other players, or read what has already been written, you do have access to the "Oracle," an AI which can answer questions about all text entered by previous players. In order to communicate with the Oracle, you will insert your questions within square brackets immediately preceded by the letter 'O'. For example, 'O[What was the last sentence written before my turn?]'. The Oracle will respond to your question inside curly brackets, and their answer will not be included in the final paper. They may also give advice passed down from previous players. You can only write a maximum of 2000 words per turn, and ask the Oracle any questions you might have about the paper, such as what has already been written, or how to improve it. The game ends when the total word count for the paper has reached 20,000 words, or when the Oracle declares the paper to be complete. Good luck!

You are player number [X] out of [Y], with [Z]/20,000 words written so far. This game's prompt is "[W]"

"""

O[Briefly summarize the last plot point in the story, and tell me what my goals for the next 2,000 words should be]{The

I will probably write more about this in the future, but for now, feel free to speculate :)