Storium Theory: “Planning” Scenes

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on January 7th, 2016. It happens in any game that is trying to take a more open approach: eventually, the narrator will reach a point where it really isn’t that clear how, exactly, the players might want to proceed. Sometimes, the narrator himself wants to know which way the story should go. Other times, the narrator sets up a more open challenge that could be resolved in a variety of ways, and the players start thinking it over in detail. Either way, the result tends to be a planning scene. And planning scenes, quite often, slow the game to a crawl. I’m…not a fan of planning scenes, in general. There are ways to potentially do them well, and I’ll get to one that I’ve found works to...

Storium Theory: Address the Challenge

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on January 5th, 2016. One occasional thing I’ve seen crop up in Storium games is an odd little thing that can happen with challenges and card plays, particularly in the case of more complex challenges. Players will sometimes end up playing cards as their characters suggest things that the group could do to resolve the challenge, chipping away at the challenge’s points, and leaving whoever plays the last card to somehow summarize everything that actually ended up happening in resolving the challenge, as well as the actual challenge ending. I’d like to encourage Storium players to alter their thinking a bit on situations like this. If you are not involving yourself in the situation covered by a...

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: Leaving Things Open

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on 12/17/2015. In my last post on the narration associated with challenges, I wrote for a little bit on how proper narration could give players some cues to work off of in their posts and spark their imagination. That got me thinking a bit…because that’s something players can do as well. I’ve written a bit before about how to write an interesting move, play to your cards, and take charge of the story…but there’s one other technique that can really help with game flow and inspire your fellow players: leave things open. When you play one of the cards that doesn’t conclude a challenge–any but the last, effectively–you’re taking action in a situation that...

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...