D&D 5E Companion Thread to 5E Survivor of Many Things

What is your favorite card from the standard deck of many things?

  • Balance - Change alignment instantly.

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  • Eurayle - Gain a penalty on all saving throws henceforth.

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  • Fool - Lose experience points and you must draw again.

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  • Jester - Gain experience points or two more draws from the deck.

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  • Key - Gain a magic weapon.

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  • Star - Immediately gain a bonus to one ability score.

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  • Sun - Gain a beneficial magic item and experience points.

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  • The Void - Body functions, but soul is trapped elsewhere.

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RealAlHazred

Frumious Flumph (Your Grace/Your Eminence)
I have yet to read an account of playing Dragonlance adventures that didn't make me wince. Not saying they didn't happen, they most certainly did, but the failures are incredibly memorable. Can't say I'm surprised, the modules did not really explain how to play in any way other than the exact way something went in one of the books.

Nevertheless, pulling the deck of many things on the second or third session is a DM Dick Move of the Highest Water. I wonder, did you roll, or did you pull cards? Because I've known DMs who intentionally stacked the DoMT deck, as it were, to force their players to go the way they wanted to campaign to go...
 

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Vaalingrade

Legend
I have yet to read an account of playing Dragonlance adventures that didn't make me wince. Not saying they didn't happen, they most certainly did, but the failures are incredibly memorable. Can't say I'm surprised, the modules did not really explain how to play in any way other than the exact way something went in one of the books.

Nevertheless, pulling the deck of many things on the second or third session is a DM Dick Move of the Highest Water. I wonder, did you roll, or did you pull cards? Because I've known DMs who intentionally stacked the DoMT deck, as it were, to force their players to go the way they wanted to campaign to go...
We rolled.

He wasn't trying to screw us, he just thought alignment was Serious Business. This is the player who would eventually play Mittens the Paladin from one of my other common stories where I coined 'Detect ~Thump~ Paladin' where his character ended up needing to be first physically and then magically restrained from random murder of anyone he considered evil.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I have yet to read an account of playing Dragonlance adventures that didn't make me wince. Not saying they didn't happen, they most certainly did, but the failures are incredibly memorable. Can't say I'm surprised, the modules did not really explain how to play in any way other than the exact way something went in one of the books.
Yeah, those modules are far from the best.
Nevertheless, pulling the deck of many things on the second or third session is a DM Dick Move of the Highest Water.
Couldn't disagree more. In fact, I'd almost think pulling out the Deck earlier rather than later is the way to do it.
I wonder, did you roll, or did you pull cards? Because I've known DMs who intentionally stacked the DoMT deck, as it were, to force their players to go the way they wanted to campaign to go...
Whenever the Deck shows up in my games I dig out (one of) the physical deck(s)* I have here and people draw from that.

* - I have about four variants including the original, and have used all of them at different times.
 

RealAlHazred

Frumious Flumph (Your Grace/Your Eminence)
Couldn't disagree more. In fact, I'd almost think pulling out the Deck earlier rather than later is the way to do it.
Nah. If you pull it out near the beginning, the PCs have nothing to lose! I wait until they have achieved real things -- strongholds, families, leadership positions -- then pull out the deck to tempt them to gamble it all away! You haven't seen the wailing and gnashing of teeth until a 16th level magic-user with his own Wizard School (Dragon #123, maybe?) pulls Keep, then Gem, and then Ruin!
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Nah. If you pull it out near the beginning, the PCs have nothing to lose! I wait until they have achieved real things -- strongholds, families, leadership positions -- then pull out the deck to tempt them to gamble it all away! You haven't seen the wailing and gnashing of teeth until a 16th level magic-user with his own Wizard School (Dragon #123, maybe?) pulls Keep, then Gem, and then Ruin!
I DMed a character once who went out and bought a DoMT - then, as he now owned it, promptly lost it due to pulling Talons.....
 

RealAlHazred

Frumious Flumph (Your Grace/Your Eminence)
I DMed a character once who went out and bought a DoMT - then, as he now owned it, promptly lost it due to pulling Talons.....
Of all the items that should never be for sale, the deck of many things tops my list. One of the things I liked in 4E was turning it into a minor artifact; of course, every item could be purchased in 4E, that was built into the mechanics, but baby steps...
 

fuindordm

Adventurer
This is an interesting question and timely...
The DoMT is an awful magic item. It has a high chance of either unfairly augmenting a PC, or destroying them, and more often than not it can ruin the players' enjoyment of the game.
And yet it attracts us, it inspires us... it speaks to the myths of a devil's contract, of a faerie bargain, of flirting with Lady Luck. If we get lucky, we tell ourselves, it will be EPIC!
So it is a magic item worth saving. It belongs in the mythology of D&D.

So the foursix cards I chose are the ones that do not screw a PC irrevocably or reward them unfairly, but enhance their story:
Comet : the reward is not guaranteed, and the monster could be anything... up to the PC then to decide whether the struggle is one they can take on single-handed, and whether their player skill and tactics will win the day.
Flames : the card has no apparent effect but a sense of impending doom and it is easy enough to retcon the emnity into a backstory with an epic/tragic reveal, inspiring new story arcs.
Rogue : I would stipulate that the friend in question is never a PC. But this card is most effective if the PC knows what happened. We can then watch their paranoia take hold, and ask ourselves : will the PC destroy everything they care about in a futile attempt to find their enemy, or stoically await the betrayal?
Skull : this tragic doom (in every sense of the word) is imminent, but not 100% certain. The PC must face it in single combat, but not alone. By planning carefully and accepting the indirect aid of friends, the player can maximize their chances of survival.
Throne : classic Aladdin or pauper-to-prince mythology. The PC inherits a realm but what comes next?
Vizier : the advice is purely benevolent, but may be incomplete--what entity provided the answer, and what are they leading you to do next?

And the question for us is: how can we make ALL the cards in the DoMT this fun?
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Of all the items that should never be for sale, the deck of many things tops my list. One of the things I liked in 4E was turning it into a minor artifact; of course, every item could be purchased in 4E, that was built into the mechanics, but baby steps...
I use a weighted-random table in a spreadsheet to determine what's for sale at the moment in any given place if someone asks. The odds of a DoMT coming up for sale are vanishingly small, but not zero (and IMO nor should they be); and it happened.

Edit to add: there's also a very skilled artificer in my setting who has a bit of a reputation for making these Decks (or variants thereon) and releasing them into the wild...
 

RealAlHazred

Frumious Flumph (Your Grace/Your Eminence)
I use a weighted-random table in a spreadsheet to determine what's for sale at the moment in any given place if someone asks. The odds of a DoMT coming up for sale are vanishingly small, but not zero (and IMO nor should they be); and it happened.

Edit to add: there's also a very skilled artificer in my setting who has a bit of a reputation for making these Decks (or variants thereon) and releasing them into the wild...
Hmmm... So he can create an object that can provide 1-4 wishes but doesn't have the wish spell himself? Hmmm...
 


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