Storytelling: Setting the Scene (Part Two) – Civilians

So you’ve made a fantasy city for your characters to live in, to work in or to otherwise mess around in. It’s your story, so your characters can get around a city however they like, right? Well, actually, a city really isn’t a city until we have the actual lives of people, typically simple people, who make the city great. They’re not heroes, but they’re local heroes – They’re your tavern keeps, your shop assistants, your doctors and nurses. They’re… Incidental people – And they leave a massive mark on your story.

So you’ve made a fantasy city for your characters to live in, to work in or to otherwise mess around in. It’s your story, so your characters can get around a city however they like, right? Well, actually, a city really isn’t a city until we have the actual lives of people, typically simple people, who make the city great. They’re not heroes, but they’re local heroes – They’re your tavern keeps, your shop assistants, your doctors and nurses. They’re… Incidental people – And they leave a massive mark on your story.

Continue reading “Storytelling: Setting the Scene (Part Two) – Civilians”

Storytelling: Setting The Scene (Part One) – City Life

In Storytelling, one of the most important aspects to draw attention to is the landscape of the world you’re transporting your readers too. Often, a new writer will start by writing about lush landscapes and gorgeous meadows. This is all well and dandy, so long as there’s a reason why everything is so perfect. However, today we won’t be looking at meadows; instead, we’re going to pump the city smog into your writing.

In Storytelling, one of the most important aspects to draw attention to is the landscape of the world you’re transporting your readers too. Often, a new writer will start by writing about lush landscapes and gorgeous meadows. This is all well and dandy, so long as there’s a reason why everything is so perfect. However, today we won’t be looking at meadows; instead, we’re going to pump the city smog into your writing.

Continue reading “Storytelling: Setting The Scene (Part One) – City Life”

Storytelling: The Hero Fights The Monster

As an avid reader, some of my favourite stories involve underdogs; someone we want to root for, because we feel for their plight. We don’t necessarily want them to become a hero, but if they do then we want them to be the best hero they can be. We don’t want them to immediately win – And no hero, no matter how great, should immediately win unless it’s a parody. Following on from Creating The Monster from a few weeks back, this is how you can have the Hero Fight The Monster.

As an avid reader, some of my favourite stories involve underdogs; someone we want to root for, because we feel for their plight. We don’t necessarily want them to become a hero, but if they do then we want them to be the best hero they can be. We don’t want them to immediately win – And no hero, no matter how great, should immediately win unless it’s a parody. Following on from Creating The Monster from a few weeks back, this is how you can have the Hero Fight The Monster.

Continue reading “Storytelling: The Hero Fights The Monster”

Storytelling: Creating a Monster

Monster is a word that is often left for the goliaths and the behemoths; a word that can incite fear in even the bravest of soul. But, whether or not you believe in monsters, in storytelling, a monster can be more than just a beast. It can be something very human indeed – and in fact, in this article, I’m going to look at a fantastic story being told in the realm of professional wrestling right now: Braun Strowman. Yes, there will be talk of wrestling, but we’ll focus this article on the storytelling aspect behind it. Trust me – There’s a lot we can learn here.

Monster is a word that is often left for the goliaths and the behemoths; a word that can incite fear in even the bravest of soul. But, whether or not you believe in monsters, in storytelling, a monster can be more than just a beast. It can be something very human indeed – and in fact, in this article, I’m going to look at a fantastic story being told in the realm of professional wrestling right now: Braun Strowman. Yes, there will be talk of wrestling, but we’ll focus this article on the storytelling aspect behind it. Trust me – There’s a lot we can learn here.

Continue reading “Storytelling: Creating a Monster”

Dixit Odyssey

Dixit

Dixit is a simple game which features wonderful little bunny rabbits as the characters that represent you, the player.

As you hop and jump through a magical dream-world like state, your goal in this beautiful game is to get to the number 30. Why 30? I dunno, something to do with you getting 30 points and winning the game or something.

This was the worst thing we could do to this sweet, innocent game.
This was the worst thing we could do to this sweet, innocent game. Don’t judge us. We were possibly a little bit drunk.

It’s a deceptively simple and all around adorable game. Each player is given 6 cards, each of which have nice large illustrations on them. The purpose of the game is to tell a story or to describe your picture in a way that some people get it, but not everyone. Once you’ve described your card, you place it face down around the board and the other players put down a card that they feel is similar to what you said. These get shuffled up, the story is generally repeated and then the cards are placed face up so people can see the cards around the board. Once all is said and done, the players must then decide which card was the story tellers card.

The game can be played between 3 to 12 players, but I’d say it’s recommended with at least 6 players. If you have more than that, you are required to vote for 2 cards, yet if you have 6 – You have a bigger range of cards to choose from and you basically have a 1 in 6 chance of getting the answer right. In a game with just 3 people, it’s quite easy to guess which card belongs to the story teller, but this is down to the creativity of the story teller in general.

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I first played my new set of Dixit Odyssey in our recent Taunton meetup. We were playing this game after a good number of us had consumed a reasonable amount of alcohol, which really made some of our descriptions of our cards quite warped in a fun and friendly way. The most amazing thing is, we played this game right after we had played Cards Against Humanity. As such, we expected we’d have made all of the lovely pictures out to be a lot worse than what they are – but we didn’t. Dixit truly is a beautiful game which allows people to be creative without the need of being obscene.

Each player is given a voting card, which has 12 holes in it. Players then also get either 1 voting peg (for up to 6 players) or 2 voting pegs (between 6 to 12 players). Scoring is quite simple too: If some (but not all) of the players guess the storytellers card correctly: the story teller gets 3 points. If everyone guesses the storytellers card correctly, then everyone except for the storyteller gets 2 points. If no one guesses the storytellers card correctly, then again everyone except for the storyteller gets 2 points. Players also score an additional 1 point for each other player that voted for their card, rather than the storytellers.

Thanks to BoardGameGeek.com
Credit goes to BoardGameGeek.com

It’s simple, it’s cute and it’s really not too expensive brand new if you buy it from Amazon or eBay.

If you’ve played the standard Dixit before, then Odyssey might be somewhat disappointing to you, as it is basically the exact same game. There are a few basic variations to the rules, which is easily replicated over to the standard Dixit game. The only thing that isn’t so easy is the fact it has 12 voting cards unlike the normal Dixit. But with the amount of cards you get in Odyssey, you will quickly run through them all and start reusing cards. It might be worth investing in the expansions, but these can go for an extra £10-£15 a piece!

Have you ever played Dixit before or Dixit Odyssey? What did you think of the rather dream-like qualities of the game? Have you ever been able to make one of the most magically innocent games into something warped!? If so, shame on you – but tell us your stories below!

Kickstarter Highlight – Rogues to Riches

Do you like rogues?

Do you like riches?

Would you like to be going from rogues to riches?

Look no further, we’re back once more with another inexplicably imaginative Kickstarter Highlight.

Kickstarter Highlight

 

Rogues to Riches – a Game for the Criminally Imaginative

What is it?

With this Kickstarter campaign launched by Sam Fraser, Rogues to Riches is a storytelling card game for a small group of 3 to 5 players, where you have to basically create a story as to how you were able to steal the riches. Who owns these riches? Your opposing players do, of course – But they also have Trap cards!

I’m sorry, I really couldn’t resist explaining to the world that this game contains trap cards.

To overcome the trap cards, you have gear cards and you have to devise a believable plan as to how you’d get into your opponents base and how you’d defeat the Trap cards. Furthermore, the person who is being stolen from has to decide how to defend their lair with their Trap card.

The game is won by logic being dictated by the remaining players, who vote up or vote down the plans.

It’s a very simple game logic, which is basically a stripped back storytelling game, not giving you quite as much freedom as some games of this type, but for good reason. There are limitations to what you can do: But it’s your imagination that’ll see you through.

Look at these wonderful, criminal masterminds just having a right old jolly together!

 

How much do they need?

They are asking for $16,500 Canadian Dollars. At the time of writing, they are up to $6,883 with 27 days to go, pretty impressive if you ask me.

They have actually made a lovely graphic showing what it is they need the money for, which is broken down below!

Well, that’s a good enough breakdown!

Inside of the box you’ll receive:

– 56 Gear Cards,
– 48 Trap Cards,
– 22 Riches Cards,
– 12 Lairs,
– Blank gear & trap cards- 2 dice

 

What do backers get?

  • Pledge $1 or more

    Thank You Email and Downloadable Rogues to Riches lite – You’ll get a link to download a Print and Play (PNP) version of Rogues to Riches. You’ll be able to check out the artwork and the gameplay. It will have fewer cards and Lairs than the manufactured version, but it will be enough to play at least a few games.

    Estimated delivery: Sep 2014
    Pledge $10 or more

    Signed Card – I’ll send you a Rogues to Riches card in the mail, signed by me and artist Julianne Harnish. Your card might be one that’s not available in the PNP version. You can choose a Trap, Gear, or Riches card. Includes PNP files.

    Estimated delivery: Oct 2014

    Pledge $43 or more

    Game reward tier – One pristine copy of Rogues to Riches. May it brighten your days. Canada, the US, and Western Europe only. Includes PNP files.

    Estimated delivery: Jun 2015
    Some of the awesome gear cards you can play. I especially need me a Beast of Burden!

There we have it then, for just $1, you can get a downloadable version of the game! Excellent, huh? Plus it’s an extra $1 towards the official release of this game. You can’t beat that for value, right?

What do you think of the concept behind a storytelling card game? I’ve played one before at Kitacon and it was absolutely incredible – So this to me is an exciting game and yes: I don’t mind being criminally inventive just for the sake of a card game!

So, what do you all think of this weeks Kickstarter Highlight? Come join us again next week and as always, please do keep talking with your comments in the comments section below!

Blog-versation: Storytelling in Video Games

Blog-versation logo

Behind the scenes, we (Joel and Tim) always talk about our various fandoms, our nerdy passions, and what we want to write about next.

Recently we have been discussing gaming in general, what it is that brings us to gaming and what side of gaming we stand by the most. Whilst Joel has been talking about his experiences with tabletop gaming, Tim discusses his passion for video games.

Our first blog-versation will focus on storytelling in gaming. First up, we have Tim who will explain what it is he loves about storytelling in video games.

 


 

Storytelling in Video Games

For the longest of time, I have been fascinated with video games. I guess I found my fixation for the medium when I was a child, perhaps back when I was playing games such as Superfrog, Putty and Zool on my Amiga 500. The problem for me was that storytelling on these games in particular wasn’t very deep. You couldn’t have a meaningful story, you just played something that was fun.

There’s nothing wrong with this, but in enters Valhalla and the Lord of InfinityValhalla is a puzzle-solving adventure game with some amazing voice work for its time. Voice work aside, this game was a wonderful telling of a simple story. You play as “The Prince” who is looking to return to his family home of Valhalla and avenge the death of his father, who fell to his brother; The Lord of Infinity.

Playing through the game you find books and letters, all of which develop the story. It told a story that I wanted to progress through and it was simple enough for anyone to follow; even my young mind at the time. Check out Valhalla, as it’s now available on Windows for free might I add?

 

Final Fantasy shares its story

Final Fantasy IX

Moving forward some years, we managed to get ourselves the PlayStation. It was a family console, but I found myself on it more than anyone else. One day with my own pocket money, I bought a game called Final Fantasy IX. This game to me showed the true depth a video game could go to.

Some of the cinematics told such huge stories without ever saying a word. From our hero Zidane chasing the princess trying to rescue her, to the destructive weapons that are the Black Waltzes, the cinematics are stunning and were a breath of fresh air at the time of release. Final Fantasy IX also brought about side-quests and mini-games in a way that they didn’t feel like they took away from the game completely; Be it Quinna catching frogs, or the Chocographs which you collect throughout the game, everything felt like it had a purpose. It was a cohesive story, with relevant side-quests.

From a long list of characters who are built over time, to full scale cinematics; This game had everything! Fantastic music, a fantastically complex story involving genomes who were sent to destroy Gaia, sci-fi themed with a nice nod to its original fantasy routes. To me, this game truly had everything. It got me thinking though… “What more can we get out of a game?”

Enter Morrowind

Morrowind

Morrowind was the game that truly changed my concept of video games and storytelling. The story itself wasn’t the only story within this game, but there were all of these sub-stories and side-quests. You could join factions, you could interact with NPCs in ways that you couldn’t in games such as Final Fantasy IX.

You were able to forge your own destiny, follow your own story and to this day I am proud to announce I have still not finished every mission in this game. This game is a masterpiece of storytelling and it does so with a simple mechanic: By giving stories and quests for you to follow, but giving you a few ways to go about it. You didn’t have to be the good guy, you could be the bad guy. Ultimately, you followed the linear story, but you could go about it however you wanted to.

I am fully aware this isn’t the first game to have done it, but Morrowind was the first game to truly make me understand the story complexity that video games could portray.

Why I think video games are a great medium for storytelling

Video games allow you to play through another persons imagination; but as time has passed us by, the technology underlying video games have improved immensely. In such a short amount of time, we’ve come such a long way! We’ve come from the humble game of Pong to games with great story; Games such as ValhallaFinal Fantasy IX and Morrowind.

Continue?9876543210 is an incredible story through the "unlife" of a fallen video game character.
Continue?9876543210 is an incredible story about what happens to a fallen video game character.

Video games are a kind of interactive visual story that allows you to traverse through a uniquely crafted world. You can see and usually hear all of the goings on, you are there. You are in the story and you are able to escape the realism of the world we live in.

Most importantly: You can explore a world, as vast as the developer imagines. So long as technology keeps progressing the way it has been, we should see bigger and more impressive worlds. I can’t wait to see the future of storytelling in video games.

 


 

Join us again next week for the views of Joel on storytelling in gaming. If you have any views on the above, why not join in this blog-versation by commenting below?

DMing 101- Scenes

In DMing 101 I’ll be giving generalized advice on how to run a tabletop role-playing game. The articles will not presume any knowledge, except being able to read. And maybe knowing what dice are. And paper. And a computer. Maybe some other stuff. I’ll also presume that you can remember that DM means Dungeon Master. Some people call it a Game Master or GM, but I don’t. Suck it up.

There are a few quick start guides on how to DM out there, but DMing 101 will offer a fairly easy set of tips that a novice can follow to make his/her games something truly memorable.

Continue reading “DMing 101- Scenes”

DMing 101

In DMing 101 I’ll be giving generalized advice on how to run a tabletop roleplaying game. The articles will not presume any knowledge, except being able to read. And maybe knowing what dice are. And paper. And a computer. Maybe some other stuff. I’ll also presume that you can remember that DM means Dungeon Master. Some people call it a Game Master or GM, but I don’t. Suck it up. There are a few quick start guides on how to DM out there, but DMing 101 will offer a fairly easy set of tips that a novice can follow to make his/her games something truly memorable. Continue reading “DMing 101”