Dungeons & Dragons Online

Our Deck Of Many Things Is Different

I love the Deck Of Many Things, but it turns out I only love it in theory.

As written, the 5e DoMT is a delightful, nostalgic throwback to an earlier era of the game, but that era was deeply unfun for players a lot of the time, and that's the big problem with the Deck. A big part of the joy of D&D is building up a fun character with cool abilities, and out of 22 cards in the Deck, there are 2- the Void and Donjon- both of which basically end your character's run, not with a heroic death or a satisfying conclusion but with an immediate blip out of the game world. There are more that are just bad, and not in a fun way- "-2 to all saves forever" is not a flavourful, fun, or interesting fate. Nor, for a Wizard at least, is "lose 2-5 points of intelligence forever". "Lose all your non-magical stuff" and "Lose all your magical stuff" are separate cards for some reason, and "lose everything" is a miserable experience as a player either way! Very few players want to draw from the deck as written- it's a device that promises enormous fun and absolutely fails to stick the landing.

This is why I've rewritten the deck!

I invented cards based on the following criteria:

  1. The deck should have roughly equal numbers of Bad, Good and Weird cards
  2. ALL the effects should be either exciting or fun, and power is fun

I've also upped the power and rarity of the deck- it's an Artifact now, and the 13-card version covers only those effects that won't seriously inconvenience any plot you have planned. The full 22-card version really, really can shake up the game world enormously- use with caution and care. Here's the whole deck; each card has a number, an effect, and whether it's shuffled into the deck, put on the bottom, or removed from the deck until it's used:

Card NumberCard nameDescription of effectShuffle, Bottom, Remove until used?Present in the 13-card deck?
William KnifeTeleports William Knife, a sentient criminal knife, into your possession. He is well disposed to you.ShuffleYes
1The ThiefMakes every single item of value on your person legally and provably the possession of another person, who is your equal in personal and practical power.BottomYes
2The EnemyCauses a person of similar disposition, abilities and history to you have a legitimate personal grievance against you, which is a matter of honour and blood.ShuffleYes
3AudienceSummons a lawful deity or archdevil you name to your location; they will answer any one question you ask them honestly to the best of their ability. They will probably resent the intrusion unless your question serves their purposes.Remove until usedNo
4The NobleMakes you provably the heir of name for a small barony in a stable kingdom, and comes with a fortune of ~10,000gp in personal possessions, a country mansion, and a river or pond with good fishing.ShuffleYes
5The KrakenBegins the Kraken mating season and the movement of the Krakens of the world from the ocean to the freshwater lakes in which they spawn. Kraken males impress Kraken females by presenting kingdoms over which they have unquestionable rule.ShuffleNo
6LoveReturns one of your dead loved ones to the prime of their life with full memory and in perfect health.ShuffleYes
7The Dead WellOpens a portal to a layer of the Abyss of the DMs choice, which draws you in inexorably within the next ten minutes. Anyone else can go in with you; nothing can come out this way.BottomNo
8InspirationHave an idea with the capacity to change the shape of the world. Steam power, clockwork, magical theory- anything.ShuffleNo
9The JinnGrants you three wishes. These wishes are more powerful than the wish spell, and instead endeavour to fulfil, as far as possible, the desire behind the wish.Remove until completely usedYes
10OmenPlaces "Many Things" warnings throughout your past and the past of everyone who sees you draw it, and tells you an important secret about the future.BottomNo
11The RevenantReturns a dead enemy to life, empowers them with a minimum of 2 additional levels and followers with good reason to be loyal, and gives them knowledge of your location. If you still live in a year they die again.BottomYes
12OpportunityDraw 3 cards immediately or lose the deck, as with Loss. No matter what, you may never draw another card.BottomYes
13DeathCauses a doppelganger to appear and try to kill you. Anyone who tries to help you also gets their own doppelganger. The doppelganger comes from a world where everything is mostly the same, but they are forced by THEIR deck of many things to come to his world and have to kill a version of themselves. Both die if they refuse to duel.BottomYes
14LossThe Deck teleports to a new owner, across the seas.ShuffleYes
15RuinOn leaving the hands of the drawing party, teleports back into the deck and causes a horrific elemental hurricane to level the surrounding quarter mile.Remove until usedNo
16TurmoilEvery leader of every state, city, town, guild, army and other organization of power on this continent is replaced or removed over the next 24 hours, due to natural death, assassination, a coup, a planned transfer of power, retirement, disintegration of the organization, or some other circumstance.Bottom, and changes effect.No
17PowerImmediately gain 2 levels.ShuffleYes
18MotiveYou start bleeding to death. You lose a hit point an hour, and a maximum hit point a day. You cannot gain new hit points by levelling. This loss only stops if you convince someone else to draw a card from the deck.ShuffleYes
19RichesGives you an immediate 10,000gp in unmarked gems and, unless the money is lost via gambling, causes new sources of wealth to appear whenever you are running low.ShuffleYes
20PreyYour non-dominant arm is forcibly and irreversibly teleported, below the elbow, to the hounds of the Wild Hunt. They have your scent now.BottomNo
21The FatesYou can rewind an event to before it happened, at any time. This card remains removed from the deck until it is drawn.Remove until usedNo

Please feel free to use it as a jumping off point for your own decks- and let me know which cards you feel missed the mark! I love the idea of a Deck of Many Things, and my players are loving theirs at the moment; but I don't think the DMG version delivers on its promise. What do you think?

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