Sunday, June 14, 2009

Deck of Many Things and Then Some

The Deck of Many Things has been reincarnated in every edition of D&D and retro clones. Why? Because it's the closest thing to real gambling a player gets with his character. Draw one card and you gain a level. Draw another card and you're stripped of all your magic items. Gone. Give the paladin a hankie, he just lost his +5 Holy Avenger.

The Deck of Many Things has always been a favorite because the GM can use a regular deck of cards or cooler yet, tarot cards. Players get a tactual experience when throwing dice and using miniatures, but it is rare when they get to interact with a magic item.

A standard deck has 22 cards. Green Ronin released the Deck of Many Things and their deck has 24 cards. Two extra cards? Interesting.

Since we have all used the regular deck several times, let's throw my eight new cards into the mix. It's great when a player draws a new card. It keeps the mystery and the excitement of discovery fresh. For my tarot deck, I chose the Morgan-Greer Tarot, but flavor your Deck of Many Things with the tarot deck of your choice. Here are eight new cards you can slip into your Deck of Many Things and Then Some.

Tarot: 10 of Cups
Playing Card: 10 of Hearts

The player who draws the Rainbow will gain +2 to any rolls for that gaming session. If this card is drawn near the end of the session then the bonus will carry over to the next session. The drawback of the card is the player then must choose who will be penalized. The player can chose one person to give the -2 to all rolls or split the penalty between two players giving them a -1 each. This penalty can only be given to other players, not henchmen or NPCs.

Tarot: 5 of Pentacles
Playing Card: 5 of Diamonds

When the Healer is drawn the player can heal any damage of one person. This includes the curing of all physical maladies such as poison, disease, blindness or restores a lost limb. It can even resurrect one person, creature or monster. The player can wait to use it, but it can only be used once. If the card is used to resurrect someone the Healer will vanish from the deck forever.

Tarot: X. Wheel of Fortune
Playing Card: 10 of Spades

When the player draws the Wheel the GM will make a secret roll. If an odd number is rolled the result will be negative. If an even number is rolled the outcome will be positive. The next item the player discovers will be more powerful than described. Chargeable magic items will have the maximum charges. Potions will double in duration or effectiveness. Scrolls will be of higher level. Or if the magic item is not usable by the character class then the item will change to suit the character's class and abilities. A negative outcome will result in the next magic item the character could have used to be non-magical.

Tarot: Ace of Pentacles
Playing Card: 3 of Hearts

Once the Gate is drawn a portal will appear before the character and he may choose to go anywhere. This includes the outer planes, god realms and the abyss. All the player needs to do is announce where he would like to go. The gate will remain stationary and remain open long enough for the entire party to enter. The drawback to this card is it's a one way entrance. The return trip is the player's responsibility.

Tarot: 3 of Pentacles
Playing Card: 3 of Spades

The character who draws the Worker will gain the service of a craftsman. The craftsman will reflect the need of the character. For example a fighter will receive the services of a weaponsmith, a cleric will gain an acolyte, or a thief will gain an important contact. The worker will always be loyal. The only drawback to the card is the player becomes the worker's patron and must feed, clothe and protect him from enemies.

Tarot Card: The Magician
Playing Card: 10 of Diamonds

If a spell caster draws the Mage card he will learn four new spells. The spells must be selected immediately upon drawing the card. If a non-spellcaster draws the Mage, the card will explode doing 5d6 fire damage and destroy the card.
Note: If a GM is using a level-based system the player can learn any four spells within his class. An illusionist cannot learn cleric spells. If the GM is using a point-based system one point can be put into the four new spells.

Tarot Card: Knight of Swords
Playing Card: 4 of Spades

When the Enemy is drawn the player will see his home destroyed. If there are loved ones or henchmen at the home they will be captured or killed. Any valuable items will be destroyed or taken. The vision will give the identity of the enemy, but nothing more. Should the character be at home at the time of drawing the player can defend his home. The enemy should be slightly higher in skill than the player and matching in the number of henchmen.

Dying Heart
Tarot Card: 3 of Swords
Playing Card: 3 of Clubs

The player who draws the Dying Heart will take maximum damage for 1d6+3 hits. This effect can last for one or several fights. The character defends normally, but only when struck will the counter go down. A GM will roll secretly for the number of maximum damage hits the player will sustain.

That's it. That's all I got for now. It's fun making these cards and I may have more in another blog. If you've created new cards for your Deck of Many Things let me know. Now if I could only draw the Gem so I didn't have to work tomorrow.


  1. Ha! Not bad...I always loved the Deck of Many Things in AD&D but never had the gumption to make my own cards (I'd be nervous of what my players would say...ha! As if game balance can really be questioned with a VOID in the Deck).

    I actually am a fair hand with the tarot decks, and have really never connected the would be the height of cool to do something like this with a 78 card deck, but man would that be a lot of typing!

  2. Yeah that would be very cool. The tarot cards are very inspirational with thinking of new ways to tempt the players. So there could be an infinate combination for decks. Make a minor decks, major decks artifact decks and cursed decks. Hmm cursed decks. That gives me an idea.