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The Deck of Many Things & The Deck of Many Fates: A How To Use Review

In-game artifacts and handouts for players

The Deck of Many Things & The Deck of Many Fates is a boxed set containing two decks of nearly 50 full color cards. These decks serve as both in game artifacts and handouts for players around the table. Rules for their use and advice for GMs introducing such dangerous magic items is also included. Let’s draw some cards and see how our campaign evolves as the players characters are changed forever.


What's Inside​

The box set includes two decks with their own cardboard cases and a pamphlet of rules and advice. One page lists the rules for using each deck along with a note encouraging GMs to use the decks and see what directions their campaigns go. A section on Feast & Fallout describe some of the pitfalls of using the decks and how a GM might turn those challenges into further adventures and challenges for the PCs. The back of the pamphlet lists all the cards.

The 22-card Deck of Many Things offers both weal and woe and has been around for decades. The 27-card Deck of Many Fates offers a type of magic similar enough that both decks can be combined or used separately. A GM could even create a unique deck drawing on the various cards. The Deck of Many Fates is marked with a symbol to distinguish the cards from the Deck of Many Things.

Hugo and the Deck of Many Things

My 4th level halfling thief, Hugo Haleberry, wins the Deck of Many Things in a gambling match with Death (long story). Once Hugo is carefully away from the table and alone (you never count your money when you’re sitting at the table) he discovers it is the more common 13 card version. Not ominous at all. He’s a lucky and cheeky SOB, so he immediately decides to draw three. No going back now.

He draws three without looking and places them facedown on the table. I mimic Hugo’s actions in the real world. First flip. Sun! Hugo gains 50,000 XP and a wondrous item! Woot! If Hugo survives, he is going up a level. The GM says Hugo has gained ophidian leather armor (+1 AC and advantage on checks against poison).

Second flip. Knight! Hugo gains the service of Liana Noakes, a deputy and 4th level fighter who decides to accompany Hugo on adventures. Yes! The GM neglects to inform me that Liana stands accused of murdering her shirrif and is currently on the run but Hugo will learn soon enough.

Last flip. Key! GM will give Hugo a rare magic weapon. This turns out to be a longtooth dagger (or a shortsword of the thief in Shadowdark). That went really well!

Hobnobrobbykob and the Deck of Many Fates

Hobnobrobbykob is a human contemporary of Hugo and a 3rd level wizard. He purloined a much rarer Deck of Many Fates during a heist of a rival wizard’s tower who was away on planar business. Overcome with smug joy at defeating and humiliating his rival by rifling through his things, Hobnob decides to draw three cards in honor of the Fates or perhaps the three shots he just took to celebrate his victory. He has no idea what this deck contains.

Hobnob draws three cards facedown and I do the same. Flip.

Hound. Hobnob gains the loyalty of a magical animal companion. Hobnob goes with Hound and promptly names him Crazy Bread and asks if it can be a blue merle sheltie with one gray eye and one blue. The GM says that is oddly specific but yes, however they may need to revisit that name but it stands for now.

Flip. Serpent. One party member (chosen by the GM) is poisoned and will die in one day unless a wish spell is cast to save them (looks like no roll to save). Hugo and his player ask why Hobnob and the GM are looking at him like that. He just gained a level, a follower, and two magic items last adventure. Everything is great, right?

Hobnob sighs. Too bad about Hugo. Flip. Legion. Hah! A band of 20 level 1 soldiers come to serve Hobnob without question. After Hugo dies of poisoning maybe Liana would like a promotion to captain of Hobnob’s Guard.

Should You Get It?​

I actually drew these cards randomly from each deck and it went well (Hugo disagrees but he does think he can convince Hobnob’s rival to cast a wish spell if he offers some blackmail on Hobnob that might land the wizard in jail or indentured servitude for a few years). Not every draw ends up sucking out a PC’s soul and imprisoning it elsewhere or summoning Death to kill the card drawer.

These cards are a lot of fun for under twenty bucks. They serve as both an in game artifact and an actual prop. And one deck introduces brand new results. Choose how many to draw wisely and here’s hoping your luck holds.

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Charles Dunwoody

Charles Dunwoody

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