Deck of Many Things: Yea or Nay?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Personally, I've got mixed feelings. I think that the deck can play well with a heavy dose of narrativium (see the "One True Deck" story over here), but I find that running it as-is becomes that little bit too disruptive for my tastes.

What about the rest of you guys? Would you ever bring the deck into one of your games?


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Verily nay. It's a stupid campaign-breaking load of nonsense.


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YES!

It's awesome and fun. Just make sure to spin everything that happens, especially the bad cards, into the base for further adventures. One of my PCs (well, ex-PC I guess, since he's retired) in a generational game lets all members of his family draw when they reach adulthood. The boring ones pull the good cards, the interesting ones pull the bad cards. We've had so many great adventures and character-defining events because of the Deck.
It's campaign-enhancing and campaign-advancing if you just use your imagination instead of looking at it as nothing but mechanical effects.

Eg.

You get a keep. What does the local lord think of a brand new fortification on his land when you don't have the right to it? Where are you going to get staff, how are you going to pay for it, will other local lords see it as a challenge?

You gain a 4th level Fighter. Who is she, why does she now serve you, what sort of baggage does she come with?

One of the aforementioned characters picked the Void and was stuck in the dreams of a god and had to find her way out. That was one amazing adventure, and closely tied to the main storyline.


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Bjørn Røyrvik wrote:
One of the aforementioned characters picked the Void and was stuck in the dreams of a god and had to find her way out. That was one amazing adventure, and closely tied to the main storyline.

Now see, that's what I'm talking about. Reading "Void" as meaning "you lose your character" is a steaming plate of suck. Reading it as a quest hook makes for a one way ticket to the land of adventure.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Meh.

I offered it up late in my Runelords campaign. Almost everyone elected to pull one or more cards. Almost everyone was happy.

My paladin's player picked more than one card. The first ones were good. The last one was "you cease to exist and nobody ever even remembers you existed", or something very similar.

There's really no way to spin that except: he got screwed.

I still kind of regret making the deck available to the players. The player wasn't mad, and was as good-sport about it as could possibly be hoped for. An exemplar guy. But still. One pick from the deck removed all the roleplay and events that he'd participated in for over a year.


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I don’t think I’d like a game where it was presented as a treasure. It feels like a way to artificially shoehorn randomness into a game for the sake of randomness. Which really isn’t my thing


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It's far too dangerous to be really desirable, in spite of the possible rewards.


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I'll take "Fastest way to derail a campaign" for 1000 Alex.


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NEIGH!


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I’m not a particular fan of it personally. I’ll admit though, I never considered using the cards as storyhooks. With that in mind, I might consider using it at some point.


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I have to admit, the plots generated would be... interesting.

“We have to find Stonereaver Keep!”

“Why?”

“A magic playing card told me to!”


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Anguish wrote:

Meh.

I offered it up late in my Runelords campaign. Almost everyone elected to pull one or more cards. Almost everyone was happy.

My paladin's player picked more than one card. The first ones were good. The last one was "you cease to exist and nobody ever even remembers you existed", or something very similar.

There's really no way to spin that except: he got screwed.

I still kind of regret making the deck available to the players. The player wasn't mad, and was as good-sport about it as could possibly be hoped for. An exemplar guy. But still. One pick from the deck removed all the roleplay and events that he'd participated in for over a year.

I had a very similar situation happen to a player. A player using a house rules version of wild magic rolled a results that was "Caster ceases to exist." I had this weird module in my bag though, that connected other dimensions together. So, the caster ceased to exist, but an extremely similar version of him came through this nexus into this world. I told him to behave just slightly differently, and argue about past events being slightly different. He did it wonderfully, until the wizard met another gruesome end involving a Feather Fall accident.


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Irontruth wrote:
Anguish wrote:

Meh.

I offered it up late in my Runelords campaign. Almost everyone elected to pull one or more cards. Almost everyone was happy.

My paladin's player picked more than one card. The first ones were good. The last one was "you cease to exist and nobody ever even remembers you existed", or something very similar.

There's really no way to spin that except: he got screwed.

I still kind of regret making the deck available to the players. The player wasn't mad, and was as good-sport about it as could possibly be hoped for. An exemplar guy. But still. One pick from the deck removed all the roleplay and events that he'd participated in for over a year.

I had a very similar situation happen to a player. A player using a house rules version of wild magic rolled a results that was "Caster ceases to exist." I had this weird module in my bag though, that connected other dimensions together. So, the caster ceased to exist, but an extremely similar version of him came through this nexus into this world. I told him to behave just slightly differently, and argue about past events being slightly different. He did it wonderfully, until the wizard met another gruesome end involving a Feather Fall accident.

Thats's some quick thinking. Good job.

That said, I don't know I would've. I'm one of those DMs who virtually never fudges dice rolls*, so pretty much removing the negative consequences from the deck would probably have been more than I could bring myself to do.

Amusingly, this character was a paladin, and my next PC (DM'd by the paladin's player) turned out to be the paladin's mount, sort of reincarnated. DM killed him. Twice.

* Pretty much if a player has had bad guys make their saves three or four or five times in a row and is starting to get angry/frustrated, I'll consider making magic to keep the table peaceful, but otherwise dice rolls are what they are.


dot

Note: used it recently, worked out well, caution on part of GM needed.


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I have created my own Deck of Many Things that uses every card in the tarot deck.
It is 2/3 good pulls and 1/3 bad.
It presents itself, almost as a Force of Chaos, to each group around level 7 - 9.

At this middle-game level the players are attached to their characters but not so uber-powerful that they don't need what the Deck has to offer.

There have been good pulls and there have been some heinous pulls. But everyone draws. Even the players who swear they'll never draw from the Deck ever again.

My players love me for putting it in front of them.
In that they hate me for putting it in front of them.

They're very conflicted about it.
I'm not; I'm without a doubt putting it in front of them.

Shadow Lodge

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You monster.

Silver Crusade

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TOZ wrote:
You monster.

And that is what is so special about this particular magic item. Players know they can get hosed, but they are still willing to gamble. As a GM you're gambling too, but if you're ready for Minor Deaths to kill everyone then the Deck provides excitement and dread.

I don't think I've actually used it as a GM. I know I drew from a Deck as a player one time, and it worked out ok. Iirc I drew one card and got Fates, which I subsequently used to avoid massive damage and 6 lost levels from the bite of a monstrous demigod. This was back in AD&D.

Liberty's Edge

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I'm on the "Yea" side, though only recently arrived. If the game is about the players' actions, then giving them the opportunity to radically affect the game and themselves seems of a piece with that philosophy.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I've used it and we've had fun with it. I've got a few players who will never turn down a chance like the Deck of Many Things and will take the full allotment of draws. But they're also old-schoolers. If their PC gets hosed by it, c'est la vie! They'll just come up with another character and explore one of the other zillions of ideas they've had over the years but haven't had a chance to try yet.


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A rather lot of Pathfinder players are very control/predictability oriented. There is also a whole lot of buy-in that in-game stuff has almost real-world value. A Deck of Many Things, in pretty much every incarnation, is going to be anathema to this type of player, (as TOZ says, monstrous). It certainly does not belong in a railed, adventure path playstyle, or any heavily tactical sort of game.

I have played in Arduin where the Decks of Life, and the Decks of Death heralded big campaign transition points, and they seriously added to play. In this game where you have players with comprehensive level advancement plans, items/equipment included, I can see a certain degree of resistance, in a thermonuclear sort of way.


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Anguish wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
Anguish wrote:

Meh.

I offered it up late in my Runelords campaign. Almost everyone elected to pull one or more cards. Almost everyone was happy.

My paladin's player picked more than one card. The first ones were good. The last one was "you cease to exist and nobody ever even remembers you existed", or something very similar.

There's really no way to spin that except: he got screwed.

I still kind of regret making the deck available to the players. The player wasn't mad, and was as good-sport about it as could possibly be hoped for. An exemplar guy. But still. One pick from the deck removed all the roleplay and events that he'd participated in for over a year.

I had a very similar situation happen to a player. A player using a house rules version of wild magic rolled a results that was "Caster ceases to exist." I had this weird module in my bag though, that connected other dimensions together. So, the caster ceased to exist, but an extremely similar version of him came through this nexus into this world. I told him to behave just slightly differently, and argue about past events being slightly different. He did it wonderfully, until the wizard met another gruesome end involving a Feather Fall accident.

Thats's some quick thinking. Good job.

That said, I don't know I would've. I'm one of those DMs who virtually never fudges dice rolls*, so pretty much removing the negative consequences from the deck would probably have been more than I could bring myself to do.

Amusingly, this character was a paladin, and my next PC (DM'd by the paladin's player) turned out to be the paladin's mount, sort of reincarnated. DM killed him. Twice.

* Pretty much if a player has had bad guys make their saves three or four or five times in a row and is starting to get angry/frustrated, I'll consider making magic to keep the table peaceful, but otherwise dice rolls are what they are.

Oh, there were definitely consequences. Even if he had survived, he was going to go slowly insane because of the encounters he had on his arrival to the campaign's dimension.

Also, the module I used to bring his character back into existence was the cause of his death later. And it killed another PC too. And a third was lost to time and space.

I even warned them "You don't want to go into this area, there's a high probability you don't walk out. And it might not even be worth it even if you do."


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Nay. It's a lolrandom asspull that can f#%& you over even if you don't draw, and in my experience is pulled out by a DM who wants to blow up the campaign because he's bored with it. If you are a player, dumpster the thing before anyone draws from it, or before anyone else notices it if possible. If you are a DM who wants to shake up a stagnant campaign, take the time to think of something rather than just leaving it up to an RNG that might richly reward a few players and horribly punish others, or outright wreck the campaign, based purely on luck of the draw.


Daw wrote:

A rather lot of Pathfinder players are very control/predictability oriented. There is also a whole lot of buy-in that in-game stuff has almost real-world value. A Deck of Many Things, in pretty much every incarnation, is going to be anathema to this type of player, (as TOZ says, monstrous). It certainly does not belong in a railed, adventure path playstyle, or any heavily tactical sort of game.

I have played in Arduin where the Decks of Life, and the Decks of Death heralded big campaign transition points, and they seriously added to play. In this game where you have players with comprehensive level advancement plans, items/equipment included, I can see a certain degree of resistance, in a thermonuclear sort of way.

You played with David Hargreaves?!? (worshipful fanboi look)


Daw wrote:

A rather lot of Pathfinder players are very control/predictability oriented. There is also a whole lot of buy-in that in-game stuff has almost real-world value. A Deck of Many Things, in pretty much every incarnation, is going to be anathema to this type of player, (as TOZ says, monstrous). It certainly does not belong in a railed, adventure path playstyle, or any heavily tactical sort of game.

I have played in Arduin where the Decks of Life, and the Decks of Death heralded big campaign transition points, and they seriously added to play. In this game where you have players with comprehensive level advancement plans, items/equipment included, I can see a certain degree of resistance, in a thermonuclear sort of way.

It's anathema to anyone who gets invested in their characters. We had a player leave a campaign because she "just wasn't getting into it", with a character she made up as a replacement for the one that she actually liked and was invested in, which was killed by someone else's draw.

It's also awful for the game's narrative. Random events like the ones from the Deck are completely out of left field, and outside of any sort of cause-and-effect outside of choosing to draw—and again, you can be screwed by someone else's draw. "Wave goodbye to all your magic items! That's what you get for standing within 30' of someone drawing from the Deck, idiot." Imagine if the party's ongoing adventures were a book, or a TV show. I would immediately drop that book or show and call the writer a hack if Deck Of Many Things-tier random shenanigans started happening.


Daw wrote:

A rather lot of Pathfinder players are very control/predictability oriented. There is also a whole lot of buy-in that in-game stuff has almost real-world value. A Deck of Many Things, in pretty much every incarnation, is going to be anathema to this type of player, (as TOZ says, monstrous). It certainly does not belong in a railed, adventure path playstyle, or any heavily tactical sort of game.

I have played in Arduin where the Decks of Life, and the Decks of Death heralded big campaign transition points, and they seriously added to play. In this game where you have players with comprehensive level advancement plans, items/equipment included, I can see a certain degree of resistance, in a thermonuclear sort of way.

Athaleon wrote:

It's anathema to anyone who gets invested in their characters. We had a player leave a campaign because she "just wasn't getting into it", with a character she made up as a replacement for the one that she actually liked and was invested in, which was killed by someone else's draw.

It's also awful for the game's narrative. Random events like the ones from the Deck are completely out of left field, and outside of any sort of cause-and-effect outside of choosing to draw—and again, you can be screwed by someone else's draw. "Wave goodbye to all your magic items! That's what you get for standing within 30' of someone drawing from the Deck, idiot." Imagine if the party's ongoing adventures were a book, or a TV show. I would immediately drop that book or show and call the writer a hack if Deck Of Many Things-tier random shenanigans started happening.

That... isn't an effect that the Deck' produces, though. Not even the 'Harrow version. That was a clear misunderstanding of the rules by the GM.

EDIT: I added the quotes, and also am trying to clarify - it may be that we're talking about different things. I've never played with the "deck of life" or "deck of death" - if you are referring to those, you may well be right.

But neither the Deck of Many Things, nor the Harrow Deck of Many Things produces an effect like you're describing.


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Tacticslion wrote:
That... isn't an effect that the Deck' produces, though. Not even the 'Harrow version. That was a clear misunderstanding of the rules by the GM.

It might have been a 3rd edition Deck. This was in a campaign where the party had two different Decks and a Bag of Magic Beans dumped on us in quick succession.

I remember the card that killed the one character was a Cyclone, which was foisted on her by someone else's card (I forget which). I also don't remember which card destroyed all magic items in a 30' radius. Regardless, losing all your magic items is far from the worst thing the Deck can do to you.


Well, it definitely wasn't 3.5 - and, though the "Cyclone" card is in the 'Harrow deck, it does something very different.

Google doesn't help; sorry!


I just summarized the effect. At the level we were at, she had no chance of soloing an Elder Air Elemental, in fact it would probably have killed the whole party. It killed her in 2 or 3 rounds, then took the body back to the Plane of Air, so she might as well have been vaporized instantly for all her ability to do anything about it.


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I'm personally all for the deck. so long as the GM treats it as the ridiculously powerful item that it is (do not simply give someone a deck for funsies) the deck can lead to all manner of interesting character moments. One of my parties stumbled across the deck unknowingly and the results were wonderful. My character had to cope with a spontaneous undesired sex-change after drawing the twins, the skill-monkey gained the ability to summon a lunar dragon who was used purely to confuse enemies/show off, and another party member was nearly beaten to death when he tried to draw a card on purpose.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

It's the perfect passive-aggressive way for a GM to say "Here, you end the campaign for me."


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Nay.

I have seen three campaigns destroyed by it, and two where the GM has tried to use it as a plot-development tool.

No good can come of it.


Athaleon wrote:
I just summarized the effect. At the level we were at, she had no chance of soloing an Elder Air Elemental, in fact it would probably have killed the whole party. It killed her in 2 or 3 rounds, then took the body back to the Plane of Air, so she might as well have been vaporized instantly for all her ability to do anything about it.

That's... still the wrong effect.

Quote:
An elder air elemental appears, and the character must fight it alone. If the character cannot defeat the elemental in 1d6+1 rounds, he is transported to the Plane of Air.

That effect only applies to exactly one character, and, if the character is unable to complete it himself, he gets transported to the elemental plane of air, instead of instant death.

The closest effect to what you refer to would be the Skull card from Deck of Many Things - that card summons additional dread wraiths, but only for those who attack the first one (so, stay out of it, and it's all on the one who drew the card).

Nonetheless, being killed by an elder air elemental isn't permanent - it's not even that bad. One raise dead or reincarnate later, and you're back in business.

If you argue (as it seems you played it that way; that is a valid way to interpret it) the corpse is what's transported (so, a person is killed and then transported) that could be more problematic... but it could also serve as a quest... and is a mere one magic item away, if you pick the correct magic item (and back in 3rd/3.5 that correct magic item was always "candle of invocation").

EDIT: the point is, I'm not sure what the anyone was thinking, but that's clearly the fault of the GM and/or character - you don't establish stuff that's going to wreck your players' face, unless you're confident they can either handle it, or it's cool with them.


Athaleon wrote:
I also don't remember which card destroyed all magic items in a 30' radius.

Also, this is still not a thing.

Check the harrow or standard decks.

This is clearly still the GM just not playing the deck right.

Again, none of this is to say the deck can't or won't be a game-wrecker - not only can it, but it's very likely if your party or game are not into that sort of thing... but the specific examples cited seem dubious, at best, especially since that's not really what the deck does.

(Also I'm a little uncertain as to what you're referring to in 3rd edition - the original version of the 'Harrow deck appeared in 3.5, so maybe that's what you meant. It's unclear.)

It seems that you had a GM who didn't understand the deck, threw it at a level that you couldn't ever handle anything it might give you, but tossed it at you anyway, and botched the rulings. This is going to make it seem even worse than it actually is.

Deck of Many Things
There are twenty-two possible outcomes.
- Bad-and-maybe-character-ending (6): Balance (change alignment), Donjon (trapped this can actually do a lot of nifty story potential, but it requires a deft-hand and GM buy-in), Idiot (lose 1d4+1 intelligence really only ends wizards or similar), Skull (solo dreadwraith or be destroyed), Talons (lose all magical equipment really only ends non-magic types), the Void (body left alive, soul trapped somewhere)
- Bad-but-not-character-ending (5): Eurale (-1 to saves), Flames (an outsider hates you), Fool (lose 10k xp and draw again), Rogue (a friend turns against you), Ruin (lose all non-magical possessions),
- Good-but-not-game-ending (11): Comet (defeat creature, gain level), the Fates (avoid a situation once), Gem (gain jewelry or gems; worth 50k gold), Jester (gain 10k xp, or two more draws), Key (gain a major magic weapon), Knight (gain a 4th level fighter ally), Moon (gain 1d4 wishes), Star (gain two +2 inherent bonuses), Sun (gain medium wondrous item and 50k xp), Throne (a keep and a +6 diplomacy bonus), Vizier (know the answer to your next dilemma)

So half the time you'll get a boon that doesn't end your character.

Slightly less than a quarter of the time you'll get a penalty that definitely doesn't end your character.

Slightly more than a quarter of the time you'll draw something that has a chance of ending your character, depending on your type - but ultimately, that's deceptive, because two effects likely won't really affect you.

- 4/22 for wizards-or-similar

- 4/22 for non-mages-or-similar

- 4/22 for clerics (who actually have a better-than-average chance v. the dread wraith, too)

That 1/4(-ish) chance is still statistically significant - you need to be very aware of it, when you GM. What's exceedingly interesting about this, though, is that, in a 22-card set-up, you've also got a 50% chance to pull out a beneficial card, of which slightly less than 1/4 (4: fates, key, moon, and sun) have a chance of granting you the ability to either entirely negate the problem, or lessen its danger considerably.

Now, there are two effects I've found that can possibly destroy nearby friends: the Avalanche card, the Joke card, and the Waxworks card, from a Harrow deck.

The Avalanche is pretty direct: the earthquake spell is extremely problematic (and also has an 80' radius).

The Joke card is more nuanced: it has a 8/56 chance (~14%) that it's destructive.

The Waxworks card is dubiously deadly to your fellow members: it creates duplicates of you with an opposite alignment and goals. This may include wanting to hurt your friends - but that's on the GM, so it's up to the GM if this is really directly detrimental to your friends or not.

Over-all, that's a 3/56 (~5% chance) that it's directly destructive to more than one person (and one of those has a high chance not to be too destructive, though it might have negative consequences).

So, yes - the Harrow deck is much more dangerous to the group as a whole, but it's also much less likely to immediately end a character. A GM should always, always be mindful of the risks, both in-character, and out-.

Also, the Harrow version has this to say:

Quote:

Beating the Odds: Although what might qualify as a boon or a burden proves highly subjective, by one counting of the cards in the Harrow Deck of Many Things, there are 24 mostly beneficial effects, 16 detrimental effects, and 14 relatively neutral effects. This means that someone drawing a card from the deck has roughly a 44% chance of drawing a beneficial card, a 30% chance of drawing a detrimental card, and a 26% chance of drawing a neutral card. These percentages skew slightly as some of the neutral effects lead to the redrawing of cards, but these figures might lend unreliable comfort to those cautious about drawing from the deck. Those who would make multiple draws should consider whether to do so carefully, however, as drawing twice increases the chance of drawing a dangerous card to 50%, while drawing three times increases this chance to 65%.

Seductive Destruction: Many of the effects of the Harrow Deck of Many Things are particularly visible and may attract attention from a distance. Nearly any creature would be tempted by the chance to change its life by taking a draw from the deck, but while one draw might suggest the deck is filled with blessings, multiple draws typically end in destruction. This might be obvious enough to a small group of adventurers, but perhaps not to members of any sizable community where dozens might seek a draw. Those who find a Harrow Deck of Many Things locked away likely find it in such a place because of one uncommon individual’s discretion, or because the endangered deck teleported there.

Hope that helps!


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Yes, I played in Dave Hargrave's game for a stretch.

He used the Rider Waite and the Thoth tarot decks for his Decks of Life and Death, respectively. He used the character "identity", the drawn card's symbolism and, apparently, where he wanted the game to go next to determine just what happened. The effect wasn't as random stupid as many here are decrying for the classic Deck, but, as everything else at that table, it was often quite intense. The character's explorations of the aftermath of the draws tended to lead into the next arc.

For those of you traumatized here, sorry you had sub-par GMing. It isn't always so.


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There are a couple of variant decks that tone down / expand the range of possible 'encounters'. While the high-stakes nature of the original can be fun, I think the stakes of (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic-items/artifacts/minor-artifacts/deck-of-many -things-harrow/), for example, can be just as fun and a little less game-destroying... .

(Experiential Data-Point: my GM (who is great with narrative) just used one for/on us. I recommend, heartily! It was less game-warping (and less soulcrushing) than the original deck... although our gnome ended up with a Ring of "Get out of Consequences Free* x 3", which helped smooth out the results a little.)


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A coworker recently told me about a campaign that he built around the Deck (I'm not sure in which edition). Each card represented some kind of power that could be unlocked by finding and unlocking cards from the the deck, and assembling a full deck would achieve their ultimate goal. These quests involved finding a lot of unique magic items and mystic locations associated with the cards and their powers.

He freely admitted that these quests often involved nasty challenges and moral dilemmas. The example he gave was finding a magic sword that would let them acquire and unlock one of the cards--if a paladin wielded it to take an innocent life, and thus fell. He didn't tell them that the sword itself could serve in place of the card it unlocked...


Tacticslion wrote:
Athaleon wrote:
I also don't remember which card destroyed all magic items in a 30' radius.

Also, this is still not a thing.

Actually a form of this IS a thing. Not the 30' radius, but magic items disappearing. Not checking other editions, but AD&D Talons card destroyed all magic items instantly (which would include the deck of many things if it in the drawing character's possession).


Irontruth wrote:
Tacticslion wrote:
Athaleon wrote:
I also don't remember which card destroyed all magic items in a 30' radius.

Also, this is still not a thing.

Actually a form of this IS a thing. Not the 30' radius, but magic items disappearing. Not checking other editions, but AD&D Talons card destroyed all magic items instantly (which would include the deck of many things if it in the drawing character's possession).

I'm responding to the 30 ft. radius.

My entire argument is the DoMT affects you negatively relatively easily, but doesn't affect your party that way (though the HDoMT has three cards that can).

If you read the rest of that post, I actually explicitly mention the Talon card.

EDIT: clarification/restructuring of a sentence
EDIT 2: I mean, I also actually literally link to the deck in the sentence below that... >.>


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You weren't exactly clear which part you were claim "isn't a thing". There are lots of 30' effects in the game... so clearly that is a thing. There is a card that destroys magic items... so clearly that is a thing.

I agree, there isn't technically a combination of the two as a specific thing, but literally everything in the sentence IS a thing. So maybe be really clear if you want to get uppity about people saying something is/isn't a thing? Not trying to be very harsh, but I don't think it takes a big stretch to see how I arrive at the wrong interpretation of your statement.


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Irontruth wrote:
You weren't exactly clear which part you were claim "isn't a thing". There are lots of 30' effects in the game... so clearly that is a thing. There is a card that destroys magic items... so clearly that is a thing.

There is no 30 ft. radius in the cards.

There's an 80 ft. thing, but I clarified that.

Yes, I wasn't clear in that sentence, but that's because there was only one thing that was wrong. If you know the cards, you'd know which of those was wrong. Also, I explicitly mentioned not only the talons card but what it did later in the post, my dude.

It would seem to have been very obvious what I'm talking about from the context in which it was placed, given I not only mentioned the specific card you did, but also clarified the effect - hence I couldn't have been talking about that thing.


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It's possible that, in the case of the GM destroying all magic items in 30' that he gave out too much magic and didn't know how to rein it in so he used that opportunity to make things easier for him.

Only you can decide if a Deck of Many Things is right for your group. I've read some horror stories in this thread and, if the GM isn't experienced or mature enough... or simply doesn't know how to handle it, the Deck of Many Things can let things get out of hand. In the 35 years I've been playing, I've been in campaigns where we've used it three times. Each time, it added to the campaign... Well, in a Spelljammer game I ran in 2E, the group decided to play with it in a tavern (On Bral's Rock for those familiar with the setting). One guy drew the "defeat your own Death card or die permanently" card. One of the other players had the brilliant idea of body checking the "death" into another bar patron, who whirled around and punched before he looked and got his own death to fight. I'd wager that was the worst bar fight in history. Anyone familiar with Spelljammer or Bral's Rock will know, there can be any race in a bar. Anything from human and elves to orcs and ogres... beholders... illithids... anything. The party ended up escaping and flying away from the Rock... assuming they were banned from ever coming back, if not wanted by the authorities.
That example was the only goofy thing that happened. The last time we used it, it was 3e. My character had something called The Mask of the Faceless Sorcerer. It was from an old Judges Guild adventure, I think. I drew the Void (Soul is trapped, but the body is still fine... just nobody driving). When I drew it, the DM took me aside for a minute for us to talk. That's when I found out that there was a demon living in the mask and that's what was powering the item. When my soul was removed, the demon was able to control the body. This worked out perfectly because the next player drew the card that let you know the answer to your next dilemma. She found out where my soul was. I was allowed to play the demon so, we were all sitting around, I drew the void then my body went limp, then a demonic voice (one of the powers of the mask) said, "Well, that was unexpected". Nobody could figure out what happened and when the player who drew the other card told us where my soul was, of course I said we have to go get it. The demon was going to destroy it forever or take it back to the abyss. I had so much fun playing that demon. I went to the adventure without castingt spells. The demon wasn't a spell caster and still didn't have access to all of it's abilities. I hung back and let the others fight most of the time... letting them wear themselves out so, when I had to fight them all, I would be fresh and it worked. I came so close to killing the others in the end. Eventually, I was grappled and beaten into unconsciousness until my soul could be released back into my body. After that, and I was in full control, we went to a secluded area, used a carefully Wish to draw the demon out of the mask while not losing any of the masks power, then we commenced to slaughtering the demon in about three rounds. We used a magic circle to keep it from escaping. That was the best use of a Deck of Many things that I'd ever seen.
So... it CAN be a great thing for a campaign... or, if used incorrectly by a GM who's not ready for that, it can end a campaign. In the end, only you can make that choice, but if you use it. JUst talk to your players and ask them if they can wait to draw from it until the end of the game session. That way you have time to think up something that might otherwise throw you off.


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Only use it if you're not married to the narrative and characters.

So basically never in most Adventure Paths, if it's even possible to encounter it, except for maybe as part of a post-AP finale where you're all fine with it ending anticlimactically with the entire party eaten by the Deck of Many Things and its myriad ways of killing or imprisoning those who draw from it.

It's also generally best to tweak it to suit your purposes if you have one.

You'll also need to either be ready to think on your feet or have done enough prep work in advance that it looks like you're thinking on your feet if things go pear-shaped.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 4, RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32

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If you like ad-libbing, yea.

I really love that it simulates the typical desire to use an obviously deadly artifact without requiring game mechanics. Just put it in front of your PCs - even if they know what it does, somebody will eventually give in and draw.

Case in point, this story here. If you like coming up with new campaign arcs on the fly, the deck is a great tool.


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Mykull wrote:

I have created my own Deck of Many Things...

I am just starting my own and would love to see what you've done. My twist is that it is modified by level, + D6, breaks to be set at the 'fives'. Some of the Major Trumps will be actual 'personages in the game and there will be a number of other 'Trumps' a la Zelazny's Amber.


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I like it, but my players treat it like an atomic grenade. :P


Coidzor wrote:
You'll also need to either be ready to think on your feet or have done enough prep work in advance that it looks like you're thinking on your feet if things go pear-shaped.

This is extremely important with any 'Deck you happen to place in front of your characters.

I cannot stress enough that prep-work makes easy-work: even if the prep-work is as simple as getting really familiar with the card concepts. "Really familiar" of course, will entirely depend on the GM. But the more familiar you are with what the 'deck does (and what it doesn't) the better.

Coidzor wrote:
It's also generally best to tweak it to suit your purposes if you have one.

Some GMs do not want to do anything they could possibly consider "cheating" - and that's totally fair. But, again, if you put an object like this into your game, these are some of the most easily modified items... and it's not entirely a bad idea to do so. There are lots of pieces of advice about how out there on how to do so - I would recommend checking some of them out!


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Athaleon wrote:
Nay. It's a lolrandom asspull that can f*#$ you over even if you don't draw, and in my experience is pulled out by a DM who wants to blow up the campaign because he's bored with it. If you are a player, dumpster the thing before anyone draws from it, or before anyone else notices it if possible. If you are a DM who wants to shake up a stagnant campaign, take the time to think of something rather than just leaving it up to an RNG that might richly reward a few players and horribly punish others, or outright wreck the campaign, based purely on luck of the draw.

This is well put. Would I ever use it? No, I've experienced it as a kid. Wild time, but... above.

Would I use it in a short campaign or one I wanted to end where the players were young and had never heard of or experienced the deck? Sure, why not? It's exhilarating.


Let's say you're GMing a game and you let the players come upon a Deck of Many Things. The players respond by setting the deck on fire.

What happens?


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Ventnor wrote:

Let's say you're GMing a game and you let the players come upon a Deck of Many Things. The players respond by setting the deck on fire.

What happens?

Does not meet destruction criterion, magic is still intact. You have a charred deck of many things.


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Ventnor wrote:

Let's say you're GMing a game and you let the players come upon a Deck of Many Things. The players respond by setting the deck on fire.

What happens?

I figure it would go down like this, except with more fire.

Artifact destruction is not for the faint of heart.

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