In my many travels of checking out new things for Dungeons & Dragons, one of the most promoted items that caught my eye was The Deck of Many. This isn’t an official D&D product, it’s made by an independent company called Hit Point Press who have created a set of cards for you to use with Fifth Edition. The point of these cards is to give you easy access to specific items, creatures, characters, and more in the game without having to spend time looking it up. In other words, if you know it’s coming up in a game, you as a DM can bring these with you for quick access and reference. But how good are they for actual gameplay? We received the complete set (so far) and gave them a spin.
We’ll start with the Monster decks. These are three different decks filled with monsters that you will encounter in the game, ranging from the most common and frequently seen all the way up to the most horrifying that you hope to hell you never encounter. Below you’ll see a sample of what’s in each deck, going from 1-3 left to right, respectfully. On the front of the card, you get a fun little animation of the creature along with some brief stats such as the Challenge Rating, the type and size of the creature, and the alignment. On the back, you get all of the goodies you need to know. All of their modifiers, senses, armor class, HP, speed, immunities, special traits, actions, etc. Everything matches to what’s currently in the official Monster Manual and other 5E guides. These are top-notch additions in my opinion.
Next up is the Deck of Conditions. These are double-sided cards that have the most common conditions you’ll run into in the game. Under the animation, you get the condition and then below it, you get all of the effects. I found these to be absolutely awesome because they are a fast way for a DM to throw a condition at someone and have it there as a reminder that they are affected. So now the player has an easy reference to know what they need to do to overcome it, and what they’re now limited to doing. I also found it cool that they are double-sided with two conditions per card to add twice as many into the deck, and that there are 4 cards for every condition in case an entire party comes down with it.
The Deck of Weapons is exactly what you think it might be. We don’t need to dive into a ton of explanation about these as they kinda speak for themselves. You got a picture of a weapon, it’s weight and cost in gold, the type of weapon it is, and what kind of damage it does. There’s no magical weapons in this one, it’s basically here to serve as an educational reference tool in case you need to hand out weapons to people so they can mark them on their character sheet. It’s probably one of the weaker decks in the set since that’s really all these do.
Next up is the Deck of NPC’s, which I found to be one of the best of the set. This is basically RNG for characters on both sides of the table. If you’re a DM and you need to add some flavor to the game but don’t have a ton of time to roll up an NPC, you can select one of these cards and automatically throw someone into the game with complete stats. Everything on the cards matches what the monster cards have, with the added bonus of having some personality. Another fun thing to do with these is that if the party is ever down a member or you need to give the party someone with a specific skill, you can add these characters to the party through storytelling. You have characters that go from level 1-12 so you can add people who are the same skill level or higher to keep them alive in trying times, or force the party to protect someone who is weaker. I found these to be great additions to the game.
Lastly, but certainly not least, it the Deck of Things. (Yes… THAT deck. One of the most powerful relics in D&D’s history that could cause wonderous things to happen, as well as game-wiping death.) This is, by far, the most interesting of the set because of the unpredictability. The purpose of these is to basically draw random conditions or objects to be thrown into the game. If you’re playing a game that’s more random than planned out by the DM, this can make for an interesting adventure as you randomly draw a card to change what happens either now or down the road. For modern gamers, think of it as a random chest in Fortnite. It may have goodies or may have junk. Who knows! But the outcome could affect you or the party in marvelous or terrifying ways! I found these to be a necessity in games where the DM has players who take the game off the rails and needs to throw a little bit of chaos their way to make the story go.
Overall, all the decks from The Deck of Many were fantastic. Even the ones that served just as a reference card did their job without any issues or contradictions. Not everything here will be of use to everyone, but most players will find something here they like. I highly recommend them for players who want easy access to certain info but hate searching for it in books or online. Because yes, those players and DMs exist. The company is also working on a Kickstarter that ended today for a set of animated spell cards for their next deck, if you’d like to check it out.