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A Cautionary Tale of a Deck of Many Things

Content of the article: "A Cautionary Tale of a Deck of Many Things"

The Deck of Many Things is a fantastic magic item within the realm of Dungeons & Dragons. It has persisted throughout numerous editions in one form or another. This is going to be a story of what just transpired with my gaming group when we decided to draw cards from the deck.

As a matter of background, our group is currently playing Pathfinder First Edition, the War of the Crown Adventure Path, near the end of Book Four. We have five eleventh level player characters, four of which who chose to draw from the Deck. The Deck was acquired the session before during a dungeoncrawl underneath the city the group is currently stationed in. The PC that found the Deck (me) insisted that there was no way anyone was going to be drawing from the deck in the middle of the dungeoncrawl. We finished clearing out the dungeon and that session ended.

Today’s session began with our characters sitting in the dining room of their safe house. The DM explained that there were 22 cards and one of the players had brought an actual Deck to draw from. So it was a matter of just drawing a card, and telling the DM . . . then finding the result. I knew going in I just didn’t want to be the first to draw. So I asked who wanted to draw first.

One player wanted absolutely nothing to do with the Deck and insisted that not only did his Ex-Paladin/Oracle leave the room, he left the house, and the city . . . making sure that there was sufficient enough distance from the Deck he wouldn’t get caught in the backsplash.

Then, the player of our Wizard, a follower of Sarenrae and a penchant for fire spells stated he would draw first and declared he would draw five cards. The cards he drew:

Balance – changing his alignment from Neutral Good to Neutral Evil. Not necessarily anything that our characters would immediately have recognized.

Flames – Gained the Ire of an Outsider (DM called for a d20 roll and the result was a “1”. So, the Wizard would meet up with the Iresome Outsider within one day.)

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Key – Gain a Major Magic Item. (DM called for a percentile roll and the result was “05”. Our Wizard was the new owner of a Staff of Fire)

Throne – Gain a Small Castle. DM declares that the Wizard is aware of a Wizard’s Tower emerging out of the lake back in our home city (not the one we’re currently operating out of), and is his.

Void – The Wizard’s Psyche is teleported elsewhere, leaving his body an empty husk.

The DM determined that our Wizard’s soul had been pulled from the Prime Material Plane by his patron deity, Sarenrae and was being held in heaven for having turned evil.

The next one up was the player of our Swashbuckler/Ninja. He declared he would draw three cards. They were

Euralyze – Gain a -1 penalty to all saving throws.

Vizier – Know the answer to your next dilemma.

Rogue – Enmity from one NPC or Organization which previously was favorable to you.

So far, our Swashbuckler was the least affected at this point. We know that he’s expecting to get backstabbed by someone, we just don’t know who . . .

Then since no one else wanted to draw, I figured I’d take my chance. I declared my Rogue character would draw four cards, since that seemed reasonable being between the number of cards the other two drew.

Knight – Gain a level 4 cohort. (DM asked me to roll randomly for a name, and my cohort’s name was “Sheldon”.)

Talons – Lose all Magic Items. (this included at least two of the campaign specific artifacts that my character had on him, and basically left him naked. My immediate response was, “Sheldon, give me your clothes!”)

Jester – Gain Experience or Two More Draws (without thinking, I replied quickly, “Two more draws.”)

Sun – Gain Experience and a minor magic item. (Rolling randomly, I think it was an amulet of Natural Armor +2, but I’m not sure because of how my sixth draw turned out.)

Comet – Gain a level after defeating the next hostile monster in solo combat. I was very cautious about this because I knew we were planning on talking to a monster later for information and there was no way I was going be able to take them alone.

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Ruin – Loose all property and wealth. Now, not only were all my magic items gone from the Talons card, but now all my non-magic gear and the assassin’s academy I’d started working on was all wiped away.

Now, I thought that’s all that was going to be done for the deck, but due to table talk and peer pressure, the player of our cleric of Abadar declared he would draw one card.

Donjon – Character is imprisoned.

The DM declared that hands rose out of the ground and pulled the cleric down. He was stuck in the depths of the Underdark, surrounded by Illithids, next to a Portal to empty Abyss of wherever aberrant creatures come from. There were just so many tentacles.

There was a little bit more of the progression to the over all adventure path story arc where we negotiated with an Otyugh for information. Due to my desire to not have this Monster go Hostile and be prompted to fight it alone . . . my rogue basically gave the creature any and all information it asked for, much to the surprise and ire of the fellow PCs (the players took it in good stride I thought).

Once we got back to the safe house with the next plot point resolved, we as a group tried to determine how to get our party back up to full strength. In character we knew a party of three heroes, including a rogue which had no gear (except for what he looted from the comatose wizard), was not a strong enough party to survive the next part of the campaign. Out of character, we knew that having two people sit out with no character was not fun for them at the table.

I reasoned that I needed to go out and finish resolving the Comet card. I figured that I could go out of the city, find a random wandering monster, defeat it, get my level and return. So, I told the group my plans, and the DM had me roll for a random encounter . . .

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The Dice Gods were against me this day.

How an 11th level rogue equipped with wizard robes is supposed to survive a fight with a Blue Dragon Wyrm . . . uh, no. The one humorous part of it was after the first round of combat, where I dealt NO DAMAGE to it, my rogue dropped to the ground and groveled. At that same moment, I as a player happened to let some flatulence rip, a nice loud one . . . and the DM declared after the laughter died down that my character had crapped his pants.

Ladies and Gentleman, The Deck of Many Things can do many things. But it most effectively can destroy adventuring parties. Be careful when you draw from it.

Source: reddit.com

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