Lore Master's Development Journal Volume 5: Writer's Room Assemble!

by Peter Chiykowski

Read Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, and Volume 4

We're back! The previous issue of the Lore Master's Development Journal left us with a completed Lore Master's Deck - or at least, with the alpha version of the deck that was featured during our early livestreams. However, I knew from the beginning that that would not be the final version of the deck, because I knew it would change once more people got the chance to see it. 

Though it can seem like a solitary activity, every phase of development was a collaboration. Aaron was there during the initial brainstorm. Feedback from Miroki brought focus to the project. The next phase simply supercharged that collaborative effort by bringing a lot of new perspectives to the deck. 

That includes:

  • The backers who watched us demo and test the deck on our livestreams.
  • The guest writers who wrote new cues for the deck.
  • The sensitivity readers who brought more nuanced language to the deck and provided supporting resources
  • The closed beta volunteers who helped identify what was working and what wasn't.
  • The proofreaders who caught any errors or inconsistencies that made it through the previous reviews.

I've already discussed the beta process, and I'll cover sensitivity review in a future instalment. Here, I'll focus on the writers and the backers who helped shape the deck in the early days (and weeks) of our crowdfunding campaign.

Lore Master's Deck went live on BackerKit early in the summer of 2023. During that time, we had a chance to work with backers on livestream to create lore webs using an alpha copy I had printed locally. This was helpful because it gave us a chance to see how backers interpreted cues and made creative decisions in real-time.

Our first livestreams were a hit!


I took that information with me as we moved into active development with guest writers later in the summer. Knowing that Lore Master's Deck was going to have a very specific style guide that would be challenging to write for, I decided to go with a smaller number of writers so I could offer better support. With Deck of Worlds, I invited 18 writers to collaborate between the cards and the sample settings, and I don't feel I was able to provide feedback when writers needed it. I knew that the next time around, I wanted to be a better and more communicative collaborator.

For Lore Master's Deck, I worked with 6 guest writers and Eric, our community manager, asking each to write 1,000 words worth of cues. I wrote up a style guide and made a physical deck or a sample PDF available to the writers who wanted them, and assigned each writer 3 card types based on interest, availability, and which card types I felt needed the most work.

Our first three guest writers - unlocked as a stretch goal through our BackerKit campaign!

Next, I asked each writer to write 200 words of sample cues so I could get a sense of their styles and offer early feedback to help guide their remaining word count. The deck needs a mix of broad cues and narrow ones, of serious cues and whimsical ones, of long cues and short ones. I wanted to make sure I'd explained the balance demands so writers knew the conceptual space they had to play with.

Then they were free to write their remaining 800 words. I also scheduled 2 digital writer's room calls where writers could drop in to write together and workshop and pitch ideas. These were a lot of fun!

Once writers had handed in their final 800 words, I went through and highlighted all the cues that added a totally new idea to the deck, improved on an existing cue in the deck, or otherwise did something surprising or interesting. I began to weave these into my deck spreadsheet, gradually replacing the weakest cues from the alpha deck, along with the repetitive ones. We squeezed in as many new cues as we could, and salvaged some favorites that didn't fit for our Outtakes Expansion

Our second group of guest writers.


The result is a much stronger overall deck (get yours today) that captures a wider range of perspectives, both from our writers and for our potential audience. That gave us more confidence heading into our closed beta for the user review that would really let us refine the deck in the final stages of development. 

Of course, you've already heard part of that story. Stay tuned for the rest in our next Development Journal!

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