maandag 30 september 2013

Playing Cards and D&D

While playing Dungeons and Dragons, my friends and I have found several reasons to use card games. I used it to get a kick out of my players freaking out, we’ve had several instances of our characters consulting a Tarot deck, and we even played poker to earn money at one point (I wasn’t very successful at that…). At one point, I even had a plan to invoke a system of drawing cards to add a couple of random effects to the game at times it would need a little spicing up, or to punish my players.
When thinking about it, playing cards are actually an excellent way to randomise effects. Different numbers and houses can yield different effects, or have different meanings for the players. Quite frankly, there can be as many different options as the person who designs the system really needs.
That’s what pulled me to one of the Kickstarter campaigns I decided to support. It was a combination of the many different options that could come out of a deck of cards, combined with another of my weaknesses: creating Non-Player Characters that are somewhat believable and have a personality, especially on the fly. This Kickstarter campaign was of the Character Cards, cards that laid out a basic person with four primary points:

“Their heart’s desire”, which was symbolized by the house of hearts. It basically tells you about the main goal of the person in life.
“Their occupation”, symbolized by spades. It tells you what they do all day or night.
“Their physical appearance”, symbolized by diamonds. Exactly what it says on the tin, really.
“Their social connections”, symbolized by clubs. Who they know, and who matters.

Every card has a name, a ‘big’ description based on the suit of the card, and several smaller descriptions for the other suits. A King of Hearts would have a large text telling about what that person wants in life, while three smaller texts tell about their occupation, appearance and connections. A Queen of Clubs would have a large text telling about the connections the character has in life, while three smaller texts tell about their heart’s desire, occupation and appearance.
What makes the cards extra interesting, though, is the secret all characters have. It is assumed that nobody is completely honest, or knows absolutely everything about themselves. They give people a twist, or a dark side, or maybe even a light side if it’s possible.

They even thanked all of us!

As you might notice, I separated the stack in two different stacks before I took the picture. That’s because there’s a full Major Arcana set next to the 54 cards that fill up a normal deck of playing cards. There’s also four ‘knights’ that have been added to the court cards of the four suits of which I’m not exactly sure if they are part of the arcana set, or if they were just a nice addition, but with the 22 Major Arcana cards and the four knights, it’s a total of 80 character cards.
My main motivation when pledging for this Kickstarter was to get myself enough names, characters and motivations to help myself build characters for RPG’s, tales and books. Especially the last two have always caused me trouble. Names are hard to me, especially believable names, and making ‘generic character #14’ again to bore even me at some point, so there should actually be some interesting, original names and characters in my stories in the future…
Can’t wait!

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