Your First Story Games Experience - Reading or Playing?

edited March 2009 in Story Games
Over in this thread I asked the question whether people had their first experiences with Story Games playing them or reading them.

Here's my bit:
Posted By: scottdunphyToo bad you don't have the chance to run a game for him rather than give him one. I don't know how Story Games come across if the first exposure is reading one. My first experience was playing PTA and I think if I had read it I wouldn't have bought into it and would have convinced myself that it wasn't for me. But, of course, I can't know that for sure.

Did anyone here start out reading a Story Game without playing first? What was that like?
And here's hansel's response:
Posted By: hanselI'd read numerous indie games before I ever played one. In fact, I'd read the D&D 3.5 core books mostly cover to cover before I ever got a chance to play (run) the game, which was my first time.

Dogs and BW were my first two to read, and even with such a short experience with trad games, I knew, heart beating and palms sweaty, thatthiswas what I wanted.
So that's two rather different first experiences! I'm definitely interested in hearing more. Hence the new thread.

Comments

  • My first contact was reading (Dogs) and I was sold enough to buy several and play a few, just because finally someone was doing something other than simulate whether or not you hit with your sword. Reading an effort to simulate something different in order to sneak up on the story broke a barrier for me and let me think about games in myriad new ways (how many different things can you choose to simulate in order to get at the fiction? all of those are new games!)

    Playing them (Burning Wheel and Universalis were the first two to hit the tabel) clinched it, though. Reading them just got my attention.
  • My experiences have all been read first, play later. And I bought a fair number of indie games, read them, and then played them. But I think we have to distinguish between story games and indie games here - when we play it at my place, Dungeons & Dragons is definitely a story game (just about all games are when you play them right), although the game that really got into collective storytelling more than gaming for my group was Vampire and then Wraith.
  • My experience has always been read first, play later - finding someone around here that plays anything but D&D and DSA is pretty tough. It's also very easy to hook me on a game simply by reading it (it worked for DitV and BW).
  • edited March 2009
    I read My Life With Master before playing anything else (it was recommended in the back of Paranoia XP). It was astonishing: I couldn't believe the quality and the ingenuity behind it. It was like nothing else I'd read. I couldn't believe that there were these precisely crafted, beautifully produced games floating around on the Internet.

    Later, the first game I played was Dogs In The Vineyard.

    Graham
  • I was at GenCon and walked up to the Forge Booth where I asked a guy (who I later learned was Ron Edwards) "what's good here?" He handed me a copy of My Life With Master, and I said "okay" and bought it. I still haven't played it, so my first story game experience was definitely reading, but I also picked up Key20's Little Fears that year, and played a session of that a few weeks later. I'm not sure if that's a story game, or just small press, though.
  • Definitely playing. Red box D&D was my first story game.
  • Reading. I heard about Polaris and a few other things on Have Games, Will Travel, then at Gen Con '06 I bought Polaris, the Roach, and The Mountain Witch. I love reading interesting indie games. I still haven't played more than a small fraction of the ones I have. :(
  • edited March 2009
    Reading, but not by much. One day, while talking about how I ran Call of Cthulhu's sanity mechanics with my FLGS owner, he pointed at the rack and said "There's this new game, Power Kill, from a weird independent publisher, that no one gets but maybe is perfect for you." Power Kill is, of course, the B-side to Puppetland. I read both games while walking from the store back to campus, and was totally reeled in, so I assembled a group about two hours later, and ran Puppetland. I spent years looking for more of that, mostly without success.

    Like many other people here, I see, my finding my way into the current crop of games started with Costikyan's enthusiastic recommendation of My Life With Master.. I have yet to play it, but at some level I don't feel like I need to. It was the first game whose rules were beautiful enough, to me, to stand as art in their own right.
  • Reading. I went to Gen Con SoCal 2004 and bought one of nearly everything at the little Forge booth, and it totally changed how I looked at RPGs. I didn't really play any until several months later.
  • I read about the games on forums, bought them, red them, and then ran a few. So, reading.
  • Writing!

    Höstdimma started out as a game to fix things I had problems with in other games. Then I found out that there were other games like it out there. The first I came in contact with was Universalis, that a friend ran at a mini-con.
  • I played a few games of Burning Wheel around the time I started wanting to play rpgs again (after 4-5 years). Then I played Shock:, and went and bought a bunch of games. Still haven't read them all, though.
  • Posted By: WilhelmWriting!
    Good answer!

    Looks like not too many folks started by playing first. I count myself very lucky.
  • Posted By: WilhelmWriting!
    That's pretty much where I consciously started. I was getting sick of the tabletop games I'd been seeing circa 1995-2000.

    But now that I think about the response, I'd been playing freeform games and incredibly rules light LARP games for a while before I started writing some of my own stuff. So maybe playing comes first...it's a bit chicken and egg.

    One of the last things I started doing was reading the other products out there. Mostly because I simply didn't realise they existed until the early 2000s (and later), in fact many of them didn't exist when I first started getting the idea for new forms of generating a story through gameplay.

    I honestly can't remember the first story game I read, but it was good to see that there were other people who were trying to plunge into new directions in roleplaying.

    V
  • I don't know if The Window counts, but it did start to turn my mind to new ideas. Then I read The Pool. I was won over immediately and started looking for similar things. And finally, Dust Devils.

    It was reading for all of them, but I did run a little bit of The Pool.
  • Writing

    I stumbled onto these forums a couple years after I started experimenting with games of the style (or more accurately, styles) that seem to come from Story Games designers. I'm glad to have found a group of sorta like-minded people. To this day I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of people I have to play such games with, and have never managed to get more than three of them together at once, so these forums help break the isolation.
  • edited March 2009
    Posted By: jessecoombsI don't know if The Window counts,
    I'm wondering the same thing. The real question here is what exactly counts as a Story Game? My first experiences with RPGs included playing Shadowrun, then AD&D. At which point, I started looking into other sorts of games and came across things like The Window, and later Risus, both of which I've read but never actually had a chance to play. At that point I just started reading as many games as I could, absorbing all sorts of styles from White Wolf to the Forge. Throughout this I've played D&D 3.5 and 4E, but I've always looked for a chance to try my hand at other games.

    Only in the past year did I get to sit down and play my first indie game, and that was In a Wicked Age, with which I immediately fell in love. I played it before I read it, though, and I think that's probably the best way to experience that game.
  • Does playing and hacking Fudge a lot 10 years ago count? And then FATE? If not, it was reading and then playing DitV after hearing Paul Tevis' review of it. I then sought out just about every indie game I could over the year following.
  • Does playing and running Amber Diceless count? It certainly was the great dividing line in my gaming life (before Amber GURPS, Rolemaster, D&D, after Amber all these other games...)
  • Posted By: veritascitorThe real question here is what exactly counts as a Story Game?
    I didn't realize when I asked the question that this would come up. I should have. Last thing I want to do here is engage in that debate. I have a pretty broad definition myself, but lots of people have their own definitions. I like the way the way everyone is defining it for themselves here. If I were to alter my definition to fit some of theirs, then I would say "writing" myself because of a few different things I was running at cons before I first played PTA. But for me it was that PTA experience that changed the way I played from there forward.

    So to refine the question a bit, did your "Aha!" S-G moment come while reading a new game or playing one? (Of course, feel free to just answer the original question or respond to whatever you like. This is all good conversation here!)
  • Posted By: Saint&SinnerDoes playing and running Amber Diceless count? It certainly was the great dividing line in my gaming life (before Amber GURPS, Rolemaster, D&D, after Amber all these other games...)
    Yes! The great dividing line - perfect! Did you read it or play it first?
  • Posted By: scottdunphyPosted By: veritascitorThe real question here is what exactly counts as a Story Game?
    So to refine the question a bit, did your "Aha!" S-G moment come while reading a new game or playing one? (Of course, feel free to just answer the original question or respond to whatever you like. This is all good conversation here!)

    In which case, I'd have to say my "Aha!" moment was when I first read The Window, and realized that RPGs could be different than the huge textbooks that were Shadowrun and AD&D, and that I would very much like to play something like that. It came again when I first played IAWA, which essentially confirmed my suspicion that I loved this stuff. :)
  • None of the above.

    I got into these games by listening. I've listened to Have Games, Will Travel since the beginning, primarily for Paul's board game content. It was his PrimeTime Adventures episode that motivated me to actually buy the game and read it. This was a year and a half ago. I finally played a five episode season this last November, December, January.
  • Playing, and, apart from contest entries, this is still my route for almost every single RPG since 2005. I have a deal with myself that I will not buy a game I haven't at least played a 15 minute demo of.
  • edited March 2009
    Neither. What happened was that I got a copy of Hero Wars in 2000, found it to be so unusual that I went in search of help, found the Forge and settled down to reading.

    I knew all about Sorcerer, DitV, MLwM and other Forge classics well before I ever set eyes on them; indeed, I used the Forge forums as an info source to help me decide which to buy first. But I understood what was going on and what people were doing with games before I read the actual texts.
  • I read Sorcerer back when it was still available as a .pdf. My initial impression was that it was White Wolf Lite. The reason for that was that I had never actually PLAYED any White Wolf games and had really only skimmed a few of them. I took them at face value as being about "personal horror" and storytelling and stuff. My brain was already 50% of the way to Story Now with the way I was running Chill at the time.

    Then I actually played a couple of White Wolf games both at cons and tried my hand at Werewolf and discovered that no, they don't do what I thought they did and Sorcerer really was something different. But I still didn't quite "get it" so I spent a lot of time over on The Forge hammering things out with Ron.

    That said, the big "Ah HA!" game for me was Story Engine. There was lots of stuff worded in certain ways that made the stuff in Sorcerer make more sense.

    Jesse
  • I was exposed first via Chris Chinn's Deep in the Game blog. Then I played PTA with friends, it worked OK, and I came to SG as a forum thing.
  • Posted By: Ryan StoughtonI was exposed first via Chris Chinn's Deep in the Game blog. Then I played PTA with friends, it worked OK, and I came to SG as a forum thing.
    So you still haven't had an "Aha!" moment?
  • I don't even know that asking for an Aha! moment makes much sense. What if you just play them and have a good time, like you do with every other game?
  • The closest was how I got extremely excited about IAWA when I heard Vincent talking about it on Independent Insurgency, then it became my favorite game right away. That process was like an "extended aha!", or also "lots of fun".
  • Posted By: JDCorleyI don't even know that asking for an Aha! moment makes much sense. What if you just play them and have a good time, like you do with every other game?
    It doesn't have to make sense. If that idea clicks with you, there's something to respond to. If it doesn't, there's lots else to talk about here.

    I think I had an "Aha!" moment the first time I played Settlers of Catan too. It was the moment I realized, "Hey, there are lots of other ways to do this thing."
  • edited March 2009
    Posted By: scottdunphy
    Yes! The great dividing line - perfect! Did you read it or play it first?
    I read it first. Then the books. Then I tried to play it...with GURPS. Wow that brings back memories, what was I thinking? B-)

    On whim I went to Ambercon since I obviously didn't know what the heck I was doing and played and ran games. It
    'clicked' then. Went on to play Amber for the next 15 or so years.

    I only recently fell into the 'story games', mainly because I was have problems finding Amber players and want to get something else to draw players in (of course to hopefully play more Amber later, I'm such a geek).

    I've come to see some problems with Amber as written (they were always there I just worked around them) and interesting ideas in the 'story' design community. I like these games now and will keep playing them into the forseeable future.
  • Playing. I had read about story games, specifically Dogs in the Vineyard and was trying some "experimental" stuff with my ongoing Mage game, and I contacted a local gamer who said he would run a session of Dogs for me to see if I connected enough to pay for it. Turned out he thought I owned it, and he didn't, but he had Burning Wheel in his bag, which I loved enough to buy on the spot (we were playing at the FLGS).

    I'd also read a lot of essays like Costikyan's "I have no mouth and I must design", which had really sparked my interest in the boundaries of RPing as a hobby.
  • Beating my way through Burning Empires. One failed game, followed by a lengthy, confrontational and ultimately fruitful round of forum discussions at the BW forums. After that, my first conscious foray into story-game territory (I hadn't known what I was getting into with BE!) was buying, reading and running Dust Devils.

    p.
  • As I've said elsewhere, I was blackjacked by my roommate and dragged by the hair to a game of The Mountain Witch before I knew what was happening. I'd skimmed a D&D manual once before, but I still consider myself to have been initiated into the cult via that night's game. Most games I encounter tend to be play-first-ask-questions-later affairs, as I have little patience with perusing rulebooks. Getting one's hands dirty with a new game-- under the watchful eye of someone for whom it isn't so new-- is definitely the best sort of introduction.
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