Storium Theory: Inaction in Action

This post originally appeared at Gaming Creatively on April 13th, 2017. Sometimes, I see players make comments in a game, explaining why they haven’t made a move in a challenge so far: “I don’t think this is something my character knows how to deal with.” “I’m not sure she cares about this.” “I think he’s just kind of stunned right now. “She doesn’t know what to do.” Sometimes these are indications of a problem in the story – if all of a narrator’s players are telling him their characters don’t care about the current situation, it is probably time to revise the situation and figure out how to better relate it to the story at hand. But…more often, they’re a...

Storium Theory: Questions and Answers

This post originally appeared at Gaming Creatively on April 6th, 2017. A while back, I wrote a post on making trouble: The technique by which players could elaborate on the dangers or problems their characters encounter as they wrote the story of a challenge, rather than just leaving the troubles to what the narrator initially established. When you’re writing on a challenge, you’re writing not just your own character’s story but the story of the challenge itself. I’ve already written a great deal on the need to write not just your character’s actions, but the results of those actions, and how those results impact the challenge going forward. I’ve also written on the need to leave things open for other players to use. Today,...

Storium Theory: The Excitement of Exceptions

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on February 9th, 2017. If you’ve been reading my “Getting Personal” articles, you’ve probably noticed that there’s a bit of a theme with them – a common thread in how I like to think about using personality types in stories. I’ve said that the most powerful moment for a character in a story is when his personality “breaks” – when he is forced to confront the events of the story in such a way that he behaves contrary to his personality thus far. The relentlessly positive character falls into despair. The driven character sacrifices his mission for another. The coward rises as a hero. Those sorts of scenes can be some of the most interesting moments in a...

Storium Theory: Feel the Fight

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on January 19th, 2017. Forgot to post it here that week – sorry about that! I’ve done a few posts in the past on specific types of characters, but today, I’d like to write a bit on a specific type of scene – the fight scene. Now, I’ve used combat for examples before in articles on this site, but what I’d like to do today is explore fight scenes from a narrative angle – not the mechanical aspects of those scenes, and not how they can be used to encourage interplay between the player characters, but how one actually writes combat. I’m going to look at this from the standpoint of writing combat focused on one main character (presumably your own), but these concepts can...

Storium Theory: Getting Personal: The Loner

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on January 12th, 2017. This week, we’re coming back to “Getting Personal” to talk about a character type I think might be harder to do well in a Storium game than nearly any other: The Loner. Loners are pretty popular characters in fiction – the lone wolf, the dark hero who works alone, the agent whose last partner got killed and who isn’t willing to accept another, the guy with a problem with authority. You can probably think of popular fictional heroes for each of those “loner” types, right? But while they’re popular in fiction, loners are tough to write in the context of a Storium game. (Heck, they can be tough to do in tabletop, too.) Storium games are often...

Storium Theory: Build Towards Something

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on December 15th, 2016. Storium games are quite heavily about revealing new things about your characters, and moving their issues forward – developing their personal tales alongside the game’s tale. Two rules, Wild Cards and Subplots, strongly support this element of Storium and help bring focus to the characters. We learn major new things about characters through Wild Cards, and we delve heavily into their personal issues or conflicts with Subplots. But characters in stories, which Storium is designed to help represent, don’t just develop at random. From the start of a character’s tale, the tale is building towards something. The young, inexperienced hero’s tale builds towards the...