For awhile I was running Wizard of the Coast‘s Revenge of the Giants adventure. I ran it pretty much straight from the book, and as a result found the adventure to be very lifeless. To inject some spice into the game, I gave the warlock a Deck of Many Things, a powerful artifact of chaos. In my experience the Deck of Many Things has always given new direction to any campaign, especially those lost in the doldrums. In fact, Matt groaned when he found out there was a Deck of Many Things, after all, he and I have been in many a campaign that experienced the truly chaotic effects of these cards. Tip of the hat to Geoff.
The players were hesitant, they knew these cards could wreak havoc, but they threw caution to the wind as their fortunes were told.
Jaron was first, and he was nervous. Jaron is amazing at all games except those of chance; He is a terrible dice roller and luck is rarely on his side. Jaron flipped his card, and it was the Star; a positive result. Jaron was now blessed with the Mark of the Star, a potent boon that he could call on in times of need. After having his fortune revealed, he was given the deck and proceeded to offer to tell the fortune of the others.
Normally, Matt would avoid the deck, but his character, a priest of luck, had to draw from this most holy of relics. He flipped the Key, and immediately, the character gained a more powerful magic weapon.
Mike, seeing everyone else’s good fortune, drew the Comet; another positive effect, and one that doubled the XP value of their next quest.
Joe, ever paranoid of ill-fortune, was eventually cajoled into drawing a card…Much moaning and gnashing of teeth by Joe…Joe’s character, the General, was oblivious to this artifact’s downside. Joe drew the Fates, which granted the General an automatic save or successful skill check (Joe is notorious for not wanting to attempt to jump a five foot chasm, so this Fate was perfect for him).
Fortune had smiled on them, and beaming with success, they returned to Argent seeking out their next quest from Obanar, the sage/wizard/guide for the adventure. Obanar was the one that had summoned them to begin the adventure; He was the one providing direction for where to go; He was working on their magic items that would be used in later quests; He was the one teleporting them hither and yon. Obanar was very much Gandalf the Grey. And the Deck of Many Things, an agent of Chaos, wanted Jaron to perform a divination on Obanar.
Jaron needed little convincing and quickly pushed a divination on Obanar, who unknowingly accepted and flipped a card…the Void; Obanar’s body slumped into a helpless heap as his soul was transported to an unknown place. Their guide and giver of direction was gone, and they now had a major quest…Go find Obanar. If they did, they’d get double the reward because of Mike’s draw of the Comet. The campaign fizzled shortly thereafter, as I realized running 4E is not my cup of tea.
To sum up what had happened, Jaron proffered the following analogy: Gandalf, on the Bridge of Khazad-dûm, had just vanquished the Balrog. Instead of falling to his doom, he manages to pull himself up, dust himself off, and watch as Frodo walks up and shoves him over the edge of the bridge.