Storium Theory: The Best Way to Play Storium

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on May 24th, 2016.

I write a lot of articles on this site about…methods, and concepts, and ways to accomplish things with the Storium system. But this article isn’t about the nitty-gritty details, like how to write a challenge or what to do when you play a certain card type. This is about something bigger: the question of: what is the best way to play Storium?

Some people play Storium with a strong adherence to the system. Others treat it loosely. Some weave in rules from tabletop RPGs they like. Others use the site as a meeting place and play pretty much systemless. Some interpret cards widely, others tightly. Some play every challenge to completion, others feel like if something big changes you should end it early. I’ll leave off there, but the point is, there’s a lot of opinions about how to play Storium, and what will work best.

Who is right?


Everybody is right.

I want to make that very clear. I write articles on this site from my perspective, writing about things that I found worked nicely, or things I do as a player or narrator to make the game feel more fun to me, and hopefully to my players as well.

But just as with any other gaming or storytelling system out there–whether that be 13th Age, D&D, Mutants and Masterminds, Dramasystem, Dungeon World, Pathfinder, Savage Worlds, Fate, or any of the other systems in their infinite numbers–a system is a toolbox. It is up to you what tools you use, and for what purpose.

What I’m writing here is not meant to be the definitive, singular guide to Storium. This isn’t meant to be the guide by which all players should absolutely play. I don’t think of it that way and I very much hope no one else does!

This is what has worked for me. This is what I have found fun. I’m hoping that if I share it, it can help other people find their way of playing Storium too. That way may be the same as mine. They may read my articles and agree with everything I say, find my philosophy persuasive, and try my techniques and find that they work great and make a fun game.

But they may not.

They may find that they want a looser approach than mine. They may disagree with me on the purpose of certain cards. They may not even like subplots, the heathens (I jest!).

And that’s perfectly fine.

Because, and I’m going to make this big and bold so it’s very clear:

The best way to play Storium is the way that you find fun.

Storium is a game. It is a storytelling game, but it is a game. If the things I’ve said here lead you to have fun in playing Storium, by all means, follow them. But if you find they are hurting your sense of fun, please, please, please step off the path I’ve laid out.

Rigid adherence to my philosophy is only appropriate if that adherence allows you to find entertainment playing Storium.

I write articles with a very authoritative tone, but I don’t want you to think that I feel like you’re playing Storium incorrectly if you disagree with me on something here. As long as you are having fun, you’re doing it right.

Now, there’s more to it than that…this is collaborative, a game with a group, so what you want to do is find a group that also likes the style you like–but I don’t have to say that, right?

So there we go. That’s the best way to play Storium.

  1. Figure out what makes it fun for you.
  2. Find people who you can have fun with.
  3. Play games and have fun.

That’s all. That’s the best way.

So what I’m doing here isn’t telling you the only way to play the game. It’s telling you my way to play the game. It’s telling you what led me to find that way, what factors into my concepts, and what effect I’ve seen those concepts have. It’s telling you what things I did or saw someone else do in games that made the game more fun for me. And, sometimes, it’s telling you what things I did or saw someone else do in games that made the game less fun for me.

But not everyone has fun in the same way.

So, blanket statement: If you find, after thinking about it, that you disagree with something I wrote, you have my approval to forge your own path! Heck, you have my encouragement to do so.

I just want to give you things to think about.

So go on, and have fun.