Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
Sooner or later, you're going to need more story! Generate NPCs, plot seeds, and more, all with one deck of randomizer cards.
Sooner or later, you're going to need more story! Generate NPCs, plot seeds, and more, all with one deck of randomizer cards.
365 backers pledged $7,601 to help bring this project to life.

About

The GameMaster's Apprentice project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound

$7,601

365

Kickstarter video music: Blue Circles by unreal_dm. Source: http://ccmixter.org/files/unreal_dm/33850; Used under CC BY 2.5 license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5/

Graphic Design by Max Johnson: http://www.itsmax.net/

UPDATED REWARDS: Timing and level upgrades! Details below!

This is an aggregated list of upgrades I made via Update posts:

1. Probably sooner than planned! I decided to build 8 extra months in to the creation time of the base deck in case something goes wrong; I hope this hasn't scared away too many backers, but I would rather be safe than sorry. I'm hoping to have the final base deck by between December and January, just FYI!

2 An art upgrade: At 250 backers, I will upgrade the art in the core instructions and make a short Demon Hunters-themed video. We ride!

3. Free app if ever made! For backers of $25 and more, even if I don't make the app as part of the campaign, I will make sure you get it for free on as many platforms as I can arrange it. I do intend to make it, since I want it!

NEW! 4. Adventure planning! At $50 or more, you will receive invites to 4 private Google+ video Hangout sessions of approximately half an hour each, where I will help you prep a custom campaign guide (like an Adventure Guide for your home campaign)! Dates and times TBD (partially by Backer vote). Each session will work through different parts of the process.

NEW! 5. Custom adventure! At $75 or more, you receive the adventure planning invites as above, plus I will work with you individually via email and Google+ Hangout (one hour video time, when convenient for both of us) on your custom campaign guide! If you have a specific game world, or want help prepping a guide for an IP I don't have the license for, I can still help you this way! 

What is The GameMaster’s Apprentice?

UPDATE: Check out these video demos of the story generator and the game engine!

How to build a story seed from scratch:

How to run an RPG with no GM required:

This is a deck of 60 double-sided cards (so, 120 unique card faces) meant to help design and run adventures for role playing games of all kinds.

It is...

1. A source of idea-sparking suggestions, snippets, and randomizers!

2. System-neutral: Crunchy and roll-heavy to narrative and diceless!

3. Setting-neutral: Modern, fantasy, high science, pulp...

4. Multi-purpose. Plan adventures or generate complex NPCs ahead of time, or fill in the gaps during play!

5. For groups of any size, including solo-games with no GM!

What is on each card, and what will I use the deck for?

There are essentially 14 randomizers on each card, and all of them have more than one use. I demonstrate a few in the Kickstarter video, and you can check out the updates for more detail, but here are a few of the things you can use the cards for:

1. Generate story seeds, encounters, or random events. You can instantly create random encounters or plot twists on the fly--or if you prefer to plan ahead, you can use the cards to spark ideas before game night, giving you more time to work the results into your story.

2. Create fleshed-out NPCs. Even just a new name you aren’t recycling can be handy (and that’s what I started this whole project to help me with), but the GameMaster’s Apprentice can also supply NPCs with details for their background and personality.

3. Run complete RPGs with the solo-game engine. I have always been a huge fan of adventure game books. However, they have one key problem: eventually, you run out of book! The GameMaster’s Apprentice solves that problem by supplying such a vast array of possible random events and characters that you can actually use it to run entire role playing campaigns. 

Why a deck of cards? And why 60 of them?

I love random tables, and I love games with deck-based game engines (especially some of the better-known ones based on Lovecraftian and Arthurian mythologies). Drawing one card is easier and faster than rolling on random tables, and since I play many collectable card games, a deck of 60 cards feels just right in my hands.

And, fortunately, doubling the sides gives us 120 card faces. So what? Check out the early updates for info on the math behind the cards!

What do I get for backing?

You get DRM-free PDFs (for both digital and print-and-play use) of:

~The deck! 120 card faces; the print-on-demand version has one card per slide, but I hope to include several versions that would be friendlier to home-printing.

~The instructions, which include descriptions of all the card elements and general usage guidelines for both story planning and solo-game running. This will ONLY be available as a PDF, even if you get the printed deck as well.

~A High Fantasy Adventure Guide; like the exclusive and stretch-goal Adventure Guides, this is a series of adventure seeds and explanations of how to use the cards to generate and run a story in a particular genre (in this case, high fantasy), about 15 pages long, depending on the amount of art I can afford and how the formatting shakes out. This will ONLY be available as a PDF, even if you get the printed deck as well.

You also get the Kickstarter-exclusive content (see below) and, if you want, access to order the physical deck for the production cost (approximately $7+ shipping, paid at the time you order the deck from DriveThruCards).

If you want to support the project beyond the lowest levels, you also get beta access (digital and/or physical), and can optionally add names or other creative elements to the cards, sponsor a genre-specific adventure guide, or even get your very own completely customized, personal version of the GameMaster’s Apprentice for your home campaign!

What is the point of beta access?

Unlike many digital beta access products, this beta is more like early access; the beta deck is already complete and has been test-printed. It is a fully usable version of the deck available NOW, but I want the final product to be the best version possible.

Names, belongings, and sensory snippets may be in need of tweaking to be as useful as possible. There might be technical glitches with the process that result in typos, overfilled or mysteriously empty text fields, and so on. If you get digital or physical beta access, your feedback and error-checking will be greatly appreciated! With your help, the GameMaster's Apprentice can be completed even more quickly, and will achieve an even higher standard of quality.

The instructions, adventure guides and, of course, stretch goal content are not yet complete, but beta access allows you to get these as soon as they are finished, and even if they don't require heavy editing, you will still have the opportunity to start using them sooner, and your feedback will shape them as well!

Kickstarter Exclusive Content

Because I want to ensure that backing the project here provides real, tangible (and yet digital. So intangible?) benefits over simply waiting to buy it later, I will include the following with all reward levels:

1. A modern-horror adventure guide. This quick-start guidebook to generating modern terror will be made available to backers ASAP, and will NOT be bundled with the core product when it is sold commercially in finished form. It WILL eventually be sold as part of an “expansion” to the GameMaster’s Apprentice, but that won’t be for over a year.

2. A tavern and ship name generator. This was cut from the cards a while back, but is amusing enough that I’ve kept it around as a set of tables. This will never be made available anywhere else!

3. Thanks! Your name (if you wish) will be included in a special section of the credits, so your support will never be forgotten!

Stretch Goals!

The Demon Hunters by Dead Gentlemen Productions, LLC
The Demon Hunters by Dead Gentlemen Productions, LLC

Most stretch goals will be genre-specific Adventure Guides (suggestions, story seeds, and rules for using the base deck of to emulate the chosen genre) or decks (new art and tailored text to match the genre), and anyone who backs at the $10 level or higher will receive PDFs of all stretch goals we achieve (when they are complete, or when they reach beta, depending on backer level).

So here is a partial schedule of what goals will be reached at what funding levels. If we hit the initial funding goal, I will update this with more detail, but I'm thrilled to announce our first major stretch goals right away!

Anyone already familiar with the Dead Gentlemen and their properties The Gamers and the Demon Hunters needs little explanation. Everyone else: if you are looking at gaming Kickstarters, you should check these guys out! The first two stretch goals for this campaign will be an Adventure Guide and a deck of cards for the world of the Demon Hunters. A world much like our own, but populated with demons, werewolves, sentient fir trees, syphilitic vampire ninjas... and the Demon Hunters who keep them in check! Take a look at the Orientation Video for more information on this brave group of almost-certainly-going-to-die individuals.

$5500: Horror Deck

I left this one out earlier because the base deck can be used for many kinds of things, but a genuine Horror Deck to go with the Kickstarter Exclusive Horror Adventure Guide is in the works!

$6500: Age of Sail Deck (working title/era)

One of the requests I've received that can't be readily covered elsewhere! I'll have to do some research to be sure I cover the right things here, but I'm looking forward to the challenge!

$7500: Age of Sail Adventure Guide (working title/era)

To go with the deck!

$8500: Major art upgrade!

More art! Specifics as we approach this goal.

And then, of course, at $10000 we hit the app!

An app?!? A long-term goal of mine is to investigate creating a phone and tablet app to do the same things these cards do. However, since I do not have the resources to even begin that process yet, this Stretch Goal would allow me to get started! I cannot guarantee a particular method of fulfillment at this time, but I would look into making it available on as many platforms as possible!

Update bonus! For those who back this project at $25+ (Master level and above), the App will be free on as many platforms as possible, even if it is created at a future date and not as part of this project!

Fulfilled by DriveThruCards!

Any level with a physical reward provides you with access to purchase the deck of cards at production-cost (see "What do I get for backing?" above) from DriveThruCards and DriveThruRPG; beta physical decks are delivered the same way. There are (at least) three very good reasons to do it this way:

1. This is fastest and least expensive for backers. You only pay for shipping once, rather than paying to have your deck shipped to me, and THEN to you, which takes both time and money, and risks human error on my part.

2. This is least likely to get lost. You can have the deck shipped wherever you want it, even if you move, without needing to worry about my record-keeping abilities.

3. DriveThruCards and DriveThruRPG have the facilities and experience necessary to fulfill Kickstarter campaigns of any size, and the successful test-print they ran for me shows they can produce the GameMaster's Apprentice at a high level of quality.

Who are you, and why are you on Kickstarter?

I’m Nathan Rockwood, a long-time gamer who has been freelancing as a game writer and designer for almost a decade. I’ve written and designed for several role playing games, such as Serenity, Battlestar Galactica, Demon Hunters, and the Cortex Classic Core Book, as well as a few other small projects. I also teach both English and Video Game Design at the high school level in the state of Maryland.

Teaching is an absolute blast, but I’ve never given up my love for tabletop gaming. I’ve been working on The GameMaster’s Apprentice as a side project since 2006, when I started it as a much simpler deck of cards to help me name NPCs in my own games; I've changed and modified it more times than I can count, and now I've finally decided to take the plunge and see if anyone else likes the concept!

While I would love to make money from my game design, I am explicitly NOT budgeting this Kickstarter with payment for the time I’ve spent working on the deck. Instead, I’m hoping to use the funds from this project to cover the financial obligations that come with publishing The GameMaster’s Apprentice. I need to pay my graphic designer and the artists who have helped me make the project presentable--as a freelancer myself, I absolutely refuse to make any money off the project until AFTER my freelancers are paid for their work.

The rest of the funding-goal money goes to the fees and taxes associated with any Kickstarter project, with a small margin built in because I am told by those who have already run Kickstarters that it is impossible to avoid forgetting something. And that’s it--there is no profit built into the goal, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to wind up spending even that “extra” on art, because art is expensive but SO IMPORTANT to building the right atmosphere in a game!

Also, I love the Kicking it Forward campaign (as detailed at http://kickingitforward.org/), so I pledge to follow their example! If this project funds, 5% of profits made by the finished deck will be continually circulated back into other peoples’ Kickstarter projects.

Risks and challenges

Despite ample freelancing and writing experience, I am new to the realm of publishing my own work. I have done my best to ensure smooth delivery of rewards, including paying for a test-print completed by DriveThruCards so that I can be assured of their quality, speed, and cost.

Unfortunately, I don’t yet command space and time. Any surprise issue that delays their printing or shipping system-wide would obviously delay the shipment of rewards; however, I have been working with their customer service and publisher support reps for over a year to make sure I understand the way their system works, and they have been amazingly responsive. They also have experience working with Kickstarter projects, so I feel that the only things likely to delay them would be the sorts of problems that we can’t predict: Aliens, zombies, or that super-volcano everyone is worried about.

On the other hand, if I am not careful to budget my time, I may take longer than expected to finish the final edit of the deck (which I am hoping you backers will help me playtest as quickly as possible!). In order to avoid this, I have already done two rounds of editing with the help of three other people, so there will be less to catch and fix.

I have also reached out to, and will continue to seek the advice of, those more experienced with Kickstarter than me, in order to ensure that I meet production goals in as timely a manner as possible. However, if I become extremely ill or otherwise debilitated, that could naturally impact my progress.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    HOMUNCULUS: If you prefer slightly-less-than-physically-real support, the Homunculus has you covered! Just the final PDF and the Kickstarter Exclusives (modern horror adventure guide, tavern/ship name generator tables, and your name in the credits). Expected fulfillment: August 2015

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    22 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    APPRENTICE: Soon, it will ALL be within your grasp! All final stretch-goal PDFs, the final product PDF, the Kickstarter Exclusives (modern horror adventure guide, tavern/ship name generator tables, and a thank-you in the final product’s instructions document), and access to purchase the finished deck of cards from DriveThruCards for the production cost plus shipping (see the "What do I get for backing?" text on the Kickstarter page for details). This is the most economical level to back, if you want the physical product for the least money! Expected fulfillment: August 2015

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    155 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    JOURNEYMAN: Your thirst for knowledge demands early access! This is just like the Apprentice level, plus you get all the beta PDFs as they are created, and with them the opportunity to provide feedback and influence the final draft! Expected fulfillment: September 2014 (Beta), August 2015 (Final)

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    17 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    MASTER: You know that true knowledge can only be gained first-hand! The same as Journeyman, AND access to purchase both the physical beta deck and ALL UNLOCKED STRETCH GOAL DECKS at production costs! (Just like the Apprentice level, see the page text for details about fulfillment!) Also, to thank you for going the extra mile to help out, you can select a name (yours or another, subject to approval and common sense) to add to either the base deck or a stretch goal deck, should they be reached. Expected fulfillment: September 2014 (Beta), August 2015 (Final)

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    150 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    NAMEGIVER: You get all the benefits of the Master level, but your mental prowess also takes over a whole card's worth of names by letting you select 2 more (total of 3) to include in the deck or a stretch goal deck (subject to approval). The cap on this reward will be lifted if we hit at least one stretch goal deck. Expected fulfillment: September 2014 (Beta), August 2015 (Final)

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    12 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    STORYTELLER: The same as Master, but you can also influence infinities of stories with a Catalyst & Location you describe for the deck or a stretch goal deck (subject to approval). The cap on this reward will be lifted if we hit at least one stretch goal deck. Expected fulfillment: September 2014 (Beta), August 2015 (Final)

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    5 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    MYSTERIOUS OLD QUESTGIVER: Start with the Master benefits, and then contribute an adventure seed to one of the core or stretch-goal adventure guides! These adventure seeds take advantage of the random elements on the cards, so your single seed can spark thousands of quests! I'll help you get started and provide editorial review, but your quest-assigning abilities can really shine through at this level (even from where you sit, in the darkest corner of the tavern, watching all that goes on around you). Expected fulfillment: September 2014 (Beta), August 2015 (Final)

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    STRANGE WANDERER: The Master level, but you also sponsor and consult for a genre! Jump the Stretch Goal line and select an Adventure Guide you want created ASAP. It will be created and included in the Kickstarter stretch goal rewards just as if we'd hit that level. Also, you and I will hold at least two consultation sessions during the design process, so your input and thoughts can help shape the guide. Consultations may be voice-, video-, or text-based, depending on the circumstances, but I favor Google Hangouts. If your chosen genre is already sponsored, you can either elect to sponsor art for that genre (in which case you get to consult on the art design), or select a new genre to sponsor, and then consult on both as a bonus! Expected fulfillment: September 2014 (Beta), August 2015 (Final)

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $450 or more About $450

    DECK BUILDER: The Master level, plus you build your own deck! You get to work with me to change any or all of the text-based randomizer fields on the cards. Images, symbols, numbers, and art will remain the same, but if you want to tailor every single piece of text to match your own campaign, that can be arranged! Upon completion, you will receive access to order 10 copies at cost. This reward will naturally take longer to fulfill, but I will do my best to get your deck started even before the base product is finished. Expected fulfillment: September 2014 (Beta), August 2015 (Final), November 2015 (Personalized)

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    WORLD SHAPER: The ultimate package: the Deckbuilder level, but you get new and unique art! Work with me on the text, and we will also bring on my graphic designer to redesign the background art and symbols to match the moods, themes, and motifs of your campaign! You and I will create a concept and style-guide for the designer to work from, and you will then have creative input during the art process, culminating in a truly custom deck. Upon completion, you will receive access to order 10 copies at cost. This reward will naturally take longer to fulfill, especially since we will want to make sure the art looks the way you want! Expected fulfillment: September 2014 (Beta), August 2015 (Final), December 2015 (Personalized)

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (30 days)