Monday, 25 May 2015

Storium, experimenting for new media

www.Storium.com

Well I missed the KSer for this but found their site through someones post. I thought it looked interesting and for $40 a year I felt I could try it and see how it goes.

Well, its great. Which is quite surprising.

I sent an email out to a wide group of people as I didn't expect a big take up, and I was right. I had to follow that up with some high pressure selling to a few people, but in the end I have 8 players, which is great if possibly a couple too many.  I think the ideal figure is 6, but an extra 2 doesnt seem to be too hard to handle so far.

So part of the reason I wanted to use Storium was to use my 'world' - Sarmarkand, as a background. This was going to be great as it allowed me to use a lot of pre-generated stuff and it would hopefully generate new content that I could use.  Another advantage is that I would give them an intro bunch of information and then feed them more details as we went along. This would allow me to judge how good the stuff was, plus cast an external eye over it in case there were problems.

So the first act, first scene is all the players waking up on an airship after an event that killed most of the rest of the ships complement, and then working out what to do. They had tasks to re-inflate the balloon, repair the ship, defeat some shadow spiders etc etc.

So far we are upto scene 3 and from feedback it seems most people are really enjoying it. In particular they are enjoying the non-face to face element, the time to think, and the freedom of the narrative process that Storium uses.

My greatest satisfaction comes from getting my girlfriend to play, and enjoy herself. She is a total-non-gamer, but the points I stated above, plus my most persuasive performance, got her into the game and really enjoying the creative writing element it allows her. I have had to guide her over the mechanical process of the game, but the narrative aspects of the story writing have been all hers.  I keep telling her it is NOT a game, but a story.

There are some issues with the system however, it is after all only a gamma version. There need to be a few extra options included in the game. One I think it really needs is story events (obstacles) triggered by players who have narrative control of the end of a scene.  In our game we have agreed to do this by allowing the players to put an aside comment in [text] brackets. This will be a suggestion to the Narrator, who can then elect to insert extra obstacles, or guides the opening or direction of the next scene.

You also have to be sure to set your players expectations properly, this is NOT a game.  At the beginning I put out a lot of asset pickups for the players because I come from a crunchy mechanistic reward based back ground. So seeing all that loot some of the rpg players grabbed some quickly, where-as, in retrospect some of it wasn't needed, and some of the players needed to adjust their attitude.

I have been trying to drum into everyone that they should always be "adding, enhancing, extending the moves already made". Take your time, don't try to solve the obstacle all at once by doing a big dump of cards, allow everyone to participate. This seems to be getting through now.

If you have people who have been reluctant to try a roleplaying game I totally recommend you try to convince them to use Storium. Take your time, guide them, but let them find their own story and they will probably get into it.

Following is an extract of Scene 2, which I thought was pretty good.

Nieve

Nieve (Ambrose01) moved 
Character
Shadow Spiders
Strength
Magic Words
Nieve, still smarting at being ridiculed by his fellow Mage, decides to help the others by casting a powerful spell with an aura that burns away the Darkness and Shadows and all things that dwell within. The engine room resounds with alien squealing as Dark Things shrivel within the powerful magical light. Dark charred corpses litter the floor and Nieve is smug with the knowledge that he did this all by himself.
Then realisation, he did NOT kill them all as spidery shadows come crawling out of hidden places.
Nieve exclaims, “ Spiders! Fuck I hate spiders! Eek!”
Nieve picked up the card  Goal Fear of Spiders
Nieve picked up the card  Asset Pistol
Pierre

Pierre (AliJH) moved 
Character
Shadow Spiders
Strength
Quite Inventive
Asset
Canister of BlauGas
Thinking quickly Pierre drops the lantern and uses the aftermath of Nieve’s spellcasting to dart forward and retrieve a canister of blaugas. “I’ve just the thing he mutters” as he fishes out a small handheld pump he keeps about his person for ship maintenance and jerry rigs it to draw from the canister. Smiling to himself with grim satisfaction he lights a piece of wooden debris from the lantern to act as ignition and attacks the nearest spiders, surely setting everything in sight alight could only cause delight.
Pierre picked up the card  Asset Canister of BlauGas
Nazdeen

Nazdeen (Nazdeen) moved 
Character
Shadow Spiders
Asset
Magi Spell Powers
Strength
Elemental mastery
Nieve’s revealing incantation, allows Nazdeen to take in the way forward and the creatures that have claimed it.
Wooden furniture loosened by the crash litters the way but her magical sences sees the resonance within the wood’s structure.
In a quiet singing voice that talks to the wood’s essence, Nazdeen sings to the wood close to the spiders. Next, in an explodsion of small splinters the spiders are enveloped in a cloud of deadly wooden missiles.
Hugo "Icepick" Jenkins

Hugo "Icepick" Jenkins (you) moved   Edit
Obstacle
Navigate the cargo deck
Weakness
Give me the open skies
weak outcomeflynnkd (you) won control of the story by completing this challenge with a weak outcome.
Hugo starts down the steep stairway just as the light blasts out, blinding him. He stagers and trips, lurches forward and downward. Suddenly the feeling of naked fire washes over him, his native instincts, primed by memories of his crew burning and dying, he reels away, trips over a pile of loose rope, stagers, falls, crawls and collapses to the deck, lying in the midst of a bunch of somewhat bemused, dog sized, slavering spiders. But he can see the doorway to the engine room ahead. He lifts a shaking hand and heroically points his finger.
The narrator continued the scene 
Challenges

Obstacle
Fire!
scene continuation
Wooden ships and confined spaces don’t mix with open flames.
Nieve

Nieve (Ambrose01) moved 
Character
Shadow Spiders
Asset
Magi Spell Powers
“Screw the ship - those spiders are big as horses!”
Drawing from his inner reserves of magic (—although completely out of courage) Nieve draws a deep deep breath and air is drawn like a gale out of the engine room to deprive the spiders of valuable air to breath and fires to flicker out of existence with no valuable oxygen to sustain them.
……….. hang on. Don’t people need to breath?
When the spell ends air rushes in from the deck.
Nieve picked up the card  Asset Cannister of Abyss Ash
Nazdeen

Nazdeen (Nazdeen) moved 
Obstacle
Fire!
Strength
Student of Nature
Following up on Nieve’s idea of depriving the fire of air which seemed to have some affect, Nadzeen’s song of magic changes tempo to a breathy whistling. The air rushing back in from the deck forms a whirling barrier around the fire instead of rushing back in to breath new life to the dying flames.
Nazdeen picked up the card  Asset A bag of silver
Nazdeen picked up the card  Asset Bag of exotic spices
Hugo "Icepick" Jenkins

Hugo "Icepick" Jenkins (you) moved   Edit
Obstacle
Fire!
Strength
Survivalist
strong outcomeflynnkd (you) won control of the story by completing this challenge with a strong outcome.
The air goes out, the air goes in, the air shakes itself all about. in the mean time Hugo, deprived of air, unable to see clearly, surrounded by fire and slavering dog sized spiders, blacks out and stops worrying about the bomb.
Marziq

Marziq (Maree) moved 
Character
Shadow Spiders
Strength
Fast and furious
Marziq draws her dagger and throws it spinning in the air, clutching with her teeth when it descends, while also drawing her rapier. She grabs a hanging rope which allows her to swing over the top of the closest spiders, safely landing close to Hugo, then lashes out with blades furiously cutting into the shadowy forms. A single drop of spider blood falls on her Crimson lace cuff and leaves no blemish.
Marziq

Marziq (Maree) moved 
Character
Shadow Spiders
Asset
A fine sword
strong outcomeMaree won control of the story by completing this challenge with a strong outcome.
All but one are dead. The one remaining is the biggest and and nastiest. She draws her pistol, aims between its many eyes, and fires the single shot. The recoil of the pistol makes her slip on a pool of Hugo’s blood that seeps slowly across the decks. The spider, seeing her weakness, leaps forward to slay her, only to fall onto her upheld rapier and skewers its body. She sighs, glad she wore crimson today and not white, as blood flows down her sword and over her hand.
At last the way to the Engine Room is open…
Nazdeen

Nazdeen (Nazdeen) moved 
Nadzeen smiles at the decisive actions of Marziq (we need a +/- or like/not-like button to give a player reaction to other character actions ).
Pierre

Pierre (AliJH) moved 
Obstacle
The Engine Room
Strength
Airship Crewman
Just as Pierre managed to get the lantern relit he hears Marziq’s shot ring out and views the carnage below decks with a new found respect for this human warrior, she is clearly not one to cross, at least not openly.
Stepping his way over BBQ’d spider remains Pierre enters the engine room and gets to work inspecting the engine thankfully it is mostly intact just requiring a tune up here and there.
‘Oi you lot, this will take a little while start looking, there should be a few canisters of liftgas somewhere’
Hugo "Icepick" Jenkins

Hugo "Icepick" Jenkins (you) moved   Edit
Obstacle
The Engine Room
Strength
Survivalist
Hugo awakens to the sight of Marziq tending to his wounds. He flexes his various limbs to check that none are broken, and is re-assured. Marziq finishes wrapping a bandage, stands and helps him rise. He thanks her and surveys the carnage.
“Well it looks like you handled this very well.”
The goblins yells back instructions from the now open engine room. He says, “They are green coloured cannisters, shouldn’t be too hard to spot.”
Al Cal Hol

Al Cal Hol (banjo) moved 
Obstacle
The Engine Room
Strength
Keen Eyes
Looking over the side of the ship, from the deck, Al notices that, entangled in a cargo net hanging out of a hole in the side of the ship, are some green coloured canisters. Al shouts “What Ho Chaps! Take a look outside that hole in the engine room wall, it might be what you are looking for.”
Nieve

Nieve (Ambrose01) moved 
Obstacle
The Engine Room
Strength
Levitate
strong outcomeAmbrose01 won control of the story by completing this challenge with a strong outcome.
Nieve leans out through the hole in the engine room wall. Clasping the cargo net, it begins to float upwards. Now that it is easy to maneuvor, Nieve begins to load the lift gas and refill the balloon.
Let’s see you do that Nazdeen.
Nieve has self esteem issues.
The narrator ended the scene 

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