Backstory Cards blend your characters and setting concept into an intriguing set of relationships and history. It’s tailor-made for games where the player-characters already know each other—from fantasy adventurers to star marines, from supernatural beings who share the same city to global-hopping troubleshooters.
This deck of cards works well with most roleplaying games, including GM-less ones. It also includes how to directly integrate Backstory Cards into Fate Core and Fate Accelerated's character creation.
If you're already a backer, check out update #1 for the downloadable sneak preview right now!
How to Use Backstory Cards
You start by coming up with your character concepts and a few elements of the setting—up to three individual NPCs, groups, places, and events. You can come up with the setting elements ahead of time, or create them during the Backstory Cards process. We even have some pre-made settings for you to use right away or to use as examples.
Taking turns going around the table, each player draws a Backstory Card and answers the prompt on the card. Prompts incorporate random setting elements and other PCs, leading to unexpected situations. You all do this a couple times and you've got some great backstory!
Why You'll Love Backstory Cards
Have you ever run into the "you all meet in a tavern" problem? None of the characters in this situation have any real history, but they're expected to work together. Why should they go on an adventure? Backstory Cards help solve that problem with rich prompts to help get the creative juices flowing.
And if you're an expert at coming up with interconnected characters, Backstory Cards is still great for you because it'll create questions and situations that you won't expect. It also serves as a backup for when you generate some backstory but are drawing a blank.
You can use Backstory Cards to instantly give one-shot and convention games a living, breathing history, allowing for deeper story and more player engagement with minimal preparation whether you're creating characters before the session or creating them together at the table.
Backstory Cards are useful anywhere that creating relationships between characters is an important step.
"But I want to see it in action!"
Oh, don't worry. We've got you covered!
In the coming weeks, Tim and Ryan will be hosting more live demonstrations in different settings and systems over Google Hangouts on the Air, and will invite people to ask questions afterward! And since they'll be Hangouts, they'll be up on YouTube shortly after broadcasting, so you can check them out at your leisure. The first demo is using the OmegaZone setting for Fate Accelerated Edition.
The second demo video is now available and focuses on building out backstory in the midst of a game. This demo showcases using Backstory Cards with Dungeon World.
The third demo features Trail of Cthulhu. This demo focuses on characters who are individually complete, but are otherwise disconnected before bringing backstory cards into play. This video also features a preview of brand new cards from the "Unseen Threats" expansion!
About the Rewards
Behind the Scenes ($1)
Become a backer at any level and download the pre-production alpha PDF. We'll be offering some other sneak peeks and goodies behind the scenes as backers-only updates. Tim will also video and post online high-fives with you (using a stunt hand).
Cyber Digital Intertube Hacker ($8)
Print & Play! We'll get you a PDF via the Brooklyn Indie Games webstore, where you'll always be able to find it. All backer levels above this one also include the PDF. The PDF also includes a digital copy of all three expansion packs at no extra cost.
The Deck ($15)
This is the main reward level. The Backstory Cards deck contains 54 cards covering instructions and tips, prompts, a few blanks to write your own, and a little extra info about other games we've made that you might enjoy. Want more than one deck? Just add another $15 to your pledge. This level also includes all of the Backstory Cards digital rewards.
Make Me One With Everything (Digital) ($15) The discerning digital citizen knows a deal when they see one. In this package, the all-digital Print-and-Play PDF of Backstory Cards and all the expansions is joined by an even cheaper copy of the Brooklyn Indie Games Grab Bag. Save $5!
Expand Your Horizons ($30)
One deck of Backstory Cards and One Expansions deck including "Distant Worlds," "Unseen Threats," and "Wicked Shadows" genre. This level also includes all of the Backstory Cards digital rewards.
Expansion Deluxe with The Works ($50)
The complete package. One deck of Backstory Cards, One Expansions deck including "Distant Worlds," "Unseen Threats," and "Wicked Shadows," 2 Backstory Dice, and the Brooklyn Indie Grab Bag. If we hit the $17,500 stretch goal, this will come in a Limited Edition Box (details TBD) at no extra cost. This level also includes all of the Backstory Cards digital rewards.
Adventuring Party ($90)
With a certain amount of volume, we can afford to offer FREE INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING. Just organize some friends or other local gamers to take the extra copies off your hands. Mix and Match up to six Backstory Cards or Collected Expansions decks. This level also includes all of the Backstory Cards digital rewards.
Eat Our Brains* ($150)
We're making ourselves available for 2-hour personal consultations aimed at helping you design or clarify your ideas for a setting. This will take place via Skype or Google Hangouts at times convenient to all parties. This reward level includes one complete set of physical rewards (deck, expansions, dice), plus all of the Backstory Cards digital rewards.
Interdimensional Humans of Mystery* ($300)
You like to play games? Us too! Let's play a game! Organize a few friends and we'll make time to play some kind of game with you, using Backstory Cards to make it the best game we can. Give us a heads-up about what kind of game you want to play - system, style, etc. and we'll create a completely new setting grid just for you. This reward level includes four complete sets of physical rewards (deck, expansions, dice), plus all of the Backstory Cards digital rewards..
* For the rewards that involve Tim or Ryan doing a Hangout with you, we'll want to schedule those for sometime between late-August and mid-November. (Some blackout dates apply due to conventions, Ryan's upcoming wedding, and other life events.)
MORE STUFF. A lot of the Add-ons we're doing as freebies, just for you showing up.
The Expansions are included with every digital copy of Backstory Cards automatically. They are three genre-focused additions to focus on more specific directions for your game. "Distant Worlds" which focuses on Sci-Fi and Space Opera, "Unseen Threats" for Investigation and Horror narrative themes, and "Wicked Shadows" for Cyberpunk and Noir themes. Get all three with your deck of Backstory Cards for the complete experience!
Backstory Dice are a fun accessory. The die is multi-coded to inform you whether to look one or two people to your right or left/across/any (you pick) as per the arrows on the cards, then also as 1/2/3 to pick the entry on the relevant setting grid.
The specific Grab Bag contents are currently being finalized, but will definitely include: Hyperreality RPG, Feed the Birds board game, and party game Plato's Cave. These three alone would be at least a $30 value when formally published. Get them ahead of time (with all future updates) for only a dollar each. Further, If you're adding this on to a multiple deck group-order, you are welcome to share the digital files.
The siren's allure. The mystery of what could be. Well, we've put some thought into it, and we're doing incremental goals in two forms. One ladder based on number of backers, and one based on overfunding. We'll reveal the next goal when we hit the current one.
About the Team
Ryan Macklin is the creator of Backstory cards. He's most well-known for co-creating the award-winning Fate Core System and The Dresden Files Roleplaying Game, as well as for being an editor at Paizo, creators of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. He's worked on dozens of other games, including The Leverage Roleplaying Game, recent sourcebooks for Mage: the Ascension, a variety of indie RPGs, and his own Mythender. You can find more about him at his blog, RyanMacklin.com.
Tim Rodriguez is publishing Backstory Cards. He also created the OmegaZone setting for Fate Accelerated, and the Ghost Pirates board game—both successful Kickstarter projects published by his company Brooklyn Indie Games. Find out more at BrooklynIndieGames.com
Amanda Valentine is editing Backstory Cards. Her credit list is about as long as my arm and even stronger. Dresden Files RPG, Marvel Heroic RPG, Firefly RPG, and many many more. Find out more at http://www.ayvalentine.com
Graphic Design credits include Daniel Solis who designed the logo, and Lisa Aurigemma is helping with the card faces and package design.
Ryan and Tim would like to thank the following people for cheering us on this project or giving us solid playtesting advice: Erol Can Akbaba, Steven Baker, John Bogart, Austin Bridges, Dave Chalker, Lillian Cohen-Moore, Rex Cook, Sam Davis, Rob Donoghue, Alican Çelen, David Gallo, Chris Hanrahan, Fred Hicks, Will Hindmarch, Brian Isikoff, Justin D. Jacobson, Deniz Kaptanoğlu, Hazar Kumaş, Micheal Monson, Fatih Özkan, Jeff Piroozshad, Mark Rickard, Jordan Rubin, Michael Ruiz, Paul Tevis, Rodney Thompson, Gökçe Ozan Toptaş, Mert Torun, Clark and Amanda Valentine, David Warren, Aybars Yurdun; and Avonelle Wing, Vincent Salzillo, and the whole Double Exposure crew.
And, of course, you for checking out our project!
Risks and challenges
Backstory Cards are all but complete, design-wise. With a successful Kickstarter, we can fund the final editing, the visual design (the cards, the box), and the manufacture and shipping of the cards themselves. Brooklyn Indie Games has completed and fulfilled multiple prior projects, and we'll be using a vendor we've had a great experience with in the past to do the manufacturing.
The discerning digital citizen knows a deal when they see one. In this package, the all-digital Print-and-Play PDF of Backstory Cards and all the expansions is joined by an even cheaper copy of the Brooklyn Indie Games Grab Bag. Save $5!
One deck of Backstory cards. PLUS: Ryan or Tim will consult with you about your setting design, jamming with you for a two-hour meeting. At the end of it, you'll have many different ideas for setting grid elements and custom prompts for your setting. See project page for more details.
Want to experience Backstory Cards in action, first hand, over the Internet? Collect a group of four, everyone gets a deck of Backstory Cards and an online hangout in which the six of us play a one-shot game with an all-new setting.