Stories are an integral element of the game, both in plot and gameplay. As the task set out to The Wanderer by the Dire Wolf, it is your duty to go across America and find the stories.
Stories are gained by either searching a location, exploring a city, or camping with one of the characters. Searching a location or exploring a city start a choose-your-own-adventure style mini-game, at the end of which you gain a new story. Camping starts a different mini-game, where the character asks the wanderer to tell them stories from a mood category. The first time you camp with each character you gain that character's story.
Stories are used in the campfire mini-game. Each character requests that the character tell them a story with a particular mood. The characters each describe the moods in unique, folksy ways but you can check which mood they want by highlighting the space at 12:00 in the story selection screen. The stories you currently have equipped are organized by card, up to three stories per card, and each card may only be selected once during each five round mini-game.
After using a story the character will tell you whether that story had the right mood, will become more awake if it was the right mood, and tell you a story fragment about themselves regarding the subject of the card (e.g. if you tell a story from the Queen of Cups the character will tell you a story fragment about family).
Stories that have been used in a campfire mini-game may evolve. After a story has been used new icons appear on the map that let you Hear a Story. Interacting with these icons starts a sequence where you are told a new version of a story similar to one of the stories you have used. After the sequence that story is replaced with the new version of the story. New versions of stories are more interesting and more powerful (in campfire mini-games) than older versions of the same story and cause a character to become more awake faster.
Stories come in three ways of categorization: Locality, Cards, and Mood. (Please note that these are unofficial terms)
Locality categorizes by who or where the stories come from. There are two main categories for this:
Country stories refers to stories that are gained by exploring the U.S. and finding designated spots or looking through cities. Once found, the player will then have to play a mini-game which goes through the encounter. During the mini-game you make choose-your-own-adventure style decisions as each encounter unfolds. These choices may change which card the story you earn for completing the mini-game will have.
- Region Stories: Most country stories appear at random within the broad regions on the map (i.e. The Midwest, The South, etc.). The specific town or building you search to find each story on each play-through may be different, but the stories will appear within the same region.
- City Stories: City stories mention specific landmarks or otherwise have contexts that make them uniquely fit for one place. They are always found in the same place and only earned by exploring cities from inside the city screen.
- Random Stories: After you have collected all of a Region’s stories, you will start to find these stories at points that you haven’t already searched. These stories are considered Random because they do not adhere to any particular region, and can be found in any place on the map. Players collect these stories in a fixed order; meaning no matter which story spot you search on the map, they’ll all contain the same story that is next in the sequence. Once you collect it, it will be the same scenario with the next story. The majority of the game’s stories are in this category.
- Dire Wolf Stories: These "stories" are special. You don't collect them, they are available for you to use during encounters with the Dire Wolf, including the game prologue. They do not count toward your collection of stories and cannot be equipped or told during any other interactions.
Character stories refers to the tales of the lives of the people you meet. Unlike all other stories, telling them to other characters will NOT cause them to evolve. In order to evolve Character stories, you need to complete more chapters of that person’s tale.
Cards, more specifically Tarot cards, are a categorization of stories which determines the questions asked of a character at a campfire. There are 16 Tarot cards, each symbolizing a certain feeling or topic that is related to the stories in each. These cards also hold a specific character story each, just as likely meant to fit in with their own tale.
The following are the cards, their images, their meaning, and the character they signify:
|Three of Staives||Travel||Quinn|
|The Devil||Bondage; Traps; Imprisonment||Althea|
|The World||Heaven; Desires fulfilled; Wishes come true||Fidelina|
|The Star||Faith; Trust||Jimmy|
|Wheel of Fortune||Fortune; Luck; Fate||Dupree|
|The Tower||Death; Changes; Endings; Moving on||Mason|
|Nine of Swords||Sadness||Franklin|
|Two of Coins||Joy||Rocio|
|The Empress||Nature; Country; Home||Dehaaya|
|Queen of Cups||Family||Bertha|
|High Priestess||The Future||Rose|
|The Sun||The Past; Memories||August|
Mood is an unspecified but important categorization of stories. When at a campfire, the character will ask that you tell them a specific mood of story (E.g., Dupree may ask that you to tell her a tale that "makes [her] heart race," so you should give her an adventurous tale). If told in correspondence with their mood, they will become more open, and you will be able to progress in unlocking their story. Most characters have a few desired moods. There are five categories of mood:
- Humorous: These are stories with a comedic or funny element to them. Usually they have an ending with a punchline to them, or just seem hilarious in their telling.
- Hopeful: These are stories with a hopeful message or uplifting mood to them. They could be something escapist (A land or place with no worries), or have people who go beyond their troubles and find hope or peace, or simply tell of moments of great joy.
- Tragic: These are stories with a sad mood or a miserable ending; essentially a reflection of hopeful stories. They could be stories of someone who stumbles into death, tales with a nihilistic message, or mere anecdotes of a dour moment.
- Scary: These are horrors or horrific stories. Typically the subjects of these are of murderers, ghosts, terrible beasts, and other supernatural or scary subjects.
- Adventurous: These are stories with action or adventure elements to them. As a sort of middle ground between humorous and terrifying stories, these tales usually have a folk hero, a unique creature of some kind, or a strange event.
List of Stories
Dire Wolf Stories
The story of...
- the northbound train, blinking its giant eye as it crawls through the night
- the endless series of doors of different kinds, each leading only to more doors
- the parting of a cloud of fog to reveal a brief glimpse of a land of promise and plenty
- tossing a pair of bone dice on a blood-red velvet table - they come up snake eyes and wink at you
- a black and gray city where every building is filled with dessicated corpses
The story of...
- the two women arrested for bootlegging
- the boy who ran away with his father
- the seagulls and the fisherman
- the elegant woman in the small town
- the two lighthouse-keepers
- the two brothers who reconnected after 30 years apart OR the two men who each mistook the other for his missing brother (player-determined)
- the bridge builders
- the rider in the woods
- John Chapman, his orchard, and his dog
- the girl with the strange stones
- the winged goat by pristine water
- the drunkard lineman
- the light from the sky
The story of...
- (Boston) the strange clamor on the streets of Boston OR the odd silent taxicab in Boston (player-determined)
- (New York) the determined socialist in New York OR the couple parted by unemployment (player-determined)
- (Washington DC) the strange street lost in time in Washington DC
- (Denver) Music echoing off the red rocks
- (Los Angeles) The lingering voices of the repatriades in Los Angeles
- Althea's blues
- August's tale
- Bertha's displacement
- Cassady's verse
- Dehaaya's tale
- Dupree's tale
- Fidelina's tale
- Franklin's travels
- Jimmy's parable
- Little Ben's struggle
- Mason's loss
- Quinn's adventures
- Ray's lament
- Rocio's long journey
- Rose's search
- Shaw's life and times