The Forgotten Axe

I’ve been playing in the Storium beta for the past week, and it has been a lot of fun. I recommend checking it out yourself to see if it is something that interests you, but in a nutshell: Storium is a platform for collaborative writing roleplay in the style of free-form forums. It brings a system of sorts to the table revolving around the idea of character assets and narrative control, so everything isn’t totally willy-nilly.

The first story I joined is Requiem, which is a fairly straightforward cyberpunk murder mystery. My character, Lukasz Zielinski, is a former reporter who used to go deep and attack corporations with his exposés, but of course that cost him. He woke up to the sound of alarms and a sprinkler system in a warehouse with four other people, one of whom had an axe right through her chest. Now the survivors are attempting to lay low, but also figure out what happened to this pink-haired girl and (hopefully) themselves as well.

One of the neat things about Storium is that the narrator can create assets the players are welcome to take and use. These can be physical objects—Lukasz is currently carrying the fire axe that had killed the pink-haired girl—but they also represent things like goals and memories.

Players have a lot of agency over the plot for better or worse. The narrator establishes scenes and puts forth challenges. Players “bid” their Strengths and Weaknesses toward positive or negative outcomes, and Assets, Goals, and Subplots move challenges toward a conclusion but do not weight the positive or negative result. The last player to play a card and complete the challenge gets control, and it is expected you write in a result that coincides with the good or bad nature of what happened. For example, I used my wild card for Strength (each player has a wild card for Strength and Weakness they can use to create things on the fly) to make one called “Questionable Contacts”. Since I won the challenge, I went ahead and narrated who the character is. The other players and the narrator have since incorporated her into the storyline.

What About That Axe?

Fragment: The AxeRight! I mentioned my character had a fire axe. Well, the narrator included a card in a later scene entitled “Fragment: The Axe”. It is an Asset representing a memory of the axe, specifically a character remembering seeing it somewhere before everything went south and the girl with the pink-hair was killed.

Nobody picked it up. For two whole scenes. The narrator simply didn’t include it in the third scene as an available option.

I think that’s great. The option to pursue such a plot thread was available, but none of the players chose to take it. We all had different plans in mind. So, while the axe is important as a murder weapon, its importance has otherwise been lessened in the interest of other things. It’s dynamic, and definitely one of the things I like so far about Storium’s system.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a murder to solve.

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