Storium Theory: The Past in the Present

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on July 14th, 2016. I’ve written before on the manner in which players can bring out past relationships between their characters, and the way in which the narrator can encourage those relationships to develop during the opening portions of the game. Today, I’d like to answer a reader request by writing some more thoughts on what narrators can do to help call out existing relationships between player characters–relationships that predate the events of the game–and develop them and make them an important part of the story. I’m going to note that this is another highly theoretical post. Some of these are methods that I’ve used in some way, shape, or form, but others are...

Storium Theory: Brainstorming

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on June 23rd, 2016. For today’s article, I’d like to write a bit about one of the techniques I’ve seen used (and used myself) to help keep games moving and keep players involved: brainstorming. Specifically, I’m talking about brainstorming when players are struggling with ideas for how to proceed during a challenge. This post is primarily directed at narrators, but players can help with brainstorming too–and these concepts may help you when writing your own moves, as well. Players sometimes struggle with writing moves on challenges–everyone, at some time or another, has faced the dreaded “writer’s block.” (I really wish there were a “writer’s...

Storium Theory: Finishing a Challenge – Uncertain Results (Narrator Role)

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on May 19th, 2016. Concluding my series on finishing a challenge, I want to talk about the narrator’s role in writing Uncertain results. Uncertain results intimidate narrators. It’s true! We plan out great Strong and Weak outcomes, and we burn up our brainpower on those, and then our players go and hand us that dreaded grey result. Our first instinct is sometimes to scream “Argh! What did I ever do to them?” But it shouldn’t be. Here’s my philosophy on writing Uncertain outcomes as a narrator. First: Replace “Argh!” with “Yay!” Uncertain outcomes are fun, if you allow them to be fun. It’s easy to let them stress you out…so it’s...

Storium Theory: Finishing a Challenge – Uncertain Results (Player Role)

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on May 17th, 2016. Well, here we are–part three of my series on finishing a challenge. I’ve discussed Strong and Weak outcomes during the previous articles in this series…but now, it’s time to discuss Uncertain outcomes. Uncertain outcomes are different than Strong and Weak outcomes. Uncertain outcomes are where the narrator has the narrative power, rather than the players…but there’s still a role for the players here, and that’s what I’m going to discuss today. I want to preface this by saying that this is about the default Storium system. Some narrators handle Uncertain outcomes differently–some, for instance, will provide an Uncertain outcome text like the...

Storium Theory: Finishing a Challenge – Weak Results

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on May 12th, 2016. Continuing my series on finishing a challenge, today I’d like to talk about what to do if you are making the final move on a challenge that is going to end Weak. In some ways, there’s not a lot of difference, philosophically, between this and ending with a Strong result. But the application of the philosophy can be a bit different. So, let’s start out with: What is a Weak result? A Weak result is when you get the worse of the results provided by the narrator as options. A Weak result doesn’t necessarily mean failure–in fact, depending on the game, it might mean failure pretty rarely, if at all. Oftentimes, characters still overcome the situation–they still...

Storium Theory: Finishing a Challenge – Strong Results

This post originally appeared at Gaming Creatively on May 10th, 2016. Today, I’d like to start a series of posts on finishing a challenge–what do you do, as a player, when you are playing the final card on a challenge? How should you write a Strong result, a Weak result, or an Uncertain result? After I cover the player side of things, we’ll finish up with some thoughts for narrators on writing for Uncertain outcomes. I’ve covered a bit about writing outcomes before, but totally from the narrator side of things. I wrote a bit about how to think through writing the outcome text to properly guide players, and I’ve written at length about how to write Weak outcome text in particular to make it something players might choose because it is...