Our Favorite Deck-Inspired Books for World Book Day

by Peter Chiykowski and Eric Weiss

Happy World Book Day! We're celebrating by highlighting some of the books brought into the world by writers who use The Story Engine Deck somewhere in their creative process.

Some were published by traditional publishing houses. Some were self-published. Some are RPG settings instead of novels. We celebrate every victory when it comes to bringing new stories in the world. It's an honor to share the stories and worlds you've created, and we're excited we got to play a small part in a long and challenging process!

Keep scrolling for our World Book Day recommendations, and don't forget to tag us if you want to get your name on next year's list!

Howard A. Jones: The City of Marble and Blood

Howard A. Jones' Hanuvar Chronicles aren't structured like typical novels. Instead, each book is constructed almost like a series of television - a collection of connected, but standalone stories that lead to a climactic finale, with season-long arcs that build over several episodes.

According to Jones, The Story Engine is helpful because it helps generate new stories that feel fresh and fit within the books' established format.

"With many tales included in every book, I need much more than a single idea or setting, and I employ a variety of techniques to keep things surprising, one of the most rewarding being my use of The Story Engine Deck.

"I’ve read plenty of series where the villains or structure become repetitious and I am determined to keep things surprising for the reader — The Story Engine Deck is a trusted tool for helping me make that happen, and ensure that I don’t get stuck telling the same kind of adventures with the same kind of plot beats over and over."

The City of Marble and Blood is now available from Baen Books. Read the synopsis of the Hanuvar Chronicles below:

When the Dervan Empire came for the city of Volanus, most of its people fell with sword and hand and the few survivors were led away in chains. Their victory was complete but for one small detail — the greatest Volani general had escaped alive.

Now, alone against a vast empire, Hanuvar has only an aging sword arm, a lifetime of wisdom, and the greatest military mind in the world bent upon a single goal. No matter where his people have been taken, he will find them. Every last one of them. And he will set them free.

C. L. Clark: The Faithless

In the second installment of C.L. Clark's Magic of the Lost trilogy, soldier Touraine and princess Luca must return to Balladaire to reclaim Luca's throne and face the consequences of dismantling an empire.

Together, the two women must overcome their enemies, their history, and their heartbreak in order to secure Luca's power and Touraine's freedom.

Touraine and Luca were already established characters when Clark started writing The Faithless, but The Story Engine still proved pivotal when it unlocked Chapter 20 of their new story (The Precipice). Clark credits the deck for helping them get unstuck, and even for taking characters in unexpected new directions!

"The Story Engine helped me get out of my own rut of same-y ideas...I needed a new and more interesting way to bring [the characters] and their world together [...] Enter The Story Engine anchors! I just kept pulling them and seeing what stuck. A lot of religious imagery came up, and it's changed the entire trajectory of a certain character!"

You can find out more in our last blog post and pick up The Faithless here.

I J Black: The Bone Moth

The Bone Moth tells the story of Tabishka, a disabled protagonist who works in the storeroom of a museum while a magical war rages outside - at least until the latest shipment of artifacts goes missing. 

I J Black created The Bone Moth after a chronically ill and disabled fan asked if she had a place in Black's world. Black used The Story Engine to generate the initial idea, and then developed the story from there. You can see two of the original prompts above.

The Bone Moth is a work in progress, with Black posting new chapters weekly on Wattpad. You can find all the entries here.  

Désirée Nordlund: Väruld 

Väruld is a solar system with three habitable planets, and the setting for a pair of RPG worldbooks from Désirée Nordlund. For Väruld Book 1, Nordlund used Deck of Worlds to punch up the settings. For Väruld Book 2 (slated for release later this year), she used Deck of Worlds from the very beginning, and especially took advantage of the Culture Keyholes expansion to come up with poems, menus, oaths of office, and other odds and ends that helped make the second book more memorable than the first.

Nordlund has also used The Story Engine and Deck of Worlds to publish five tabletop RPG adventures set in the world of Väruld, all of which are available through itch.io. Some of the titles were even taken from the Deck of Worlds draws that inspired them!   

Thorsten Sick: Solarpunk 2050

Thorsten Sick received the original version of The Story Engine as a gift from a friend, and the deck eventually helped him get his pen and paper roleplaying project off the ground. Solarpunk 2050 is a FATE setting in which humanity is trying to rebuild after a climate catastrophe. It began as something that Sick was writing for a small group of friends, and is now a published setting that you can find on DriveThruRPG

Sick credits The Story Engine for providing a spark of inspiration in tricky spots - even without a dedicated Solarpunk expansion! 

T.S. Colunga: Masks of the Fallen


Masks of the Fallen is the second book in the Reign of Shadows series by T.S. Colunga. In the second instalment, the queen is missing, and a rebellion is rising up to oppose the warmongering King Vanarzir before he sweeps through the land. They'll also have to evade a hound from the underworld along the way. 

Colunga used Deck of Worlds to create some of the settings in the book, and The Story Engine to develop a couple of the characters.

She's also been tinkering with Lore Masters Deck to make fun creatures and interesting factions that could will inform a new project titled Secrets of Mirage Manor that she's hoping to release next summer!

Thanks to all the authors who took the time to share their work with us!

Bringing a book into the world is a huge creative journey, and there are lots of ups and downs along the way. We love seeing the beautiful end product, and we're grateful to all the authors who shared a glimpse into their process and all the work and concepting that go on behind the scenes.

If you're looking for more ways to reinvigorate your own writing process, consider trying out The Story Engine Deck. It's a great way to bring fresh ideas to your writing and new creative angles to your craft.

To authors of all genres, we wish you all the best with your writing and a very happy World Book Day!

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