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About The Story Engine Deck

The Story Engine is a deck of 180 cards that offer endless storytelling prompts for writers, teachers, artists, DMs, RPG players, and more.

It runs on a simple, fast, open-ended system of drawing and arranging cards to create prompts for:

  • Story ideas
  • Character concepts
  • Encounter premises
  • Magical items
  • Campaign hooks

It's all in how you arrange the cards, interpret the connections between them, and bring the concept to life.

The Story Engine deck works in any setting or genre. You can use recommended patterns for generating prompts for specific writing goals, or come up with your own systems.

Here's how I explained the concept during the launch of the Kickstarter, which went on to raise $CAD 420,000 on BackerKit and involve a community of 6,000 creators.

Developing the Deck

I consulted friends who are writers, game designers, Tarot readers and artists for their thoughts while developing the deck, and I came up with additional guidelines and recommendations for creating powerful prompts.

I developed the deck while generating ideas for my weekly postcard fiction project, The Shortest Story, and using my stories to refine the deck system and simplify mechanics. 

It changed my life and helped me produce my best work when I discovered a creative structure that got me over my anxieties and mental blocks about writing.

I think there are thousands of other people out there who have stories to tell, and just need a bit of help getting the words out.

If that sounds familiar, The Story Engine deck is for you.

Building a Community

I launched The Story Engine 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 Kicksarter 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 1,400 copies of the free 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 draw-your-own-card print sheets to make sure anyone can access their own creativity with The Story Engine deck.

Screenshot of card creator webapp

If you'd like to stay involved with The Story Engine community, please feel free to follow along on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Unlocking Creativity

I developed The Story Engine deck because I've met so many people who have incredible ideas for stories, books, characters, games and campaigns trapped in their heads, but can't find time or motivation to create them.

I know first-hand how frustrating that is, and how feels like you're missing out on your best creative years. 

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 scrolling through royalty-free photography sites looking for images that sparked an interest, or jotting down words, phrases or ideas that stuck with me.

This eventually became The Shortest Story, my weekly postcard fiction project, which has been running since June 2017.

Postcard Story titled "The Library of Unwritten Books"

 

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 things to say too, their own stories to tell.