Sci-Fi Concept Cards | Instant Universe, Just Add H2O

Created by Stephen Coffey

Sci-Fi Concept Cards | Instant Universe, Just Add H2O
9eaa2ff2e20fd5d07a3da4794120e305 original
244 backers pledged £5,544.00 on Kickstarter

Playing Cards which each describe a sci-fi setting element - available in decks of planets, characters and locations

Raised in Kickstarter
£5,544.00 / 244 backers
Raised in BackerKit
£1,070.00 / 232 backers

Latest Updates from Our Project:

18 days ago – Fri, Jun 01, 2018 at 12:10:35 AM

By now you should be able to log into Backerkit and download the digital decks. If you can't for any reason, please let us know and we'll rectify it as soon as possible.

As I said in the last update, there will be a few days before we send them to printers, so if you spot any remaining errors please let us know that too - we want them to be as good as we can make them. If there is anything to correct we will send updated versions of these PDFs to you at the same time.

The State Of Play
23 days ago – Sun, May 27, 2018 at 04:31:18 PM

It's been a few weeks since we've been in contact, so I thought I'd let you know where we are. There's good news, bad news, and other news. As this update is a little longer than expected, here's the key points:

  • Digital decks next week
  • Physical decks around the end of June
  • A picture of cheese

Digital Decks

The good news is that the cards are all but written. There are a couple of tweaks here and there left to do, most notably the renumbering needs finishing. The ordinal values of the cards are obviously evenly distributed, but the secondary values are not necessarily so - they are assigned by gut instinct while writing the cards. This means we can end up with twelve threes and three nines. That is less than ideal as it would result in draws feeling unbalanced, so we go in and push all the numbers around until they are more evenly distributed - between four and seven of any given value in each suit in each deck, including the ordinal values. The spreadsheet that has been worked out in is finished (thanks Ste!), but I need to finish transferring the new numbers onto the cards themselves.

So once that is done, I need to re-export the PDFs, combine them all into one file and then we can send them to you. This means that the next update you receive from us should contain your digital decks.

Yes that's right, the digital decks will be with you before the end of May, as we promised.

Physical Decks

Sadly the same cannot be said for the physical decks. It was obviously impossible to get the files to the printers before they were ready. We want to leave it a few days (but only a few) between delivering the digital decks and sending them to the printers in case any more errors have crept in.

That means the pre-print files will be going to the printers during the first week in June, and the physical decks will return to us a couple of weeks after that in all their glory.

At that point it is a matter of collating mailing lists, printing them, packing decks for postage and sending them all. Depending how far from us you are it will then take (i think) 2-10 days to reach you.

This means the physical decks should be with you by the end of June or the first week in July. We will, of course keep you updated.


I don't want to offer excuses, but I feel you deserve an explanation of the delay.

The first reason is art. Sourcing art took longer than anticipated. We had the suit symbols we initially wanted, but the stretch goal for more art was reached relatively late. Surprisingly acquiring the remaining three symbols took longer than the initial five!

The second reason comes down to technical difficulties. We used Libre Office for the layout, and I built a template which should have allowed any of us to edit the cards directly. Sadly that was not the case. We started to experience unexpected layout glitches between our four computers. it may have been possible to fix that but we didn't realise until rather too late in the process so we decided it wasn't worth it. So while the others could type the cards into the template, I have had to do all the final layout work (and that explains why Ste's calculated the renumbering but I need to apply it to the cards).

UK Games Expo

Ste and Amy are going to UKGE next weekend. We're not trading there, they're going as punters. If you spot them, say Hi!


One of the key things we are missing from our skill set as a company is an in house artist. To try to help with this, Ali is teaching herself to draw. Here is a draft illustration from one of our future projects, Adventurer's Backpack. It's a piece of cheese, because what adventurer don't need to eat?
Everyone likes cheese, except those who don't.
Everyone likes cheese, except those who don't.

Want to Beta Read? | Two New Suit Symbols
about 1 month ago – Thu, May 10, 2018 at 01:47:52 AM

This post is for backers only. Please visit and log in to read.

Thank You!
2 months ago – Thu, Apr 12, 2018 at 01:49:01 PM

A Grand Total

So the final tally is £5,544 and 244 backers. Thank you all, every last one of you. We couldn't do this without you and we like doing this!

We have reached the stretch goals for two extra cards per deck, and three extra suit symbols.

What Remains To Be Done

Elvis may have gone home to live among the stars, but we still have work to do. There are a few cards left to write, more now we have reached that stretch goal, and we need to commission more art.

Then comes the process of proofreading. To be honest it's my least favourite part of the job, not least because I'm not very good at it. Fortunately Ali is, and we have a couple of volunteers to aid in the process. It is very necessary, though - I am rather prone to making typos. By the time it goes to print I am confident that every error but one will be squashed (that one will show up three weeks later...). 

After that is done we send files to the printers, and wait anxiously for them to send us boxes of decks.

Then we package and post them and not long after that you receive them.

We will, of course, keep you updated every step of the way.

Now how do I apply this to my life?
Now how do I apply this to my life?

In Jokes and Side References
2 months ago – Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 03:01:27 PM

We've put a lot of references throughout the decks, of varying levels of obscurity.

I’m just going to share a few of my favorites - most cards have some kind of reference or insinuation somewhere, something subtle below the surface.

While you haven't seen most of these cards yet, we hope the teasers here will give you more of an idea of what to look forward to.

For the Trekkers:

"Dr Kelly Gates" - our space doctor pays tribute to Deforest Kelly (Dr Leonard McCoy, TOS) and Gates McFadden (Dr Beverly Crusher. TNG). I was going to make her an osteologist, so she could legitimately be Bones, but epidemiology was just more interesting.

"Daniel Derrington" is a genius engineering trainee, who doesn’t want to be one. He’s a nod to Wil Wheaton (as Wesley Crusher) - which is part of why he wants to be an actor!

Star Wars fandom

The smuggler "Liang Arioso" is described as ‘Scruffy Looking - He might almost be a Herdsman’ - calling back to Leia's description of Han Solo. The name is also a reference, via the medium of music; an Arioso is a type of solo performance.


"Detective Deeley" was originally named Decker, for the Blade Runner - but we decided that was a bit too on the nose, and instead named him for the director of the film. He’s also got a bit of Robocop, and a shade of Demolition Man. Because only in a dystopian future would the real cops resemble a private security firm.

In the Planets deck we have two sentient planets. A telepathic hivemind which borrows somewhat from the planet Gaia from Asimov’s "Foundation and Earth", with elements of Pandora from the film Avatar , and a fungal worldmind named after the largest organism on Earth - Armillaria Gallica.

(CW family soppiness)

At some point, almost all of us geeks struggle to explain our worlds to our families. My parents decided that to really understand this roleplay thingie, they ought to have a go. They played a ridiculous fantasy game with us , and fun was had by all.

My stepdad played “Dwanga the Dwangerous Dwarf”, and the 3 of Spades is a gift for him. Dwanga’s an engineer, because my stepdad was a systems analyst. And he’s an AI champion, because Roger taught me to stand up for what was right.

We’ve got a backer level so you too can reference a character, a friend or a family member that needs immortalising. Jump in quick!