Storium Theory: Establishing Group Dynamics

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on December 31st, 2015. One thing that can be a real problem in starting off a game–particularly a play-by-post game like Storium, where you don’t necessarily have table talk establishing a good camaraderie among the players–is establishing the dynamics of a group that is already supposed to know each other. Obviously, this isn’t a problem every game ends up having to address. If you’re doing one of the many games where characters are unknowns meeting for the first time–the classic “tavern opening” for a fantasy game, for instance, or a group of young supers just starting their careers–you probably don’t need to worry about this. But it can be a lot of...

Storium Theory: The Player Characters are the Stars

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on December 29th, 2015. For today’s post, I’d like to talk less about technique than about philosophy–a guiding principle, I suppose, that I try to use for my games and that I hope to see others use as well. This is a principle that applies to Storium games, but also to virtually every other role-playing game you might GM–so though this is a Storium Theory article, I hope it’s useful for those of you GMing in some other system as well. Here is is: The player characters are the stars. Okay, we all say. I can feel heads nodding there. It seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? But it’s actually pretty easy to lose sight of this. Here’s what it means, in practice: if this...

Storium Theory: Using Another Character

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on 12/24/2015. It has been edited to remove the corresponding Christmas greeting. 🙂 So, I wrote a bit a couple days ago about allowing other people to use your character, and setting up rules in a game to allow for that as a narrator. This time, I’d like to put a little bit in on the other side…when you do use another person’s character, how do you use it well? First and foremost, make sure that you understand your game’s atmosphere on this. As I said last time, different games allow this at different levels. If your narrator and player group haven’t clarified this, it’s good to ask. Clarify what’s okay to do in general, and what folks feel you should ask for. (Side note...

Storium Theory: Giving Up Control

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on 12/22/2015. When last we met, I said I’d write a little on using other player characters in Storium. Now’s the time! Storium is an unusual system–a play-by-post system that’s much more about collaborative writing than anything else. A lot of its players, though, come from tabletop RPGs, MUXes, or other backgrounds where who controls what is pretty strict. This can hurt a Storium game. Storium works best, I’ve found, when players all have a little control over everything, without having to ask. Players can control NPCs, narrators can control PCs, and players can control other player characters–to an extent. How great an extent varies by game and group dynamics, but there...

Storium Theory: Leaving Things Open

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on 12/17/2015. In my last post on the narration associated with challenges, I wrote for a little bit on how proper narration could give players some cues to work off of in their posts and spark their imagination. That got me thinking a bit…because that’s something players can do as well. I’ve written a bit before about how to write an interesting move, play to your cards, and take charge of the story…but there’s one other technique that can really help with game flow and inspire your fellow players: leave things open. When you play one of the cards that doesn’t conclude a challenge–any but the last, effectively–you’re taking action in a situation that...