A Deep Dive Into the Mytho-lyptic Mashup Cocktail

By Zach Schuster

In Part 1 of this series, I talked about how to combine Story Engine Boosters to create genre-mixing Booster cocktails. My cocktail was a Mytho-lyptic Mashup combining the Mythology and Post-Apocalyptic Boosters to come up with a new story for Thrud, my Norse comic that takes place post-Ragnarok. 

Today I want to walk you through some of the decisions I made to create that short comic. Seeing how other people use the same tools that I use in different ways always inspires me, and I hope that a deeper look into my creative process with The Story Engine Deck can do the same for you! As a refresher, here's the comic I created:

Thrud Comic Page 1

Thrud Comic Page 2

 Thrud Comic Page 3

Thrud Comic Page 4

Thrud Comic Page 5

The Prompt

And here's the prompt that inspired it, featuring cards from the Mythology and Post-Apocalyptic Boosters. I wanted to see how cards from two vastly different genres would intersect to spark interesting ideas, and everything I drew seemed to do just that!

The Story Engine Cards


Let's walk through the choices I made while creating this prompt to give you a better sense of my thought process - and to give you a sense of how you could make different choices to tell a story of your own!

The Agent Card

For the Agent Card, "A MONSTER HUNTER" was an easy pick, as I wanted to do a comic about my existing heroine Thrud. But if I were to be making a completely new story, this card draw would be much more important! I think combining an Agent from one genre and an Aspect from another is going to help me think outside the box and create dynamic and unexpected characters.

The Engine Card

"WANTS TO OUTWIT OR OVERPOWER THE WARLORD WHO CONTROLS" was a Post-apocalyptic card. I felt the warlord side fit better than the side about the virus because I could draw a fun little fight scene with a warlord.

The word "OUTWIT" also inspired me. Thrud’s approach is usually pretty straightforward, making it tough to say if she’s clever or lucky in some cases. The guardian said “None shall pass who cannot best my axe!” and that’s exactly what Thrud ended up doing, but even Kvasir wonders if Thrud was smart to spot the fake magic item, or if it was dumb luck. I thought that was a fun twist on a classic threshold guardian scene that really fit into the early part of the Thrud story.

The Anchor Card

"A SACRED MOUNTAIN" was a perfect setting for a warlord in my world, even if I didn't get to do much with the sacred aspect due to the length of the comic. That could have been an interesting way to approach the story too, but the fact that a warlord from the Post-apocalyptic set made sense as the guardian of a sacred mountain from the Mythology set really appeals to me. An intimidating figure in front of a bridge is such a classic image that readers understand that they are protecting something important, even without delving into the specifics.

In this case, the sacred mountain path the warlord was guarding turned out to be a red herring (just check out the knight’s brooch!), along with the golden axe which Thrud shatters. What I took away from this is even if you can’t fully explore each prompt, the process still enhances your story because you're considering the possibilities both during and after selection.

The Conflict Card

"BUT IT WILL COMPROMISE THE LOCATION OF SOMETHING IMPORTANT" appealed to me more than radiation, which didn’t fit into my pre-existing world as naturally as what I selected. Something I enjoyed about using the Story Engine Deck for the first time was that one half of each Conflict card was usually more neutral and fit my expectations for the story I was building, while the other side was more specific and would challenge my preconceptions. Even if I selected the option that was more in line with what I was thinking before I drew the card, simply considering the other option and why it didn’t fit what I had in mind helped solidify my decision. Thrud is an existing world, so I played these a little more safe, but next time I make a brand new genre mashup, I’m confident these weirder combinations of prompts will help me explore something completely unexpected!

I’d also like to note that while the Conflict card is often the penalty or cost the Agent must pay to achieve their goal, I decided to make it more of a reward for Thrud because that fit into what I had set up in other comics. However, I still liked the idea of it being a penalty, so I revealed that Thrud finding the location is part of a sinister plan by the All-Seer, the overarching antagonist of Thrud. Even if you stray a bit from the exact thing these prompt cards are indicating, as long as it serves the story you want to tell, there’s no such thing as a wrong answer!

The Aspect Card

For the Aspect, I chose the word "GOLDEN" as it fits into Thrud’s quest from the other comics really nicely. As I noted in the previous blog, Aspects are usually attached to Agents and Anchors, but in this case it fit best with the Conflict (or even the Engine!). As with the Conflict, there are no hard and fast rules as long as your choices help advance your story! 

In Conclusion

I hope this look at how I used The Story Engine Deck might have shown you some interesting new things to try, like using Aspects on Engine cards, or approaching the penalty Conflict card in a different way in your story. While the prompts were inspiring on their own, it was also great to think outside the box to make my story truly my own. I enjoyed how these cards helped me come up with a fun little Thrud story, and I will definitely be using them in the future for Thrud and other comics. 

Do you have any other unorthodox ways of using your prompts? If you do, share them online and tag @storyenginedeck because we love seeing the cool things everybody comes up with. And finally, if you want to check out or purchase the rest of my comic Thrud, you can do so here!

Thrud comic picture

Zach Schuster is the project coordinator for The Story Engine and a freelance illustrator. He spends his time making cool things with his friends, like the recently released card game Wizlords in Space: Cosmic Card-tastrophe! He is currently hard at work on Thrud: The Ballad of Braggi. You can find more of his art at zmschuster.com or follow his Instagram. 


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