20 Jul D&D Russian Roulette: the Deck of Many Things
This legendary item may only enter into a campaign when the DM makes it happen; it will derail everything and is not to be trifled with! Your character is essentially playing Russian Roulette with a magical item. The effects are drastic and permanent; how you choose to use it is up to you. The Deck of Many Things is dangerous but also has the potential to give you some truly OP choices.
Why does the deck of many things exist?
The Deck of Many things was introduced way back in the first Greyhawk supplement of 1st edition Dungeons and Dragons! From the get go, people have realized there is room for a random and dangerous element to throw at players. Primarily, DMs will not use this item in a well-thought-out campaign that has a plot structure they’re hoping to use. They will consider playing with it for any of the following purposes:
- A less structured campaign is getting a bit same-y and stale
- Characters need to die
- A one-off adventure for the specific purpose of exploring the effects of the Deck of Many Things
- They want characters to die
- To spice up a long running group that needs something drastic to change it up
- It’s time for characters to die
- To watch the absolute train wreck that will occur when your party uses it
How many cards can you draw from the deck of many things?
Before drawing a card from The Deck, you must declare how many cards you intend to draw, and then draw them randomly. Any cards drawn in excess of this number have no effect. As soon as you draw a card from the deck its magic takes effect. You must draw each card no more than 1 hour after the previous draw. If you fail to draw the chosen number, the remaining number of cards will fly from the deck on their own and take effect all at once.
Once a card is drawn, it fades from existence and disappears. Unless the card is the Fool or the jester, the card reappears in the deck, making it possible to draw the same card twice.
How rare is the deck of many things?
You will never see this item unless your DM chooses to include it in the campaign. It is extremely rare, and everyone involved will most certainly remember the details of interacting with it if you are fortunate/unfortunate enough to have it spice up/destroy/upset the balance of your campaign.
Is the deck of many things worth it?
Breaking down the card lists below, the odds of something terrible happening are as follows:
In the basic 13-card deck: 6 of the 13 cards have negative effects (with The Void straight up sucking your soul from your body). So flip a coin and either get something cool or something not cool; those odds are not good, but hey I will happily watch you pull cards when it’s your character’s life on the line.
In the full 22-card deck: 4 of the additional 9 cards are straight up negative effects, with arguments to be made on a few others… So again, it’s basically flip-a-coin odds.
But some of the cards that are good are REALLY GOOD like omg who wouldn’t want to pull a few cards to see if you could get The Fates or Moon?
What level should I use deck of many things?
It really doesn’t matter… if you get your hands on it, the question is not “what level should I use this“, it’s “should I use this at all“. And, let’s be honest, if you get your hands on a Deck of Many Things, you’re going to see it get used. The question then becomes “how many cards do I choose to draw?”
What’s in the deck of many things?
3/4s of these decks have only thirteen cards, but the rest have twenty-two. Which version your DM gives you is up to them, and those extra 9 cards will make for a very different deck than just using the 13.
The cards in a Deck if Many Things that consists of 13 cards:
- Euryale: The card’s medusa-like visage curses you. You take a -2 penalty on saving throws while cursed in this way. Only a god, or the magic of The Fates card, can end this curse.
- Flames: A powerful devil becomes your enemy. This devil seeks your ruin and plagues your life, savoring your suffering before attempting to slay you. This enmity lasts until either you or the devil dies.
- Jester: You gain 10,000 XP, or you can draw two additional cards beyond your declared draws.
- Key: A rare or rarer magic weapon with which you are proficient appears in your hands. Your DM chooses the weapon.
- Knight: You gain the service of a 4th-level fighter who appears in a space you choose within 30 feet of you. The fighter is of the same race as you and serves you loyally until death, believing the fates have drawn him or her to you. You control this character.
- Moon: You are granted the ability to cast the wish spell 1d3 times.
- Rogue: A nonplayer character of the DM’s choice becomes hostile toward you. The identity of your new enemy isn’t known until the NPC or someone else reveals it. Nothing less than a wish spell or divine intervention can end the NPC’s hostility toward you.
- Ruin: All forms of wealth that you carry or own, other than magic items, are lost to you. Portable property vanishes. Businesses, buildings, and land you own are lost in a way that alters reality the least. Any documentation that proves you should own something lost to this card also disappears.
- Skull: You summon an avatar of death, a ghostly humanoid skeleton clad in a tattered black robe and carrying a spectral scythe. It appears in a space of the DM’s choice within 10 feet of you and attacks you, warning all others that you must win the battle alone. The avatar fights until you die or it drops to 0 Hit Points, whereupon it disappears. If anyone tries to help you, the helper summons its own Avatar of Death. A creature slain by an Avatar of Death can’t be restored to life.
- Star: Increase one of your ability scores by 2. The score can exceed 20 but can’t exceed 24.
- Sun: You gain 50,000 XP, and a wondrous item (which the DM determines randomly) appears in your hands.
- Throne: You gain proficiency in the persuasion skill, and you double your proficiency bonus on checks made with that skill. In addition, you gain rightful ownership of a small keep somewhere in the world. However, the keep is currently in the hands of monsters, which you must clear out before you can claim the keep as yours.
- The Void: This black card spells disaster. Your soul is drawn from your body and contained in an object in a place of the DM’s choice. One or more powerful beings guard the place. While your soul is trapped in this way, your body is incapacitated. A wish spell can’t restore your soul, but the spell reveals the location of the object that holds it. You draw no more cards.
The additional cards in the rarer Deck of Many Things which contains the full 22 cards:
- Balance: Your mind suffers a wrenching alteration, causing your Alignment to change. Lawful becomes chaotic, good becomes evil, and vice versa. If you are true neutral or unaligned, this card has no effect on you.
- Comet: If you single-handedly defeat the next Hostile monster or group of Monsters you encounter, you gain Experience Points enough to gain one level. Otherwise, this card has no effect.
- Donjon: You disappear and become entombed in a state of suspended animation in an extradimensional sphere. Everything you were wearing and carrying stays behind in the space you occupied when you disappeared. You remain imprisoned until you are found and removed from the sphere. You can’t be located by any divination magic, but a wish spell can reveal the location of your prison. You draw no more cards.
- The Fates: Reality’s fabric unravels and spins anew, allowing you to avoid or erase one event as if it never happened. You can use the card’s magic as soon as you draw the card or at any other time before you die.
- Fool: You lose 10,000 XP, discard this card, and draw from the deck again, counting both draws as one of your declared draws. If losing that much XP would cause you to lose a level, you instead lose an amount that leaves you with just enough XP to keep your level.
- Gem: Twenty-five pieces of jewelry worth 2,000 gp each or fifty gems worth 1,000 gp each appear at your feet.
- Idiot: Permanently reduce your Intelligence by 1d4 + 1 (to a minimum score of 1). You can draw one additional card beyond your declared draws.
- Talons: Every magic item you wear or carry disintegrates. Artifacts in your possession aren’t destroyed but do vanish.
- Vizier: At any time you choose within one year of drawing this card, you can ask a question in meditation and mentally receive a truthful answer to that question. Besides information, the answer helps you solve a puzzling problem or other dilemma. In other words, this knowledge comes with Wisdom on how to apply it.
If you and your party get the chance to try The Deck of Many Things, my parting phrase for you needs to be slightly altered from the usual “Good luck, have fun”…
Good luck, don’t die!