Review: Wizards of the Coast – The Deck of Many Things (Dungeons & Dragons)

The Deck of Many Things
The Deck of Many Things is an epic fantasy accessory for Dungeons & Dragons, developed by Jason Tondro, James Wyatt, Makenzie De Armas, Dan Dillon, Patrick Renie, and Carl Sibley and published by Wizards of the Coast.
By Aaron T. Huss

Learn more about The Deck of Many Things here
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The Deck of Many Things is an accessory for Dungeons and Dragon consisting of three parts. The first is the deck itself, consisting of themed cards much like a tarot deck. The second is the book that explains the usage of each card and a general usage of the deck itself (the Card Reference Guide). The third is The Book of Many Things which greatly expands the utility of The Deck of Many Things, focusing not only on many different ways for the DM to use it, but also how it can be used by players to generate characters that match the deck’s themes or utilize the deck as their method of empowerment. Additionally, while the set is meant for D&D, has been a part of it for ~50 years, and includes D&D stat blocks, much of the content is system agnostic, opening its utility use for incorporation across any epic fantasy RPG. While the books match the standard Wizards of the Coast quality, the cards are not playing card quality but rather exquisite tarot card quality with full artwork, sturdy thickness, and a case to keep them in. The price tag might be high, but the  contents warrant the cost.

Let’s break this accessory down into its three individual pieces for the review.

First up are the cards themselves. This accessory includes the original 22 cards from The Deck of Many Things along with the additional 44 cards from The Deck of Many More Things. Each one is tarot-card sized, beautifully illustrated, and printed with thick paper (much thicker than playing cards). They are clearly designed to stand-up to years of repeated use with epic fantasy artwork that pair nicely with any epic fantasy game. The accessory includes a case to store the cards and the Card Reference Guide, making them easy to transport if necessary.

Second up is the Card Reference Guide. This landscape-style hardcover book provides the meaning of each card in its upright or reversed position along with some standard means of using them for divination and adventure generation. The Card Reference Guide and the cards are system-agnostic and can be used for any fantasy-themed game. You could even alter the meaning of the cards to use them in non-fantasy game as well.

Finally you get to the icing on the cake; while the cards on their own have incredible use, The Book of Many Things is where the value of these cards truly start to shine. This supplement consists of 22 chapters, each one themed according to a single card within the original set of The Deck of Many Things. It provides an immense array of content including the history of The Deck of Many Things, how to use it as a magic item, how to create characters themed against a given card, how to create adventures/adversaries/locales against a given card, and what the theme of a card represents (e.g., if you draw this card, it represents this theme in all these different ways). For example… there is a card called Puzzle; the Puzzle chapter focuses on creating puzzles, riddles, and traps and how the other cards within The Deck of Many Things can be used as part of that theme. It also provides in-game examples and how a DM could incorporate this theme into his or her games. Another example is the Moon card, which represents a moon-themed organization (adversarial, friendly, allied, neutral, or how you want to use it). It discussed the organization along with the important people within that organization (including their stat blocks) plus a map of their Guildhall and what each room contains.

My favorite aspect of The Book of Many Things is that’s all meant to be randomized during your game or used before your game to generate that game session, create the structure for your adventure, or just give you some direction for whatever is coming next. There’s no one way to use it meaning you can use the exact same cards over and over again with a different usage each time.

This iteration of The Deck of Many Things is literally a DM’s ultimate accessory for fantasy RPGs. If you are a homebrew DM, this set will provide so much utility that you may not need anything else (except the core books and bestiaries of course).

This is probably one of the coolest accessories I have ever seen and I can see it being done in different ways for different gamestyles (such as Planescape or Spelljammer).

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