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With under a week left on the Kickstarter, I wanted to go into more detail about Storium, a slick, well-constructed web-based system for moderated play-by-post storytelling gaming that I first mentioned a few days ago.

With $129,000 kicked in so far out of a $25,000 goal, it’s definitely getting funded. But unlike most Kickstarters, you can actually start using it right now—pledging at least $10 gets you access to the beta, even if you later decide to cancel the pledge.

The way it works is that you’ve got a narrator and several players, and a system of virtual cards that serve as tokens to buy influence over the outcome of the plot. The narrator sets the scene and poses "challenges," which are plot points that require a certain number of cards to resolve.

Depending on what cards the players play, the challenge can have a "strong" outcome (good things happen), a "weak" outcome (there are complications), or an "undetermined" outcome. The player who puts down the last card on the challenge gets to write out what happens next, with the narrator-defined outcome to guide him or her—unless the outcome is "undetermined" in which case the narrator writes it himself. I’ve been playing it lately, and it’s LOTS of fun.

Settings in the game, or "worlds," are defined by sets of cards that contain information about places, people, potential challenges, and the traits that make up characters. The game comes with nine generic worlds (epic fantasy, medical drama, cyberpunk, etc.), but part of the Kickstarter’s stretch goals has been to fund the creation of additional worlds, many of them written by fairly big names in gaming or writing: Keith Baker, Chuck Wendig, Ursula Vernon, Tobias Buckell, Seanan McGuire, Robin D. Laws, Jordan Weisman, etc. So far, over 40 of them have been funded. People who kick in at the $40 level will get access to all of them as they become available; people who pay less can buy the worlds they want for a few bucks each.

After launch, people will be able to create their own worlds and sell them at whatever price they deem is fair. They have also made it very clear that any content created during the game explicitly belongs to the gamer/writers who create it.

If the Kickstarter reaches $200,000, they have a stretch goal of coming out with a special edition of Storium for use in schools. I’m dubious it will get quite that far, but I can hope…and spread the word to try to help it happen. Anything that gets kids reading more is great, but something that gets kids wanting to write would be amazing. Of course, Storium will be useful enough in schools as it is now, but a more education-focused version would be even better.

In order that they can run this game as a sustainable service without having to fill the page with advertisements or do anything even less desirable, they are looking at a yearly fee of $25 for people who run a lot of games; people who kick in at the $20 level or above get the first year’s fee included for that. The ability to run or play in up to 3 games will be free without subscribing. During the beta, only people who kick in at least $10 can narrate games, but they can invite people to play in them with no kick-in needed. (People who don’t kick in can only play in, not narrate, games.)

Selected blog posts:

Hour-long video interviews with the game’s creators by:

This is a really great system, I hope it reaches its $200K goal, and I hope some folks here enjoy it as much as I have.

 
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