Storium Theory: Setting Up a Challenge, Part 4–Narration

Happy New Year! This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on 12/15/2015. Today is the final post of my series on setting up a challenge in Storium. Previously, we’ve covered the Name and Description, the Rating, and the Results. Today, we’ll be talking about Narration. Challenges aren’t all about the game mechanics. They need to be supported by your actual narration, making them part of the game world. Storium is a blend of storytelling and system, and in order to work properly, your challenges need to be set up not just mechanically, but in the story text as well. There is more to this than just describing the basic start of an event, or giving a dry statement of the objective. Your narration is where you set the tone, the mood of the...

Storium Theory: Setting up a Challenge, Part 3–Results

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on 12/10/2015. Welcome back to my series on setting up challenges. We’ve been through the Name and Description in one prior post, and the Rating in another. Now, it’s time to talk about the Results. Each challenge has a Strong result and a Weak result. The basic purpose of these is to guide the writing of the player who completes the challenge if it comes out Strong or Weak – to tell the player what events or information need to be included in his writeup. (The narrator writes the challenge conclusion in the case of an Uncertain result.) There are a wide variety of ways to write the results statements. Some narrators like to spell things out in detail, while others like to leave a lot up to the...

Storium Theory: Setting Up a Challenge, Part 2–Rating

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on 12/8/2015. In the first part of my series on setting up a challenge, I talked about naming the challenge and writing its description, two important elements that help set the challenge’s focus. See Setting Up a Challenge, Part 1 if you’d like to read up on those. Next up is playing the challenge card. The first thing to set up on the card is the number of points on the challenge, which directly corresponds to the number of cards the characters will be required to play to complete it. I usually call this the challenge rating. How do you decide how many points to set on a challenge? The first instinct of any RPG GM will be to set it based on the difficulty of the situation–to set things at 1 or...

Storium Theory: Setting Up a Challenge, Part 1–Name and Description

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on 12/3/2015. Reposting a day early here due to tomorrow being Christmas and all. For those who celebrate it, Merry Christmas! 🙂 I’ve talked a bit on this blog about the player side of dealing with challenges, but I haven’t really gone into the very basics of challenges yet. So today, we’ll start off a series of posts on challenge design. A lot of it is pretty easy to understand: challenges essentially represent “things that stand in the way” in a story. Maybe it is a situation, or an item, or a character…whatever the case, a challenge is something that the player characters need to deal with as the story progresses. As narrator, your job is to identify the things that become...

Storium Theory: Take Charge!

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on 12/1/2015. Storium, as mentioned in prior articles, is kind of an unusual system in that it by its very nature gives players quite a bit of control over the game’s events. I’ve already written on the move-by-move need to show the impact of your moves within the bounds laid out by challenges, but I’d like to write a bit now on what to do when you complete a challenge. To put it simply: do what the card says. Each challenge bears Strong and Weak results. If you get a Strong or Weak result, it is your right–and responsibility–to write the end of the challenge, guided by that result. Do it! I’ve seen a number of cases where a nervous player, worried that he is taking the...

Storium Theory: Develop Those Subplots!

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on 11/26/2015. One of the most story-intensive cards in Storium is the “subplot” card. This card is used to define your character’s personal purpose–what makes him tick, what makes him want to keep moving through the story, what issue he needs to explore and resolve. Picking a good subplot can be tough. You need something that represents an issue you’re interested in bringing up with a character–and ideally, an issue that could develop in at least a few different ways. The sample subplots in many games are quite good to get you started, and if you aren’t certain about writing your own, you can pick one of those that sounds interesting to get things going. I’ve found...