Tabletop Parenting: Story Realms
How many of you have grown up sitting around a table, rolling funny shaped dice, role playing heroic characters whom have gotten themselves in some sort of epic predicament? How many of you grew up reading stories of wizards and hobbits and dwarves? How many of you have kids? I’m excited. Since my two daughters were old enough to reason (or maybe a little sooner than that) I’ve been trying to introduce them to my love of role- playing games. Not necessarily for the strategy, the dice rolling, or even the role-playing, no, it’s my love of stories and the telling of those stories. Getting together with a group of people you love, or at least like (most of the time), and collaborating to tell an epic, exciting story. It is the stories that we remember. In one of Stephen King’s shorts a strange club has a sign hanging above the door, which reads: It is the story, not he who tells it. Stories make us who we are. It is the story you remember. I’ve been looking for a chance to create these memorable stories with my daughters for far too long.
Well now our wait is over. There is a game for all of us: Dads, moms, and the kids and everyone else! Story Realms! And let me just say that not only is a game here and the answer to our frustration, but it comes packaged in some beautiful art to boot! This game seemingly came out of nowhere and I expect it to skyrocket to the most anticipated family tabletop game in 2013! Right now the designers, Escapade Games, are working the Con scene, and as I write this are in full swing demo mode at PAX Prime—Is there a possibility you guys will make it to PAX East?? Please?
OK, I’ve pumped it up enough. What is Story Realms, you ask? This game is a mixture of board game, role-playing game, and storytelling game. Story Realms is a cooperative story game. One player takes the role of the Storyteller; the other players take on roles of heroic versions of themselves. Each “adventure” in a Story Realms games plays in about 1 hour-YES! One hour! This is perfect for families with little ones who can’t sit down for a 2-4 hour game. Unfortunately there just isn’t enough time these days between cheering, karate, work, schoolwork, dancing, and just everything else that gets in the way of our gaming.
The Storyteller is the person who controls every character, good and evil, in the world other than the player’s characters. The players only control their own characters. Each adventure plays out in three scenes. The Storyteller sets the scene and then asks the players what they want to do. The player’s can essentially do whatever they can think of, only limit is what they can imagine. The game seems to strike a good balance between grounding the story with a set of rules, and making the rules simple enough for the little ones to understand. And that brings me to another great feature of this game; my youngest, Summer Face, is just turned five. She really can’t read yet, so I was ecstatic to find that kids as young as 4 could play this game. Part of the reason the art is so well done is because there is nothing that needs to be read by the players. The artwork is so clear that younger kids can still understand what’s going on just by looking at the pictures. Even the dice don’t use standard numbers; instead they use a series of symbols that are easily recognizable. That being said, the Storyteller will have to read, though I’m sure the little ones could create their own adventures straight from their imagination! Story Realms looks to promote team work (players work together during an adventure to complete their goal), problem solving (each scene presents some type of problem to the players), and most of all storytelling.
So what are your questions? Probably the biggest is: Is this game for me, or is it just for the kids? I can assure you that you will love this game just as much as your kids. The core world of the game is named Storm Hollow. It is a world full of adventure and fantasy, of heroic deeds and monstrous foes. It is the assumed home world of all your favorite fairy tails. Whether you are a hero in Storm Hollow or the Storyteller, the one thing you will all have in common is creating memorable adventures that will be talked about for a long time after you’ve played, as is our way in the RPG world. There isn’t much better that I can think of than having those adventuring stories I’ve had for years, but being able to share them with my two daughters.
Another question might be: How can I play now?
While you can’t go and purchase the game off a shelf yet, you can contribute to its being published! Escapade Games and Game Salute are bringing you the Story Realms Kickstarter campaign. I highly recommend you going to check it out and while you’re there pledge to the campaign. $40 will get you a core copy of the game, Story Realms: Preludes, when it is released. $75 will net you an absolutely stunning box set which includes the core game and the first expansion book Story Realms: Pieces of a Broken World. Plus there is a ton more options to pledge to this wonderfully unique game. The Kickstarter campaign ends Thursday, October 4th so get over there and pledge!
Finally, the great people that have worked so hard to make this game come to life have released a play-set rules PDF along with a sample adventure. I couldn’t resist, I went right out and printed everything out in all of its beautiful glory (these PDFs are not black and white and are very color intensive). When the Faces saw everything they nearly lost it. Immediately I was being hounded with “when can we play?” and “can I help you glue?” Just the art itself was enough to get my kids excited. Last night we got our entire dice pool ready and cut out all of the cards we will be using. Next weekend we will be playing the game for the first time! I am excited.
After we’ve played the game I’ll be posting again to share how it went, and to let the Faces tell you what they thought of it. Until then go play some games with your kids!
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