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:

How to add-on an expansion deck!
4 months ago – Thu, Oct 03, 2019 at 01:59:11 AM

Hi again backers!

I'm so happy you're so excited about the new fantasy expansion deck, and the teaser for the sci-fi and horror decks! I'm absolutely thrilled about them myself!

Note: This image is a rendering and not the final design.

If you'd like to help us push on toward the big stretch goals to unlock the rest, please consider sharing the link to the campaign page! I also find that sending a link directly to one or two people who you think would enjoy this project is a great way to help the right people find it.

A number of you asked for help adding-on the new expansion to your pledge, so I've included instructions for add-ons below, as well as in the FAQs section.

NOTE: All add-on prices include free shipping to all regions for the additional items, but physical items can only be added on to physical reward tiers.

1) Add up the value of the items you would like to add-on:

  • Digital deck or book: $14 CAD (~$11 USD)
  • Physical deck: $32 CAD (~$24 USD)
  • Expansion deck: $20 CAD (~$15 USD)
  • Physical book: $25 CAD (~$19 USD)
  • T-shirt: $30 CAD (~$23 USD)
  • Postcards From the Future subscription: $50 CAD (~$37 USD)
  • Signed and matted custom print: $35 CAD (~$26 USD)
  • Digital story wallpaper pack: $7 CAD (~$5 USD)
  • Complete ChiZine library: $130 CAD (~$99 USD)

2) Click "Manage My Pledge" near the top on the right of the main campaign screen.

3) Manually increase your pledge total by the total value for your add-ons.

For example, if your old pledge was for $70 CAD including shipping and you want to add 1 expansion ($20 CAD) and 1 T-shirt ($30 CAD), you would adjust it to $120 CAD.

4) Click "Continue," then "Confirm."

Then you're done!

After the campaign. you'll be sent a reward survey in BackerKit to specify which add-ons you are using your credit for.

Again, thanks so much for all the enthusiasm and support!

WRITTEN IN DRAGONFIRE unveiled + teasers for 2 more expansions + revised stretch goals
4 months ago – Wed, Oct 02, 2019 at 02:50:12 AM

Hello backers!

I am so unbelievably thrilled to unveil Written in Dragonfire, the fantasy expansion for The Story Engine, which can be added-on to all physical reward tiers for $20 CAD / $15 USD (add-on price covers shipping to all regions)!

Note: Cover art may not be final.

I've teamed up with EMBERWIND, a groundbreaking tabletop RPG with stunning visuals and a world-class art team, to bring you some truly eye-watering visuals for the fantasy deck.

The 60-card deck will feature a mixture of art from existing EMBERWIND lore and illustration library, as well as several new pieces special to this project. As a writer on the EMBERWIND team, I can tell you that the artists have been a major inspiration for pushing my storytelling and worldbuilding to new heights.

Note: Card designs not final.

The cards feature artists from the EMBERWIND roster past and present, including CRUSH Visual, Toma Feizo Gas, William Liu, Frank Yang, Jonny Hall, baimon, and more. These artists have worked on art for blockbuster movies, AAA video game titles, and tabletop classics like Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, and Magic: The Gathering.

You can see more of their work in the EMBERWIND lore archive, which includes short stories, free EMBERWIND DLC, and lots of pretty art. You can also download and play a free demo the first act of The Songweave Tapestry, the forthcoming campaign I've been writing with the team for the past year. 

Note: Card designs not final.

Also, after receiving more feedback and interest in the deck and its expansions and translations, I've rearranged the stretch goals to reflect what backers have been most passionate about.

I've brought the science fiction and horror expansions in as earlier goalposts and made both the French and Spanish translations of the core deck more accessible. I've also changed the name of the sci-fi deck (previously Distant Worlds and Near Futures) to create a matching set of three 60-card expansions:

  •  Written in Dragonfire (fantasy)
  •  Written in the Light of Strange Worlds (sci-fi)
  •  Written in Ash and Bone (horror)
Note: This is a rendered image and designs are not final.

Thanks so much for your ongoing support! With a week and a half left to share this campaign, I know we can cover some incredible ground!

Album of stories to preview + next set of stretch goals announced
4 months ago – Thu, Sep 26, 2019 at 01:46:00 AM

Hello backers!

Thanks for continuing to share the campaign, and your enthusiasm for The Story Engine. It's been incredible to see it continue to grow, and to hear backers' ideas for expanding the campaign and finding new uses for the deck! I'll start assembling an FAQ in time for the next update.

 In the meantime, I wanted to share a new album of my postcard stories I just posted to imgur, in case you'd like to read it for a preview of what's to come in The Story Engine book. Many of these stories appear in the collection, and others are gathered from my website, and last year's monthly postcard mail-out subscription.

If you have a moment, please feel free to go take a look! You can also help share the album on Facebook and Twitter.

As we approach $60,000, I am absolutely thrilled to unveil the next set of stretch goals, which will include more cards being added to the deck, as well as a French-language translation of the deck led by guest author Benoit Chartier and made available to all backers as an option for the digital print-and-play PDF.

I am also excited to announce that at $120,000 I will be releasing a new science-fiction expansion called Distant Worlds and Near Futures, focused specifically on prompts and images designed to help tell sci-fi-driven stories. Physical copies will be available as a physical add-on and all deck backers will receive a free digital print-and-play PDF.

Thanks, and I'll be back with more news soon!

Backer questions, ladies' cut shirts available, and a new special guest author!
4 months ago – Tue, Sep 24, 2019 at 01:25:08 PM

Hello backers!

As we approach the $50,000 stretch goal to add 5 new cards to the deck, bringing the size to 160 cards, I wanted to go through some of the questions I've been asked about the project so far, and introduce to a new special guest author who has just joined to write a guest story for the book: Sebastian A. Jones, creator of Niobe and The Untamed, currently on Kickstarter and being developed by HBO for a new epic drama. 

Sebastian will be contributing an original guest postcard story. You can check out more of his work on his Kickstarter campaign, which features the latest instalment in his epic storytelling universe, Asunda. Sebastian started out creating his world to bring a greater breadth of representation to fantasy storytelling, exploring it first as an RPG and LARP setting, later through comics, and next through television. It's very exciting to have him on board!

Now, on to the Q&A!

How many pages will the print-and-play deck be?

I designed the original 150-card deck to print at full-size (3" x 3") on 25 sheets of paper, but I am aware that a lot of teachers and community groups are looking forward to this deck and want a more economical way to produce their print-and-plays.

As such, I'll also be releasing a scaled-down version with 2.5" x 2.5" cards that will be printable with 13 sheets of paper.

Additional cards unlocked by stretch goals will mean additional pages for the PDF.

 Will the T-shirt be available in ladies' cut?

Yes! You will be able to choose any size from S-3X in men's cut and S-2X in ladies'. The shirts will be 100% cotton. I will confirm the manufacturer before surveys are sent out through BackerKit to determine which size and cut you would like.

The T-shirt is available through the $80 reward tier and as an add-on for $30 CAD (~$23 USD).

Who will have access to the French print-and-play?

A French translation of the deck is a stretch goal that will be unveiled in the next run of goals, probably around the $80,000 or $100,000 mark. 

If we reach it, any backer of any deck tier will be able to email me to request access to the French print-and-play. I will be assisted in translation by bilingual science fiction writer Benoit Chartier.

Send me your questions!

Please send me your questions to let me know what else you'd like to know about the deck and book! I will be travelling for the next 5 days and will round up answers in my next update when I return.

Thanks so much for your ongoing support!

Over $40,000 with new stretch goals!
4 months ago – Tue, Sep 17, 2019 at 12:15:00 PM

Hi again everyone!

It's been an unbelievable week! We've just passed $40,000 after 5 days of the campaign, and we're coming up on 700 backers!

I've also just launched a new YouTube channel for The Shortest Story, where you can see more of my postcard stories read by Cecil Baldwin and animated by Mathias Semmann. Here's another sample story.

If you want to help boost the signal on this project, you can also follow along and help spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

I want to thank the people who weighed in on the stretch goals. It sounds like there's a lot of excitement to see the main Story Engine deck expanded, so I've made some updates to the stretch goals to make sure you're able to get what you're most interested in.

I'll summarize the changes below, but here is the updated stretch goal list, with 2 new interstitial stretch goals at $45,000 and $55,000.

  • The $40,000 stretch goal used to be for 5 limited-edition promo cards being added to reward parcels receiving the deck. Instead, given the feedback, I'll be designed 5 new, core cards for the engine, making the deck 155 cards. If there's still an appetite for limited edition/promo cards, let me know in the comments I'll consider re-adding some for stretch goals down the line.
  • The old $50,000 stretch goal was moved to $55,000 to make room for a new $50,000 stretch goal adding another 5 cards to the deck, bringing The Story Engine to 160 cards.
  • The $60,000 stretch goal for the Written in Dragonfire expansion has been updated so all backs are receiving the full, final deck as a print-and-play PDF (and not just as a demo).
  • A new $45,000 stretch goal for Jonathan Sims, the writer and voice of the Archivist on The Magnus Archives podcast, to record and narrate his guest story "White Sheet" for the book.

With 160 cards, the number of possible basic 5-card prompts would grow to 17.2 billion (and that doesn't include all the alternate patterns and card spreads). I think writers, teachers and RPG storytellers will be able to get some incredible mileage out of this deck and system.

You have been my strongest and earliest supporters, and while I have my own vision for the growth of this project, I'd like to make sure your feedback shapes how this project grows, so thank you for weighing in.

As for stretch goals beyond $60,000, I have some fun stuff brewing, including:

  • More spreads and patterns for the deck
  • A translated French print-and-play of the deck
  • Additional cards for the deck
  • Additional expansions for the deck made available as free print-and-play PDFs to all deck backers
  • A new guest voice actor for the book
  • Bonus stories and print upgrades for the book

As we approach $60,000 I will release the next wave of goals with specifics!

Thanks again for all your support!

Peter