Story cards

Normally, I scroll over ads in social media without giving them more than half a thought (if any). Occasionally, my eyes will linger on card and board games because I suffer from this illusion that I can find someone to play intensive adult board games, or than I’m willing to go through a set-up period that takes longer than the actual gameplay. But then, I scroll on by and try to ignore the appeal because I never can find anyone that wants to go through that kind of effort and it ends up being a waste of time and money.

However, I lingered a little longer on some cards that at first appeared to be game cards. Instead, they were writing cards with different color schemes for the following categories: Dialog Boosters, Textures, Traits, Relationships, Characters, Habits and Elements. (I’m not naming the product, because I don’t want to appear as if I endorse them — not without further experimentation, anyway).

Anyway, I was intrigued because I have wondered for a while now why such tools are so absolutely terrible, but this one seemed to do things differently.

So I clicked.

Now, $45 for a deck of 150 cards is not exactly cheap, but not in the realm of “no fricking way” either. So I watched some of their examples. The idea is that they take some classic tropes and you create characters or story elements by choosing a number of cards. The cards are vague enough in the descriptions that they only trigger additional creative thought on your part and are generalized enough to be used for a number of genres. But each card has a trope in the above categories and you randomly blend them to create, for example, a character.

The categories in the example drew from Characters [The Bureaucrat], Traits [Klepto], and Textures [Festering Wound]. I’m not going into the details in this post, but the idea is that these concepts will trigger some creative ideas. In this example, for instance, the character might rely on rules and regulations to thwart anyone who is not aligned with their interests, but has a nasty habit of collecting things that they may or may not actually want (perhaps… money, or rental property, or women’s underwear, IDK), and suffers from a past tribulation that has gone unhealed (wife left him for a richer man? his cat got run over by a car? his mother used to make him wear dresses?).

I like this idea and often considered trying to create something very similar on my own but, like I said, I’m often more of an ideas guy than the person to see it become a reality — I’ve used tarot in the same manner as these cards, but these threaten to work better. They have an app, which hasn’t received the requisite TLC the cards appear to have been graced with, which makes me hesitant to lean into and name the tool.

I’ll play around with the app and let you know what I think in a follow-up post.

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