For seasoned adventurers and newcomers to the world of Dungeons and Dragons alike, the Deck of Many Things represents both unparalleled power and unparalleled peril. This storied artifact is known to grant fortunes, condemn souls, and drastically alter the course of an adventurer’s life, all with a simple draw of a card. But what is the history behind this deck, and why does its allure persist through editions and lore changes? Dive in as we uncover the mysteries of the Deck of Many Things.
Origins: The Sky of Many Things to the Netheril Empire
The Deck of Many Things, an artifact of immeasurable power and unpredictability, has fascinated scholars, mages, and adventurers for generations. Its origins, shrouded in mystery and myth, span from the cosmic realms of the stars to the arcane depths of ancient empires.
The Netheril Empire: A Cradle of Magic
In the ancient and long-lost Netheril Empire, where magic was not just a tool but the very foundation of society, the Deck is said to have taken its initial form. Scholars of Netheril speak of a set of playing cards, simple pastimes imbued with subtle enchantments for the entertainment of the elite. But as the empire faced its decline, these cards were scattered and forgotten. Over the millennia, away from the protective and regulating aura of the Netheril mages, these enchantments started to mutate and amplify, drawing from the arcane energies that suffuse the world. The once minor tricks and enchantments transformed, culminating in the potent and capricious magics the Deck now commands.
The Sky of Many Things: A Celestial Dance
In stark contrast to the terrestrial tale of Netheril, another legend looks to the heavens. The Sky of Many Things, a celestial tapestry, was said to be dotted with constellations that represented various fates and destinies. Istus, the god of fate in many DnD pantheons, saw the potential in these astral designs. With divine intention, she plucked these constellations from their cosmic dance and pressed them into cards. These cards, infused with the very essence of destiny itself, became the Deck of Many Things. When a mortal draws from the Deck, they aren’t merely activating a magical effect; they’re tapping into the very fabric of fate, reshaping their destiny according to the whims of the stars.
A Confluence of Tales
As with many artifacts of ancient power, distinguishing myth from reality is a challenging endeavor. Some argue that the Deck’s true origin might be a blend of these stories – perhaps the cards of the Netheril, imbued with earthly magics, were later blessed (or cursed) by Istus, merging the arcane with the divine. Others believe that the Deck might have multiple incarnations, with different versions emerging at various points in history, each with its tale of origin.
Regardless of its beginnings, the Deck of Many Things stands as a testament to the incredible and often terrifying confluence of chance, magic, and fate. Whether drawn to its power or wary of its unpredictability, few can deny the Deck’s unparalleled influence in the annals of magical lore.
The Evolution into 5e and Beyond
D&D’s fifth edition saw a revival of the 13-card Deck, paying homage to its earlier iterations. But as with all things in the D&D universe, change was inevitable. In 2023, Wizards of the Coast introduced a massive 66-card deck, incorporating both the original cards and the newly introduced ‘Deck of Many More Things’. This fresh take on an old classic has only added to its legendary status among D&D enthusiasts.
Beyond just the cards, the accompanying “Book of Many Things” further expands on the Deck’s lore and introduces innovative ways for both players and Dungeon Masters to incorporate the Deck into their campaigns. From determining one’s DnD star sign to crafting spontaneous adventures, the possibilities are endless.
Drawing from Destiny: The Power and the Peril
The rules of the Deck are straightforward, yet fraught with danger. Declare your intention, draw, and let destiny unfold. But with great power comes great risk. The unprepared or the overly ambitious can find themselves facing dire consequences, from inescapable dimensions to insurmountable debts.
Yet, for all its dangers, the allure of the Deck of Many Things remains irresistible. For in the world of D&D, as in life, fortune favors the bold. And with the Deck in hand, every draw is a step closer to one’s ultimate destiny.
Deck of Many Things
Here’s the cards in the Deck of Many Things in DND.
The scales of justice shift. Your moral and ethical stance transforms to its polar opposite. Those who walk the middle path remain unchanged.
A celestial challenge. Face and conquer your next foe alone to soar to greater heights, earning enough experience for progression.
The void takes you. You vanish, leaving your belongings, to an unknown dimension in stasis. Beyond the reach of most magics, only a potent wish reveals your prison.
The serpent’s curse weakens your resolve, imposing a -2 penalty on your defenses against threats. Only divine intervention or The Fates card can lift this hex.
The threads of time are in your hands. Reverse one event, present, past, or future, ensuring it never transpired.
An infernal adversary marks you. A devil, driven by spite, seeks your downfall before your demise.
A trickster’s penalty. You are stripped of experience and forced to draw again, yet the draw counts as one.
A treasure trove manifests. Adorn yourself with 25 exquisite jewels or pocket 50 precious gems.
The court’s favor. Revel in a sudden influx of experience or tempt fate with two more card draws.
A weapon of legends materializes. Wield a magical armament chosen by fate (or the DM).
Loyalty incarnate. A warrior of your kin emerges, pledging allegiance and fighting to their last breath on your behalf.
The cosmic boon grants you the power to cast the unparalleled Wish spell, up to three times.
Your mind is tested and found wanting. Lose a fraction of your intellect, but gain another draw from the deck.
Hidden enmity grows. An individual, chosen in secret by the DM, harbors a newfound grudge against you.
Material wealth crumbles. All but your magical assets turn to dust, including proofs of property ownership.
The universe whispers. Once within the year, seek knowledge in solitude and receive not only truth but also wisdom on its application.
Death’s challenge stands before you. A spectral entity duels you in a battle of life and demise. Interference spawns more of these entities.
Your potential ascends. Enhance an ability of your choosing, pushing it beyond mortal limits.
Radiant fortune shines upon you. Ascend in experience and gain a wondrous item dictated by destiny.
Arcane dissolution occurs. Every enchanted item you possess is obliterated or banished.
Royal charisma graces you. Gain mastery in influencing others and claim a bastion, albeit one filled with adversaries.
Your essence is imprisoned. Trapped within an artifact chosen by the DM, potent guardians watch over your ensnared soul.