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: 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...