About The Story Engine Deck
The Story Engine Deck is a set of 180 cards that help you create endless story ideas, creative writing prompts, and D&D campaign ideas.
Here's how I explained the concept during the launch of the Kickstarter, which went on to raise $CAD 420,000 on BackerKit and bring together a community of 6,000 creators.
It runs on a simple, fast, open-ended system of drawing and arranging cards to create prompts for:
- Story ideas
- Character concepts
- D&D encounter ideas
- D&D character ideas
- Magic items, interesting settings, and more!
It's all in how you arrange the cards, interpret the connections between them, and bring the concept to life.
Learn how to use the deck here.
You can use recommended patterns for generating prompts for specific writing goals, or come up with your own systems.
Developing the Deck
I consulted experts from a lot of creative disciplines while I was developing the deck:
- DMs and GMs
- D&D players
- Realplay podcasters
- Game designers
- Tarot readers
- Visual artists
With their help, I came up with additional guidelines and recommendations for generating powerful creative prompts, story ideas, D&D campaign ideas. character concepts and more.
I designed The Story Engine Deck because I met so many writers with incredible story ideas, character concepts, and D&D campaign ideas trapped in their heads.
I know how frustrating it is to feel like you’re missing out on your best creative years. Sometimes you just need something to unlock your creativity and get you started.
Helping Creators Tell Their Stories
I lost my connection with writing for a few years, and I didn't realize how much colour and depth had drained from my world until I finally picked up the pen again. I knew I might never finish a novel, so I started writing these 25-to-250-word mini-stories, often prompted by photographs, short phrases, character idea seeds or conflict ideas.
This eventually became The Shortest Story, my weekly postcard fiction project, which has been running since June 2017, as well as the inspiration for the 5 types of cards that make up The Story Engine deck.
You can read the stories I created while developing the deck in The Story Engine microfiction anthology, featuring the voices of Cecil Baldwin (Welcome to Night Vale) and Jonathan Sims and Lydia Nicholas (The Magnus Archives and Rusty Quill Gaming Podcast).
Writing has also seen me through some really dark times and difficult life transitions. No matter what was going on outside of my little writing nook, I was able to turn to my stories either as an escape, or as an arena to face my down my demons on my own turf. These stories are always the scariest to write, but they're the ones people seek me out to talk to me about again and again, often to tell me about their own creative projects they want to get off the ground.
I know these stories are speaking to people, and I know people have their own truths to tell and stories to share.
Building a Community
I launched The Story Engine Deck on Kickstarter with a goal of raising $CAD 20,000. It was my sixth Kickstarter, and I was fairly confident I could find the right people to bring the idea to life.
By the end of the campaign, we had raised $286,000 and unlocked three expansion decks and six booster sets worth of bonus content. I had never expected the Kickstarter to take off so fast, and in the end I decided to work with the incredible community that had rallied around the project to do some good.
We're donating 120 free physical copies of the deck or anthology to schools, libraries, and community groups.
We've provided over 1,700 copies of the free print-at-home PDF deck to educators, volunteers, and parents in need of home-friendly quarantine activities.
We've developed lesson plans, an activity sheet, a free card creation webapp, and blank create-your-own-card print sheets to make sure anyone can access their own creativity with The Story Engine Deck.