Daily Illuminator

April 17, 2014: Crowdfunding Focus: Storium

[Image]I've been participating in the alpha (and now beta) playtest of something really, really hot.

It's called Storium, and it's on Kickstarter now. It's a medium for roleplaying online that seeks to combine elements of fiction writing, social media, and tabletop RPGs into something that isn't quite like any of those things, but far more than the sum of its parts.

I met Stephen Hood, the man at the center of Storium's swirling vortex, at Origins last year. He pitched his brainchild to me with confidence and verve. He was a gamer when he was a kid, got into a tech career, stopped having time for it, and was burdened with the perception that a lot of people could benefit from the collaboration and creativity that RPGs offered, but didn't really have a way to integrate it into their lives. So he set out to bring the best parts of gaming to them, across a medium that was already integrated into their lives.

Storium is the result, and it's addictive and compelling. It's similar to play-by-post, which makes it low impact for folks with busy schedules, but it uses RPG-like tools to help focus what individual scenes are about and create suspenseful, varied outcomes. You use a deck of custom cards (a world, in Storium terms) that contains character strengths, weaknesses, important locations, assets, goals, and other touchstones to help build the story as you go. The user interface is snappy even in its beta format, so you know what's going on and what challenges are available for characters to address. You can view and browse available games, so you can connect with other users or just read the stuff that other players are doing. There are a few games that I'm regularly tuning into, just like I would for a favorite TV show.

This is the kind of innovation the hobby needs to carry it forward - collaborative storytelling that anybody can do anywhere, at any time. I'm jazzed to be a part of Storium's early development. In fact, I've asked them to let me create an official world for it, a Heroes meets The Shield police drama world called Blue Gene, where a special task force of cops is called upon to thwart the efforts of criminals who use genetic resequencing to cheat at life. They agreed, made it part of a stretch goal, and it funded!

They're lining up contributions from some incredible authors and designers. Help them out if you can, and come join the fun.

-- Leonard Balsera

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