Tales of the Crystals Vintage Game & How to Recreate It For Yourself!
One of my favorite games as a little girl was Tales of the Crystals. It was an interactive, role-playing game where the players have different roles but ultimately have to protect an imaginary fantasy land called Collingwood. There are fairies, sprites, talking trees and evil witches in it. Read my full review, check out the photos AND learn how to recreate this wonderful game for yourself! Any little girl or boy would love to play this game.
What is Tales of the Crystals Game?
In the early 90’s, MiltonBradley released a fantasy game called Tales of the Crystals. To put it simply, Tales of the Crystals is an interactive game that encourages the players to use their imaginations and get outside. The game consists of various pieces that are used by the players to either set a scene/setting or to be used as “tools” to complete the game’s tasks. The best part is this – the game is based on a fantasy world called Collingwood, a land full of fairies, talking trees, evil witches, gnomes and more! It’s similar to Dungeons and Dragons but appropriate for young children and EXTREMELY imaginative!
My Memory of Tales of the Crystals and Nurturing My Inner Child
When I was eight I received this game as a birthday gift. I was so taken with it, I would take the pieces out and imagine playing it with my friends. I remember playing it a few times with friends and cousins and LOVED it more than any other game! We would play part of the game outside and hide behind large oak trees. We always dressed up in flowy skirts or tutus when playing the game…sometimes even fairy wings.
I think the most important thing about this game to me was that it took me out of this physical world and put me into a different world altogether. Into a land where fairies, witches, and make-believe was real. It came to me at a time when my childhood wasn’t a land of fairy tales. Quite the opposite, actually. And it gave me a means of escaping and believing that life could still be magical. I am grateful this game came to me when it did and extremely grateful to the maker of the game who must have a key that opens the door to fairyland. Now I play this game with my own children and delight in the worlds we create.
How to Find a Copy OR…
Something about this game has stuck with me over the years and when I started to look for it, I learned Milton Bradley no longer makes the game. So the only way to find the game is to acquire a vintage copy. I finally found a copy on eBay recently and it’s in wonderful condition. There were a few items missing; however, my daughter and I had fun recreating those pieces. I recommend making your own version of this game and playing with your kiddos! You’re never too old to nurture your inner child and encourage their imagination.
How to Create Your Own Tales of the Crystals Game
Tales of the Crystals is difficult to find, and when they’re online they cost anywhere from fifty dollars and up. So if you don’t want to spend the cash on a vintage edition of this game, why not try recreating your own? First, you’ll need to gather tools and pieces to use in place of the original game pieces. Learn how below:
Tales of the Crystals Game Pieces
- Tape cassette with 4 main challenges: you don’t need the tape cassette and TBH, who has a tape player anymore to play the tape? You can find the entire tape cassette soundtrack on YouTube for free! Click here to listen to the full playlist AND listen to the first part below!:
- Heart box (to carry items): any small box will work in place of the original plastic heart box. Even a shoebox if you have nothing else! Decorate the shoebox with glitter, stickers, etc. to make it special
- 4 crystal necklaces (each crystal has a special power for the wearer): literally any crystal pendant or beaded necklace will work in place of the plastic crystals. Make sure you have 4: a red, purple, green and clear
- A magic mirror (allows you to read the challenges on the cards because they’re written backwards): any small compact mirror or handheld mirror will work!
- Spider crystal (the antagonist Lady Morphia’s evil crystal): I replaced the missing spider crystal from my game with a small piece of smoky quartz. But any small dark item like a stone or crystal is perfect.
- Magic crystal powder packets (two packets of powder used by the players to heal/fix/protect throughout the game): my game was missing the powder packets. We recreated the magic crystal powder by mixing sugar and glitter and bottling it in small vials (shown)
- 5 Location Banners (each banner is used to designate a particular setting in the game): cut-out construction or cardstock paper and put it on string. Five banners, each saying one of the following: Secret Garden, The Village, Whispering Forest, Oriana’s Glen and Lady Morphia’s Castle
- Instruction Book and Journal: the instruction book is not needed but you may be able to find one online in PDF format or as a separately sold piece on eBay (see instructions on how to play below). The journal can be a simple composition or notebook and pencil.
- Challenge Cards: in the original game there are 54 total challenge cards (cards with special tasks written on each). They’re split in half, the red deck is to be used with stories 1 and 3, and the blue deck with stories 2 and 4. You can recreate these by typing/printing out 54 different tasks, BUT 54 isn’t necessary. My family hardly ever gets through 10 of these per game. Two examples are: “Lady Morphia has left her castle of dread. Write her a teasing message, then sneak it into her castle for her to find.” And “Lady Morphia has made plans to cut down the trees in the Whispering Forest. You must protect the trees by sprinkling a little magic crystal powder around them.”
- Wheel of Choices Board (used to solve debates, etc.): a circular piece of paper, cardstock or decorated cardboard can be used in place. Draw the Wheel of Choices Board into 4 pie pieces with each of the following written: one piece should say “No, Leader, Orianna’s Glen”, the next “Yes, Healer, Whispering Forest”, the next “No, Protector, The Village”, and the next “Yes, Scribe, Secret Garden”.
- 4 crystals for the wheel of choices board (these crystals are tossed on the Wheel of Choices board and read to determine the answer to a question or debate): any small crystals will work. If you don’t have 4 small crystals, you can use large beads, pendants, or even 4 dice (the original small crystals coordinate colors with the crystal necklaces, however the colors for the small crystals aren’t necessary)
- Secret cards AND envelope (secrets are optional and can be placed around the game area for the players to find). They simply enhance the game’s experience and further encourage imaginative play. 6 notecards or piece of cardstock/construction paper with 6 “secret messages” on them and a manila envelope are great substitutions! Here are a few of the messages: “I am watching you! Beware! ~ Lady Morphia” and “You will never destroy me! I will control you and all of Collingwood! ~ Lady Morphia”.
1. Decide: Players’ Roles in Tales of the Crystals
The most important part of the game is for each player (2-4 players) to choose a role and in each role the players are to wear a magic crystal. Each role’s crystal has special powers that help the player complete their tasks in character. For example, the healer has the green stone of healing which gives the ability to heal oneself and others in the game.
The leader wears the clear crystal of shimmering ice. When aimed at an enemy will freeze the enemy for one minute. The leader leads the team and decides on solutions. The leader is in charge of carrying the heart box which contains the challenge card, magic mirror, crystal packets, etc.
The protector wears the red crystal of true sight. When holding the red crystal up to your eye, the protector can see through any trickery or lies AND be able to turn an enemy into a friend for one minute.
The healer wears the green crystal of healing which gives him/her the power to heal anyone person or animal in need. It also gives him/her the ability to use the Wheel of Choices Board and the crystal jewels to settle debates or decide big decisions for the team.
The scribe wears the purple crystal of invisibility which gives him/her the ability to turn invisible or touch another person and turn them invisible for one minute. The scribe also carries a journal and pencil to record the tasks, etc.
2. The 5 Location Banners: The Setting
After players have chosen a role, the 4 location banners should be set up around the house and/or in the yard. The 5 banners are: Orianna’s Glen, Secret Garden, The Village, Lady Morphia’s Castle and the Whispering Forest. We like to mix it up and use both inside and outside for our setting if the weather is nice. But it’s inevitably up to you and what you have available.
3. How Do You Play Tales of the Crystals?
The object of the game is to complete all of the challenges on the provided tape cassette, as well as the tasks on the cards. The tape cassette (or YouTube playlist provided above) walks the players through each task and tells them when to turn off the tape, etc. making it easy for children to follow. After completing what the tape cassette directs, the players pull a card and complete that challenge too. The crystal necklaces, magic crystal powder, magic mirror, etc. are all tools the players can use to help complete each task. This game takes a lot of imagination and really pushes the players to stretch their pretend play skills! It’s so much fun!