Deck of Many... Capricious Gods?


I had an odd DMing idea today:

Let's make a deck of cards. Each card will contain the symbol of a god active in the game world and an icon representing "favor" or "disfavor." Thus, two cards per god. To make things more interesting, there should be some blank cards in the deck as well, and some cards that represent gods from other settings (if applicable).

Prior to each session, the DM goes through the deck and removes all cards related to the gods actively worshiped by the party, as well as those gods whom the party has recently helped or hindered.

Now have a player pick a card from the deck (without revealing its face to himself or his fellow players). You, the DM, are obliged from that point on to somehow work that god into your current session, and either help or hinder the party in a way appropriate to that god's portfolio.

Example: a party of Greek heroes is traveling through a desert. They draw a card that shows Poseidon's Favor; the DM now creates an oasis in the desert, allowing the party to rest and recuperate.

If the card showed Poseidon's Disfavor instead, the DM would create a series of oasis mirages that would lead the party even further astray (if they chose to follow them) and drain even more of their precious resources.

Would this be too random, or would it help create unique moments for each session? Call me crazy, but I think I'm going to try it as soon as I can prep the cards...

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In Greek myth, wasn't favor/disfavor typically shown to characters in whom the gods have previously shown an interest? I would keep all the gods in the midst; they're a bitchy bunch, so just because you did something for Zeus last week doesn't mean he's not in a mood right now.


You might want to add another positive or negative card for every action that the PCs take for or against a god. Thus if the party spent a couple of adventures beating up Vecna's followers, stomping on random undead, publishing open source software, etc., there is a much greater chance that they'll pull a Vecna disfavor card. In as much as any particular god has a rival god, you can balance this with favor cards associated with that rival. Ioun might have caught wind of the PCs efforts to spread knowledge and Pelor might have been pleased by the smashing of the undead. You'd have to decide whether the PCs' actions rise to the level that the gods take notice.



Also, instead of just the gods, you could have a list of extra-planar powers who might have an effect ont he campaign world. Example: Orcus (though in his case it's likely you just have the disfavour card).

Some creatures would only have favour or disfavour. You could have wandering monster encounters, and if they draw this card they get Undead instead of Goblins.

Also, you could have quests to earn "Fortune's Favour" cards: thanks to your actions, such-and-such entity relieves the disfavour, cancelling the negative card. To get this, however, you have to do something for the entity in question: kill Medusa, or help Apollo hook up with some farm girl/princess.
Maybe characters have patrons who can alleviate burdens, like Zeus in Clash (1981) who wanted Harry Hamlin to have some nice duds.

Granted, this in itself could be the focus of an entire night. My players used wishes and travelled to another planet to get the soul of another PC back from the Deck of Many Things' void card entity. fun times!

Hey, what if the deities in question didn't focus on the PCs, but also did things to the setting? Like, Neptune makes all horses in an area go berserk and attack living people, or just run away from their homes.
The PCs could then be tasked to help in the effort, including going to find one family's horse who strayed too close to the forest hag's home...


i like the concept, though i might be inclined _not_ to remove cards related to those worshiped or recently affected by the actions of the party. In fact, I might go as far as to say stick in an extra card for the gods worshiped by the party or who was directly affected by the PCs actions because they've gained some attention (it's just as easy to please a god watching over you as it is to piss him/her off because of the higher expectations).

But fun idea though! I don't think it would add too much randomness unless you want over the top with it. But subtle stuff would defiantly be fun and force you (the DM) to think on your feet ;).

Moreover, if you didn't want the players or the characters to know, then don't let them pick the cards, just make it a couple tables... one table to pick which god is watching and another table (or really coin flip) for "favor/disfavor" -- or combine it to one really long table with two entries for each god. and then roll it yourself every in-game day or whatever.


First Post
A slightly alternate idea:

If the setting you are using has an overabundance of gods (like the previous incarnations of the Forgotten Realms)) you might want to put only one card from each god in the deck. By default, all the cards are favor. However, use the "mechanic" from tarot cards where if the card is revealed upside down, then it is reversed to disfavor.

You could even have each player draw a card and leave it face down on the table. At any point during the session, a player can declare that they want to call upon the power of the gods, and their card is revealed. If it is right-side-up, then they get the god's favor. If it is upside-down, they get the god's disfavor.

I can just imagine something like this in play:

Player: This battle is going terrible. I want to invoke the gods.
Turns over card
Player: Sweet, Poseidon! I hope we get a herd of horses stampeding on the enemy.
DM: You hear a rumble growing beneath your feet...
Player: Oh no! Poseidon is reversed! EARTHQUAKE!

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