Role-playing games and Storyjams, Figure 2a


Fun with Venn diagrams…I thought I’d throw out more ideas than before.

What point do I want to make with this? Illuminating the richness that awaits in storyjamming! To wit:

Sensory immersion – requires you learn to tune-up your everyday senses, so that you have a rich reservoir from which to draw.

One-mindedness – requires you to learn ‘listen and respond’ skills, to fully give up your ego for the benefit of the story, much like animal tracking requires you to do the same to earn the gift of the animal’s life (or, when not hunting, a glimpse of a private moment).

Stories-worth-telling – stories that have emotional weight, creative insight, and make us reflect on our lives. For more on this, you might check out another Vincent Baker piece, Creating Theme. I’d also add, as an animist, stories of my place, of my Land, and my local other-than-human family.

“just enough rules” – rules provided not to win, or to compete on the level of who understands the rules better, but rather just sufficient rules to give us enough to drive a story, and tell us what to do next. Maybe they also enable us to see things from a different point of view, that we haven’t yet experienced…hence Jason’s goal with the Fifth World, to make a set of rules that give the players a peek into the world of relationships that animists experience.

Fully collaborative – no authority figure (known in conventional role-playing games as the GameMaster or DungeonMaster), but only (at the most) a facilitator of the story-game experience.

Follow what the dream says – instead of ‘inventing’ or ‘making up’, we acknowledge that a common pool of vivid dream reality sits waiting in the middle of the storyjam, and always we go there to (often imperfectly, but as best we can) experience it, and bring it back in our bodies, manifesting in word, gesture, expression. This explains admonitions for improv and storyjamming such as ‘play the obvious’, ‘play the average’, and even ‘play boring!’. Those, in essence, tell us to play naturally, which means to dip from the pool of shared dream, waiting for us in a rich vivid other-reality, that wants us to enact its story. We don’t have to become ‘inventive’ or ‘clever’ (and if we do, we ruin it!) – we just have to go to that vivid dream-place, and bring it back as best we can.

The overlap in the diagram shows that people experience these things even in conventional role-playing, and if you listen to their stories sometimes you’ll hear the hush, mystery, and awe conferred to the rare experience of a good Story and a fully immersive experience.

For Trackers, Dreamers, and Rewilders, we revere the experience, though it holds a lot less mystery and rarity for us, because we know how to get there.


Written by Willem