The Elements of Storyjamming

I thought I’d post some thoughts on technique, then it turned into something worthy of a blog-post.

Just the tip of the iceberg, but you have to start somewhere, eh?

" as in Story so in Life"

I was taken by surprise by what should be an oh so obvious statement ! I had a conversation the other day with a friend about “jamming” as the natural way of community. Which you put so clearly above. just wow!

these story-banding/jamming ideas make me as giddy as a dog in a creek.

i’m trying to think of some fertile strategies of how i could invite my friends into a storyband that feels shared, visionary, and fun. i’d love to just grab some folks and say, “let’s tell stories,” but i fear without facilitation or some structure, that won’t invite the energy conducive to jamming. Role-playing/story games interest me, but i have not played those things before, and nor have my friends. bone white, blood red looks really cool, but it takes place in a land unfamiliar to me and my friends (i still want to try it though!).

but, my human friends all have ideas and visions of how we would want to live if it weren’t for the confines of the monetary economy/civilization (or at least they do somewhere, even if they don’t often pay attention to those lurking images). since this is the case and since we’re not in a position to run off and start some hip eco-village together, i wonder of the possibilities of imagining how we would choose to live given the possibility to live together in a self-sufficient community in some post-industrial world (the Fifth World inspires me here). we meet and imagine together who we would play and how we would live if civilization collapsed. what would our afterculture look like? what role would we each play, bringing our individual passions and loves to the forest floor?

perhaps it goes like this. we gather together in a special place somewhat apart from our normal stomping grounds. the stage for the game is set. we now live four-hundred years in the future. we’re living off the land together. no electricity, but plenty of forest and meadow to roam and play in. plenty of other-than-human neighbors to get to know.

our first task is to work out who we embody in this alternate, dreamtime tribe. what do we name ourselves and each other? naming in this storyband involves a partnership between the individual and the group. each person chooses a particular element from the more-than-human world that they associate with for one name. the rest of the group then chooses the second name by answering the question, “What does this person do that we take joy in?”

Perhaps I choose Heron and my bandmates, after chuckling through a quick deliberation, decide that they enjoy my strange dances. So I enter the role of Heron Strange Dance. And we continue naming ourselves and each other until we all have a character in this drama.

Once we’ve decided who we play, we to decide what we look like in this dreamworld. What do we wear? How do we wear our hair? Do we wear jewelry? Rather than simply imagining it, we pull out paints and paint each other’s faces.

Hrm, this as far as I could see this gathering (without forcing it :D). Does anyone feel that they can riff on this?

I cant say much about how your group should do this, but i love the idea of a “naming-ritual” as you mentioned. The story of your name is as good a place to start as any and your friends have a very important place in it i think.

I am heron strange dance, and this is the story of my name…,

after naming eachother, Name the friendship that binds you in a story-ritual too. Call it a band or tribe whatever feels best. Tell a story of the foundation of your tribe. Which could be defining element of your friendship. A connection that runs trough each participant

I have more experience with rpgs and games, but this seems like a great way to deepen your relationship with your friends to me. Sit around a fire drink some wine and everything will be fun and alright!

This sounds loads of fun. I would just play with what feels good, and it will lead you.

Alternatively, I’ve posted a list of free story-games at the college of mythic cartography. You can check those out for ideas, or dive in and play 'em.

To any one out there who has any experience with story games, I have a question to ask. I was considering running an online story game - most likely In a Wicked Age - on global mindshift. Do people think that it would be possible to run a story game online or would that just ruin the whole experience?

Yeah, people use skype and chat programs all the time. If you have no other options, why not?

While you do that, I’d also brainstorm how you’d pull together an in-person group, at some point.

I have friends spread far and wide so using voice over internet interests me in this… I’ve never played any story-games really, how could the mechanics work over a long distance like that?

having them spread too far and wide makes for another problem though if you intent on using voice over net tech because of timezones. In my experience timezones are a real organisational pain in the ass. Play by post or somesuch thing might be better for that, if only much much much slower. it does allow for some seriously cool writing and story to happen though. face to face is still best, for all the obvious reasons, id say go for voice-over-net if timezones are no problem. otherwise find a forum or somesuch place to post your game to.

Most games will work fine over the net. One piece of useful advice is to make clear cut distinction between what is being said “in-game / in-story” and to what is said “Outside-game / outside-story” to avoid confusing scenarios. Different channels/threads are usually sufficient for this. Hope that helps some!

Thanks timeless and willem, I’m going to go ahead and try it, some play by post, some voice, I’ll post how it worked here later. (note - I mean much later, probably a couple of weeks, organizing things takes so long :))

I wonder if anyone would be interested in doing something similar here, walking the talk so to speak. I just suggesting it becuase I know that there are some people there who don’t have access to the nescessary community in their locale (myself included).

I was about to join a play-by-post game of “universalis” but i havent heard from these people since. If we kick it off i will let you know how it went for me. If you are looking for people to share story with and are not too afraid of strangers :wink: i’ll happily join you on your travels. Rewilding the stories we leave behind!


I don’t mind strangers. I have no experience with either play by post or story games (though I do have a little with traditional RPGs) so I will need some help. I’m going to start a new thread to see if anyone is interested, but we need a GM.

If you listen to the above podcast, towards the end they talk about challenges and successes with using skype.

In all honesty, it sounds like it works pretty well. Think ‘interactive radio drama’!

Hey - I interviewed my friend Lisa, mistress of Improv and Intuition games.