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: 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: 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...

Storium Theory: When Players Retire

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on 11/11/2015. One of the most difficult things that can happen in a Storium game is a player retirement, especially if it is sudden or unexpected. It can leave plot threads dangling, break character relationships, and potentially kill a game. What do you do? There are a few options. You can let the character just disappear from the story, ignoring him without a word…but that just breaks the plots or relationships that revolved around him. You can kill off the character or have him leave the party, to at least close off his plots in some ways…but that can be unsatisfying narratively at best and ruin other characters at worst. It can work well in a horror game, but few other story types really allow...

Storium Theory: Getting the Right Cast

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on 11/11/2015. When you come up with an idea for a new game, it can be really tempting to start it as soon as you get some applications for it. “I need four players,” you think, “and here, there’s four applications! Time to accept them and go!” Don’t think that way. I advise taking your time, letting the standard application timeline run its course, or at least get close. See what comes in. For a Storium game, getting the right cast is vital. If you’re narrating, you need to wait. Let the apps come in. And then…review them. Take a long, hard look at the characters. Make sure you really, truly understand them. See what ones seem like they would play off each other...