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Backstory Cards continues to help you and your friends create vibrant backstories for roleplaying games, no matter the system or genre.
365 backers pledged $12,287 to help bring this project to life.

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About Backstory Cards

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.

The campaign for Backstory Cards Vol.2 aims to produce two more printed decks to add to your writing/game-running/creative arsenal!

Originally, we released digital prototypes of these decks as the “Monthly Minis” series, as part of our first kickstarter campaign. We’re revising those cards and filling in the gaps to create two whole new finished decks:

The first new deck: Expansion #2 extends the core deck and genre expansion. It explores areas that these first two decks didn’t get a chance to cover including romance, light-hearted mysteries, and post-apocalyptic environments.

The second new deck: Expansion #3 is a focused toolkit to help you create your own setting grids and add richness to your own individuals, groups, places, and events.

Using Backstory Cards

You start using Backstory Cards by coming up with your character concepts and a setting grid that highlights a few important elements—up to three each of individual secondary characters, groups, places, and events. You can come up with the setting elements ahead of time or create them during the Backstory Cards process. We also have lots of pre-made setting grids available for you to use right away or as examples of how you might construct your own.

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!

The Setting Elements deck takes a different approach and focuses on creating the grid itself. Draw a card for the desired column. Each card lists its basic concept at the top, followed by three possible roles (ways to fit into the overall setting), traits (quirks or expressions), and some questions relating to other characters and situations.

Why You'll Love Backstory Cards

It solves the "you all meet in a tavern" problem. None of the characters in this situation have any history yet but they're expected to work together. Why should they go on an adventure? Backstory Cards solve that problem with rich prompts to 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.

Watch Backstory Cards in action!

This demo features the game Trail of Cthulhu. The group focuses on characters who are individually complete, but are otherwise disconnected before bringing backstory cards into play.

Add-Ons

Get these add-ons to your pledge level by bumping up your Kickstarter Pledge the noted amount.

+$15 - Add a physical Core Deck — We've heard the call to make the core deck available through this campaign and we're doing just that!Get the cards that started it all. The original Core Deck of Backstory Cards is a genre-neutral deck of prompts that fits nearly any type of story where characters are supposed to know each other. Shipping will be calculated and added at the end of the campaign.

Stretch Goals

We're focusing on bringing you as much Backstory as we can muster, so we've started lining up a team of awesome people to write all-new setting grids, which every backer will get, at each increment of $500 past the original goal! Plus, at bigger milestones we're going to start working on even more:

Every $500 over the goal — New adventure hooks and campaign concepts in the form of setting grids by awesome writers.

$12,500 - LOCKED — An updated and printed techniques guide: The existing PDF was a great start, but we've learned a ton from all the people using Backstory Cards in new and exciting ways. We'd like to update and expand it to reflect all of the ideas that are floating out there.

$17,500 - LOCKED — We've heard a lot of demand for Backstory dice, so at $17,500 we'll do a reprint and make those available!

$20,000 - LOCKED — The original Backstory Cards deluxe kit was a big hit, and so at 20, we'll do another round of the deluxe version that includes all of the new cards.

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.

Tim Rodriguez is publishing Backstory Cards. He published the first two sets of Backstory Cards, as well as Emma Larkins' Heartcatchers. He also created the OmegaZone setting for Fate Accelerated, and the Ghost Pirates board game—all successful Kickstarter projects! He's also a three-time judge for the Cardboard Edison awards and has written for Bulldogs!, Urban Shadows.

Graphic Design credits include Daniel Solis who designed the logo, and Lisa Aurigemma is helping with the card faces and package design.

Even more about Backstory Cards!

Press for Backstory Cards

C.S.E. Cooney interviewed me and Ryan about how Volume 2 extends Backstory Cards' support for playing and world-building.  https://www.blackgate.com/2018/04/20/backstory-cards-for-roleplayers-writers-and-game-runners/

Roll20 What's Up on Twitch brings up Backstory Cards (near the 5:30 mark) https://www.twitch.tv/videos/233480384

Eric Paquette wrote up a recap about using Backstory Cards for a one-shot of Time Watch
http://site.pelgranepress.com/index.php/timewatch-and-backstory-cards/

Solo RPG Voyages discovers the details of Ravenloft with Backstory Cards
https://solorpgvoyages.wordpress.com/2016/09/05/stat-it-ravenloft/

Critical Glitch podcast talks Backstory Cards (12:18)
http://criticalglitch.com/?p=912

Rick Neal writes an overview of use Backstory Cards with Unknown Armies
http://www.rickneal.ca/?p=1275

The Unspeakable! Oath podcast interviews Ryan about Horror games
http://theunspeakableoath.com/home/2014/07/unspeakable-episode-11-ryan-macklin-of-backstory-cards-fate-paizo-and-mythender-player-agency-in-horror-games/

Ryan did an interview with SF Signal http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2014/06/roll-perception-plus-awareness-an-interview-with-ryan-macklin-creator-of-backstory/

Ryan answered "Five or So Questions" with Brie Sheldon http://briecs.blogspot.com/2014/06/five-or-so-questions-with-ryan-macklin.html

Backstory Cards has been written up in the Toy Insider blog http://www.thetoyinsider.com/players-can-create-unexpected-made-up-situations-with-backstory-cards/

Gnome Stew mentioned Backstory Cards in an overview of what might go into an Improv Toolkit
http://www.gnomestew.com/gming-advice/improv-toolkit/

GeekMom is excited about Backstory Cards!
http://geekmom.com/2014/07/fund-integrated-space-plan-backstory-rpg-cards-potato-salad/

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Risks and challenges

The component parts of Backstory Cards Volume 2 are nearly complete. With a successful Kickstarter, we can fund the final writing/editing, the manufacture, and shipping of the cards themselves. We've completed and fulfilled several prior projects, and we'll be using vendors we've had great experience with in the past to do the manufacturing and shipping. In the years since the first Backstory Cards campaign, we've lined up additional partners for further redundancy all the way down the production process which will additionally help minimize risk.

Shipping and production costs, especially those that have to do with China, are a really important variable right now, and there is a potential that our well-researched plans and best-practices suddenly do not reflect real-life costs. We promise to keep you in the loop on whatever happens.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 1 or more About US$ 1.00

    Follow Along

    Become a backer and any unlocked setting grids as soon as they’re released. We'll also be offering some other sneak peeks and behind the scenes goodies as backers-only updates.

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    Pledge US$ 5 or more About US$ 5

    Retailer Reminder

    Retailers who back at this level will get a reminder, a $5 credit and first dibs on larger orders of Backstory Cards.

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    1 backer
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 15 or more About US$ 15

    Digital-New

    This is a digital-download-only reward level that includes printable PDFs of Backstory Cards Expansion decks 2 and 3.

    Includes:
    • PDF: Backstory Cards: Expansion #2
    • PDF: Backstory Cards: Expansion #3
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 25 or more About US$ 25

    All-Digital-Complete

    Print & Play! We'll get you printable PDFs of ALL OF THE BACKSTORY CARDS via DriveThruRPG, where you'll always be able to find it.

    Includes:
    • PDF: Backstory Cards: Core
    • PDF: Backstory Cards: Expansion #1
    • PDF: Backstory Cards: Expansion #2
    • PDF: Backstory Cards: Expansion #3
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    79 backers
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    Everything New

    This is the core reward level. Both Backstory Cards Expansion decks will each contain 54 cards including prompts, instructions and tips, and a few blanks to write your own. This level also includes printable PDFs.

    ***Shipping is not included here, and will be applied in a pledge-manager later.***

    Includes:
    • Backstory Cards Expansion #2
    • PDF: Backstory Cards: Expansion #2
    • Backstory Cards Expansion #3
    • PDF: Backstory Cards: Expansion #3
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    180 backers
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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    Complete Set

    This is a limited-availability catch-up set of All of the Backstory Cards decks. They will each contain 54 cards including prompts, instructions and tips, and a few blanks to write your own. This also includes printable PDFs.

    ***Shipping is not included here, and will be applied in a pledge-manager later.***

    Includes:
    • Backstory Cards: Core
    • PDF: Backstory Cards: Core
    • Backstory Cards: Expansion #1
    • PDF: Backstory Cards: Expansion #1
    • Backstory Cards Expansion #2
    • PDF: Backstory Cards: Expansion #2
    • Backstory Cards Expansion #3
    • PDF: Backstory Cards: Expansion #3
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    Limited 74 backers
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Funding period

- (30 days)