Story Game
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Basic Information

A story game is sort of a sub-genre or style of RPG. They tend to be small press or independantly published, so for example you could a lot of them for sale at Indie Press Revolution.[1] What makes a story game different from an RPG is usually philosophy and the distribution of mechanical power. Many story games don't have a GM, or if they do they give the other players a bigger share of the narrative and world-building power than in a standard RPG, so the GM is just another player with assymetrical goals. Others use a GM, but are designed to be run off-the-cuff and improvisationally with little or no GM prep.1In some story games, the players play multiple characters, or share communal control over some minor characters, or don't even play a character at all. Some story games will use very familiar mechanics and concepts from "normal" RPGs, and others are radically different activities where you're building a map or a timeline instead of acting. Most story games tend to be rules-light, and/or just shorter than most traditional RPG corebooks, so they're easy to learn and fast-playing.

Here's a list of a few story games this arcanist has played or read. There's plenty more out there if you dig around the web a while.

Not all story games identify themselves as such, so it can be hard deciding what belongs here and what belongs over on the campaign setting page.


1. Indie Press Revolution's list of GM-less games

Game and Story Use

  • Some Story Games are great world-building tools, or can be used to simulate large swaths of "downtime" between adventures. It can be fun to start your campaign with one, or switch to them as a way to "age" your world between quests.
    • Universalis is great for collaborative construction of a unique campaign setting or world where all the players get an equal say in details.
    • Microscope will do the same for epic generation-spanning world histories.
    • The Quiet Year will help you collaboratively build a map of your post-apocalyptic community, and fill in 1 year of recent history to get your campaign rolling.
  • Some story games could even be integrated or swapped to mid-session to use their systems for the specific scenario types that they were built to handle best, and your favorite traditional RPG for everything else.
    • Wilderness of Mirrors gets the PCs to do the heavy-lifting of scenario design, you could use a half a WoM session to collectively sketch out the next mission, then break for a week so the GM can fill in details and surprises. When you meet up again you can run the actual infiltration or heist in your usual system.
    • Hillfolk's built-in Drama System is intentionally made "plug and play" where you add it to your favorite other RPG. You can insert Hillfolk's "relationship map" into your favorite character creation system, and then swap back and forth between dramatic "talky" scenes using Hillfolk's mechanics, and exciting "procedural" scenes like fights and chases using your actiony RPG of choice.
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