I’ve enjoyed Storium; the card system, the collaborative storytelling, putting pictures on all these things for shared mental images. But I may be winding down my Storium time. Here’s a summary of games I’ve narrated, and how they’ve worked out.
- Ghostbreath. Solo play with my wife. Seems like her character spent the whole story trying to get out of the story, and succeeded after a pretty short span. To my surprise, she said she wanted to play again. I used the default urban fantasy setting, fleshing it out in my own direction. (I think it was a cool little self-contained story.)
- Bones Within. Solo play with a G+ friend, got through a staggering 77 scenes. The game stopped because he didn’t like a key trans formative point that happened to his character, and he had growing dissatisfaction with the game until he brought it to a close himself. I thought it made sense and would be cool for his monster hunter to be turned into a werewolf. He gave it a try, but never did really get past that dealbreaker. His second suicide attempt succeeded. I used the default urban fantasy setting, continuing to develop it to be my own.
- Night War. Solo play with my wife, at her request, for a second game. Turns out she doesn’t like sharing narrative control. She likes controlling a character and letting the GM control the world. She lost interest and quit. Same urban fantasy setting.
- Flame and Darkness. I took open invitation players for the first time. Previously I played with my wife, and with somebody I had previously pbpd with. Now I took on two strangers, named my version of the default urban fantasy setting “Citadel City” and took a crack at a new story. It’s up to 11 scenes, but it is disintegrating.
- I have two players. One of them is dead set in making it a World of Darkness game, even when I explicitly said it is not. He just agrees and continues pumping it full of jargon and detail from World of Darkness (and as a player, he has narrative control to do it). Also, he cannot admit he misread or misunderstood, he just puts his nose in the air and insists he’s right and that’s what he meant to do.
- They did not want to play to the challenges, so I quit using cards with this game. And it quickly becomes clear how cards are helpful for focusing the action; otherwise, things tend to sprawl.
- The players tend to not focus on what they want to do next, and it feels adversarial being their narrator. It’s like they don’t want a narrator, they want to work it out together in a chat room; in which case I’d rather they did. They are in several other Storium games together, so maybe they’ll have a more satisfying experience there.
- Again, I came up with what I thought was a cool plot twist riffing off their backgrounds and actions–and I’m not sure they’ll even finish this game. We’re at the climax, too. I sincerely doubt this one will go on after the first story arc.
- Protectors of the Crown. Fey and musketeers. Original setting, loosely sketched setting and plot with lots of room for player narrative control. This is for three guys from my game table; one is not currently playing my face to face games, one is in some of the games and not others, and the third is pretty much in everything. And they’re buddies outside the game table. It’s the best comedy game.
- So, this one is really slowed down because we’ve had some trouble with people narrating things that don’t fit with what came before. Calling that sort of thing out has a massively chilling effect. Sometimes play stops for a few days.
- And I get the sense they feel picked on by challenges. So… whether that’s my fault or not, that sense of being picked on puts a massive chilling effect on my desire to keep it up for more when and if they finish this first little story.
- Monster Hunters of Vurna Wood. I like the premise; grim low-fantasy base town, and each story is a group gathering to go hunt a specific mythical monster. Room for the players to help shape the monster, and a neat point-based scene navigation map. Focused, room for narrative control. What went wrong?
- I specified “no snowflake” characters and got one, and shrugged and let it slide. She’s hunted (a bounty on her head from the king himself), I brought in a supernatural bounty hunter to kill her, and that’s grinding everything to a halt.
- We have a fundamentally different understanding of how coordination and cards work, and in a group of 4, that’s a problem.
- I’ve got 4 players that seem to be trying to solo play in the game (though one player insists they are coordinating efforts.) They seem to be sabotaging their own efforts, from my point of view, though I suspect one or more of them feel like I’m being cruel and unresponsive to their attempts to steer things.
- One is aloof and contemptuous of the others, hardly deigning to speak to them. One is a gregarious nobleman who figures playing a weak card means he should incapacitate himself. One is a watchful tracker loner type who just wants to do her job. And one is very task oriented with little patience with the others.
- Whether it’s my fault that the story is going poorly or not, I don’t think this group and I should play again. Maybe if I could pick a few to continue and a few to not, but the next scene may do that for me–if they continue to play at all. (I can’t make them finish this scene.)
I thought I would be good at Storium. Evidence so far suggests I am not; the only metric of success that really matters is whether everybody is having a good time, and on that front apparently I fail. So I’m thinking I may wind down my games and stop inflicting new ones on people.
Fun fact: my wife observes that the problems I’m having in Storium reflect the ones I have at my face-to-face game table. I just hope my face-to-face players have more fun than my Storium players seem to be having.
Anyway, even if I’m lousy at Storium, I’ve got an ongoing game, Defenders of Eldaav. It is set in the monster hunter setting, it’s the base town. I figure I can send people invitations, they can get in and kick a couple moves around and get a sense of it, then (with an account) go read lots of other games and participate in others if they want.
Maybe they can find people that are more fun to play with.