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...

Storium Theory: Play to Your Cards!

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on 11/24/2015. Cards in Storium represent point values on challenges: +1, -1, and 0, effectively, for Strength, Weakness, and Neutral respectively. But they are so much more than that. Each card in Storium represents something important–a character trait, an item, a theme, a plot, a piece of a character’s history, or what-have-you. Each is an element of the story. When you play a card, don’t think just in terms of the card’s numeric value. When you compose your move, don’t just think about the impact on the challenge–important as that is! Think about what the card was. What did it represent? I went over this a bit in my article on having an impact. If you play a Strength card,...

Storium Theory: Make an Impact!

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on 11/19/2015. If you come from a tabletop game or MUX background, you have a decent background for Storium. You’re already used to the idea of a group of people teaming up to tell a story, and depending on the system of choice, you may even be used to a pretty good amount of player control over the story. But Storium is still something of a different beast than the usual tabletop game or MUX. In Storium, challenge resolutions aren’t about the individual actions–each swing of a sword or quiet step down a hallway–but about the overall situation–the battle, or the stealth mission through the building. What does this mean, in practice? What it means is that Storium does not, in general,...

Storium Theory: Writing Good Strengths and Weaknesses

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on 11/17/2015. Strength and Weakness cards are perhaps the central elements of the Storium system. On the surface, they’re pretty easy to understand–a Strength is something your character is good at, a Weakness is something they’re bad at, right? Right. The thing is, it isn’t always all that easy to write good Strengths and Weaknesses. It’s easy to end up feeling somewhat trapped by the ones you’ve written, if you write them in a particular way, or interpret them in a particular way. To explain my theory on Strengths and Weaknesses, I have to start out by briefly addressing my concept of how Storium’s Challenges work. There’s a lot of different interpretations on...