Storium Theory: “Planning” Scenes

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on January 7th, 2016. It happens in any game that is trying to take a more open approach: eventually, the narrator will reach a point where it really isn’t that clear how, exactly, the players might want to proceed. Sometimes, the narrator himself wants to know which way the story should go. Other times, the narrator sets up a more open challenge that could be resolved in a variety of ways, and the players start thinking it over in detail. Either way, the result tends to be a planning scene. And planning scenes, quite often, slow the game to a crawl. I’m…not a fan of planning scenes, in general. There are ways to potentially do them well, and I’ll get to one that I’ve found works to...

Storium Theory: Address the Challenge

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on January 5th, 2016. One occasional thing I’ve seen crop up in Storium games is an odd little thing that can happen with challenges and card plays, particularly in the case of more complex challenges. Players will sometimes end up playing cards as their characters suggest things that the group could do to resolve the challenge, chipping away at the challenge’s points, and leaving whoever plays the last card to somehow summarize everything that actually ended up happening in resolving the challenge, as well as the actual challenge ending. I’d like to encourage Storium players to alter their thinking a bit on situations like this. If you are not involving yourself in the situation covered by a...

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...