deck of wonders

I’ve been playing around with an idea for a kind of mini card game within D&D. I want to use normal playing cards with poker hands to generate magical effects; the better the hand, the better the effect.

I played around with various ways of generating a score from a poker hand that could be applied to the game. This turned out to be harder than I imagined, but in the end I think I settled on something simple enough to use in play and which generates suitable values for hands. The effect is different depending on the suit being played. Spades (Swords if using a Tarot deck) deal slashing damage. Clubs (Wands or Staves if using a tarot deck) deals bludgeoning damage. Hearts (Cups if using a tarot deck) heals people. Diamonds (Coins in a tarot deck) creates a defensive barrier.

The poker hand system can do anything from 1 point of damage, all the way up to 199 damage (or healing, or defence) for a King high straight flush. The straight flush is a pretty rare hand though so I don’t expect to see it get played much, if ever.

I also wanted some way to do this using a tarot deck mainly because the artwork on tarot decks is so much cooler than normal playing cards. Now the basic poker hand thing still works with normal tarot cards, although they have one extra card per suit (common card decks have 13 cards per suit while tarot decks have 14 cards per suit). But tarot also have the Major Arcana which are in addition to the other cards.

For the Major Arcana, I adapter D&D’s existing Deck of Many Things by modifying some existing effects. Others I rewrote entirely, and some I kept as is. Some inspiration came from this reddit thread.

I’ve published the final result on my GM Binder site as the Deck of Wonders.

A note on copyright: the card image I’m using here is apparently old enough that it’s out of copyright and free to use.