Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sitting Down to Your Second Game

Yesterday, I wrote about using warm-up games to weave creation myths that would create characters. This gives me a start on how to set up a campaign—but what about your second game? Or third? What do you do when you want to play a long-term game that unfolds over several sessions, and you've already created your map?

Each game session exists in a particular storyjam—so each game has those three phases of the storyjammer's journey. Every time we sit down to a new game session, we come fresh from our ordinary, daily concerns—the traffic on the way, getting the pizza order, the day at work perhaps, whatever we do before the game that defines our ordinary, daily life. We don't come to the table already in story space, so beyond the journey of our characters through the arc of the story, we also have to attend to the journey of our attention and state of mind. Just like good physical exercise, good storyjamming requires some warming up.

Last time, I wrote about using improv theater games to warm up and create characters, but what about your second, third, fourth and fifth games, where you already have characters, but still need some good warm-ups?
  • At the beginning of the game, a recap of what happened before often helps. Different people remember different parts of the story, so usually the recap comes from everyone throwing out what they remember. Why not turn this activity into a round of "Yes, and"?
  • For character-driven story, a reminder of what the characters act and look like plays an important role, so using "See Me" at the beginning of each session could prove useful.
  • Because feral creation stories don't end, but set a pattern for a process we continue throughout our lives, I like the idea of creation stories setting patterns that the game's story retraces in new ways. So, retelling the creation story, at least in part, at the beginning of each session seems to make sense with that. Perhaps "Color/Advance" could work well with a retelling of the creation of the places the characters call home. With different calls for "Color" and "Advance", each telling will emphasize different aspects—just like a traditional storyteller adapts to each audience and context.


Willem said...

DOOOD! I have a great little game that I've mentioned before on my blog (long long ago), that I think would work perfect here:

Introductions! Two options I see;

1st: "See Me" version, where one by one people introduce the player's character, what he looks like, his exploits, his questionable future.

2nd: True introductions version, where another player really introduces well and with honor someone else's character; where they come from, what they've accomplished, their fame and relationships. Like the best man's toast at a wedding, you know?

Jason Godesky said...

Option #2 sounds to me like pure genius. After all, few things hit the stereotype of the boring gamer more than talking about your character—but when someone else talks about how much awesome your character brings, and you need to do the same for someone else, now you've got the whole "I'm going to make you awesome" angle. Now you've got a game where your friends talk about how much they like you—brilliant!