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The GameMaster's Apprentice: Base DeckClick to magnify

The GameMaster's Apprentice: Base Deck

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Banner Ad for the Wicked One's Apprentice $5 bundle.

Sooner or later, you're going to need more story!

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The GameMaster's Apprentice is a genre-and-system-neutral deck of cards that can be used as either a supplement for traditional tabletop RPGs or as a complete game engine for GM-free solo or group RPGs. 

You can view the cards' complete instructions for free by clicking the preview link beneath the thumbnail above, or view the Quickstart Guide and a set of quick-reference PnP/PoD Instruction Cards here on DriveThru if you prefer (if you wish to purchase the Print on Demand instruction cards to keep with your deck, be sure to combine the order with the deck itself! They are only six cards, and DriveThru will not print orders that small). You can also scroll down to view the card overview image and watch a video of the cards in use! 

On each card is a set of fourteen individual randomizers; with 60 double-sided cards, you can generate literally millions of possible adventures, all without having to hunt through a book or PDF for a single table!

With these cards, you can:

  • Instantly generate NPCs with randomized names, motivations, and backgrounds.

  • Create random events or story seeds.

  • Provide sensory details or random loot for characters searching or stealing.

  • Run games without a human GameMaster!

And more--they even work brilliantly as creative writing prompt generators, and have been playtested by 9th-12th grade students of both English and Game Design.

If you want specifics, including examples of how to use the randomizers on the cards, the complete instructions are available in the downloadable PDF preview linked below the cover image/thumbnail, but you can take a look at the overview below to see the quick and dirty version of what is on each card, and you can view a video preview from the original Kickstarter that explains how to use the cards to run a GM-free game or generate a story for a traditional RPG. This video is the second in a series, so if you want to see the first (which details initial generation of the story), check out our website, www.LarcenousDesigns.com! 

Card Overview

These cards were created with the support of over 360 individuals on Kickstarter, and would not exist in their current form otherwise! Thank you!

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Reviews (28)
Discussions (37)
Customer avatar
Craig W July 19, 2022 11:58 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I received an email (what seems like) a few months ago and learned that there was a new, updated version coming out... sometime. I'm just wondering if there is any news on that?
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Customer avatar
Nathan R July 20, 2022 12:25 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Yes! We are wrapping up graphics and specific plans to launch the Kickstarter for the Cyberpunk Deck (which will also be a beta for the new version of the cards) right now. I don't think I'm supposed to link directly off DriveThru from here, so if you'd like to see the Kickstarter preview, shoot me an email at LarcenousDesigns@gmail.com, and I'll send you the URL!
Customer avatar
Daniel Douglas C July 01, 2022 12:22 am UTC
PURCHASER
I already made two batch scripts for Windows OS to solve the issue. It renames all cards correctly for all decks. I normally develop using linux, so it took me a little more time to get used to Windows syntax.
If you are interested, I could hand over the files to you.
Those are two scripts, but you only call one of them directly.
- convert_GMA_filenames.bat
- sbscript.bat

One configures all needed parameters and just calls the second script, which then maps the numbers correctly.
In the end you have two folders where the original files resided:
- originals
- fixed

That way you don't lose any data and you cannot by accident run the script multiple times on already corrected files. THAT would cause havoc in naming and number mapping.
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Customer avatar
Nathan R July 01, 2022 2:55 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Cool! I'm glad you have a fix for yourself, and it's awesome of you to offer it to others who want it. Feel free to send the scripts my way at larcenousdesigns@gmail.com, though it might make the most sense if you just want to post the scripts somewhere online and provide a link here?
Customer avatar
Rounak B April 07, 2022 3:43 am UTC
PURCHASER
Hello, I accidentally bought the version without the PDF for several decks...is there any way I can get the PDFs still?
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Customer avatar
Nathan R April 07, 2022 9:51 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Sure thing! Email me at LarcenousDesigns@gmail.com with the order number of your purchase and I’ll send you codes for the PDFs. Sorry about the inconvenience!
Customer avatar
Piotr M September 09, 2021 1:16 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hello. I just buyed cards and printed them. Is it possible to trtanslate PDF cards to polish language? As I see modifing is not permited. Kind Regards
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Customer avatar
Nathan R September 09, 2021 3:53 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Hello! I would love to translate the cards into many languages, but my company is really just me, and I don’t have the resources to arrange that at the moment.

That said, while I own the cards and don’t want people distributing them without permission, I am 100% ok with people making modifications for personal use! Email me and I’ll try to help you if you want to make yourself a translated deck to use in your home games: LarcenousDesigns@gmail.com
Customer avatar
August 13, 2021 8:46 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I just received my printed card order. Are the cards supposed to be double sided??
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Customer avatar
Nathan R August 13, 2021 9:08 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Yep! That is in the description, though I’m sorry if it came as a surprise to you. Because they aren’t meant to be used in any sort of competitive game, it makes them much more efficient and useful. They are easier to shuffle and hold than a deck of 120 cards, and you can still draw a random card without knowing even the back of it by pulling from the bottom or just cutting the deck (my favorite). And if there were only 60 sides to work with, the content would produce far fewer possible results on a three card draw. 60x60x60 is only 216,000, while the current 120x120x120 = 1,728,000 potential outcomes!
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Customer avatar
Ernest C December 09, 2021 2:47 pm UTC
Great product!! So based on your answer - should we print these cards back to back = 216,000 outcomes? or individually as 120 cards for 1.7m outcomes?
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Customer avatar
Nathan R December 09, 2021 2:57 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Back-to-back they still have 1.7 million outcomes, as long as you sometimes flip over the cards :-)

I tend to play with the print on demand version (so 60 cards with text on both sides), and I “draw” by cutting the deck and deciding at the moment if I’m looking at the top or bottom of the cut, so all sides are in play.

That said, if you don’t mind the very high stack, printing them single sides is a totally usable option!
Customer avatar
Rudy R April 09, 2021 6:37 am UTC
PURCHASER
Just ordered these and so excited for them to arrive! I did read one review that claimed that the percentile dice are not distributed evenly. Is that review mistaken or are the percentile dice values on a bell curve?

Also, any advice on how to best draw for the percentile dice? Should 2 cards be drawn (one for each dice value)?
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Customer avatar
Nathan R April 09, 2021 11:51 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Heya!
The percentile dice are evenly distributed, as far as my spreadsheets can tell. They are meant to be drawn one die at a time (which is why they are represented by the percentile dice, as opposed to a single field), so two cards for real randomness.
Let me know if you have any other questions, and I hope the cards serve you well!
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Customer avatar
Rudy R April 10, 2021 6:28 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Thank you so much for the reply!
Customer avatar
Manch . January 10, 2021 5:16 am UTC
PURCHASER
Hi ! First of all Thank you for this amazing "swiss knife" for game masters, and for the great price too. Got this and the fantasy version. I saw in the files that there are 6 cards per sheet. Is there any chance for upload it 8 cards per sheet ? would be perfect for letter size printing purposes and for saving paper. Thank you. Sorry about my english. Keep creating good stuff !
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Customer avatar
Nathan R January 11, 2021 11:54 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Hello! Sorry for the delayed reply, and thanks for the kind words!

I originally tried to produce it with 8 cards per sheet, but the cards wound up shrinking slightly and making the text less readable. This was mostly because of the somewhat clunky, hack-y solution we were using to create the cards in the first place, and my limited time and ability to poke at Adobe.

That said, I'd like to produce a new version, with good cut-out instructions and 8 cards per sheet, and will add that to the list of things to do in the update we are planning for the near-ish future. In the short term, it should be possible for me to produce a slightly shrunk version for you, if you don't mind the lower quality. If you want that, email me at LarcenousDesigns@gmail.com, and I'll see if I can hook you up with something!
Customer avatar
Michael W December 13, 2020 6:13 pm UTC
PURCHASER
When you print the cards, what do you use for a card back, I don't see anything in the PDF file?
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Customer avatar
Nathan R December 13, 2020 7:01 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
The deck was designed to be printed back-to-back, which is also what the Print on Demand version is like. While we may come up with another design for a standardized back at some point, we do currently have an image as a temporary placeholder; if you would like, send me an email at LarcenousDesigns@gmail.com and I’ll send it to you!
Customer avatar
Rad A October 04, 2020 2:23 am UTC
PURCHASER
Hi Nathan. Really great product. I just purchased it and found out after printing that it doesn't fit on the standard Poker size cards. Is there any other format/scale that would fit into my cards? Thanks.
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Customer avatar
Nathan R October 04, 2020 2:57 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Hi! I’m sorry it isn’t marked more clearly; the pnp images are full-bleed, so they are 2.75 x 3.75 inches, rather than the 2.5x3.5 they are cut to when printed by DriveThru. Can I ask how you are printing/cutting (back to back, single sided, etc)? I’m not sure I can solve the issue myself, but I might be able to provide advice, or ask the graphic designer I work with!
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Customer avatar
Rad A October 04, 2020 3:03 am UTC
PURCHASER
Thanks for the reply! I have extra poker cards which I intended to use for this, so I was planning on printing it on a simple Letter sized paper and just cutting and pasting it on the cards. Any advice would be great.
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Customer avatar
Nathan R October 04, 2020 3:53 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Gotcha! Well, in that case, I would go one of two ways: Cut the GMA cards to the edge of the full bleed, paste on the playing cards, and then trim around the edges with a boxcutter, or cut the GMA cards to the inner edge of the outer edge, and paste them roughly centered inside the playing cards. You could try trimming them by 1/8th inch all around, but the corners are unlikely to be exactly right unless you've pasted them on first.
Does that help? I know it's more a set of suggestions than a solution, and I apologize if you've already tried these unsuccessfully!
Customer avatar
David-Michael R September 08, 2020 12:52 am UTC
PURCHASER
For anyone looking for an online tabletop platform to use this with, I highly recommend Tabletop Simulator. Even if just for a budget "deck of cards" simulator for solo play. I used ImageMagick (specifially the -append and +append functions in the command line) to combine the cards into TTS-readable sheets (They need to be 10 cards wide by 6 tall, TTS has a limit on sheet sizes) and I just screen captured the "cover" card of the informational cards for a card back, though TTS does let you apply another sheet of cards for unique backs. Using ImageMagick (a command-line based program with no GUI) took just a couple of minutes to combine the individual images into TTS-compatible sheets.

That said, I have two (hopefully) minor requests. One, a deck-agnostic back or a themed back (I would personally prefer a themed backing; one for the base set, one for fantasy, one for sci-fi, etc.) for use on a front-only setup of the GMA decks with TTS. Two, for future TTS users of these decks, it...See more
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Customer avatar
Nathan R September 08, 2020 8:05 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Hey, David!
Thanks for the kind words. I am glad you enjoy the deck! Let me tackle the questions and suggestions, in no particular order:
1) The difference in the decks (base vs themes) goes beyond the art; the theme decks have their results screened for being theme-relevant, and in some cases have different content (the Fantasy Deck has a set of icons that are unique per card, and the Demon Hunters deck replaces the Norse Runes and Elemental Symbols). The biggest differences are in the sensory snippets, belongings, locations, catalysts, and names; most of the other content is pretty much standardized across the decks.
2) We are sort-of working on a set of backs (day jobs and pandemic problems interfering with creative output is a thing). Email me at LarcenousDesigns@gmail.com and I can send you the one Base Deck back we have at the moment; it's a placeholder, and we may have new ones someday soon-ish!
3) For the TTS sheets, I think I can do that pretty easily, but I'm not quite sure I...See more
Customer avatar
Carlos R July 07, 2020 6:13 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hello, I just had a little doubt about the option of ordering the deck with a deckbox. I'm suposing the deckbox Drivethru use are simple clear plastic ones that hold the cards pretty tightly as they are right? I ask this because I'm planning on properly sleeving the cards so I'm guessing the deckbox will not be big enough to hold the sleeves.
I will also like to extend this question to your other product, The Portal Tarot and it's tuckbox. I guess that box with instructions holds the unsleeved cards pretty tightly right?.
Thank you.
Reply
Customer avatar
Nathan R July 07, 2020 6:27 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
Hello! Yes, the sleeved cards will not fit in either default box properly. I apologize for the inconvenience! I did find that the GMA at least fits pretty well when sleeved into the MtG boxes meant for sleeved decks, since they are pretty much the same size.
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Customer avatar
Carlos R July 07, 2020 8:57 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Thank you for the quick reply, I plan to get both anyway ^^ .
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Customer avatar
Mildred L July 20, 2020 10:15 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I own the tarot cards and they are indeed a snug fit in the included box. My only quibble is that I wasn't able to untuck/retuck the big flap that reveals the text printed inside the box without creasing the flap, even though I was doing it carefully. Maybe a crease line across the middle of the flap would be nice to add.
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Customer avatar
Nathan R July 21, 2020 12:58 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Thanks for the feedback, Mildred; I do know what you mean! I didn't want to remove the text completely this time, but on future box designs my layout designer and I will see if there's a way around that problem, or if it's best to avoid the issue all together!
Customer avatar
George H July 02, 2020 12:33 am UTC
PURCHASER
Is there a Game Masters Deck geared toward Spy, Espionage, Crime, or Raiders of the Lost Ark type RPG games?
Thanks
George
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Customer avatar
Nathan R July 02, 2020 1:11 am UTC
PUBLISHER
Heya!
I would use the Base Deck for those things in most cases. Horror and Sci-Fi could also work for certain versions of those kinds of stories. (Horror could probably do very dark modern crime pretty well, if you ignore the more supernatural bits; Sci-Fi could do superspy gear if you ignore aliens/extraplanetary stuff).
I've definitely used the Base Deck for Ocean's 11/Leverage style content, though, and it's worked quite well!
Customer avatar
Jeffrey W June 06, 2020 9:23 am UTC
PURCHASER
Get. This.

I can't stress enough how good this is. Need a die rolled covertly? Draw a card. Thief pickpocketed a total rando you have no prepared loot for? Draw a card. Need to name that same rando? Draw a card. Need to figure out what weird plot development the players' unpredictability just created? Draw TWO cards!

Having a collection of prompts on hand like these cards is unbelievably useful behind the screen, and there's just something about having physical cards to pull out that beats a digital equivalent.

And above and beyond that, you can use them to GM a game with zero prep, or play solo! My Urban Fantasy detective-mage needs to track down the cult leader who wants him dead, and I have NO CLUE what's going to happen, even though I'm the only one deciding what happens!

Seriously, do yourself a favor and get a pack of these.
Reply
Customer avatar
Nathan R June 06, 2020 8:16 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
I'm really glad you found a range of fun ways to use the cards for creating/calming the madness that is GMing :-)
Customer avatar
Anthony J May 24, 2020 8:30 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Thank you for making such an awesome tool and for making these cards so readily affordable right now. I picked up Demon Hunters and the Basic Set. It is well worth getting a printed set as the quality is so much better than expected and so much better to use than my little print-and-play set was. The optional plastic deck box is well worth paying for, too, and again, higher quality than I expected. I just want to say I am really loving this purchase and appreciate your dedication to making these available!
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Customer avatar
Nathan R May 24, 2020 9:37 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
You're very welcome--thanks for the kind words!
Customer avatar
Joakim L May 24, 2020 5:43 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hi Nathan,
Love the cards, they are a great help in just getting things going when playing a solo rpg.
I would like to try and use these with a solo Fate Core game, but haven't figured out a good way of
setting difficulty rolls yet. The DiffGen is the way to go i feel, but dont know how to get the numbers "fair". Any suggestions?
Reply
Customer avatar
Nathan R May 24, 2020 9:37 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
For Fate, I would go with the DiffGen number, with a minus 2 or 3 mod. Minus 2 produces -1 to 8, minus 3 produces -2 to 7, so neither is completely perfect with the Fate Ladder, but I would say both are reasonable. Minus 2 makes the average difficulties 3 and 4, which seems like it fits for a 'fair' random selection!
Customer avatar
tonton T May 22, 2020 10:05 pm UTC
PURCHASER
How many cards are there per page in the pdf? And are they laid out so they're simple to print at home?
Reply
Customer avatar
tonton T May 22, 2020 10:10 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I just saw the instruction cards, are these like them? Looks good and simple for printing. :)
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Customer avatar
Nathan R May 22, 2020 10:18 pm UTC
PUBLISHER
I tried to make it as easy as possible! There are six cards per page, and there are both full color and low ink versions. Printing back to back may or may not be possible, depending on your printer, but the files should work for it if you can.
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Product Information
Mithral seller
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60
File Size:
39.68 MB
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Original electronic
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These products were created by scanning an original printed edition. Most older books are in scanned image format because original digital layout files never existed or were no longer available from the publisher.

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File Last Updated:
September 24, 2017
This title was added to our catalog on January 29, 2014.