Here is how it worked: Players would make their combat rolls as normal. If it was a successful attack they indicated the damage done. I would let them know if this was a fatal strike or not. The play would then narrate a short description of the successful strike within the parameters stated. If they failed their roll I would indicate why they missed their target. The same also was applied when the monsters attacked the PCs. If the monster hit, I would describe the attack; if the monster missed the player whose character was being attacked described how they avoided the blow.
This led to colorful descriptions and everyone getting into the fun. The orcs they battled seem to be more fearsome and the characters more heroic as a result. The players all contributed to the description. The orcs took on more three-dimentional and individualized aspects - they weren't just a bunch of orcs the party had to hack their way through, they were worthy foes. One of the descriptions also earned a player a +2 circumstantial bonus on his next attack when he described with such color why the orc missed him.
Another wonderful scene in the combat was when a player described his fatal attack as knocking back the dying orc from the force of the attack. I picked up the ball and ran with it to effect the way the orcs reacted on their movement by holding the action of one orc, keeping him from rushing forward to fill a void in the ranks, as he held his dying comrade in his arms. The next round the grieving orc charged forward with blood in his eyes (the orcs passed their second moral check).
The descriptions did slow combat down a bit. We were only able to get through the major encounter with the orcs and do some retracing of their footsteps in the current dungeon, but no one seemed to complain. The battle with the orcs was made more memorable because of the interactive descriptions.
As a side effect, the players started describing some of the aspects of the dungeon they were exploring. This was pulling in another item of loot, namely scene framing and colaborative narration from Primetime Adventures. When one player's character discovered a loose stone and an empty cavity in the wall a different player called out to turn the stone around to see what was hidden in the brick. The adventure called for nothing other than a cavity in the wall filled with treasure, but I decided to take the two potion bottles from the treasure and embed them in the hollow of the brick (much like Ben Franklin's spectacles from National Treasure, from which the player was pulling this image). There was no harm in this, and I would not have kept the treasure from them had they not added this, but this one detail made the experience more vivid in all the players' minds.
I hope this was helpful in illustrating that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Our group enjoyed the experience and I'm sure these story game elements will remain a regular part of our play. Next I'll try introducing some scripted NPC-only scenes to give the players a greater understading of the story behind their adventures. I'll be sure to let you know how that goes.
Follow Your Bliss,