Deck of Wonders

by nedlud

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Deck of Wonders

The Basics

The Deck of Wonders is a magic deck of cards that lets you build "hands" (poker hands) of cards to cast powerful magic effects depending on the suit being played. Once a hand is played, those cards are lost and not returned to the deck.

A person can only ever have a maximum of 5 cards at a time. No more cards can be acquired until some are spent. (The exception to this is some Major Arcana cards if using a tarot deck, as noted below. These cards don't count towards the hand count because they don't get used as part a hand.)

Cards are acquired as treasure found on adventures, and are more likely to be found as a reward for daring or lucky play. The greater the risk, the greater the reward. It is suspected that these cards are left by Tymora, the goddess of luck, as rewards for daring escapades.

The power of a particular hand is calculated with a simple formula: count the face value of the cards played, then add the hand bonus, and divide the total by 2 (rounding up).

Individual cards have the following values:

Card Value
Ace 1
2 - 10 Face Value
Jack 11
Queen 12
King 13

Or in a tarot deck:

Card Value
1 - 10 Face Value
Jack 11
Knight 12
Queen 13
King 14


The suits have different abilities:

  • Spades (Swords). Primary slashing damage. Secondary Cold damage.
  • Clubs (Wands or staves). Primary Bludgeoning damage. Secondary Fire damage.
  • Diamonds (Coins). Primary defence. Secondary Radiant damage.
  • Hearts (Cups). Primary healing. Secondary Poison damage.


Hands and their bonuses are:

Hand Bonus
One of a kind (any card) 0
Pair (any two cards with the same numeric value) 13
Two Pair 38
Three of a Kind (any three cards of the same numeric value) 88
Straight (five consecutive numeric value cards. Can be any suit) 117
Flush (five cards of the same suit. Can be any numeric value) 172
Full House (three of a kind plus one pair) 227
Four of a Kind (any four cards of the same numeric value) 290
Straight Flush (five consecutive numeric value cards of the same suit) 342

If played with a normal deck of cards, each suit contains 13 cards. If played with a tarot deck, each suit contains 14 cards. Just add them up in the normal way and apply the normal hand bonuses. The major arcana will be handled separately (see later in this document).

Playing a Hand

Choose the hand you want to play, and lay the cards down one at a time.

The first card you play is important as it sets the type of the hand. For example, if you had a pair of 2s' (a spade and a heart), and you played the 2 of spades' first, then you are playing an attack hand because spades are a damage dealing suit. If you played the heart first, it would be a healing hand because hearts are healing suit.

Each card after the first can modify the hand in certain ways. You can optionally add the new cards damage type to the hand, or replace the current damage type with the new one. For example, if you play the 2 of spades' first, you are dealing cold slashing damage. Next you play the 2 of hearts so you decide if you want to add poison as a damage type in addition to cold, or replace cold and use poison only, or just leave the damage type as cold only. Some creatures might be vulnerable to fire but resistant to cold, so playing both would not help, but if you used a clubs card you could change the hand to deal only fire damage.

Some examples:

Playing a single card:

The 1 (Ace) of swords could be played by itself and it would deal: the face value of the card (1) plus the single card bonus (0) divided by 2 = 0.5 rounded up to 1 damage.

The single King of Swords could be played for: the face value of the card (13), plus the single card bonus (0) divided by 2 = 6.5 rounded up to 7 damage.

Playing a pair:

A pair of Kings would be worth: the face value of both Kings (13) times 2 (26) plus the "pair base" (13) = 39 divided by 2 = 19.5 rounded up to 20 damage.

Playing four of a kind:

Four of a kind (10s') would be worth the face value of the cards (10 times 4 = 40) plus the base (40 + 290 = 330) divided by 2 = 165 damage!

Notes on the Different Suits


Cups in a Tarot deck.

Played as primary card, heals the target. (Healing Card)

Played as support card, adds Poison damage.


Wands or Staves in a Tarot deck.

Played as primary card, does Bludgeoning damage. (Damage Dealing Card)

Played as support card, adds Fire damage.


Swords in a Tarot deck.

Played as primary card, does Slashing damage. (Damage Dealing Card)

Played as support card, adds Cold damage.


Coins in a Tarot deck.

Played as primary card, creates a defensive wall similar to a Wall of Force. The wall is 1 inch thick. You can form it into a Sphere with a radius of 10 feet, or you can shape a flat surface made up of ten 10-foot-by-10-foot panels. Multiple 10 foot wall sections can be arranged any way the caster chooses, but they must all join another wall section on at least one edge. Multiple sections can be placed at any angle. The wall can absorb as many hit points of damage as it's power based on the cards used to create it. Damage types from other cards can be added to this wall as resistance to those damage types.

For example, a pair of 10s' (a diamond and a club) could be used to create a wall that has 17hp, and is resistant to radiant and fire damage.

Played as support card, adds Radiant damage.


A hand can be played at melee range using your melee attack bonus, or a hand can be thrown as a ranged weapon using your ranged attack bonus. The maximum range for throwing cards is 30 feet.

Major Arcana

If using a tarot deck for the Deck of Wonders, you can include the Major Arcana in the deck as well. These cards have an immediate effect when drawn (except where noted). The effect can be positive or negative. Do you feel lucky?

Some of these card effects are based on the Deck of Many Things, but that deck is very powerful. The cards in the Deck of Wonders are meant to be much more frequently found in the game so rather than risk breaking the game, I've nerfed some of these cards to make it fairer.

Card Description
0 The Fool You immediately lose 5,000 XP. If losing that much XP would cause you to lose a level, you instead lose an amount that leaves you with just enough XP to keep your level.
1 The Magician You immediately gain one 1st level Wizard spell slot. If you are already a spell caster then this slot is in addition to your normal spell slots. This slot can only be filled by a Wizard spell. You can learn one 1st level Wizard spell to fill this spell slot even if you are not a spell caster. You gain this spell even if you are not a spell caster. The spell must use INT as it's casting ability.
2 The High Priestess You immediately gain one 1st level Cleric spell slot. If you are already a spell caster then this slot is in addition to your normal spell slots. This slot can only be filled by a Cleric spell. You can learn one 1st level Cleric spell to fill this spell slot even if you are not a spell caster. You gain this spell even if you are not a spell caster. The spell must use WIS as it's casting ability.
3 The Empress Once this card is played, the land around you in a 1 mile radius becomes unusually fertiile and will produce double the normal amount of produce for 1 year. You can hold onto this card until you want to use it.
4 The Emperor You gain proficiency in the Persuasion skill if you didn't already have it. If you did have this proficiency then you double your Proficiency Bonus on checks made with that skill. In addition, you gain rightful ownership of a small keep somewhere in the world. However, the keep is currently in the hands of Monsters, which you must clear out before you can claim the keep as yours.
5 The Hierophant At any time you choose, you can seek out a wise person to ask a question and receive a truthful answer to that question. Besides information, the answer helps you solve a puzzling problem or other dilemma. In other words, the knowledge comes with Wisdom on how to apply it. You can hold onto this card until you want to use it.
6 The Lovers Choose between friendship or riches. If you choose friendship, one random NPC that is already friendly towards you will become your best friend, wanting to help you in any way they can, short of actually following you on an adventure. If you choose riches, 10,000gp worth of gold, gems, and jewlery appear at your feet, but you loose the respect of one random NPC that you already who now refuses to help you.
7 The Chariot If you single-handedly defeat the next Hostile monster or group of Monsters you encounter, you gain Experience Points enough to gain one level. Otherwise, this card has no effect.
8 Justice You are instantly transported to a courtroom where you are on trial for some deed you did in the past. Witnesses from both sides of the event will be present, even if they are now dead. Both sides will speak their case and in the end you will get to please your side of the events. If you can convince the jundge that your actions were just, you will be returned to where you left. If the judge is not convinced, the injured party can claim restitution which could take the form of a payment, or some kind of service.
9 The Hermit You are instantly transported to a small empty monastery in a remote location in the Shadow Plane to contemplate solitude. The monastery is composed of one meditation room and modest living quarters. It is sparse, without any decoration or homely comforts. Everything you were wearing or carrying is left behind and you arrive wearing nothing more than a simple robe. The monastery is not a prison and you can leave at any time, but you will need to find your own way out of the Shadow Plane. You are safe from harm as long as you remain in the monastery, but as soon as you leave, normal rules apply for traveling within the Shadow Plane.
10 Wheel of Fortune Reality's fabric unravels and spins anew, allowing you to change fate. You can use the card's magic at any time before you die. Take any dice that has just been rolled by anyone (including the DM), but before the result of that roll is applied, and choose what the new result of that roll should be. Place the dice back on the table showing the new roll result then discard this card.
11 Strength You gain the service of a 4th-level Fighter who appears in a space the DM chooses within 30 feet of you. The Fighter is of the same race and alignment as you and serves you loyally until death, believing fate has drawn them to you. You control this character.
Card Description
12 The Hanged Man You are instantly transported to a magical prison you can't escape from. Everything you were wearing or carrying is left behind and you arrive wearing nothing more than some dirty rags. The only way to escape is to negotiate with the gaoler. Your release can only be purchased by giving something up. It could be something physical like an arm or a leg or an eye. It might be something mental like memories (for example you could give up your characters background and loose any associated benefits), or you could give up a level (forget your experience). You could also purchase your release by acquiring some disadvantages as per the table below. If purchasing disadvantages, you must buy 4 points worth of disadvantage. You could also choose to give up your possessions which then get magically transferred to the gaolers' own hoard. Once a bargain is struck, you are transported back to where you left.
13 Death You summon an Avatar of Death (DMG page 164) - a ghostly humanoid Skeleton clad in a tattered black robe and carrying a spectral scythe. It appears in a space of the DM's choice within 10 feet of you and attacks you, warning all others that you must win the battle alone. The avatar fights until you die or it drops to 0 Hit Points, whereupon it disappears. If anyone tries to help you, the helper summons its own Avatar of Death. A creature slain by an Avatar of Death can't be restored to life.
14 Temperance Half of all your wealth (money, gems, and jewellery) vanishes.
15 The Devil A powerful devil (Erinye, or Horned Devil, or the like) becomes your enemy. The devil seeks your ruin and plagues your life, savoring your suffering before attempting to slay you. This enmity lasts until either you or the devil dies.
16 The Tower Each magic item you wear or carry must make a DC10 save or disintegrate. Artifacts in your possession that fail the save aren't destroyed but do Vanish.
17 The Star You are instantly transported to a cave which has no exits. The cave is dimmly lit by phosphorescent algae, and there is a small spring that supplies fresh water, but there is no food in the cave. Everything you were wearing or carrying is left behind and you arrive wearing nothing more than a simple robe. You must remain in meditative contenplation of your inner strength for 8 days without food during which normal starvation and exhaustion rules apply. If you survive the 8 days, you may then increase one of your Ability Scores by 2, or two ability scores by 1. The scores can't exceed 20. You will then be transported back to where you came from.
18 The Moon You must chose between the Feral Path, or the Civilised Path. If you choose the Feral Path, you gain the Savage Attacker Feat. If you choose the Civilised Path, you gain the Healer Feat.
19 The Sun Raise Dead. Playing this card has exactly the same effect as the 5th level Cleric spell Raise Dead. You can keep this card and play it at any time. Once played, the card disappears.
20 Judgement A nonplayer character of the DM's choice becomes Hostile toward you because of some unforseen consequence of one of your past actions. The identity of your enemy isn't known until the NPC or someone else reveals it. If you can discover the nature of the action that caused the enmity, you might seek restitution, otherwise the enemy will pursue you until one of you is dead.
21 The World You gain 5,000 XP, and a wondrous item (which the DM determines randomly) appears in your hands.


This table shows possible disadvantages that can be acquired to purchase release from the Hanged Man card. The Hanged Man requires the purchase of 4 points worth of disadvantage to gain release. (Credit for these disadvantages as noted in the links.)

Disadvantage Points Description
Sense Impairment 2-3 A character with a Sense Impairment disadvantage can have it one of two ways; the Sense Impairment is either worth 3 points and representative of a complete loss of a sense (Blindness, deafness, etc), or worth 2 points and is partial loss of a sense (eg, loose one eye).
Phobia 1-3 A character with a Phobia disadvantage is unreasonably afraid of something. A character with a Phobia worth 1 point generally has an extreme aversion to their phobia, and will trigger their innate fight or flight responses. A character with a Phobia worth 2 points will likely not wilfully be near phobia, and if confronted by it will always flee. A character with a Phobia worth 3 points typically becomes incapacitated or hostile to allies when confronted by their phobia.
Mental Disorder 1-3 A character with a Mental Disorder disadvantage has some form of mental ailment that plagues them. Generally, a Mental Disorder worth 1 point is a trivial mental disorder and a Mental Disorder worth 3 is a debilitating mental disorder. Some examples are: hoarding, being paranoid, being a kleptomaniac, having object attachment, compulsively lying, compulsively being honest, having obsessive compulsive disorder, having authority issues, and having pyromania. Your GM will dictate how much your Mental Disorder is worth.
Obligation 1-3 A character with an Obligation disadvantage has some form of Obligation to another character or organisation which they must fulfil. Generally, a character with an Obligation worth 1 points has a short term (1-2 months) and unimportant task or responsibility that they are obligated to do like delivering a message to a distant location. A character with an Obligation worth 2 points has either a long term (1-2 years) or important task or responsibility that they are obligated to do like protecting some reasonably important person, or finding some long lost item. A character with an Obligation worth 3 points has an obligation that is both long term and important and is high risk like assassinate the Emperor or negotiate peace between warring kingdoms. A level 3 Obligations is important and might be magically or mentally reinforced to such a degree that the character would receive massive repercussions should they not perform the Obligation. Your GM may alter the amount of points this disadvantage is worth depending on the difficulty of the Obligation.
Bad Luck 1 Your first d20 skill check or combat roll each day will always be at disadvantage. You can't attempt a "fake" skill check just to get this over with. It will always apply to the first meaningful roll of the day.
Deep Sleep 2 The character always sleeps deeply and can't be roused during a long rest, requiring the full 8 hours rest before waking. They can't participate in taking a watch and can't be roused even if the party is attacked during the rest. Once they start sleeping, they must continue to sleep for eight hours
Slow reactions 1 The character has a permanent -2 on initiative (deducted from their normal initiative bonus).
Addiction 2 Character is addicted to some substance and requires daily doses to function properly. This addiction reduces the characters primary attribute for their class (INT for a Wizard, WIS for a Cleric, SRT for a Fighter, etc) by 1 for every day they go without the substance, down to a minimum of 1, then it starts reducing their next best attribute, etc. The substance should be moderately expensive or difficult to obtain.
ADHD 1 (Can only be taken by spellcasters) You find it hard to concentrate. -2 when making a concentration save when maintaining a spell.
Disfigurement 2-3 Loss of limb (arm, leg, or tail, etc), or some other physical disfigurement like major scarring. This should cause a permanent reduction of 1 CHA, and hamper the character in some way.
Version History
  • Version 1, 28 Sep 2019
  • Version 1.1, 4 Oct 2019. Fixed some formatting and added table of point values for tarot cards.
  • Version 1.2, 16 Oct 2019. Added numbering for the Major Arcana.

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