Saturday, December 24, 2011

Clues You're a Better Storyteller

by xjrlokix
Clues You're a Better Storyteller
by Tobie Abad
Originally posted November 6, 2005

One of the most common (and yet unspoken) Storyteller problems is the eternal question asked by every person who is afraid he or she is in a relationship that might not work out; "Was I good enough?"

Our performance as the man behind the scenes, as every person in the world who isn't a player character, as every cloud, wind and raindrop that exists is something we would love to hear feedback from. And many of us DO ask; ready to hear whatever the players might say.

But for those few who wouldn't want to ask, here are some clues to watch/look for that would hint that you are a storyteller who has given remarkable games.

Your Players Beg For More
Storyteller: And with one triumphant cry, you all raise your swords and welcome the new King of Dreams. The end.

Players: Cool... Wow... That was different...

Storytellers: Thanks.

Players: So what do we play next? Yeah? I got my vampire ready. Can we start now?

Sometimes a Storyteller can be too dense to realise that the first sign they are doing a good job is the fact that the Players ask for more. It is a pity, since many storytellers confuse "asking for more" with "not content with the game".

Wouldn't you want to start watching a film by a director who just showed you a film that blew you away?

Players inquire before the game starts
Player: Listen I was thinking I wanted my Brujah to start dating. Is that okay for the plot?

Storyteller: Of course, you all carry your own stories.

Player: Cool... uh, can you add a romantic element?
Storyteller:  Sure..  Maybe in the next-

Player: I mean in tonight's game?

When you notice players actually approaching you prior to the game's session and setting little trinkets of information with you, then its a clue that they are enjoying the game so much that they want to add a few personal touches to it. Everybody who sees something really nice wants to be a part of it. Keep that in mind.

Some storytellers make the mistake of seeing this as players "covering up for what the storyteller's game lacked." While that is a possibility, the point that the player is making such an effort to make the game a better experience instead of just looking for a new storyteller, is a good sign. They want to "keep" you.

Reruns never end
Me and my friends were having coffee in a small cafe one late evening when one of them started laughing. As we turned to ask him what was up, he merely blurted out, "Slave of god!" The whole group broke into laughter as we recalled that Marco, a friend of mine, had a Salubri whom we kept teasing as such in this long running game.

Turns out, he recalled some parts of the Dark Ages game we had nearly a year ago. And until now, we recall the game's scenes pretty well.

When you're friends start referring to the game like some television series they saw a few months back... or when you're buddies start talking about the game as if they were the "old times" then realise that those games had the approaches that your gaming group appreciated. Its a good clue to what gaming style they prefer.

Players Listen
Its not the player's turn and yet they stay in the room, sitting around the table and listen intently? Mention its a party scene, and they start mumbling ambient dialogue to make the scene better?

You got players who love the game so much that they'd want to be in every gaming second. Congratulations!

Even Others Listen
You are playing a game with four people, and look up to realise the room has ten people in it. Five others had come in just to listen and watch you people play. To make matters even more interesting, someone tells you, "Even just listening you guys game is like watching a movie. Heck , I even forget i'm not watching a movie."

This is probably one of the rarest signs you can find, but it is one of the best to receive. When I was told that very quote, I found myself weak-kneed and smiling, realising that I have entertained both my players and people who could have spent the last few hours doing something else they wanted to do. I still forget that listening and watching my games is already something they WANT to do.
(edit 2011:  I recently was told this again.  A friend who wasn't part of the game asked to stay over during a gaming night.  So we let him nap in the guest room while we played.  The next morning, he admitted he could still hear us and found it pretty cool.  "It was like I was watching a movie in my dreams, but I knew you guys were the ones telling it."  Now if your games can make a friend who is trying to sleep ENJOY overhearing it, then I believe that is a definite good sign.)

And Even More Ask to Listen
You get invited to share ideas, tips or lessons.  To other storytellers.

This is probably the ULTIMATE sign that you're a good Storyteller.

So, if any of these six signs do show, then smile knowing that you are a storyteller who is appreciated and talented. Be proud in knowing that you make the grade in the fine art of being a god-jury-innocent-atmospheric-evil-situational being.


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