Storium Theory: A Shadow in the Light

This post originally appeared on Gaming Creatively on May 11th, 2017.

I’ve written a bit about this before, but today I’d like to discuss one of the most fun things that I’ve found to do on Storium – ending a challenge with a Strong ending by playing a Weakness card.

Sometimes, you find yourself with a really fascinating opportunity on Storium. You’re writing the final move on a challenge, and it is definitely going Strong – there’s only one card slot left, for instance, and at least 2 more Strong cards have been played than Weakness cards, so even if you play a Weakness card, it’s still going to be 1 up on Strong.

These are amazingly fun writing opportunities, and I encourage you to make the most of them.

Play a Weakness card…and make it just as Weak as you normally would! Your character screws up, or stumbles, or otherwise expresses his Weakness. It’s just that in the end, the challenge succeeds despite him.

Don’t have his Weakness lead him to victory – instead, have victory happen despite his weakness.

The other characters’ efforts succeed. They win the day. He almost screws things up for everybody…but they’d done well enough before that point that it didn’t end up mattering.

This is one of your best possible opportunities to make someone else…or everybody else…awesome.

You can take the time to build up how well someone else did. You can show how the situation is set up perfectly to go to the Strong outcome. Then, you take it one step farther – you show how you make a mistake, how you screw things up…but because things were set up so well to begin with, or because someone else is doing what they’re doing and doing it so well, things go right anyway.

It isn’t luck. It isn’t happenstance. It’s the efforts of the other characters involved, acting along the lines they’ve acted in prior to your move, using the Strengths they’ve put down before. You nearly mess everything up…but they either save the day, or have already put things in such a good state that your screw-up is a drop in the bucket.

Some of my favorite moves on Storium have been the points where I’ve had the opportunity to write this way: Where I could show just how good the other characters have been in a challenge by having my character seriously screw up…but letting the group win the day anyway. The other players feel great because you gave them recognition and made them look like a million bucks…and you? You get a really, really powerful character moment out of it.

You can hit your character hard from a moment like this – a moment where everyone else looks good, and he looks bad. You can use it to push him to change. You can inspire a difference in attitude. Maybe it’s negative – feelings of inferiority or questioning of his skills. But maybe it’s positive – a new respect for other characters, or the discovery of a mentor who can help him exceed his current limits.

So when a moment like this comes up in a story, don’t just toss out a Weakness card just to get rid of one. Don’t look at it that way. Look at it as a great opportunity to really make other people look good, and to really draw comparisons between your character’s failings and someone else’s strengths. This is an excellent, amazing chance to develop your character and make other people look their best at the same time. Take advantage of it!