Thursday, 17 July 2008

The Stories of Games

In the Robin's Laws of Good Game Mastery seminar at Gencon, one of the audience posed a question, but with a preface that included the idea that telling stories is an ancient activity, having been done for millenia around the campfire. He then made the comparison to cinema, novels, television and even roleplaying games as contemporary variants on the campfire.

I like to suggest that this anonymous questioneer is not quite right with regard to roleplaying games. Cinema, novels and poems are all story telling media. A pre-written story is conveyed through one of these means to an audience which does not participate in the telling of that story. Nor do they participate in the making of that story.

The key phrase here is "story making." A roleplaying game, with several participants, is not merely story telling, it is story making. As a group the players make stories about a group of characters. Some games limit each player to a single character and delegate the rest to the GM. Other games leave it open for players to take on the roles of multiple characters. In either arrangement, the players are responsible for making the story, and not just telling it.

Having this knowledge on top of the table will help turn your dice-and-stats game into a story game.
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