[Skip to Content]

Fortunately / Unfortunately

Fortunately/Unfortunately is a group story telling game where participants work together to create a story one line at a time. Fortunately, there is a twist! Unfortunately, this game will lead to so much laughter you may turn purple!

It works with any number or ages of players.

Designed for Elementary to Adult! (instructions and adaptations below)


1. Have everyone  sit in a circle on the floor or around the table. You will create a story together one sentence at a time. After the opening sentence, which starts with, “Once Upon a Time,” each following story-teller must alternate their starting sentence with “Fortunately…” or “Unfortunately…” 


2. For example: the first person  says, “Once upon a time a tiny ant lived in a giant’s castle”, the second person continues the story, “Fortunately, the giant and his wife put a bell on the ant so they wouldn't  accidentally step on him”.  The next person continues, “Unfortunately, the bell began to annoy the giant's wife so much that she started throwing things!”


3. The story continues until it reaches what you feel is a good stopping point, ideally ending with a fortunately.

4. This game can be played in pairs or with a large group. The new storyteller should pick up the story immediately and continue where it was left off. Requiring minimal lag-time forces players to think on their feet and makes the story more fun!


Talk it out:

  • Did the story turn out in the way you thought it would?
  • Did the story make sense?
  • If not, next time, how do we work together to create a story that makes sense?
  • What makes a story interesting?
  • What was your favorite part of our story?
  • How did we turn the Unfortunates into Fortunates?




Anyone who can come up with a sentence can play this game! If you have younger players, they may need some guidance on which word starts the sentence. Otherwise, don’t be afraid to let them take over the story with their wild imaginations---This game is funnier when you go to extreme lengths to make all the unfortunatelys work out.



  • Call someone on Facetime/Zoom/Hangouts/Duo and play.
  • Or tell the tale over a long period of time by Snapchatting or DM’ing each other the alternating sentences.
  • You can even play it via text or email!


  • Play with your neighbor and shout the sentences over the fence.
  • How do you play without saying a word? Build the suspense by writing your Fortunately/Unfortunately answers as notes!


Read it out: Author Neil Gaimen took an idea similar to this and wrote a full book called, Fortunately the Milk. Read it or listen to the audiobook here

Art it out: Create a comic book alternating each panel as “Fortunately…” and “Unfortunately...”

Move it Out: Record your story and turn it into a mini-play.


This game highlights the skills of: listening, logical sequencing, story construction and thinking/speaking on your feet.

Use these variations to make school work fun:

Reading/Writing/Social Studies: Require that everyone use certain vocabulary words, historical figures, characters, or themes in their sentences/stories.

Science/Math: Turn the Fortunates and Unfortunates into addition and subtraction and create word problems.