Storyjammers

Season 2: The Rules of Storyjamming

Storyjammers has never lived up to my hopes for a regular release schedule, but the gap since our last release (now two months ago) puts us clearly into the realm of the podfading. With my (Jason’s) attention diverted more or less wholly to The Fifth World for the remainder of this year, I don’t see this state of affairs changing anytime soon.

We haven’t decided to give up on the podcast, though. In fact, I thought Ryan Macklin made some really good points about podcasts and seasons on his blog. So, the first 18 sessions will make up season 1. In January 2011, we’ll start season 2 with the new format. We’ll go back to a discussion show, and eliminate the other segments we added later (and if you have an opinion on whether that discussion should typically last an hour or a half-hour, please let us know in a note on this post). Each season will have a theme, with 10 sessions exploring that theme. In season 2, we’ll look at “The Rules of Storyjamming,” with sessions like “Against Cleverness” and “Bending (and Breaking) the Rules.”


Season 1, Session 18

Cultures of Play

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Sure, lots of people say they play Dungeons & Dragons, but does that mean they’ve all played the same game? Local traditions and cultures of play matter at least as much as the rules-as-written, and maybe even more. The game only happens in the context of the people playing it, and what they bring to the table. So does it make sense to talk about the written rules at all?

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Season 1, Session 17

Intimidating Games

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Have you ever felt intimidated or uncomfortable at the thought of playing a particular character? Or a particular game? Julia Bond Ellingboe gets that response from a lot of people, because she designed a game called Steal Away Jordan. We pestered her with that same response, yet again, but she was gracious enough to join us on the show anyway. A wonderful discussion ensued about what can intimidate us in gaming, and how and when games can tackle serious and emotionally sensitive topics.

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Season 1, Session 16

A Good GM

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This week, we have a special guest: the illustrious Rob Bohl, designer of Misspent Youth. He started listening to Storyjammers, and heard our opinions on game mastering, so he asked us what we thought of the GM in his game. This seemed like a great topic of discussion, so we got on Skype and had a conversation about games where GM’s work out really well, and the proper place of GM’ing in roleplaying games.


Season 1, Session 15

DexCon 2010

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We experimented a bit with this session. OK, we really just wanted to be as cool as Stabbing Contest! I had a microphone for my iPod, and we had a long drive down I-78 on our way back home, so we recorded a session on the games we played at DexCon 2010, in Morristown, New Jersey, including Misspent Youth, Lady Blackbird, the Dresden Files, Shock:, and Jason’s own game, the Fifth World.

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Season 1, Session 14

Bringing It Home

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Our short series on the Storyjammers’ Journey concludes with a look at how to “cool down”—how to bring those things from the liminal space of the storyjam back into our normal lives. Some games use retrospective questions to award experience points and other awards, while others have specific endgame mechanics.

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Season 1, Session 13

Hunting Story

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As our step-by-step exploration of the Storyjammers’ Journey continues, we get to the heart and soul of storyjamming, the activity that we want to get immersed in, the jam itself. Storyjamming has little to do with making up stories. In fact, most of its best techniques aim specifically to stop you from making up a story. It has to do with exploring the story already there. It has to do with hunting down a story that already exists.

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Season 1, Session 11

Warming Up

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I’m not dead yet! Sorry for that unforeseen delay, folks. We pick up right where we left off, digging into some of the things that distinguish storyjamming from other approaches to roleplaying. Today, we focus on the pre-liminal phase of the storyjammer’s journey, the warm-up games that we use to try to actively generate creative energy.

  • 0:54 Emotional contagion
  • 1:37 William James, “What is an Emotion?" [PDF]
  • 2:55 Microexpressions
  • 3:25 Mirror neurons
  • 5:38 Lizze Buchen, “Human Laughter Echoes Chimp Chuckles,” Wired, 4 June 2009
  • 6:56 When we sit down to game, we face the challenge of building up energy.
  • 7:52 Business meetings vs. Improv scenes
  • 10:57 Warm-up game #1: Yes, and! (to build energy and get everyone into a collaborative spirit)
  • 13:35 Warm-up game #2: Firing line (to break down self-censorship)
  • 18:48 Warm-up game #3: Short, introductory readings (to get your mouth and throat used to talking)
  • 20:29 Warm-up game #4: See me (to get everyone on the same page, imaginatively)
  • 22:26 Warm-up game #5: Color, advance (to get a sense of pacing)
  • 25:32 Warm-up game #6: One word at a time (to build your attention to cues)
  • 26:45 Find the right warm-up games for the problems that your group faces
  • 27:49 Selling your group on warm-up games
  • 29:06 Once Upon a Time
  • 30:55Restitutor Orbis,” our Chronica Feudalis campaign set in post-Roman Britain.
  • 32:33 The Relevant Dickweed
  • We never mentioned this directly, but I learned so much of this from my friend Willem Larsen of Portland, who wrote “Warming Up and Working with Energy” (Parts 1 & 2), and “The Pedagogy of Play: Bite-Sized Pieces.”

Season 1, Session 12

Immersion

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"Immersion" comes up often in discussions about RPG’s, and with good reason. Some say that it’s come to mean so many things to so many people that the term has become meaningless. We don’t think that’s necessarily true.

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Season 1, Session 10

The Storyjammer’s Journey

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Storyjamming has some things in common with Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey,” as well as Arnold van Gennep’s rites of passage, and traditional hunting practiced by the Yukaghirs in southern Russia. Understanding what they all have in common helps us understand how to approach it, and why storyjamming provides us with something so human and so necessary.


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