Over here at Wicked Good Gaming, we love games. Obviously. But that love isn’t just limited to video games – oh no my friends – we’re big lovers of all things tabletop too, and today I bring you our very first tabletop product review, the Deck of Many Things by Gemhammer & Sons Gaming.
What Are Those?
For the uninitiated, the Deck of Many Things is a “Wondrous Item” that can be found in tabletop RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder. The item itself is a deck of cards, each with its own unique spell effect that is triggered as soon as it is drawn by the player. Ever since its origins in the Dungeons & Dragons supplement, “Greyhawk” back in 1975, the Deck of Many things has grown from a simple 18-card deck to one of the most notorious (and intriguing) items in the game. The spell effects from each card vary wildly, from insane XP gains to your character being locked in magical prisons and losing all of their possessions, a draw which would absolutely be followed by me flipping the fucking table over no less than 15 seconds later.
So, you might be asking yourself – if this is an “imaginary” item that already lives inside the game for free, then what exactly are you reviewing? Well, I can tell you with all certainty that I’m not drunk right now, that this is an actual physical object, and that the Gemhammer & Sons Deck of Many Things does something that no other DoMT product has done before – they’ve printed the spell effect right on the actual card.
The Item That Time Forgot.
You might be thinking, wait what? D&D has been around for how many decades? The geniuses at Wizards of the Coast haven’t thought of this themselves at some point? And yeah, no, they haven’t. A quick search for “Deck of Many Things” will prove exactly that, as there’s tons of fan art for each card, none of which actually display the spell’s effect, forcing the player to sift through tables and charts to find out what each card does. This robs the player of the excitement (or anguish) as each card is revealed, and make the Deck of Many Things more of a chore to use than a thrilling twist of fate to behold.
This is why I absolutely love Gemhammer’s Deck of Many Things. I can hear the yelling and screaming at my gaming table now when I draw “The Sun”, a card that grants the player 50,000 XP (no small amount) and a medium magical item that benefits the player. Conversely, I can also hear the raucous laughter that would come after I drew something like “The Donjon”, where a character loses all of their gear and spells and is imprisoned in a magical cell. Gemhammer’s Deck of Many Things allows players to stay immersed in the role of their character, sharing the emotional reactions they’d undoubtedly have in-game.
Feels Good, Man.
So, how are the cards themselves? The standard Deck of Many Things is a 22-card deck, fully illustrated with the spell effects listed at the bottom of each card. The cards have a nice finish to them that makes them feel like traditional playing cards. They’re tarot-sized cards, which allow for big, gorgeous illustrations to dominate the front and back of each card, all while still leaving ample room for each card’s spell effect and name.
Gemhammer’s Deck of Many Things is actually still in pre-release status, but is actually CRUSHING it on Kickstarter right now with 170 backers pledging $8,646 in total so far, well over its $5,000 goal with 5 days still to go as of the publishing of this review. A mere $15 gets you your very own Deck of Many Things, but for backers with deep enough pockets, Gemhammer & Sons Gaming has actually designed a few more decks to sweeten your games even more. I’ve had hands-on time with each of these decks, all with the same great quality that the original is made from. There’s the Deck of Many Things “0th Edition”, which features the deck as it first appeared in the original Greyhawk Supplement. It contains 18 cards for use with any edition of D&D or d20 system, and is known for slightly more deadly effects
There’s also the Deck of Wonder, which contains 100 random spell effect cards, perfect for simulating “Wild Magic” effects from certain types of Sorcerers, rods of randomized magic, or their own magical artifact. Lastly there’s the Deck of Many More Things, another home-brewed deck with 28 all-new cards with custom spell effects that are advertised to be “much less lethal” than its predecessors.
There tons of other trinkets and cool shit to scoop up over on Gemhammer’s Kickstarter page if you’re feeling frisky, so head over there if this interests you (because honestly, it should). We’re kinda new to this whole “being good at the internet” thing, so we haven’t developed a standard rating scale for the website yet. That being said, all in all, I love Gemhammer’s Deck of Many Things, so I’m giving this bad boy (and all his beautiful cousins) a perfect score, five nat-20’s out of five.