Several months ago, I was invited to become one of the early play-testers on the new online storytelling game, Storium. For those of you not familiar with it, Storium is a unique type of game that incorporates the concepts of online collaborative writing and roleplaying with a virtual card game. The basic idea is that one player serves as the “narrator” and writes out scenes in a story, then presents “challenges” that the players need to overcome. The players use their virtual cards to make moves and they write the continuation of the scene from their character’s point of view based on the results of the cards. So, for example, the narrator could play a “werewolf” card and describe in as much detail as they like the way the feral beast is attacking. The player could then play a “silver bullet” card and write a detailed description of their character struggling against the werewolf until they can get a shot off.
Storium recently had a very successful Kickstarter that raised the funds the designers need to expand the game with new settings and additional features. But even while the game remains in its Beta version, I had the chance to participate in some games where I created some unique and fun characters.
I look at a game like Storium the same way I look at the collaborative writing sites I used to play on: as practice for my writing. As I’ve mentioned on the blog before, three of my main characters, Gabby Palladino, Tock Zipporah, and Minori Tsujino, were all originally developed in short stories on collaborative writing sites. I find these sites a useful way to develop a character’s personality, history, and abilities. Then, once I have a strong understanding of who the character is, I can reboot them and incorporate them into the larger stories.
While playing on Storium, I developed two characters. One was Jaden Farrell, a telepath with memory problems because of the way other people’s thoughts and memories drown out her own. The other was Aeldra Dekara, a cybernetically enhanced woman with druidic magic and a body made from a mixture of human, plant, and machine components (along with a dash of badassery). They were both a lot of fun to write, and I realized early on in the game that I would want to develop them further.
I’ve recently been working on writing the first draft of Book Five in my series, and I’m up to 36,000 words and running strong (I’m actually a bit behind schedule, but I still plan to have the draft finished before the end of July). I ended up with some interesting ideas today that made me realize a way I could reboot Aeldra and incorporate her into the current story. It worked out pretty perfectly, since she fills a role in the story that is badly needed. I can’t go into detail because SPOILERS, but suffice to say she’ll make an interesting addition to the team. Some adjustments to the character were necessary, of course, since the Storium game I was playing was a futuristic cyberpunk game and Arcana Revived is a modern urban fantasy setting. But the core of the character–her heart, her personality, and her attitude–remain true to the original.
Games can be a lot more than just a recreational activity. Whether it be a writing-based game like Storium, a roleplaying game like Dungeons & Dragons, or a video game, there’s plenty of ways games can inspire material that can be incorporated into a novel. My own creative writing first got started when I used to write stories based on my D&D games. I’m sure this won’t be the last time I take something out of a game and turn it into something much larger.