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Writing Tools: Decuma

I’ve accumulated a large collection of card-based writing tools, each of which is useful to different parts of my writing process. So I’ve decided to do a series of posts about the various decks I own and how I use them in my writing.

Decuma is a slightly different sort of card-based writing tool, primarily in that it’s very much geared toward gaming. It’s meant to assist in world building, location details, connections between characters, and setting conflicts. However, since all of these things are also things that an author might want to brainstorm on, I thought it would make a good addition to my collection!

The cards have a lot of similarities to tarot cards, with two suits serving as Relationship cards, two suits serving as Location cards, and the Major Arcana serving as the Group Dynamics cards. The deck can be used to play a world-building game that also helps establish details about the characters while creating the setting. There are other variant games that can be played solo or to focus on just world building or just character relationships.

So how might I use this deck? Well, if I’ve got some characters figured out, but I want to make their world a little more detailed, I could use the world building variant. Alternately, if I really want to write in a specific setting, but need some character ideas, I can sketch those out with the character relationship version. I’m probably not going to use the full-fledged game to create both a world and characters, but there might come a time when I just really want a totally random idea, which that could provide. I also think the character relationship version could be used to create some backstory between characters that could lend itself to richer characters even for short pieces.

The cards are larger than standard playing cards, closer to what I think of as a standard sort of tarot card size. The art is a bit more simple than many tarot decks use, but the clean style is a refreshing change from the style of tarot cards that try to cram in too many details. It’s also lovely art even if you look at it from a non-tarot aficionado’s perspective. Each of the three card types being used separately makes it very easy to shuffle each portion, and even if you did need to shuffle all the cards together, it’s still a manageable deck size.

In summary, use Decuma for: world building inspiration, character relationship inspiration, or crafting an entire idea from scratch!

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