October 6, 2003

Game Wish 67: Storytelling

Ginger's WISH this week:

How do you tell stories in your games? Are there character stories, overarching stories, and/or other kinds of stories? Could you tell a coherent story from games you�ve GMed or played in? Does it matter to you? Why or why not?

Robert Heinlein said that while we all know what the "oldest profession" is, the "second oldest profession" is the teller of tales.

I don't think I fall into the GNS format very well, or at least I can't speak intelligently to it. But are there stories in my games? You betcha!

On one level, and slicing the multi-layered (multidimensional!) Strange Bedfellows is the story of Valerian, and his struggles to stop the Omphalos from doing to the Amber universe what happened to his own of Crimson. Although this was and is the major overarching story of the game, it is far from the only one.

More of a theme than anything, but lost, missing and new scions of Amber returning to the fold is another major story. This covers people few knew before was an Amberite, like Bhangbadea or Jayson, people like Krysta, who have left long ago and only now came back, and others. This is much more the personal stories of these characters, as they interact with Amber, and vice versa.

And that is to say nothing of the stories of Chaosians and Chaos, and the effects of the personal stories that characters have had on the game at large. SB would definitely be a long novel or a "fat fantasy series" if it was all written out that way.

It was mentioned on that infamous GM review that I am character oriented, sometimes to a fault. I *want* characters to tell their stories, to learn and grow, and interact with a complex universe.

As far as my own characters, they have stories to tell, too. Marcus' story seems to revolve around his growth and change in Amber now that he and the rest of his kin have returned after the War. While, of course, Bridgette's metaplot plays out as a foil. Cadmus is searching for who he is...from where he really came from, as a guide as to where to go, what to see.

And then there are my most recent creations, Iolaus and Delwin from A Grand Affair. Yes, its a game by design focused on, um, prurient interests, but my character design is primary, and such considerations are secondary. I told Ginger flat out that Iolaus doesn't seem well designed to be "picked up" so to speak. And that's all right, if Iolaus is the only celibate character for the duration of the Affair, that's fine as long as he feels he is making progress on his own goals and plans.

Now, Delwin is a slightly different fish, but he and Sand have their own plans and goals which I am not going to reveal here. But like Iolaus, he has his own personal story thread to play out against the background, and in the warp and weft of TGA.

So, in summary I do like to provide stories and space for stories on the part of my players, and my characters usually have a personal story of their own that I am exploring through, in contrast to, and in harmony with the game and milieu in which they find themselves.

Posted by Jvstin at October 6, 2003 2:37 PM