About this project
Did you miss out on the Kickstarter but still want a copy of Story War? No problem! We'll continue to take preorders (and once it's printed, we'll have information on where you can buy it) - just check out http://www.cantripgames.com/storywar!
Story War is a storytelling party game for 3 to 8 players. Players split into teams and take control of classic characters like Puss In Boots or a fire-breathing Dragon and use creativity and humor to defeat the opposing team.
In most other games the difference between victory and defeat has a lot to do with numbers; the story itself is secondary. But in Story War controlling the narrative is the only way to win. There are no numbers or rules on the cards, only artwork and hilarious descriptions. It's up to the players to decide how to interpret their powers, which means that every game tells unique stories based on the collective creativity of everyone involved.
How does it work?
Each turn represents one battle between two teams of players. The setting is defined by a randomly drawn Battlefield card. Players then look at the Warrior cards and Item cards in their hands and try to come up with a clever strategy. Once every player has played their Warrior cards face-down, everyone flips their cards over simultaneously. Then players must quickly describe, in an open discussion, how their team would defeat the opposing team.
Each battle is moderated by a judge that rotates every turn (similar to Apples to Apples) so the shared pop cultural context of everyone in the room is very important! Harry Potter fans might play the Basilisk card differently than Percy Jackson fans. Pokemon fans can cite obscure typing match-ups to explain why you can't punch a bird. Dungeons and Dragons players will often overlay D&D rules onto the game - don't even try to convince a D&D-playing judge that the Giant can defeat the Dwarf!
Players are also free to make stuff up, as long as they can be convincing! Everything is being moderated by a judge so if your opponent claims their character is unrealistically powerful, you can challenge that claim. Once a challenge has been issued the judge has to immediately decide whether or not it's a valid move. This means your characters are able to do anything as long as the judge lets you get away with it! The player acting as the judge and the grouping of teams changes after every turn, so the social dynamic is always shifting! Each battle ultimately evolves into an organic story and a memorable shared experience.
What kind of stories are told?
Story War was designed from the ground up with inclusiveness in mind. It can be played by anyone and different groups will tell different kinds of stories. If you're playing with gamers the stories are often more combat focused and if you're playing with writers, stories tend to be more character-driven.
When you play Story War with young kids, then you'll likely end up telling G-rated stories. But if you're playing with just adults, the stories can become serious, inappropriate and often very scientific - can Midas turn a Ghost into gold? (Story War also makes a great drinking game!)
Here's some examples of some great stories that happened in playtesting:
- "The Lich is the Lady Gaga of the underworld and used her Twitter followers to attack her hater: a Zombie." (played by @LeiaJ)
- "The Leprechaun created so much gold that gold became worthless and his society became isolationist and crumbled." (played by Brad)
- "The Imp used the Philosopher's Stone to transform the air around the Fairy into a bottle - a bottle is the Fairy's nemesis!" (played by Nick)
- "The Treant was a Tree of Cheem from Doctor Who. It was protected by The Doctor because it's a space minority." (played by Khadijah)
- "The Mimic put on the Mythril Tux to go to a party with other classic D&D characters but he got kicked out because he's always getting drunk and throwing up treasure and everyone hates him." (played by strangers)
We've playtested Story War hundreds of times with a diverse balance of ages, genders, and skills. Our objective was to make every card as interesting and useful as possible while also keeping the game accessible to anyone. It's a game that you can pull out of your pocket in front of a group of friends (or strangers) and within minutes everyone will be laughing and having fun.
Who is making Story War?
Cantrip Games! Which consists of Tom McLean, Brad O'Farrell and Vondell Swain. The initial concept came from months of Tom and Brad prototyping and play-testing different card game ideas until we found something interesting. We knew Story War would require fantastic character design skills and hundreds of pieces of art so we hired Vondell Swain, who is only 19 years old but annoyingly talented at everything. We've spent the last 6 months writing, drawing, designing and playtesting. Now we need your help to finally publish Story War!
By becoming a backer of Story War, you'll get to have creative input on the expansion cards! We'll be posting unfinished sketches and concepts in our backers-only update section and welcoming feedback. Story War is a game for everybody, so it's really helpful for us to gather feedback from as many people as possible.
But also, backers get cool stuff! Read the list of options on the right side of the page for a full list of rewards. Here is more information about those rewards:
For $10, you'll get a "print-and-play" PDF containing all the cards in Story War that you can print out on your own as soon as the campaign ends! (This PDF will also be available at all higher reward tiers.)
For $25, we'll ship you a physical copy of the Story War base set, which contains 100 cards and the rules. This set is already finished so we'll begin printing it as soon as the campaign ends. This is the game we've spent the last 6 months developing, and it includes cards such as:
- Warriors: Lich, Puss In Boots, Cherub
- Battlefields: Beanstalk, Capital City, Sky Port
- Items: Shrink Ray, Flame Bow, Bramble Seed
For $40 you'll be sent a copy of the Story War base set as soon as it's printed and you'll also get a second shipment containing the expansion deck once it's completed. The expansion deck is less focused on Greek mythology and fairytales and more focused on Asian mythology, science fiction, and niche fantasy concepts.
The expansion deck will include at least 50 cards, but we'll add more cards as we get more funding! It will hopefully be expanded to 100 extra cards if we reach our funding goals! We'll be able to develop the expansion deck much faster than the original deck because we'll have more resources and we'll be able to hire additional artists. But we've already begun working on it! Here are some of the cards it will include:
- Warriors: Oni (a Japanese demon), Kraken, Kami (a Japanese spirit)
- Battlefields: Lunar Colony, Labyrinth, Mystery Mansion
- Items: Philosopher's Stone, Bottomless Top Hat, Super Cape
For $60 you'll get everything listed above AND your copy of Story War will include a bunch of cool comics and exclusive cards! We've added a LOT to the Deluxe Pack since the project launched and unfortunately we can't edit the reward description. But if you back at $60, you won't just get the 5 cards mentioned in the reward description, you'll get ALL of the cards shown below:
These licensed cards are Kickstarter exclusives and they will NOT be sold later. The only way we're allowed to make them is as Kickstarter rewards.
You'll also get a bunch of "blank" cards - that is, cards you can write and draw on and shuffle into your Story War deck! They have the same backing as regular cards, so you can use them just as you would use any other card.
For $100 or more we'll make a custom card, just for you! Read the reward descriptions on the side-bar for more details! The lowest tier for custom cards is $100, where we'll redraw the Witch or Wizard card to resemble you. At the highest tier, we'll make a custom card based on you that will be included in EVERYBODY's copy of the expansion - the Dwarf card is an example of a card that's based on a real person (Brad O'Farrell, the creator of Story War!)
Shipping is included in the cost of the cards, but backers outside the US will have to pay an additional $10. Story War will be printed immediately after this campaign ends and be shipped as soon as it's printed. But the Expansion Deck and any custom cards will be shipped separately a few months later, after they've been completed.
To avoid paying for international shipping twice, we'll hold international orders until the complete order has arrived; if you're an international backer and you'd prefer two shipments instead of one delayed shipment please add an additional $10 to your order.
Story War is already finished. We've spent the last 6 months playtesting, writing, and illustrating cards, printing prototype copies, and paying our artist out of pocket. We have a complete game of 100 cards and it's super fun! We only need $20,000 to recoup our losses and print the first run of the game. But if we raise over $20,000, there are so many awesome things we could add to Story War!
What would additional funds add to the game?
Expansion Deck: We're planning to make at least 50 extra cards for the Expansion Deck, but we'd love to make a full 100 card expansion! That would mean, when combined with the base set, there'd be a full 200 cards! More cards means more random match-ups, which means greater variety between games!
Game Modes: We've only ever playtested the game using a single set of rules, but we designed the cards to work with a lot of different styles of play. Game Modes would be new rules that you could print out and use with the standard Story War cards. If we raise enough money we'll develop these new Game Modes and distribute them for free.
Campaigns: Campaigns are one-time-use stories that involve unexpected plot twists that affect the gameplay! These would also be distributed for free. A campaign would be printed out and given to a player who would act as the judge for the entire game. Think of it like watching a suspenseful movie with your friends, but you're also controlling what happens next!
Online Multiplayer Client: Story War actually started out as an online game that we first playtested using a chatroom robot. We decided to develop Story War into a card game for simplicity, but we always knew we wanted to ultimately make an online version. Everyone involved in this card game is also a video game programmer and we're very capable of making a high quality online version of Story War. We think the best implementation might be a webcam-based game using Google Plus Hangouts. But doing so would take a lot of time and energy and resources, so we've set it as our highest goal.
Here are the milestones we're hoping to reach:
FUNDED! Thank you so much everybody! The game is definitely going to ship now! We've also unlocked at least 50 cards for the expansion deck! More will be unlocked as we reach our stretch goals!
Whoa! We hit our first stretch goal way faster than expected! This means the number of cards in the expansion (for everybody who backed with $40 or more) increases from 50 to 60! If we reach all of our stretch goals, the expansion will be a full 100 card deck!
Awesome, our first game mode has been unlocked!
It's called Myth Master! It uses all the same cards as Story War and is structured similarly, the key difference is that you are playing as yourself manifested into the battlefield and you are summoning Warriors from the cards in your hand. The ultimate objective isn’t just to take out the other player’s Warriors, it’s to take out the human player who is controlling them, just like in Magic the Gathering, YuGiOh, and the Pokemon manga*!
So now that we’ve hit $30k, I’m going to spend the next few weeks playtesting the Myth Master rule set and refining it and then packaging it in an easy-to-understand PDF rule sheet that you can print out for free!
(* in the Pokemon manga the objective of battle is often to kill the other trainer, it’s pretty metal)
Awesome, 10 more expansion cards added! We're now up to 70 cards in the expansion deck! But we also have a SPECIAL SURPRISE:
We've teamed up with our KICKSTARTER PALS, the Machine of Death, to release a cross-over game mode these special bonus cards only available to backers of both projects:
The Machine of Death card in Story War can be used to predict your opponent’s death with just a single drop of blood; the Story War card in Machine of Death can be used to redeem something from a fairy tale. Both cards stand alone as usable items in both games, but they become even cooler when you combine the two games!
Can a vampire die of cancer? What if it’s sunlight from the Cancer constellation? Using the Machine of Death’s cause-of-death predictions on fantasy characters adds a whole new level of creative challenge to the gameplay of both games! We’ll post more about the crossover rules later on in the campaign!
Wow, we just hit our $40k stretch goal, which unlocks a 5 pack of campaigns! What are campaigns? They’re a single sheet of rule variations that you can print out and read from top to bottom as you play the game. Here’s some examples of what a campaign could contain:
- A choose-your-own adventure style storyline, that uses cards from the player’s hands to fill in unknown variables, where the story’s path changes depending on the outcome of the battle!
- A list of 20 numbered alternate victory conditions for battle (“Woo the princess!” “Win an election!” “Defeat the opponent without drawing blood!” “Win a go-kart race!”) that you could use with a 20-sided die!
- A one-time-use storyline that plays out like an elaborate shaggy dog story with a big twist at the end!
The best thing about campaigns? We’ll be releasing some that we make ourselves, but players are free to create their own and share them with other players! We’ll even come up with a convenient way for players to share their campaigns with one another.
How’s that for re-playability?
Wait we - somehow hit THREE stretch goals in a single 24 hour period? How is that possible! So at $45k we unlock another 10 cards for the expansion, bringing us up to 80 expansion cards! There's only two stretch goals left before we have a full 100 card expansion deck!
We've also figured out a good solution for scaling up art production for our higher level reward tiers, so we've DOUBLED the number of available Magic Packs, which continues to be one of our most popular rewards!
Whoa, we're halfway to $100k! That's so awesome!
At $50k we’ve unlocked a new game mode called Conquest Kingdoms. This is a pretty big deviation from the way Story War is typically played! We wanted to make a game mode that focuses on Battlefield cards as more than just a background thing. So we came up with this idea: Let each team choose a Battlefield card that is treated as a base that the other team must capture. That means things like structural stability and environmental advantages and potential booby traps really come into play!
Outside of the overall concept (which sounds super fun!) the specific rules for this mode are still up in the air! But now that we’ve gotten $50k in funding, we can afford to actually playtest it and find the best possible rules! Once we’ve finalized the rules for the Conquest Kingdoms game mode, we’ll release them online for free as a downloadable PDF!
Wow! Heck! Wow! We went from $40k to $60k in 24 hours! Do you know what that means? We gained the entire necessary funding amount in a single day! The whole $20k, wow!
We also added 10 cards to the expansion, bringing us up to 90! If you want to join the discussion which cards we add to the expansion, head over to the comments section on update #7!
Holy cow! $70k! in the first 10 days! That means we've unlocked new campaigns written by Cantrip Games, but ALSO we have an exciting announcement relating to campaigns:
We're going to build a website where users can write their own interactive campaigns that can be viewed on mobile devices. That is to say, when you're playing Story War with your friends in real life, someone could load CantripGames.com on their smart phone and you'll be able to jump right into alternate game modes and rules that are displayed right there on your phone! No printing necessary! Online campaigns can even even contain interactive components and rich media, like photos, video, and branching story paths.
We'll be putting all of our campaigns online for free, and also offer printable versions of ones that would make sense as printed versions. We're also going to make it so users can post their campaigns online for free! It's going to be really cool!
Wow, $80k, that means the expansion is complete! We now have a FULL 100 card expansion! This means you can play the expansion as its own game! We'll develop the expansions with the input from our backers, so be sure to check the updates section for more details!
"Objection! It's impossible that my client, the Vampire, could've killed the victim - the crime HAD to have taken place during the DAYTIME!"
Trial Tales is a Story War game mode we're developing that turns the concept of "proving your character can defeat another character" on it's head - instead the objective is to prove your innocence! It's like Nursrey Crimes meets Phoenix Wright!
The players on the left and right of the current judge act as the Attorney and Prosecutor who must defend Warrior cards that represent their client and the victim, respectively. Each subsequent player is a witness/suspect. The Battlefield cards art as crime scenes, and the Item cards act as evidence!
Story War is largely about choosing your Warrior cards, but Trial Tales is all about evidence (Item cards). The prosecutor and defense attorney will have a hand full of evidence cards that they could choose to play or not to play, based on which ones they think would better suit their narrative. Remember, even if you're the one who submits an Item into evidence, it can still be used against you by the other side!
Hey, it’s Tom here! Shortly after Brad pitched me the idea for Story War, I threw together an IRC bot that could play it. (IRC is a really old chat platform that nowadays is only really used by hackers and time travellers from the 90s) Even with no art, hastily-scrawled descriptions, and totally un-thought-out characters and locations, we realised this game was a blast.
It turns out that a heck of a lot of you think it’s a pretty cool game idea, too, because as of just a little while ago two-and-a-bit thousand of you have helped us hit our $100k stretch goal - and we’re not even halfway into the campaign yet! Amazing!
So, it means that, once the Kickstarter wraps up, I’m going to start bringing this old IRC bot into the twenty tens, including lovely graphics, chat, and video! At the moment we’re looking at building it as an add-on to Google+ Hangouts, which means the webcam-based communication elements will already be there for us; we’ve just got to get the game happening!
It’s going to be a fair bit of work, so it certainly not going to be live when the kickstarter ends or anything (plus I’ve got to put together the print-and-play stuff first!), but we’ll keep you posted on the progress. I’m sure I’ll end up playing it with at least some of you, so I look forward to seeing you on Google+!
Wow, we hit that stretch goal super fast! To celebrate, here are a preview of four of our favorite items in the base set!
Now that we've hit the "base set upgrade" we're going to include some of the features of the DELUXE PACK in the BASIC PACK: The basic pack will now include a sampling of blank cards that users can draw on, as well as it's own mini-comic that will contain different comics from the DELUXE PACK version. These rewards *stack* too, so if you ordered the DELUXE PACK you're also getting everything in the BASIC PACK as well, which means you'll have even more blank cards and even more comics.
"Medusa and the Gargoyle would be a PERFECT couple, come on! He's already stone, so she can't turn him to stone and her snake hair can't hurt him. His cold priestly heart would be warmed by her fiery diva attitude. Plus they look so cute together!"
Kiss & Make Up is our newest game mode - another way to play with the Story War cards. Rather than trying to figure out "who would win in a fight" you're trying to convince another player to go out with you in a sea of competing suitors.
It's structured similar to The Bachelor - the 'judge' has a Warrior card that everyone else is trying to woo. Then every other player makes their case for why their Warrior is the best match for the judge's Warrior - and they can use Battlefield cards to suggest date locations, and Item cards as romantic gifts.
The Warriors are all fighters, the Items art mostly weapons, and the Battlefields are pretty hazardous - but volatile creatures need love too! Isn't that the whole point of Sex And The City?
The weekly webcomic has been unlocked! Which means we're going to start posting weekly comics featuring the Story War characters on the Cantrip Games blog! Comics will often be based on actual battles and they can even be submitted by players themselves! The whole world is a writer's room - any time you're playing a game of Story War, every single turn has the potential to become a comic that can be disseminated to other Story War fans. So that's pretty cool!
Story War hit $180k last night, which means we’ve unlocked a new Game Mode called Hero’s Saga!
The basic idea is this: Rather than playing as a new Warrior every round, you play through the entire game as a single Warrior who gets stronger after every battle. There are two ways your Warrior can get stronger: By acquiring “Skill Cards” which are Warrior cards interpreted as learned abilities (for example, if you play the Red Dragon as a Skill Card on your Witch you could reasonably argue it gives her the power to cast fire spells) and by acquiring Item cards that could be re-used in every future battle without penalty.
This is our most ambitious and complex Game Mode yet! Once we’ve thoroughly playtested it and worked out all the kinks, we’ll release the rules as a free PDF to all of our backers!
That's it, that's the animated short. No I'm kidding the real animated short will be much more animated and much less short. But I am fairly certain it'll star these characters, all of whom have turned out to be fan favorites. We're already talking to some animators and voice actors and music people and animation studios. It's going to be an actual thing and you guys are going to love it!
Endless Journey is a new game mode that pushes Story War a little closer to Dungeons and Dragons than Apples to Apples - you'll be playing an allied team of Warriors (decked out with magic items, of course) fighting "against the deck" rather than each other!
Endless Journey will be developed with the intention of having it be played as recurring sessions with continuity between them rather than just a once-off game, and we'll be releasing updates once a month that will affect your epic as it develops!
We made it! The final stretch goal, until we demolished it way ahead of time and had to come up with extras!
So it looks like now we'll be getting the ball rolling in developing a mobile adaptation of Story War! We're not exactly sure what form it'll take just yet, as it's a pretty big undertaking, but we'll keep you posted as we figure it out!
We've received a lot of messages about using Story War in schools, and kid-friendliness was an intentional goal of the project from really early on! Now that it's been successful beyond even our most ambitious guesses, we're going to pay some of that good fortune forward by giving away a hundred copies of Story War for use in classrooms!
Please spread the word and try to get your friends to back Story War and help us reach these stretch goals! We can't do it without your help!
The song in the video is "Jetpack Blues, Sunset Hues" by Anamanaguchi, used with permission. All the artwork was made by Vondell Swain. Our logo was designed by Ned Hugar, our card backs were designed by Mare Odomo.
Risks and challenges
Story War has been thoroughly playtested and we can assure you that it is very fun. We've gotten some price quotes from a few major card printers and distributors and we are ready to start printing as soon as the campaign ends.
The only real potential setback is getting the art for the expansions done fast enough - especially if we get a lot of custom artwork orders. We've been talking to some people that we'd like to bring on board as additional artists so we can work faster, but we have to wait until after the campaign ends to get any formal deal in place.
We've also partnered with Breadpig, who have assisted with several large Kickstarter endeavors in the past few months - like Ryan Norths' "To Be Or Not To Be" book and Zachary Weiner's "Science" book. So even though this is our first project, we're being guided and informed by Breadpig's track record.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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