Storyjamming with Free Indie Story-games

With all this talk of storyjamming, where does a person start?

You can go to the Forge for the fundaments of indie game design, to the Story-Games website for further conversations and an extensive wiki on all the different indie games.

You can also try any of the many free downloadable indie games, offered as gifts to the indie story-game community, from folks in the indie game community. Nice, huh?

Just a not-so-random few to get you started:

Ganakogok – “You belong to the Nitu people, who have lived upon the mountainous ice-island of Ganakagok from time beyond memory, in a night-shrouded world where the Stars are gods. You are a hunter, or a shaman, or a chieftain as you choose, and you have seen the truth: things are changing. The dawn is coming to a world that has never known the Sun.” Check out the wiki page.

Bone White, Blood Red – “Roleplaying the Pueblo Revolt of 1680…from a native point of view.” The game’s blog here.

The Pool – A story-game with very few rules, and a light structure, and leaves it totally up to you where and when and about whom your stories concern. This probably would go well with an Oracle (I’ll talk more about Oracles soon, but for now, I’ll say that they offer up story ideas, like a deck of tarot cards). The wiki page.

Muse, the role-playing game – Another story-game with very few rules, and a light structure. An interesting variation on what you can do with collaborative story-telling.

The Shadow of Yesterday – Getting a little more pulp science-fantasy, pirates, swords, and sorcery! A bit more complex, too.

Thanks to all the hard working designers who contributed their creative sweat to make these games.

Why do we ask Lady Luck for her Opinion?

You’ll notice in these games that dice, cards, or the flip of a coin often seem to enter into guiding the story. You can find story-games that do not use the influence of fortune and ‘random chance’, definitely. Improv games themselves don’t use it. I see these different games as serving different purposes.

Improv/intuition games focusedly create one-mindedness, and get you to the place of ‘ready to make story’. You can use them too to script collaboratively ‘discovered’ plays and performances.

But it takes little searching to discover stories about the animist love of gambling and games of chance, and I have my own explanation for this: a tossed coin, a flipped card, and a rolled bone (or dice), bring in the invisible hands of other-than-humans. It keeps us ready for directions the story may need to take, that we could have never known, that we even may not want them to go. But if we don’t go there, we’ll just tell the same old story.

I see plenty of room for both ways though: stories told with, and without the help of Lady Luck will both feed life. I would neglect neither.

Written by Willem