How to Use The Story Engine for Your Magic System With C.R. Rowenson

By Zach Schuster

Here at the Story Engine, we love seeing how different storytellers use The Story Engine Deck to create their own prompt formats and systems! While the guidebook that comes in the Story Engine box has plenty of interesting ways to lay out your cards, there are limitless other ways to use them to generate ideas.

Today we want to show off the video How to Use The Story Engine for Your Magic System by Clark R. Rowenson, who you might know from his previous guest blog, 5 Ways Magic Can Shape the Environment of Your Fantasy World, his books on magic systems, or our guest piece for his blog: 5 Questions to Ask About Magic and Power Dynamics.

In his newest video he demonstrates several ways he has come up with to create customized prompts for magical places, objects, story arcs, and even entire magical systems! We were really impressed by how he used Engine and Conflict cards in new contexts to create unique and interesting consequences for magic, which can sometimes be an afterthought in fantasy stories. 

In the first part of the video, Clark demonstrates some of the traditional ways to use The Story Engine Deck, so if you’re already familiar with those, you can jump ahead to 15:30 where Clark starts talking about his own prompt creation methods. He starts by demonstrating how to create magic places and things using Anchors and Aspects, then moves on to making character-focused magic systems with Agents and Engines. Finally, he shows how Conflicts can add consequences to using that magic to fully realize every aspect of your magical system.

The Story Engine can be used to create all sorts of different ideas, but we hope C.R. Rowenson’s advice on how to harness it to create magical systems inspires you to make some magic (systems) of your own!

C.R. Rowenson is an author, chemist, and engineer who helps authors design and build marvelous magic systems for their fiction. Find him at or on Twitter.


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