GM tool: Storyteller’s Deck Conflict Games
Conflict games a while back released a cool little product called Description Cards Storyteller’s Deck. It is an interesting little deck of to help get your creative juices flowing. As A GM when we are in the thick of things during a game or the story takes a hard right from where we had envisioned that it would go. It’s often the descriptions that are the first thing to take a back seat until we get our bearings on the game again. That is where products like this shine.
The set comes divided into six category’s. All have several descriptions on them so you are literally getting hundreds of examples of flavor in the 80 card collection you are getting. The cards are over sized Tarot-sized cards yet still small on the scale of Tarot cards so they are not too difficult to handle.
•Ill Intent (12 Cards):Inspiring and unique ways to describe the wicked, foul or villainous characters in your story. Certain words like “murderous” carries with it ill intent. With the simple use of these venomous words you can elegantly describe bad guys in your story.
The Ill intent set gives you 36 key words and two different short examples of that ill intent. Each of these are well thought out and very vivid. The ill intent cards are each divided into intelligent and savage descriptions.
•Expressions (12 Cards):A list of physical and emotional clues characters can display while experiencing feelings, such as anxiety or fear. This set of cards helps address one of the prevalent challenges for writers: How to put into words a person’s emotional state and how this emotional state might manifest itself physically.
Now a GM I can see these and Character Distinctions will likely see the lions share of the cards that I use in this set. With both Physical and Emotional clue and several of each. The Expression cards are one of the best parts of this Deck
Out of the expression cards the one that I liked the most was Anxiety. For me anxiety is one of the hardest things to represent at the table. I myself am not an anxious person so I have to normally really think to getting into the mindset of an Anxious person. There are several physical and emotional clues on this card that really will be useful for me in the future.
•Character Distinctions (12 Cards):The First Step to Making Your Characters Instantly Memorable. Rather than giving your audience a long, detailed description, it’s best to just show the “essence” of the character, including his personality or state of mind, as perceived by the viewer, through a few well-chosen details.
The Character Distinction cards likely will see nearly constant use at my table. These 12 cards provide excellent detail that helps bring an NPC from a generic face in a crowd to someone who will stand out from the moment they players meet them. As a DM it’s all about making the world feel alive. It’s the little things like this that help make your world feel rich.
Of the Character Distinctions, I think that my favorite was Discolored Teeth. There is so much that as a GM that I bring this feature out to my players attention over and over again. It also follows up to other aspects of the NPC.. Is is breath bad since is teeth are discolored? And so on. These are exactly why as a GM you use cards like this.
•Environment (12 Cards):Thoughtful descriptions of sights, smells, sounds and sensations from mountains, swamps, deserts and forests. Place a feature, a moment or a mark on the landscape that’s memorable and (more importantly) indigenous to the landscape.
The Environment cards are different then the cards that are above. Where there were 12 cards in the set and maybe one or two sentences for the 30+ key words. The environment cards only have four key location words and then they have two descriptions on each card for each of the four. Thus giving you 24 flavors for each of the four environments.
This is a very nice collection but likely at least for myself the least likely of the sets that I will put to use at my table. I imagine that there are many game masters that will use this much like I intend to use the character distinction cards.
•Pain (12 Cards):Find scores of well-written examples and keywords on how to describe various levels of pain to your audience.
I think that many Game Masters would find that the twelve pain cards will greatly enhance the flavor of combat for them. Far to many GM’s let roll after roll go by at the table with the only descriptions being ” Swing and a Miss or you hit how much damage do?”For this style of game master these cards alone will elevate your game in leaps and bounds.
It’s good to note as well that they make a combat deck as well with 150 more cards just for combat descriptions. I will add the link below for those as well.
Of these cards I think my favorite was Tunnel Vision. With two very good graphic descriptions of being nearly overcome with pain.
•Labyrinth(12 Cards):Dozens of examples which describe noteworthy moments, marks and clues in the underground, dungeons or labyrinths
The nice thing about the labyrinth cards are each broken down into sights sounds and smells. All of these are great for bringing the world your players are exploring alive. When your players walk into the room and are greeted with the wafting scent of urine you immediately have the rooms attention.
These are a great tool for any game master new or old. Even creative GM’s could find use for these cards. We all have moments where we are a little stumped or could use a bit of inspiration or a descriptive word. The right tool for the job analogy goes a long way here. Right back to the creator who even styled the cards with that intent. They make a great game prep tool to give a rifle through right before game or while your working on your upcoming campaign.
Size wise they are just right in many ways. If they were poker sized cards they would have had to make twice as many for a deck. But they went with a small enough scale of Tarot card that you can easily glance at a card while it sits on the table and read the heading, even if you do not actually read the provided description. For me at least this often proved more than enough.
The card layout is wonderful. With the card type dominating the left side of the card it is very easy to pick up the entire deck and in a second or two separate all twelve of the set cards for each type out from the rest. The art on the front of the cards is nice and far better than a blank card would have been. The back art of each card has its own separate art as well.
While needed the cards are a little bulky. To have produced them any smaller they would have needed to likely double the card count. Even then the cards would not have turned out nearly as nice as the finished product is now.
This is a damn fine set of cards. I think I will likely use half in it in-game development as I prep my sessions from week to week. Also it is likely that at least two of the other sets of cards will likely make it to a pace behind my GM screen for use when the players interact with someone who I had not planed ahead for.
I can say for certain that this was indeed money well spent. I would also recommend this to other GM’s. Like myself you might not use every part of this product at once or ever. But there likely will be 2-4 of the sets you will find that you can draw inspiration from repeatedly.
I give it a 17 because it not only succeeds in what it set out to do wonderfully. They are a pleasure to look at as well visually. The smart layout makes it easy for you to shuffle through the set and find cards that you need with speed and no hassle. Lastly because not only does it do all of these things but they picked words and phrases that inspired me even while I was writing my review. After all the goal of these cards were to evoke creative thought, mission accomplished, job well done.
You can get it ?