The Storyteller’s Art: Reviews and Tips for Narrative-Driven Games
10 June 2023
White Wolf Distributing’s Vampire: The Requiem is the new king of storytelling games, succeeding Vampire: The Vampire Series. The Magic Trick.
For a very long time, Vampire in its different releases has been one of the best paper-based pretending game (RPG)properties, second just to the most widely used language of the side interest, Prisons and Mythical serpents. With its dramatic, contemporary gothic style and emphasis on narrative rather than game mechanics, vampire is perhaps best known for luring a large number of new players into the role-playing game community. One might think that a storytelling game is just any White Wolf role-playing game because the company almost exclusively uses the term “storytelling game” in its marketing, but this is not entirely accurate. “Storytelling System” is claimed to be a trademark of White Wolf Publishing, Inc.
Using our definitions in this article, many other pen-and-paper RPGs that could also be considered storytelling games do not advertise or label themselves as such. In fact, most do not. An entire subset of “free,” little press RPGs likewise center around story over recreation and power progression, like Canines in the Grape plantation and My Existence With Expert, however these games keep away from the narrating game mark, probably to limit any association with White Wolf’s apparent responsibility for term. These small-press RPGs have, to some extent, the same level of “indie cred” as independent films in relation to studio films. Just like in movies, subject matter and funding frequently make the difference between the two. Even though only White Wolf games are currently referred to as storytelling games, any role-playing game that places the same emphasis on and relies on story could be considered one. Vampire: “Play the monster” and “explore morality through the metaphor of vampirism” are the game’s descriptions of itself as a contemporary gothic storytelling game.
But what exactly is a game of storytelling? How can games tell stories? Although a storytelling game appears to be similar to a type of role-playing game, this comparison is, at best, inadequate. We must first comprehend the baffling nature of storytelling games’ identities before we can identify them. What distinguishes a storytelling game from an RPG and what distinguishes storytelling from a game?
Greg Costikyan, maker of the original pretending game Distrustfulness and a productive essayist on various game plan points, has depicted stories and games as “direct opposites” (Costikyan 2000). “There’s a direct, immediate conflict between the demands of a story and the demands of a game,” he hypothesizes in his article titled “Where Stories End and Games Begin.” How is a storytelling game played, if this is true?
The argument that games and stories shouldn’t mix is not new. Costikyan and other ludologists have fought for years to separate the two. He wrote in 1994:
Story is mentioned repeatedly; literature that is interactive; using roleplay to tell a story. Designers’ and gamers’ imaginations are so ensnared by the idea that games have something to do with stories that it probably cannot be eradicated. At the very least, it ought to be challenged.
Vampire was just three years of age when Costikyan composed this test to the possibility that games have “something to do with stories,” however its prevalence kept on developing all through the nineties, as did the fame of other story-escalated games, for example, “intelligent films” using full-movement video and such unmistakable properties as Star Trip and The X-Records. However, Costikyan’s unwavering desire to separate games from stories persisted. In 2000, exactly the same language shows up in his article “Where Stories End and Games Start,” for Game Designer magazine. The only thing that changed was the punctuation. However, despite the fact that it “probably can’t be expunged,” Costikyan continues to challenge the idea that stories and games go hand in hand. He suggests that they ought to be. The third edition of Vampire was out.
We will challenge Costikyan’s assertion that games are not a storytelling medium in order to comprehend how storytelling games reconcile the theoretically contradictory relationship between their two halves, which are the story and the game.
The Self-Image of Storytelling Games Before we look at their two halves, let’s take a look at their language and history. In the first edition of Vampire: The First Blood, published in 1991, the idea that role-playing games and storytelling games are separate entities was presented. The Deception:
- In addition to being a storytelling game, Vampire is also a role-playing game. In addition to telling stories, you also act in them. A form of interactive storytelling is role-playing. 20)
- This definition – fifteen years of age, presently – is obsolete. It implies that an RPG is one in which the stories are acted out, while a storytelling game is one in which players narrate stories. Regardless of whether that were exact in 1991, it’s not the way in which the games are arranged at this point.
- The term “RPG” refers to video games in which players take control of individual characters in the game world and help them develop their traits and abilities over the course of play. Today, there are more computer- and console-based RPG players than there are pen-and-paper players.
- The act or role-playing part is no longer even necessary for the label to be used today. In addition, the majority of electronic role-playing games, like Knights of the Old Republic, have very little interactive storytelling and only a few decision points. The player is in charge of her character’s growth but not the story. In a similar vein, despite the fact that the player is in command of a single character, she is not acting through the story as a feature of the gameplay. Instead, she is purchasing equipment for him and selecting and advancing his traits.