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Pick a Card, Any Card – A Deck of Many Things Explainer

3 Minute Read
Feb 14 2024

D&D can get pretty chaotic, but there’s nothing more enticing, terrifying, and powerful than the illustrious Deck of Many Things

Welcome, Adventurers! Dungeons & Dragons is the premiere roleplaying game on the market, and it has a wealth of fun twists. From powerful magic items to deadly enemies, there are tons of things that Dungeon Masters can throw at their party of players. However, there’s nothing more game-shifting than the Deck of Many Things.

What is the Deck of Many Things?

In its original incarnation, the Deck of Many Things was a collection of 22 tarot-style cards, usually stored in a leather case. Each one had a powerful magical effect, but the card you drew was always random. If you tried to look at the cards ahead of time, the magical effects would all trigger at the same time (not a good thing).

Some of the cards were incredible, with beneficial effects like hirelings, maps to treasure, or extra levels. There was even a card that granted you up to three uses of the Wish spell, with none of the drawbacks. However, the trade-off was that the bad cards were terrible. You could be turned to stone, have levels drained, or be forced to fight a powerful dark paladin. Worst of all, you could simply say, with no save of any kind, and your soul would be locked away with no chance of resurrection.

Early in 2024, Wizards of the Coast released an updated version of the Deck of Many Things alongside a companion sourcebook. This new set not only gave us a gorgeous, tarot-sized deck of cards for use on the tabletop, but it also introduced 44 brand-new cards to spice up card draws. You can pick up the new set here.

Can I Use the Deck Of Many Things in My Game?

Of course you can! The Deck of Many Things is a wonderous item, which means it can exist across the dimensions in whatever realm you want to base your campaign. Want to set the game in Ravnica? Niv-Mizzet can draw a Wish card. Are you more of a fan of Dragonlance? Maybe you can trick Lord Soth into drawing the Death card. As long as you’re willing to introduce Chaos into your game, the Deck of Many Things is a fun bit of spice for your table.

Do I Have to Have the Official Deck?

While there is a gorgeous new printed deck, it isn’t required to play with the original. Back in 1974 when the deck was first theorized, the cards were drawn from a standard deck of cards. You can also use a percentile die and assign each roll to a different card. However, if you want the most up-to-date rules and the additional 44 cards, I would definitely suggest picking up the set.

That also gives you the tactile feel of drawing an actual card, and you can remove cards you don’t want in your game (an unwary adventurer may have drawn them already). Either way, don’t let not having the cards hold you back! If you want a Deck of Many Things, there are dozens of ways to do it.

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Author: Clint Lienau
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