THE STORY ENGINE deck of endless storytelling prompts + book

Created by Peter Chiykowski

Deck of story prompts for writers, teachers, GMs, DMs & tabletop RPGs + a new book of piercing postcard stories from The Shortest Story

Latest Updates from Our Project:

Mini-update: credit cards have been processed in Stripe/BackerKit + postcard subscriptions start this month
8 days ago – Wed, Dec 04, 2019 at 10:20:24 PM

Hi backers!

This is just a mini-update to let you know that if you provided a credit card for your add-ons in BackerKit and chose Stripe instead of PayPal for your checkout options, I've now processed your payment. You should have received a confirmation email (or an error email if your card failed to run).

The payment will show as being charged by ROCKPAPERCYNIC STORE (my main online store and the vendor name tied to my Stripe account).

If you checked out via PayPal, then you paid when you checked out and you can disregard this update.

This is also just a quick note letting you know that if you've pledged or added-on a "Postcards From the Future" subscription and you completed your survey by this morning, your first postcard should be arriving this month.

Thanks so much!

Peter

Production/design update, more sample cards, stretch goals, surveys, and book changes!
20 days ago – Fri, Nov 22, 2019 at 10:25:10 PM

Hi Story Engine backers!

I've been hard at work on graphics design while waiting on confirmation on a big piece of news for a couple of weeks now. I was hoping to post an update when the news was confirmed, but I didn't want to leave you too long without a check-in, so here is an update with all the news I have confirmed to date!

Here's what's in this update:

  • Production continues to come together and expansion/booster design is going well
  • Post-campaign stretch goals revealed
  • Reminder about surveys (especially important for postcard subscribers)
  • Change of publishing plans for anthology book of The Story Engine
  • Reminder about free decks/books for schools/libraries/community groups

Production and design

After reaching out to some bigger printers about the increased print run of The Story Engine deck, I've narrowed the field to three candidates. I'm just doing some final checks on their quotes, quality, cardstock options and production support. I've seen 6 books through print production, but this is my first time producing a deck or a boxed product, so I am looking for an experienced printer that is willing to be hands-on making sure we get the best possible quality.

Meanwhile, the graphics design work has been going very well! 

I've finished writing all of the new stretch goal content for the main deck, and have finished the vast majority of the graphic design. All of the design-intensive cards (Agents and Anchors) are now print-ready, and the majority of the remaining text-only cards (Engines, Obstacles, Aspects) have been designed. It's mostly just the stretch goal additions that still need designing.

I've finished writing and designing ALL of the graphics-intensive cards (Agents and Anchors) for ALL of the expansions and boosters as well (with a few cards designed in low-res until the EMBERWIND artists finish the final card art for the fantasy, steampunk, and mythology decks). The Aspects for all expansions and boosters have also been populated and just need a design pass, and I'm about halfway through writing all of the Engines and Obstacles.

Once they're all mocked up I'll be playtesting the interactions between the main deck and expansions, tweaking a few of the cards and word distributions, and we'll be ready to go to print.

Here are some sample cards from the booster sets! 

Sample from Dark Craft & Ancient Shadows: Eldritch Horror Booster Set
Sample from Cog Hearts & Steam Souls: Steampunk Booster Set
Sample from Circuits & Cybernetics: Cyberpunk Booster Set
Sample from Wastelands & Wanderers: Post-Apocalyptic Booster Set
Sample from Mythwalkers & Eternals: Mythology Booster Set
Sample from Jackboots & Chainlink: Dystopian Booster Set

You'll notice two key differences to the layouts of the expansion/booster cards when compared to the main deck. 

  • Expansions and boosters have an icon in the bottom-right. These identify which set they belong to so they're easy to spot and sort.
  • The Agent cards in expansions/boosters do not feature a coloured word as the default reading. In the main deck, the bottom word is coloured and treated as the most "generic" reading of the card, with the other words presented as more specific variations. Because the expansions/boosters thrive on specificity, all Agent words are equally weighted and specific, and no word is coloured.

For The Story Engine book, I'll be once again using a print company that I've already produced three books with. They've been on-the-ball and detail-oriented with all my work in the past, and I anticipate a smooth printing process yet again.

I've fallen behind on sending out prompts to the guest writers, in part because of the book publishing update you'll see below, and in part because I want their prompts to include fully designed expansion and booster cards. I will make sure to have all prompts sent out to guest authors by next month.

Post-campaign stretch goals

Originally the stretch goals were to remain open until early November, but I'm extending the stretch goals until December 1st. Below are the next run of post-campaign stretch goals!

The exact cardstock upgrade may depend on which printer I end up working with.

This means any add-ons contributed before December 1 will contribute toward the remaining upgrades.

Also, until December 1, any late pledges will contribute toward unlocking goals. If you have any friends who you think would like to join the project, now is a good time to share the link http://storyenginedeck.com, where you can also follow funding progress (currently at $337,000).

Reminder about surveys

I've received 91% of the BackerKit reward surveys so far—thanks to everyone for providing your responses! If you haven't received your survey or have run into trouble filling it out, please get in touch and I'm happy to help.

If you used Stripe, the main credit card checkout system, any payment due for add-ons will be processed between December 1st and December 3rd.

If you used PayPal (or PayPal with a credit card) for your check-out, your payment was processed when you checked out.

If your pledge included a "Postcards From the Future" subscription or you'd like one as an add-on, make sure to fill out your survey by December 1 to ensure you're included in the first mail-out.

Changing publication plans for the book

This is a placeholder update while I wait for a plan to be finalized.

After a slew of recent allegations against ChiZine Publications (the press that was going to be publishing the short story collection of The Story Engine), I have formally requested the book be withdrawn the book from their 2020 publishing lineup so I can instead self-publish it.

I believe and support the victims who have spoken about their experiences. I know a lot of them personally.

I submitted my request last week. I have since spoken to the interim publisher who stepped in to handle matters after the co-founders stepped down. 

We are amicably pursuing plans to withdraw the collection from ChiZine's catalogue, but I do not yet have confirmation of exactly what will happen.

The most likely scenario is that I will instead be self-publishing the book. This should have no effect on backers' experience of the book, and the book will still be released to backers on the same timeline.

I will follow up with more updates when I have them.

Reminder about free decks/books

I am thrilled to announce that I have received 135 registrations for free decks/books for schools, libraries and community groups! This means that all 120 currently unlocked decks/books are now called for.

I'm still encouraging eligible groups to register for their free copy: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfLLTk4nxS-52qC5Rz6b2SJd0XflH5IhvNoy4HBDUB8Xbc3Xg/viewform?usp=sf_link

You'll be added to a waiting list, and even if you don't receive a physical deck or book, you're still guaranteed to be sent a free digital copy.

That's all the news for now, but I'll check in again soon!

BackerKit surveys have been sent out!
about 2 months ago – Wed, Oct 23, 2019 at 03:23:01 AM

Hello backers! This is just a quick update to let you know that the BackerKit surveys have gone out!

Check your email inbox for your invitation to BackerKit, which is the pledge manager where you'll be able to provide your fulfilment information and apply any extra funds from your Kickstarter pledge toward add-ons.

If you don't see the email, it may also help to double-check your spam folder and filters.

In BackerKit, you will also have the opportunity to select and pay for add-ons that you didn't pre-pay for during the campaign, and to upgrade your pledge.

If you wish to adjust your pledge, just click on the "switch your pledge level" text below the green "Get Started" button when you first open your survey.

You will be able to adjust your pledge, add-ons, and address until at least December 1, possibly later. If you selected a tier that includes the monthly postcard subscription, please do fill out your survey at your earliest convenience so I can get your postcard mail-outs started in time for December.

I'm travelling until Friday, but I will try to respond to any questions within 24 hours. BackerKit can also help you with any questions you may have about the process of filling out your survey.

Thanks so much, and I'll follow up with more details about extended stretch goals in the next update!

BackerKit surveys soon + registration for free decks for schools/libraries + sneak peek at book narration
about 2 months ago – Fri, Oct 18, 2019 at 02:21:32 AM

Hi backers!

Thanks again for the incredible support in the closing days of the campaign! I've been diving right in to working on the BackerKit surveys and taking next steps in fulfilment planning. 

This is just a quick update to set the course going forward! Here's what's in this update:

  • BackerKit surveys will be sent out soon
  • Registration for free decks for schools, libraries and community programs is open
  • Cecil Baldwin has finished recording his parts for the book (+ a sample!)

Let's get into it!

BackerKit surveys ready soon

I have been setting up BackerKit surveys and will send them out sometime in the next 5 days, when the bulk of Kickstarter pledges have processed so surveys don't have to be sent twice. The pledge manager invitation should arrive at the email address you have registered with Kickstarter.

In the pledge manager you will be able to upgrade your pledge, claim your add-ons, or purchase new add-ons. 

You will be able to adjust your pledge and address until at least December 1, when I will run credit cards for add-ons/upgrades and begin locking in orders. You will still be able to update your address right up until 2 weeks before shipping commences in spring/summer next year.

However, if you have backed to receive monthly postcard stories in the mail, you will want to finalize your survey ASAP to receive December's postcard.

Also, the BackerKit late pledge/pre-order store is now open for backers who missed the campaign. The pricing differs a little from the campaign, and shipping is not included in any of the bundles or add-on prices, so the most cost-effective way to get items is still by having pledged the original Kickstarter. 

Registration for free decks/books for schools/libraries/community programs is now open

Registration is open through this Google Form: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfLLTk4nxS-52qC5Rz6b2SJd0XflH5IhvNoy4HBDUB8Xbc3Xg/viewform?usp=sf_link

If you work with a school, library or community group that benefits the public and you would like a free deck or book for your organization, please sign up! Note that you must be affiliated with the group in some way (volunteer, teacher, etc.). If you would like to "nominate" a school, library or community program, please send them the link and so someone affiliated the group to fill out the form. (This is to avoid organizations being sent items they didn't ask for or don't want.)

The form is first-come, first-served for physical decks/books, but EVERY group that registers will receive a free ebook or print-and-play PDF, so it is worth registering even after the 100 current stretch goal slots are used up. There will also be a waiting list in case additional slots open up.

The donated copies will ship with the bulk of the Kickstarter, as early as April 2020 and as late as June 2020. I'll double-check addresses before shipping.

Cecil Baldwin has finished recording his parts for the book

Cecil Baldwin (the host of Welcome to Night Vale) has always been one of my favourite voice actors, and I got actual chills when I heard the files he recorded for The Story Engine book. The six stories he recorded will have a short URL under their title in the book where readers can go to listen to the story.

Here he is reading the title story of the book, "Story Engines."

I'll update you again when the BackerKit surveys have been sent out so you know to look out for them.

Thanks so much!

Peter

Woah, incredible! + next steps/taking the weekend off + friends of The Story Engine deck
2 months ago – Sat, Oct 12, 2019 at 01:54:18 AM

Thank you, backers! This has been an impossible, heady ride of a campaign.

The Story Engine Kickstarter finished at $286,851 with 3,590 backers, with all stretch goals but the app unlocked (but I'm pretty sure we'll crush it in BackerKit), all expansions and boosters made available, and 100 decks/books being donated to libraries, schools and community programs.

The campaign didn't just do well. I think it's actually going to do good in this world. I think it's going to inspire writers and storytellers and teachers and drama groups and misfits and outcasts to tell their stories and more stories besides.

There are too many people to thank! Too many people who threw their support behind my storytelling when I started writing The Shortest Story, who carried me through the darkness of 2018-2019 and gave me hope, who were ready to cheerlead this project from day 1.

Thank you to the incredible community that has sprung up around this project, offering advice and support and even running the comments section for me while I sleep. Thank you to the gracious and talented guest authors and collaborators who are joining me on this project!

I'm about to take the weekend away from my computer (or on very reduced hours) to get some quality time with my wife and my friends, who have seen too little of me these past 4 weeks. I may be slow to respond until Monday, when I'll be back in force.

Next steps

I'd like to let people have access to the BackerKit pledge manager as early as next week, and no later than the week after, so we can work toward the last stretch goal.

I will likely be announcing a couple more donation-based stretch goals for additional donated decks and books for schools, libraries and community programs to share the incredible support this campaign has found.

I will also work with my manufacturers to explore boxing options for the boosters and expansions.

But for now, I'm going to enjoy a glass of scotch and try to get a few hours of sleep in before I head for a train in the morning.

In gratitude for all the incredible support this project has received, I also wanted to leave you with three projects by collaborators of The Story Engine that I support and I wanted the community to know about!

  • Guest author Chinelo Onwualo is one of the editors at Anathema, a magazine focused on publishing science fiction/fantasy/horror by queer people of colour/Indigenous/Aboriginal creators, giving a platform to voices that often get shut out of mainstream publishing. Anathema is fundraising for its December 2019 issue.
  • Guest author S.M. Beiko is editing and Kickstarting Gothic Tales of Haunted Futures, an anthology of 18 original stories, casting the indelible themes of gothic romance forward in time, to imagined futures and tomorrow’s afterlives.
  • Longtime friend and playtester/advisor of The Story Engine Jason Anarchy is Kickstarting his original hilarious drinking RPG Drinking Quest, which takes everything you love about golden age D&D and turns it on its head.

I also wanted to take a moment to shout out Brett Bernstein at Precis Intermedia games. I didn't know when I launched the campaign, but there has been a scenematic tabletop RPG called "Story Engine" since the 90s. Brett was extremely gracious in working out an agreement where we can coexist using similar names for our separate projects.

For those interested, you can check out Story Engine RPG here. For clarity, I've added this statement to the campaign page: Story Engine is a Precis Intermedia trademark for its collaborative roleplaying game and rules (www.pigames.net). The Story Engine is a Peter Chiykowski trademark for his deck of story prompts (www.storyenginedeck.com).

This project, and seeing the ways in which friends and strangers have stepped forward to make room for it or share it with the world, has been a gift for me after a very difficult year.

Seeing this campaign through has been a special kind of magic. Thanks for being part of the summoning circle with me!

With endless <3

Peter