You hold in your hands (or, let’s be honest, are reading on your computer) a copy of For The Story, a narrative-driven role-playing game that centers on collaboratively telling an interesting story, and having a fun time doing it. For The Story is designed to be played by 3-8 friends of all ages.
Like many other role-playing games you may or may not have played, For The Story (or, FTS, as we like to call it) has one person in charge of describing events and settings, while everyone else reacts to these descriptions. The one person is called the “Storyteller” or “ST” for short, and everyone else is a “Player.” Players often have complete control over a character within the story, which acts like an avatar for the player, through which they can carry out actions in-game. Storytellers are also typically responsible for controlling any characters that are not controlled by players (or “Non-Player Characters”), though this is by no means a rule, and groups are encouraged to find out what feels and works best for them.
Though this book is full of helpful rules and mechanics on how to use FTS in your game, there is really only one rule that should never be broken or changed:
The purpose of the game is fun. If someone is not having fun, something needs to change.
Everything else in this book is subject to change in order to accommodate the above rule, up to and including the book itself (if you find that FTS is not the right game for you, we strongly encourage you to put it down and look for something you might enjoy more). Players and Storytellers alike are encouraged to approach the game with a collaborative, amicable mindset, and a willingness to relax and have a good time with friends. Arguments and disputes should always be resolved as painlessly as possible, and everyone involved is encouraged to keep the spirit of the game (and the above rule in bold) in mind at all times.
Unlike many other games, the Storyteller is not explicitly “in charge” of the game: everyone is, in equal share. The Storyteller’s job is to arbitrate events, describe new scenes, and help everything flow smoothly. That being said, players are encouraged to take an active role in helping the Storyteller with all of those tasks, and the mechanics of FTS are designed to help facilitate that. Likewise, Storytellers are encouraged to help the players make their characters (and their character’s decisions) more interesting and significant within the narrative. The bottom line is: if you have a good idea, you should share it!
If you’ve gotten this far and still can’t decide if FTS is right for you, take a look at the following section, which lays out in a bit more detail some of what you can expect out of this game.
FTS is not competitive. FTS is about working together to achieve a common goal: a story that is fun to tell and interesting to hear. FTS does not have room for Storytellers that want to create impossible mazes or combats, and does not allow for Players that seek to prove their superiority over the others Players. FTS is collaborative.
FTS is not a combat simulator. Combat in FTS is fast and extremely lethal, and Players and Storytellers alike are heavily advised to be cautious and conservative with how frequently they allow combat to happen. Most combat scenes can be resolved in a few minutes, and leave little room for elaborate tactical grids or fancy moves. Additionally, characters advance in ability at the same rate, regardless of how much combat they are involved in (a character who does zero combat and a character who does lots of combat will advance at the same rate). FTS is a narrative-driven game.
FTS does not attempt to be high-fantasy. The ruleset of FTS is gritty and brutal, with characters starting out untrained and unskilled, and advancing in ability at a very slow pace. As mentioned before, combat in FTS is lethal and unforgiving, and magic tends to be weak and limited in scope. Certainly don’t expect your character to come across multitudes of magic items during their career—they’ll be lucky just to find one. Though they will get there eventually, characters in FTS have a long road ahead of them if they want to become legends. FTS attempts to be low-fantasy.
FTS is not a hardcore system. Rules in FTS are not only modular and flexible, but they are designed to be easily changed or done away with entirely if anyone doesn’t like them. FTS is not the kind of game where people should be getting in disputes or arguments over rules, but should instead be simply talking it out and deciding what works best for the group. FTS is designed to be easy and fun to learn and play, regardless of skill with role-playing games, and it is meant to be played with friends (or potential friends). FTS is a casual system.