A-Story-Worth-Telling, and the use of Oracles

As I mentioned here (in the description of the free indie game ‘the Pool’), I wanted to explain the purpose of Oracles.

Indie-gamers use them sometimes to seed stories, to provide the essential elements of Situation, that will create and drive a story worth telling.

Really, it always comes down to that for me: a story worth telling. I define that as one which moves me emotionally, inspires me creatively, and which influences my choices in everyday life (essentially, it gives me food for thought – stuff I can’t digest right away, but need to ruminate on, and therefore make me grow as a person).

I realize more and more, few people play role-playing games for this purpose. Even fewer of these people who play to create Story, also play purposely to work and improve their storytelling skills, by sharing the same vivid waking dream.

To share the same vivid waking dream, means to achieve group one-mindedness, to immerse oneselves in the sensory world of one’s mind’s eye (and to do this, you practice by immersing yourself in the sensory world of the every-day ‘real world’). This involves skill-building and some real work!

Thus why I coined the term Storyjamming, and why it differs fundamentally from ‘vanilla’ role-playing. The two endeavors do overlap, however, and in that overlap we’ll continue to learn from each other, I think. Certainly I wouldn’t have gotten even this far without them!

To make it clear:

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Vincent Baker, creator of the game In A Wicked Age, the game my storyband currently plays, has a great breakdown of how one creates a-story-worth-telling, by focusing on the creation of Situation.

Essentially, he defines Situation as this:

Dynamic interaction between specific characters and small-scale setting elements; Situations are divided into scenes.

Dynamic interaction means situations (small ‘s’) that cannot remain the same, that must resolve one way or another, by the nature of the differing interests of the characters involved.

Specific characters means defined roles with conflicting interests.

Small-scale setting elements means objects, locations, groups, and points of contention.

Scenes mean segments of story, just like you’d see in any Shakespeare play, folktale, TV show, movie; specifically, action between and within characters in discrete locations.

To see this in action, check out what I wrote about how one of our storyjam-sessions went.

Your story-game rules provide a structure that drives the movement of the characters across the different locations, acting against each other (and within themselves), and with the help of Lady Luck, brings the hand of other-than-humans to turn the storyline in unexpected and unlooked-for directions.

Cont’d in Part II…

Written by Willem