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Tuesday
Jan012019

Supplemental Setting Stuff: Gothic Cowboy Tarot Deck

A while ago, I saw on Twitter that a guy named Kit Rockatansky was making a custom tarot deck with what he was describing as "gothic cowboy" artwork as a Kickstarter project.

Normally such things wouldn't interest me much, but I'd been noodling around in my copy of the 5th edition DMG and one look at the artwork got my brain churning on various and sundry "Deck of Many Things" style ideas. I backed the project.

Like many Kickstarters, however, this one experienced some delays, and it kind of slipped out of my awareness until the deck actually showed up in the mail this week, which is fortuitous timing, because I actually have time to think about this kind of game design stuff.

This is ultimately going to be a whole subsystem in the game, but since it's based on IP that isn't mine, I'm going to do it as a "fan work" here rather than an entry in the setting design series over on the StG blog. This also makes the deck usable in anyone's 5e game, though I would recommend at the very least you also use The Gunpowder Codex (speaking of things I don't own, though that one is free) in conjunction with it, because some of the cards are going to assume firearms exist in the setting.

Deck of the Yuthi

Wondrous Item, Legendary, Requires Attunement

The Deck of the Yuthi is a deck of 40 cards that was created during a lawless time in the Yuthi Desert. The mysterious creator of the deck clearly wished to embody the region's nature in this creation, and they created a set of cards that each spoke to part of the experience of living in the desert. While all of the cards are beneficial, attempting to use too many at once can be taxing and even deadly.

When you attune the Deck of the Yuthi, you must choose one of your mental attributes (INT, WIS, or CHA) to function as your spellcasting attribute for any spell-like abilities granted to you by the deck. Your save DC with all such abilities is 8 + your proficiency modifier + the modifier of the selected attribute. To change the selected attribute, you must re-attune to the deck.

Note: If using these mechanics in another setting, it probably goes without saying that some lore-swapping may be required.

Enabling a single card is a risk-free proposition. As a bonus action, the person attuned to the deck may shuffle it and draw a card off the top. That card's benefits are available until the user finishes a short or long rest, at which point they may keep that card active or shuffle it back into the deck and draw again. The user may look through the deck, but under normal circumstances they may not select cards to activate through any means other than shuffling or drawing off the top.

Additional cards may be drawn off the top, but each time the user does this, it gets riskier as indicated below:

Add a second card:
Make a DC 20 Wisdom save. On success, you get all the benefits of the second card with no ill effects. On a failure, you gain all the effects of the second card but immediately take a level of exhaustion that can only be removed by resting.

Add a third card: Make a DC 25 Wisdom save. On a success, you get all the benefits of the second and third card. On a failure, you gain all the effects of the second card but immediately take three levels of exhaustion that can only be removed by resting.

Add a fourth card: Make a DC 30 Wisdom save. On a success, you get all the benefits of the second, third, and fourth cards. On a failure, you immediately take six levels of exhaustion (instant death). A user who dies this way rises as a Card Wraith unless one of the cards that was being activated was The Cemetary. (To make a Card Wraith, use the standard Wraith stats in the MM and add the active abilities of 1d4 cards to its list of abilities.)

Users may not attempt to add any additional cards beyond the first four. During a short or long rest, a user with additional cards active may choose to either let them deactivate and return them to the deck or they me retry the process of activating them with the same consequences if they fail.

Individual cards work as follows:

The Armadillo: Known for its thick hide, The Armadillo shares some of its namesake's toughness with the user.

If the user is a spellcaster, while this card is active, they imediately have Shield and Shield of Faith prepared as if they were class spells on their spell list. The user may cast them as long as they have spell slots of the appropriate level available.

If the user is not a spellcaster, they gain one use of each of the two spells indicated above as a spell-like ability. Once the spell is used, it cannot be used again until the user finishes a short rest (assuming this card is retained and not swapped out for a second one).

The Authority: The Authority card grants its user the ability speak with, well, authority.

If the user is a spellcaster, while this card is active, they imediately have Command and Hold Person prepared as if they were class spells on their spell list. The user may cast them as long as they have spell slots of the appropriate level available.

If the user is not a spellcaster, they gain one use of each of the two spells indicated above as a spell-like ability. Once the spell is used, it cannot be used again until the user finishes a short rest (assuming this card is retained and not swapped out for a second one).

In addition, while the card is active, the user has advantage on persuasion checks to convince someone that they are acting on behalf of a legitimate authority.

The Blaze:
The Blaze references a stripe of white on the nose of a noble steed rather than a fire in this case, but the creator of the deck had a flair for puns and some fire magic slipped in anyway.

While this card is active, any mount you choose to ride (living creature or a one-person vehicle such as a motorcycle) is utterly reliable. Any mundane hazards such as roadway debris don't affect its feet or tires, and any incidental injury or mechanical breakdown (pulled muscles, oil leaks, punctured hoses) that might otherwise happen is prevented entirely.

You also gain access to the Fire Bolt cantrip while the card is active.
 

The Boot: The Boot is full of toughness and aggression. It'll march across the desert and kick in your door.

While The Boot is active, if you would gain one or more levels of exhaustion from any source except the Deck of the Yuthi, you gain that number of levels of exhaustion minus one instead.

In addition, inanimate objects are vulnerable to damage from attacks you make with weapons or unarmed strikes.

The Bounty Hunter: The Bounty Hunter is tenacious and implacable. And while it's active, so are you.

If the user is a spellcaster, while this card is active, they imediately have Hunter's Mark and Locate Object prepared as if they were class spells on their spell list. The user may cast them as long as they have spell slots of the appropriate level available.

If the user is not a spellcaster, they gain one use of each of the two spells indicated above as a spell-like ability. Once the spell is used, it cannot be used again until the user finishes a short rest (assuming this card is retained and not swapped out for a second one).

In addition, you have advantage on saves against mind-affecting effects or ones that would hold you in place reduce your movement speed while The Bounty Hunter is active.

The Cemetery: In The Cemetery, the dead are at rest and do not walk about to torment the living.

If you are a cleric or paladin with the Channel Divinity ability, you gain an additional use of it while The Cemetary is active and undead creatures have disadvantage on saving throws to resist your Channel Divinity abilities.

In addition, undead creatures within 30 feet of you become more susceptible to radiant damage. Undea who are immune to radiant damage become resistant to it, undead who are resistant to it lose heir resistance, and undead who are neither immune or resistant to it become vulnerable. An undead who is already vulnerable to radiant damage is unaffected.

Also while The Cemetery is active, any living creature that dies within 30 feet of the user can never rise as an undead. This does not interfere with spells or effects such as Resurrection or Reincarnation that restore the creature to life, merely those that would cause it to become undead.

Finally, while The Cemetary is active, you gain the use of the Sacred Flame cantrip.

The Companion: The Companion is loyal and true and will come to your aid when called.

Upon activating The Companion, choose Find Familiar or Find Steed. The spell is immediately activated as if you had cast it, but disregards material costs. If you selected Find Steed you may cast it again after a short rest if need be.

The Devil's Cactus: The Devil's Cactus is a sinister plant and a portent of ill omen.


If the user is a spellcaster, while this card is active, they imediately have Bane and Hail of Thorns prepared as if they were class spells on their spell list. The user may cast them as long as they have spell slots of the appropriate level available.

If the user is not a spellcaster, they gain one use of each of the two spells indicated above as a spell-like ability. Once the spell is used, it cannot be used again until the user finishes a short rest (assuming this card is retained and not swapped out for a second one).

In addition, you have advantage on Intimidate checks.

The Drunk: The Drunk will share its confidence with you and its clumsiness with your foes.

While The Drunk is active, you gain a special magical attack. Make an attack roll with an unarmed strike against your opponent's AC. If you hit, in addition to normal unarmed strike damage, they must save against your spellcasting DC or acquire the Poisoned condition.The creature may attempt this saving throw again each round. If they successfully save, the effect ends.

In addition, you have advantage on saving throws to avoid becoming frightened.

The Fortunate: The Fortunate brings you resources and prosperity while it is active.

While The Fortunate is active, liquid wealth (money) on your person accrues 5% interest, compounded hourly. The extra riches remain afer the card is deactivated, but do not continue to accrue. This wealth is collected from lost money all over the world, and disappears from shipwrecks, caved-in mine shafts, and other inaccessible places to find its way to you.

In addition, any time an effect would restore lost hit points to you, reroll any result of 1 on the dice used to calculate the number of hit points you recover.

The Gift: The Gift allows you to give out conditions, both wanted and unwanted.

As an action, you may transfer one condition afflicting you to another creature within 60 feet of you. That creature makes a wisdom saving throw against your spell DC. On a failed save, you lose the condition and the creature acquires it. If the creature is immune to the condition, you still lose it. If you cannot see any hostile creatures, one is selected at random. If there are no hostile creatures within range, the effect fails.

Alternatively, you can also transfer a beneficial effect with a duration (such as the effect of a Bless spell) to a friendly creature you can see within 60 feet.

You may use a combination of these abilities a total number of times equal to your spellcasting modifier (minimum 1). If The Gift remains active, you regain all expended uses when you finish a short rest.

The Hat: The Hat keeps the weather off. Rain or shine, it's a dependable protection against the elements.

While The Hat is active, you automatically succeed on saving throws imposed by extreme heat and extreme cold.

In addition, while The Hat is active, you have advantage on Wisdom (Survival) checks.

The Herd: The Herd tramples your foes into the dirt.

While The Herd is active, you may declare a stampede as a bonus action. When you do, it activates Spirit Guardians as if you had cast it (you must maintain concentration on it as normal). The spirits appear as a herd of spectral livestock of the type of your choosing. In addition, your move speed increases by 10 feet. If you move the Spirit Guardians area onto a foe as a result of your movement, any hostile creatures are also knocked prone if they fail their save against the spell's effect.

Once you have used the stampede ability, you may not do so again until you finish a short or long rest.

The Horseshoe: The Horseshoe is a traditional symbol of luck. With it active, your luck improves.

While The Horseshoe is active, you gain a single use of Legendary Resistance. If you would fail a saving throw, you may choose to succeed instead. Once you have used this ability, you may not do so again until you finish a short or long rest.

The Hunter: The Hunter is a master of the wilderness, able to live off the land indefinitely.

While The Hunter is active, you are proficient in the Stealth, Survival, Perception, and Nature skills. If you are already proficient with these skills, you use twice your proficiency modifier instead.

The Impossible Growth: The Impossible Growth represents renewal and hope in desperate circumstances.

While The Impossible Growth is active, you may use Revivify once as a spell-like ability, disregarding material costs. If you do, once the spell completes, The Impossible Growth immediately deactivates and is shuffled back into the deck.

The Jackalope: The Jackalope is known for one thing: speed. And it shares that speed with the user.

While The Jackalope is active, your walking speed increases by 20 feet.

The Jail: The Jail punishes wrongdoing with confinement.

While The Jail is active, if an enemy hits you in combat, you may use your reaction to cast Hold Monster on the creature that hit you. Once you have used this ability, you cannot use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

The Lantern: The Lantern lights your way through the darkness of the world.

While The Lantern is active, you gain access to the Light cantrip. In addition, the light created by the cantrip penetrates magical darkness just like it was natural darkness.

The Lasso: The Lasso does exactly what you'd expect - it allows you to reach out and snare opponents and drag them to you.

While The Lasso is active, you have access to the Thorn Whip cantrip.

In addition, while The Lasso is active, you are proficient with whips.

The Last Round: The Last Round rewards desperate gambles.

If you are at less than half of your maximum hit points, you may make a special attack with a ranged weapon. The attack automatically hits and does critical damage. It also disables the weapon until you complete a long or short rest.

Regardless of how many ranged weapons you possess, you may only use this ability once per short rest.

The Memento: The Memento allows you to call upon the past for strength in difficult situations.

When you activate The Memento, roll a d20 and record the roll. At any time when you roll a d20, you may use what you rolled or you may "store" the roll and use the one stored in The Memento instead. You may only ever have one roll stored this way at any given time.

The Mother: The Mother is powerful guardian spirit. She loves you, and wants you to be safe.

While The Mother is active, you gain access to the Spare the Dying cantrip.

In addition, once per long rest, if an effect other than one caused by The Deck of the Yuthi would reduce you to zero hit points or kill you outright, you instead are reduced to one hit point.

The Optimist: The Optimist takes the tack of "what doesn't kill me makes me stronger."

While The Optimist is active, after taking an attack from an enemy,  you may activate Hunter's Mark on that enemy as a reaction. You may use this ability a number of times equal to the spellcasting modifier you selected when you attuned to The Deck of the Yuthi (minimum once). You regain all expended uses after finishing a short rest.

The Rattlesnake: The rattlesnake is swift and vicious, and strikes without warning.

While The Rattlesnake is active you gain proficiency with the Stealth and Athletics skills. If you are already proficient with them, use double your proficiency bonus instead.

When attacking a foe that isn't aware of your presence, your first attack does an additional 2d6 of poison damage and inflicts the poisoned condition on your enemy. A successful save halves the damage and prevents the poisoned condition. Once this ability has been used, you may not use it again in the same combat.

The Reaper: The Reaper is death, a pitiless killer of foes.

While The Reaper is active, you may convert unspent hit dice into bonus damage on your attacks. When you hit with an attack, you may spend any number of unspent hit dice. If you do, you do an additional number of d8s of necrotic damage equal to your prificiency bonus for each hit die expended this way. Hit dice spent in this manner cannot be used for any other purpose until they are recovered normally.

The Red Moon: The Red Moon is a sinister portent of doom in the sky.

While The Red Moon is active, you gain the ability to menace and curse your enemies. If the user is a spellcaster, while this card is active, they imediately have Bane, Ray of Sickness, Bestow Curse, and Dissonant Whispers prepared as if they were class spells on their spell list. The user may cast them as long as they have spell slots of the appropriate level available.

If the user is not a spellcaster, they gain one use of each of the spells indicated above as a spell-like ability. Once the spell is used, it cannot be used again until the user finishes a short rest (assuming this card is retained and not swapped out for a second one).

In addition, the user may use Banishment as a spell-like ability. If this ability is used, The Red Moon is immediately deactivated and shuffled back into the deck.

The Roadrunner: The Roadrunner is an expert at escaping from dangerous situations.

While The Roadrunner is active, you have advantage on Dexterity saving throws.

In addition, you may use Freedom of Movement as a spell-like ability. If you do, The Roadrunner is immediately deactivated and shuffled back into the deck.

The Scorpion: The Scorpion is a lethal threat in a small package.

While The Scorpion is active, you gain a climb speed equal to your walking speed and you may use it to climb even sheer surfaces like an insect.

In addition, you gain access to the Poison Spray cantrip and you may use your reaction to add its damage to a successful strike with a piercing melee weapon instead of casting it normally.

The Shield: The Shield protects those around it.

While The Shield is active, you gain proficiency with shields and may conjure one as a bonus action.The shield appears out of nowhere, but is not otherwise magical.

In addition, you gain the benefits of the Shield Master feat and the Protection fighting style while The Shield is active.

The Shootout: The Shootout is a storm of violence, lead and fury.

While The Shootout is active, you gain proficiency with revolvers. As an action, you may summon a magical revolver to your hand. It uses the same statistics as a normal revolver with one exception: it never runs out of ammunition. You may use this ability once per combat. If the revolver leaves your hand, it vanishes immediately.

The Spirit: The Spirit is mysterious and ephemeral.


If the user is a spellcaster, while this card is active, they imediately have Misty Step and Speak With Dead prepared as if they were class spells on their spell list. The user may cast them as long as they have spell slots of the appropriate level available.

If the user is not a spellcaster, they gain one use of each of the two spells indicated above as a spell-like ability. Once the spell is used, it cannot be used again until the user finishes a short rest (assuming this card is retained and not swapped out for a second one).

In addition, the user gains the Incorporeal Movement ability and may move through other creatures and objects as if they were difficult terrain. They take 1d10 force damage if they end their turn inside an object.

The Spittoon: The Spittoon is a repository for corruption - a safe place to dispose of it.

While The Spittoon is active, if the user is a spellcaster, while this card is active, they imediately have Dispel Magic, Lesser Restoration, Protection From Poison and Remove Curse prepared as if they were class spells on their spell list. The user may cast them as long as they have spell slots of the appropriate level available.

If the user is not a spellcaster, they gain one use of each of the spells indicated above as a spell-like ability. Once the spell is used, it cannot be used again until the user finishes a short rest (assuming this card is retained and not swapped out for a second one).

The Spur: The Spur is the sharp jab of motivation; the inspiration to do better.

If the user is a spellcaster, while this card is active, they imediately have Heroism and Enhance Ability prepared as if they were class spells on their spell list. The user may cast them as long as they have spell slots of the appropriate level available.

If the user is not a spellcaster, they gain one use of each of the two spells indicated above as a spell-like ability. Once the spell is used, it cannot be used again until the user finishes a short rest (assuming this card is retained and not swapped out for a second one).

In addition, if the user does not have an Inspiration die when the card is activated, they immediately gain one.

The Stagecoach: The Stagecoach is reliable and swift transportation.

While The Stagecoach is active, you may use Teleportation once as if you had cast it. The Stagecoach is then immediately deactivated and returned to the deck.

The Tobacco: The Tobacco is a shared vice. Calming and uniting but not wholly beneficial.

While The Tobacco is active, you may cast Calm Emotions at will as a spell-like ability. However, you and all creatures affected by the spell are affected as though you have a level of exhaustion while it is active. If this would be the sixth level of exhaustion a creature takes, they pass out and fall unconscious instead of dying. The level of exhaustion vanishes when the spell ends.

The Train: The Train is an unstoppable juggernaut. It plows through anything in its way.

While The Train is active you may cast Freedom of Movement once as a spell-like ability. You regain the use of this ability on a short rest.

In addition, you have resistance to piercing, bludgeoning, and slashing damage from nonmagical weapons.

The Tumbleweed: The Tumbleweed is a sign of desolation, an indicator that nothing is around.

If the user is a spellcaster, while this card is active, they imediately have Invisibility and Rope Trick prepared as if they were class spells on their spell list. The user may cast them as long as they have spell slots of the appropriate level available.

If the user is not a spellcaster, they gain one use of each of the two spells indicated above as a spell-like ability. Once the spell is used, it cannot be used again until the user finishes a short rest (assuming this card is retained and not swapped out for a second one).

The Vulture: The Vulture draws strength from the fruits of violence.

While The Vulture is active, if you reduce a creature to zero hit points with an attack, you regain 1d6 hitpoints. This cannot raise you above your hit point maximum.

The Whiskey: The Whiskey is potent and shares that potency with its user.

While The Whiskey is active, you gain a fire breath weapon. As an action, you breathe fire in a 15-foot cone. The attack does a number of d6s of fire damage equal to your proficiency bonus. Once you have used this ability, you can't use it again until you finish a short or long rest.

In addition, you gain advantage on consititution saving throws while The Whiskey is active.

Finally, you are immune to the Frightened condition.

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