Saturday, June 26, 2010

Polyhedral Dice Adventure Cards (Overview)

I like random. 

I like dice and I like random tables.

A few years ago, I created a deck of 80 cards that I could use to help generate plotlines, dice rolls, narrative ideas, NPC names -- a lot of stuff.  

I created the cards (and some other card sets too) and I marketed them on a personal site, selling the file for a few dollars using PayPal and then emailing the file to the purchaser.

I think I made around $100.  Enough to take my wife out to a nice dinner as a way of paying her back for all the time I "wasted" making the cards.  :)  One of my few purchasers several years ago was Norman Harman over at Troll and Flame (Thanks Norman!)

Anyway, I commend to you, dear reader, my Polyhedral Dice Adventure Cards (see file section on the right of my blog).

To use the cards, you'll need to print them out on the stiffest cardstock you can find.  I don't have any card backs, so you might want to use colored cardstock.  I'm fond of blue.

I will now proceed to describe each part of the cards in minimal detail so you will have some sense of how they operate.  I've taken some pictures.

In this area of the card you will find random dice rolls.  I make no promise that these rolls are truly random or that all possible outcomes are represented.  I used Excel to generate some random numbers and I put them onto my cards.  They work for me.

This line represents a "combat tactic".  I often draw a card just to see how the monsters, enemies, villains, etc. might behave in combat.  If I don't like the results -- I ignore it.  

In fact, that's my primary rule for using these cards.  

The next line is an "archetype" of some kind.  Who's causing all the trouble?  Draw a card.  What kind of NPC is she?  Draw a card.  

"Random first names"  They are goofy, I know.  I wrote a script to assemble them from random letters and letter combinations.  I rarely use them as printed - but they do give you ideas.  If I saw these names, I might actually use Zosoth or Zoe, Zoth, Soth, Treeth, Zeth, Duwy, Wysh, etc.  You see how useful these can be?

"NPC traits"  The top one is more of a PHYSICAL trait and the bottom two are more PSYCHOLOGICAL or PERSONALITY traits.

"Random last names"  I've always been fond of using compound words for last names.  These follow that model.  If you don't like them as written, draw two cards and reassemble to taste.  The possibilities are nearly endless.  Heck, you can just reassemble on this card and get at least six more names: Azureshooter, Azuremountain, Ghostlyblood, Ghostlymountain, Scarblood, and Scarshooter.  I know some of those are crap, but a few are pretty good.

This area contains a "Place", a "Sound" and a "Flavor or Smell".  Very useful for jazzing up descriptions or making players nervous.

This section of the cards presents "Plot Twists" or "Dramatic Elements".  I've made some of these up from common tropes and I've borrowed a few from some of my favorite movies.  You may recognize a few.  Not sure what should happen next?  Draw a card.

The final bit at the end is a sensory description.  Often when I'm DMing, I forget sounds, smells and tastes.  I draw a card to inject a little detail into the adventure.  YMMV.

There you have it.  If you enjoy the cards, please consider doing a couple of things.

1) Please consider donating to this good cause.

2) Please consider following my blog.  I plan to continue to share cool stuff (at least I think it's cool) with my readers on a regular basis.


ze bulette said...

These are very cool. The first thing that came to mind were the inmates Christian at Destination Unknown sometimes corresponds with and sends gaming materials to... I seem to remember him not being allowed to send them dice and looking for alternatives. said...

This is neat - I've been considering making something like this ever since I came across Fields of Fire, a solitaire wargame which uses a single deck for a lot of different things. The Fields of Fire cards have the dice rolls in a table along one edge of the card, which might take up less space than a larger table. Instead of a d100 roll, I had two d10s - you could still easily read the d100, but I preferred organising it that way.

My version tried to fit in a tiny corridor/room shape for random dungeons. I also threw in a basic time of day and weather symbol.

I do really like your idea of a combat tactic - if I try to make another deck, either for D&D or a skirmish wargame, I'd add that along with a disposition for newly-encountered enemies, perhaps using symbols rather than words to describe them - dots to indicate a formed line, or unruly horde, or something along those lines. In fact, if I was to make another (and now I'm awfully tempted to start again) I'd use symbols as often as possible, perhaps as a border around the text elements. Hm.

Please forgive my rambling in your comments section!

Jim said...

@user -- those are some excellent suggestions. I may play with my layout a bit and see if I can include some of them. Just one more project! :) Thanks!