Storium Theory: Only Natural

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on April 27th, 2017. I’ve spent quite a lot of time on this blog on Strength cards, Weakness cards, and Subplot cards. I haven’t spent all that much time, though…if any…on the other card type that players pick out at character creation: Nature. So, let’s talk Natures. Specifically, I want to focus on writing your own Nature card during character creation. What is a Nature card all about? What should you do if you’re creating your own for your own character? A Nature card is your “at a glance” statement of just what, exactly, the character is. It’s the broad strokes of the character, the central concept that defines them. In many ways, it is the single most...

Storium Theory: Reading Ahead – Outcomes as Inspiration

This post originally appeared at Gaming Creatively on April 20th, 2017. I’ve written a bit before about how challenge outcomes provide guidelines for writing during a challenge…how they provide the effective limits of what can happen during a challenge, and how they reveal what the players should be writing towards when playing Strengths and Weaknesses. Today, I’d just like to take a little time to look at that from a slightly different angle: Outcomes as inspiration. This falls along similar lines to what I said above: Challenge outcomes reveal what players should be writing towards when playing their cards. Because of this…challenge outcomes provide ideas. If you have trouble writing on a challenge, one of the first things you should do...

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...