Deck of Many Things

The Deck of Many Things
Depiction of nine cards from the Deck of Many Things from Dungeons Master Guide, p. 163.[art 1]
General information
TypeWondrous item
RarityLegendary
Properties
AttunementNo
Notable propertiesDraw cards to create powerful magical effects, both fortunate and ruinous
Historical information
OwnerGrog Strongjaw (formerly)
StatusLocked away in the Platinum Sanctuary

The Deck of Many Things is a legendary wondrous item. Usually found in a box or pouch, this deck contains a number of cards made of ivory or vellum. As soon as a character draws a card from the deck, its magic immediately takes effect. Each card has a different effect: either amazing and great or immensely destructive. The cards are split about 50/50 between good and awful, and it is widely regarded as one of the most powerful artifacts in Dungeons & Dragons. As Liam put it, "you could destroy the world".[1]

Cards[edit | edit source]

The deck found by Vox Machina had the following 13 cards:[2]

  • Sun: The card puller gains 50,000 experience points and a wonderous item appears in their hands.
  • Moon:[3] The card puller can cast the Wish spell 1d3 times.
  • Star: One ability score of the card puller's choice increases by 2, to a maximum of 24.
  • Throne: The card puller gains expertise in the Persuasion skill and the rightful ownership of a monster-infested keep somewhere in the world.
  • Key:[4] A rare or rarer magic weapon which the card puller is proficient appears in their hands.
  • Knight: A 4th-level fighter the same race as the card puller appears within 30 feet of them and acts as a loyal follower.
  • The Void:[5] The card puller's soul is drawn from their body and is contained in an object somewhere guarded by a powerful entity.
  • Flames: A powerful devil becomes the card puller's enemy.
  • Skull: An avatar of death appears and fights the card puller until either is killed. If the avatar kills the card puller, nothing can resurrect them. Anyone who intervenes summons their own avatar of death.
  • Ruin: All forms of wealth, other than magic items, are lost to the card puller, including property, businesses, building, and land.
  • Euryale:[6] The card puller suffers a -2 penalty to all saving throws, which can only be removed by a deity.
  • Rogue: A random person becomes hostile towards the card puller.
  • Jester: The card puller gains 10,000 experience points and can draw two additional cards beyond their declared draws.

History[edit | edit source]

Campaign 1: Vox Machina[edit | edit source]

Official art of Grog with the Deck of Many Things, by Oliver Barrett from The World of Critical Role, page 336.[art 2]

Discovery[edit | edit source]

While looting the lair of Thordak beneath Emon, Grog began searching for "unique-looking knick-knacks or really lovely/dangerous-looking weapons." One of the items he found was a beautifully engraved wooden box. After prying it open by breaking it in half, a small leather sleeve fell out. Grog opened the sleeve and saw about thirteen tarot cards. Before Grog could throw the deck into nearby lava, Vex came over and told him to hold onto it until she had time to look around for other cool stuff.[7]

First pull[edit | edit source]

Intrigued by the cards, Grog pulled one from the middle of the deck.[8] Travis drew the Queen of Spades, which Matt misread as "Key". Thus, Grog was awarded a rare magic weapon: a dancing sword.[4]

Grog tried to stealthily pocket the remaining twelve cards, but he failed with a Natural 1. Grog almost threw them, and Vex picked up the deck. Being a studious child, Percy had read myths and legends about glory and woe all revolving around the Deck of Many Things. Before Vex could pull a card (tempted by Grog's explanation that they create weapons), Percy warned her not to draw and to be very careful: those cards could make a lot of bad things. Vex closed the case and stuffed it in her shirt.[9]

First pull (corrected)[edit | edit source]

While Grog was showing off his new sword to Kerrek, Grog suddenly felt a bursting headache at the back of his mind. Looking at the blade, Grog saw a medusa-like visage image begin to seep through the metallic sheen (Grog assumed it to be the sword's "female setting"). As Grog fell to his knees, clutching the sides of his head, the sword clacked to the ground and almost immediately rusted and turned dark and dull.

This was Matt retconning his mistake from the previous episode, as the card drawn by Grog was actually "Euryale". Thus, Grog was cursed by the 'dancing sword and after the curse was expended, Grog took a permanent -2 penalty on saving throws until a god ends the curse.[6]

Grog tried to trade the Periapt of Wound Closure to Vex in order to get his deck back, but Vex tricked him by giving him a leather pouch with rocks inside. Vex made Grog promise not to pull anything from it: he could only keep it in its little pouch.

After Scanlan left, Vex discovered Scanlan had been using drugs. Feeling guilty for also having kept something serious from everyone else, Vex confessed to Grog and gave him back the Deck of Many Things. Grog was confused, and believed that he had always had the deck and Vex was apologizing to him for some weird reason.[10]

Second pull[edit | edit source]

During his year off in Vasselheim, Grog got curious again about the Deck of Many Things. After a lot of drinking and fighting, Grog simply ran out of stuff to keep himself entertained. However, remembering Vex's warnings, he found a nice drunk sap in the Quadroads. After confirming that the drunk didn't know what the deck was, Grog offered him a card. Believing it to be some sort of magic trick, the drunk drew a card: "Moon". The drunk was granted two wishes (1d3 Wish spells), immediately using the first to wish to be "a powerful lord of the Quadroads". The Lord of the Quadroads thanked Grog, who introduced himself as "Grog Strongjaw, Maker of Kings". The Lord of the Quadroads proudly declared that he still had one wish left, and ran off to his waiting carriage. Grog shouted after him, asking what his name was, but got no answer.

Grog's first instinct was to pull all the cards right then in that moment. However, he decided to wait until he could open it with his good friend, Pike. Besides, that Lord of the Quadroads now owed Grog a favor![11]

When Pike learned about the deck, she was just as curious as Grog, but convinced Grog to wait until a very special occasion to pull the next one.[12]

Grog's offer to Sprigg[edit | edit source]

When Sprigg asked for something of power in exchange for allowing Vox Machina to look through his books for information leading to Ioun, Grog offered to let Sprigg pull one card from the deck. Vex, Vax, and Percy warned against it, but Scanlan was willing to move forward with the one-card deal. Eventually they moved on to other offers, and the discussion was interrupted by an attack.[13]

Third pull[edit | edit source]

"A couple of days after the defeat of Vecna,[14] Grog in Whitestone decided to pull a card from the deck to celebrate the banishment of a lich-god. Pike arrived just in time to see Grog pull a card, but decided to just do nothing: preferring to watch and see what happened. Grog pulled "The Void": his soul was immediately sucked from his body and contained in an object in a place of the DM's choice. One or more powerful beings guarded the place, and Grog's body was incapacitated while his soul was being held that way. A Wish spell couldn't restore Grog's soul, but it did reveal the location of the object holding his soul.[5]

For the sake of the epilogue, the rest of the party (returning to their lives and relaxing) found Grog's catatonic body. Percy took the deck from Grog's body. Scanlan immediately proposed a toast: "To Grog! He was the dumbest of us all. He was the dumb and the dumb." To which Percy responded, "May he rest in bed sores for all eternity." Vox Machina then spent two weeks making their way through the halls of Pandemonium. Keyleth was furious because she thought she should be mourning, and instead she was hunting Grog's "stupid ass" down. Vex convinced her that it was keeping her occupied. When the party returned to Whitestone with the restored Grog, a VERY angry Vex told Grog he was lucky that they didn't shave his beard for what he did. A horrified Grog realized that he fucked up. Scanlan claimed that Percy had lost an arm in the process of rescuing his soul.[15] The events covering the rescue were later covered in "The Search For Grog" (OSx28) and "The Search For Bob" (OSx31).

Final fate[edit | edit source]

After an aide cast Identify on the deck and realized the incredibly dangerous arcane power of the item,[16] Highbearer Vord arranged for the Deck of Many Things to be sealed away in the vaults beneath the Platinum Sanctuary (the same vaults that now house the Horn of Orcus recovered by Vox Machina in Yug'Voril).[17]

After returning to Whitestone, when Grog inquired about the current location of the Deck of Many Things, Vox Machina lied that it had been left behind on Pandemonium. Pike cheered up the disappointed Grog by offering to make him a homemade (and decidedly NOT magic) Deck of Many Things for him.[18]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • It is unknown who previously owned the deck that Grog found in Thordak's lair.
  • Vox Machina's Deck of Many Things had 13 cards. As a result, the only way to undo Grog's curse would have been to ask a god for help. However, due to the manner in which Grog acquired the curse, no one knew to ask the gods the group bargained with for this aid.
  • Matt played cards as disappearing permanently from the Deck when drawn, though most cards reappear in the deck in the DMG version.[2] This left Vox Machina's deck with 10 cards at the end of the campaign.
  • Grog pulled five cards from the Deck of Many Things during the Level 17 Battle Royale: Ruin, Rogue, Star, Key, and Knight.
  • According to Laura and Matt, Void is the worst card you can draw.
  • As a joke, Fearne Calloway "found" a Deck at Gilmore's Glorious Goods in 842 PD. Refusing to allow a Deck in play, Aabria had Sherri "swallow" the item and remove it from the game.[19]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "What Lies Beneath the Surface" (1x81) at 1:10:32.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Dungeon Master's Guide, 5th edition, p. 162.
  3. "One Year Later..." (1x95) from 13:08 through 19:14.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "What Lies Beneath the Surface" (1x81) at 1:15:15.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "The Chapter Closes" (1x115) from 3:26:47 through 3:33:41.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Deadly Echoes" (1x82) from 18:49 through 21:37.
  7. "What Lies Beneath the Surface" (1x81) from 1:04:21 through 1:09:06.
  8. "What Lies Beneath the Surface" (1x81) at 1:10:17.
  9. "What Lies Beneath the Surface" (1x81) from 1:19:33 through 1:22:29.
  10. "Daring Days" (1x86) from 2:51:33 through 2:56:05.
  11. "One Year Later..." (1x95) from 12:47 through 22:45.
  12. "One Year Later..." (1x95) from 2:26:09 through 2:35:27.
  13. "The Fear of Isolation" (1x105) from 1:20:52 through 1:35:14.
  14. "The Search For Grog" (OSx28) at 13:58.
  15. "The Chapter Closes" (1x115) from 3:33:41 through 3:39:13.
  16. "The Search For Grog" (OSx28) at 33:07.
  17. "The Search For Grog" (OSx28) at 4:38:41.
  18. "The Search For Bob" (OSx31) at 3:48:40.
  19. "A Glorious Return" (E1x03) at 2:50:31.

Art:

  1. Depiction of nine cards from the Deck of Many Things from Dungeons Master Guide, p. 163. This file is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Wizards of the Coast Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.
  2. Official art of Grog with the Deck of Many Things, by Oliver Barrett from The World of Critical Role, page 336. This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.