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Author Topic: Whimsy cards (bonus: obligatory introduction thread)  (Read 3184 times)
Daniel Solis
Member

Posts: 411


« on: May 26, 2003, 05:49:46 AM »

Howdy everyone, this forum was recommended by a few people as a good sounding board for odd bits of game design. I'm a graphic designer from new york, currently living in oklahoma. I've published some minor snippets of written material to Kenzer & Co.' Hackmaster and Atlas Games' Unknown Armies. Enough about that...

I've not actually seen whimsy cards, but from what I've been told, they were a deck of cards with open-ended plot twists and story elements like "Someone meets their true love" or "a major npc reveals that he/she is a pc's long-lost parent" or something silly like that. You pulled a card, dropped it down and the story was influenced by those cards.

The point: I was thinking of a way to format the random-plot-element-on-a-card concept according to a standard deck of playing cards.

For example, the suit would correspond to a broad story element like NPCs and the number within that suit would correspond to the relative impact that card would have on the story with regards to that plot category. Let's say hearts represents NPCs. A two of hearts would be something minor like "A deepthroat NPC anonymously gives the group a clue" a 10 of hearts could be something like "An antagonist reveals he/she is actually on the PCs' side."

The goal of all this? I just thought it would be an interesting modular system. The image of players and GMs building up a "combo" story element cards linked by narrative seemed kind of neat. :P

What I need are four broad story element categories to correspond to each suit and suggestions on various individual story elements. I just used "hearts = NPC" as an example, if there are better suggestions, I'm open to them. Though I hope for the cards to be open-ended, I'm trying to make them more mood-neutral or serious than slapstick comedy. So... any suggestions are welcome.
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Meatbot Massacre
Giant robot combat. No carbs.
Jack Spencer Jr
Guest
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2003, 08:27:17 AM »

You may wish to read up on Cartomancy. It won't fit the structure you've already laid out, but it might prove helpful.
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Daniel Solis
Member

Posts: 411


« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2003, 08:54:05 AM »

Can you recommend a site where I can find more information on cartomancy?
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Meatbot Massacre
Giant robot combat. No carbs.
Jack Spencer Jr
Guest
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2003, 08:56:59 AM »

SOrry. I had a link stored on my old computer, which is now dead and I had printed out a page, and lost the hard copy. But a Google search should turn it up easily enough
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taalyn
Member

Posts: 370

Aidan Grey


« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2003, 12:35:12 PM »

Any book on tarot  will have what you're looking for.

Aidan
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Aidan Grey

Crux Live the Abnatural
Daniel Solis
Member

Posts: 411


« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2003, 12:58:38 PM »

After having discussed the matter with a few friends, I've tentatively assigned the four suits to mechanics, scenery, inconvenient events and convenient events. The "events" mostly relate to NPCs' actions, but there is some room to expand it a bit.

Examples:

Convenient - "Don't kill 'em. They'll be more valuable as prisoners."
"You made a good impression."
"You go unnoticed for a short while."

Inconvenient - "It's a trap!"
"An ally is jealous of you."
"The tables have turned."

Scenery - "Your investigation uncovers a vital clue."
"The weather turns in your favor."
"You manage to escape by the skin of your teeth."

System - "Re-roll your last action, taking this roll as the official one."
"Reroll your last action, taking whichever is most beneficial as the official one."
"Your selfless action is automatically successful."

Note that the interpretation and resolution of the cards can vary wildly depending on whether their held by the players or the GM. Now I just need to find some more plot twists and rank them according to the playing card format. I'm still open to suggestions for more plot twists, though I'm not sure if this is the proper forum to request them.
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Meatbot Massacre
Giant robot combat. No carbs.
Rob Donoghue
Member

Posts: 146


« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2003, 06:41:46 AM »

While I regret I don't have a good web resource for you for cartomancy, I can suggest looking in a most peculiar place - your supermaket checkout aisle.  In among the tabloids and housekeeping magazine you will often find very small books, little more than pamphlets.  A lot of the time they're things like puzzle books or horoscopes, but there are a few oddball ones out there, most notably, there is one on fortune telling, which includes a write-up on using playing cards.  Just somethign to keep your eye out for.

That said, unless you and your players get to know and really internalize the meanings of the various playing cards they will be more hassle than they're worth - stopping to look up a non-intuitive meaning can be a bit of a pain.  It's generally easy enough to just get some sheets of business cards and print out a set for whatever you need.

I'm an absolute nut for cards of this type.  They have a certain immediacy, and players seem to enjoy having the physical object in their hand to represent whatever you're using them for (be it plots, gimmicks, schticks, stunts or whatever), and the ability to simply read and understand the card you're using can't be overestimated.

Anyway, it's fun stuff. Luck with it.

-Rob D.
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Rob Donoghue
<B>Fate</B> -
www.faterpg.com
Jack Spencer Jr
Guest
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2003, 08:11:44 AM »

Links on cartomancy here and here. Perhaps not the best pages, but containing information and it took 5 seconds on Google
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Daniel Solis
Member

Posts: 411


« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2003, 09:27:55 AM »

I searched on google, but I wasn't sure which sites were actually good sources of information.

Having seen the pre-existing associations with playing card suits, I might decide to reassign and redefine the categories, or maybe just make up non-playing card oriented suits but keep the rankings. That would expand the deck beyond only four categories.

hmm... The ace of NPCs. The jack of Antagonists. The 10 of Mechanics.
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Meatbot Massacre
Giant robot combat. No carbs.
RaconteurX
Member

Posts: 262


« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2003, 12:41:01 AM »

Ah, Whimsy Cards (eventually known as Storypath Cards)... these are among my absolute favorite game accessories. They have made for some of the most gripping, surprising, enjoyable campaigns in which I have participated, from Pendragon to Star Wars to Privateers & Gentlemen. I really wish the current owners, Three Guys Gaming (based just outside my hometown of Ann Arbor), would get these marvelous critters back in general circulation. Alas, it comes down to the simple logistical nightmare of collating together sets from the huge piles of cards gathering dust in one of the chief architect's closets.

A travesty, to be sure... :(
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pete_darby
Member

Posts: 537

Will dance with porridge down pants for food.


WWW
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2003, 05:09:18 AM »

The Department of Vague Promises brings you...

The medical TV Drama game will have a shedload of this stuff for staging (& eliminating the GM).
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Pete Darby
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