The Story Engine Deck

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Learn how The Story Engine Deck works.

Psssst... since we recorded this video, 6,000+ backers on Kickstarter and BackerKit have helped grow the deck to 180 cards with 3 expansions and 6 booster sets.

The Story Engine Deck uses 5 types of cards.

AGENT CARDS

Example Agent Card with 4 cues for generating a writing prompt: A HERO, A MENTOR, A MARTYR, A REBEL.

Agent cards provide characters for the story.

ENGINE CARDS

Example Engine Card with 2 cues for generating a writing prompt: WANTS TO UNRAVEL THE MYSTERY OF and WANTS TO SPREAD A LIE ABOUT

Engine cards provide motivations for the characters.

ANCHOR CARDS

Example Anchor Card with 4 cues for generating a writing prompt: A MAP, A PATH, A TUNNEL, A TICKET

Anchor cards provide object, locations, and events of interest.

CONFLICT CARDS

Example Conflict Card with 2 cues for generating a writing prompt: BUT A TERRIBLE SECRET WILL COME OUT and BUT THEY WILL HAVE TO KEEP A TERRIBLE SECRET

Conflict cards provide obstacles and consequences.

ASPECT CARDS

Example Aspect Card with 4 cues for generating a writing prompt: BLIGHTED, THOUGHTFUL, ICY, BRILLIANT

Aspect cards provide details and descriptions that modify other cards.

Example of an Agent card being rotated so that the active cue, A HERETIC, becomes A DISSIDENT.

Rotate cards to change which cue you're using for your prompt.

The Story Engine Deck

It's all about how you combine and interpret cards.

Arrange these 5 card types in different patterns to create billions of story prompts.

One of each card creates a basic story seed.

Example story idea that reads: A survivor wants to expose the secret of a corrupted paradise but their community will reject them.

A survivor wants to expose the secret of a corrupted paradise but their community will reject them.

This prompt might inspire a story about an apocalypse survivor who finds a seemingly perfect haven community with a dark secret and must decide whether to dig deeper. Or an ageing war veteran who moves into an idyllic senior’s residence, only to discover it’s being used to launder money. It's all in how you interpret the prompt.

The basic deck can produce more than 30 billion unique writing prompts in this format. This simple structure can be used to create:

  • A short story idea
  • An opening scene of a novel
  • A D&D encounter idea
  • A D&D one shot idea
  • A D&D plot hook

Dealing more cards creates a more detailed prompt, such as character concept.

Example D&D character idea that reads: A decrepit prophet with a fiery shield who wants to steal from an impulsive rival but it will mean breaking a promise.

A decrepit prophet with a fiery shield who wants to steal from an impulsive rival but it will mean breaking a promise.

This style of prompt can be used to create:

  • A main character
  • A character concept focused on motivation
  • A villain for your D&D campaign
  • An NPC-based encounter idea

Start your prompt with an Anchor card to create setting- or item-led prompt.

Example magic item idea or D&D campaign idea that reads:A long-lost book in a cave belonging to a private witch will end the power of a besieged city but it will cost their self-respect.

A long-lost book in a cave belonging to a private witch will end the power of a besieged city but it will cost their self-respect.

This style of prompt can be used to create:

  • A setting idea
  • An interesting prop
  • A magic or possessed item idea
  • A new D&D setting

Deal prompts that create a web of characters with different relationships and motivations.

Example relationship map writing prompt that reads: A demon wants to defeat an archaeologist but it will cost their mental health. The archaeologist wants to control the demon but the innocent will suffer.

A demon wants to defeat an archaeologist but it will cost their mental health. The archaeologist wants to control the demon but the innocent will suffer.

This style of prompt can be used to create:

  • A relationship map
  • A pair of adversaries
  • A D&D campaign idea based in conflict

You can even create complex prompts where two characters face off over the same goal.

Example D&D campaign idea that reads: A bloody god wants to destroy the world with a dire contagion but they must face their greatest fear. A wounded villain  wants to find redemption in the dire contagion but they will likely lose their life.

A bloody god wants to destroy the world with a dire contagion but they must face their greatest fear. A wounded villain wants to find redemption in the dire contagion but they will likely lose their life.

This style of prompt can be used to create:

  • An epic rivalry
  • A novel-length conflict
  • Warring factions for a D&D campaign idea
  • An NPC-based conflict to use for a D&D plot hook
The Story Engine Deck

Add expansions to take your stories to the next level.

The main deck works in all genres, but we offer expansions and booster sets with fantasy, science fiction, and horror prompts.