Storium Theory: Death – The End of a Character’s Story

Tonight, I’d like to discuss a bit of a heavy topic: death. Not death in real life, mind…death in Storium. Death is a useful but dangerous and expensive narrative tool. It is one to be used very carefully. Unless you are playing in a story about people becoming ghosts or reincarnations or some such, death is the end of a character’s story. When someone dies, their role in a story ends. Certainly their memory may drive things…but their role, their active ability to influence events, their ability to develop and grow as a character…that has come to an end. As I move into this discussion, I want to emphasize that I’m writing today about death in general in Storium–this article regards any reasonably important character,...

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: Support the Story

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on July 7th, 2016. I’ve written before about the need to create characters that fit within the world of a story–the need to support the game’s tone, themes, and such. Put simply, the idea that if the story is like The Lord of the Rings, you probably shouldn’t play someone like Superman, right? But it’s about more than that. The player’s responsibility to the story, and the way that should impact their character concept, goes beyond the character’s level of power, tone, and themes. Characters also need to be able to directly support the story. What does that mean? It means, simply, to act in accordance with the needs of the story. Not to fit the character in a neat little...

Storium Theory: “Choice” Outcomes

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on July 5th, 2016. I’ve written about this a bit before, but I wanted to take a little time today to delve into one interesting way that I’ve found to write outcomes–a way that seems to me to strike a nice balance of allowing player choice while not making the amount of options paralyzing. I’ve taken to using this method quite a bit in my own games, particularly for weak outcomes. I’ve shown some examples of it before, but I don’t think I’ve ever written about it much at length. For lack of a better name, I’ll call this method Choice Outcomes. To write a Choice Outcome, instead of providing a single option for a given Outcome (Strong or Weak), you give two or more....

Storium Theory: Uniqueness of Cards

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on June 30th, 2016. Moving on from the previous article’s discussion of character ability concepts and why it is best to make them fairly unique…I’d like to talk about character card choices. While character concepts provide some ability differences, it’s also important to think about your cards. To put it simply, character abilities describe the tools you use to solve problems, but your cards describe how you use those tools…or how you don’t. How does a character tend to succeed? How does he tend to fail? What bolsters him? What makes him struggle? Those are the sorts of things Strengths and Weaknesses talk about. Those are the sort of things that you’re actually writing...

Storium Theory: Uniqueness of Ability

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on June 28th, 2016. I apologize for the delay getting it here–I forgot to put it in the schedule over here! Storium is not a tactical roleplaying game. It doesn’t use maps and minis. It doesn’t use skill rolls. So you might be inclined to think that it isn’t really that important to get a mix of different ability types in the cast for the game. If you’re thinking it isn’t as important, you’re probably right. There’s no point over the course of a Storium game where the group will have tactical trouble because they didn’t bring a wizard. But if you’re thinking it isn’t important at all, I have to disagree. Stories are simply more interesting to...