Review of Karma Deck & Booster Pack: Requiem by Creation’s Edge Games

One of the more interesting aspects of D&D 4E - and in some ways, one of the most vexing to some “old school” Dungeons & Dragons gamers - is this current edition’s love-affair with cards. It seems that most gamers I’ve talked to are either in love with the idea of having a neat and tidy way of keeping their character’s abilities organized, or they claim to hate the way the mechanic turns a role-playing game into a card game.

And beyond the use of cards to handle details such as powers and magic items on a character sheet, there has been a proliferation of Fortune Cards as accessories by Wizards of the Coast. Starting with a Base Deck, the accessory line has several booster deck expansions including the Glory of Neverwinter, Shadow over the Nentir Vale, and Fury of the Feywild. But really it’s not too surprising that a company founded on a collectible card game would find ways of introducing such mechanics into a roleplaying game, but with all the options for Fortune Card decks, it can get a bit pricey.

As an alternative to the Fortune Card deck system, Creation’s Edge Games offers a new take and a different mechanic to employ in a D&D 4E game – with Karma Deck and Booster Pack: Requiem to offer boons to players which can turn the tide of battle in new and exciting directions!

Karma Deck & Booster Pack: Requiem

  • Author: Matt Kline
  • Cover Illustrator: Shaman's Stockart
  • Publisher: Creation’s Edge Games
  • Year: 2010/2011
  • Media: PDF (16 pages / 7 pages)
  • Retail Cost: $5.00 / $2.50 (available from RPGNow)
Karma Deck and Karma Deck Booster Pack: Requiem is a GSL 4E game supplement which provides karmic boons to be granted to characters as rewards, or used by Dungeon Masters to introduce the “hand of the gods” at an auspicious moment during a game session. Karma Deck consists of 52 cards in PDF format, which can be printed on cardstock to produce a physical deck. Karma Deck Booster Pack: Requiem adds an additional 24 new cards to the deck using the same PDF format, with all new powers and combat effects. Karma Deck also provides detailed instructions and recommendations on how the cards can be used in a campaign setting.


Production Quality

The production quality of the Karma Deck and Karma Deck Booster Pack: Requiem is very good, with each page of the PDFs containing four full-color karma cards. The cards are neatly laid out, front and back, so that they can be printed on card stock, cut out, and then folded and glued to create a rather nice “playing” card appearance. The Author was also considerate enough to provide two other versions of the PDFs in the each purchase – there is a low detail, “printer-ink friendly”, black-and-white version, and a full-color version but omitting a back illustration to save at least a little ink.

The writing on each of the karma cards is also quite good, with amusing flavor text which is often written a bit tongue-in-cheek, and with short but detailed instructions on how to use the karma card, and the effects it will have on the combat.


About the Karma Decks

In the main Karma Deck, the Author provides a set of simple, straightforward instructions for using the cards, offering some ideas on how they can be implemented in a campaign setting:
Karma Deck
An in game reward system for 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons.

We're all familiar with the concept of Karma- simply put, do bad things bad things happen to you, do good things good things happen to you.

Karma Deck focuses on the good. The cards represent boons bestowed upon the players for services rendered, or future services rendered.
In some respects, there cards resemble the “divine boons” listed in the Dungeon Master’s Guide 2, but are designed to be temporary powers instead of long term quasi-magic items. Typically, a DM might hand one or more of these Karma Cards out along with Action Points at Milestones, or as rewards for services to powerful entities, such as gods, primordials, fey-lords, or perhaps even ultra-powerful archmages, who have a vested interest in the lives of the adventuring heroes. The Author also suggests that these cards can even be used to save a gaming session from a bad luck infestation of dice lice, or in the event that an encounter is heading for a TPK (Total Party Kill). Of course, such karmic powers used to bolster the heroes at a critical moment might come with a price, which could lead to further adventures as the characters seek to repay their good fortune to the gods!

As previously mentioned, the cards are designed to be handed out as desired by the DM, offering the players a chance to use it during a gaming session as a one-time “power-up” before being returned to the Karma Deck. Many of the powers are free actions, immediate reactions, or immediate interrupts, and are definitely designed to provide needful assistance to a party of heroes when the chips are down:

Requiem for the Fallen (KD Booster: Requiem)
As an ally falls ethereal music begins. The score is mournful yet inspiring. It spurs you on toward victory.

Awe Inspiring Glory (KD Booster: Requiem)
Immediate Reaction
You impressed yourself with that last attack. You seem to have instilled awe in friends and foes alike.

Critical Dodge (Karma Deck)
Immediate Interrupt
That one seemed to have your name on it. Miraculously, you still managed to dodge out of the way.
The boons provided by Karma Deck and Karma Deck Booster Pack: Requiem range from bonuses to damage, defenses, and saves to healing surges, temporary hit point gains, and even more impressive effects such as all the enemies’ minions joining the heroes! In general, the powers are not too overwhelming, but they might be vexing for a Dungeon Master if used or overused on some occasions, so the Author does provide DMs with a simple, but effective, out:
~ The DM has a right to overrule the use of cards in any give situation. The DM has the last word on how or if the card's ability functions.
Personally, I think it could make for quite an adventure, or perhaps even an entire campaign, to use these cards to help both heroes and villains, particularly bosses and elites. It would be a rather interesting way to representing a battle of wills between two divine entities, with the heroic adventurers and the evil villains caught in the cross-fire!

Overall Score: 4.5 out of 5.0


Conclusions

Karma Deck and Karma Deck Booster Pack: Requiem is a really fun GSL accessory for D&D 4E, which can add an interesting new dynamic to many campaigns. The cards are good looking, easy to use, and have some great powers to throw around during an encounter. The cards are written in a fun and heroic sounding style, and do a great job filling in niche in the treasure and reward system provided in Dungeon Master’s Guide 2. But unlike divine boons which are designed to deity specific, the cards in Karma Deck are more generic, and can be used in any campaign setting, with any powerful entity. And given the very low-cost of being able to print these cards from PDF as often as desired, it makes for great alternative to Fortune Cards for adding that bit of variety and whimsy to a D&D 4E session!

So until next review… I wish you Happy Holidays!

Author’s Note: This author received a complimentary advanced copy of this product for use in writing the review above.


Grade Card (Ratings 1 to 5)

  • Presentation: 4.0
  • - Design: 4.5
  • - Illustrations: 3.5
  • Content: 4.5
  • - Crunch: 4.5
  • - Fluff: 4.5
  • Value: 5
 

Comments

DimitriX

Visitor
This is a fine review, but I do have to say that I'm sad to see that this is a direction that 3PP are moving with 4e. I was fine with the 'card' system presented in 4e. I thought it was just a new way for players to organize and track their abilities. But, when WotC started producing booster packs of cards of abilities, then I think they're moving far away from a DnD game that I want to play. I'm sorry to see that 3PP are just picking up on that bad idea.
 

Zaukrie

Adventurer
I don't understand that comment. For decades DMs have been handing out little boons or bonuses if they want. How is this different?
 

VictorC

Explorer
But, when WotC started producing booster packs of cards of abilities, then I think they're moving far away from a DnD game that I want to play. I'm sorry to see that 3PP are just picking up on that bad idea.
The cards you claim are moving D&D away from the game you want aren't moving anything anywhere.


How could something completely optional do anything to a game that in no way requires aforementioned cards? They are an option that a group at large may (or may not) decide to utilize. Leaving the game completely unchanged, moving not at all. Let alone far from anything.
 

CEG

Visitor
I'm sorry to see that 3PP are just picking up on that bad idea.
Sorry you feel this way especially since we're not 'picking up on it'. Creation's Edge Games released our first in game card based boon system back in 2006. I'm afraid in this case its other companies who are picking up on us. Ummm... sorry? :erm:
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Alphastream

Adventurer
We're coming up on a year of the experiment know as Fortune Cards. Clearly these were an attempt to change how for most RPGs (including D&D) there is one person at the table that buys all the stuff. Fortune Cards were a way to test how players might be willing to buy a few things that influence the game.

The first thing that is apparent is that the game remains completely the same. Some like the cards, some find they take up more time than they are worth, but the game remains D&D and any cards are just a sideline option.

I suspect the cards have provided the company with some revenue (the similar Gamma World booster packs ranked surprisingly high at EndGame). I would guess they aren't ultimately what any RPG company is looking for, but perhaps they will help develop that. I'm ultimately pleased that Wizards is willing to try things to improve revenue but by all accounts really want to preserve a classic gaming experience as much as possible.

These cards seem cool, and I like the extra thought behind different ways to use them. I've long felt that Wizards should have gone beyond a single way they can be used in play. They seem to be best, for me, as DM tools. And I think they could also have been designed so as to further story and not just crunch. The cards reviewed above could likely also use that enhancement. I like Paizo's Harrow Deck and Savage Worlds' Deadland decks better for how they tell a story while also giving the player an advantage.
 

Rhewtani

Visitor
3e?

Is there something like this product for 3e, 3.5e, pathfinder? Or, is this "close enough" that I could use it as is (a +1 is a +1, after all).
 

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