Magical Marvels 15: Deck of Illusions

Deck of CardsIn a recent game, one of my players who has been absent for months and months finally managed to show up again. She’s a rather quiet player who typically only speaks up if she has an item or ability which could be useful in the current situation. Near the end of the game, the party needed to get through a large room filled with Kobolds, and she offered to use her “deck.”

“What deck?” I asked.

“I dunno. It says ‘Deck of Illusions’ in my inventory.” she replied.

“Huh,” I said, “I have absolutely no recollection of what that is. But it sounds awesome. I’m good at this stuff.” And since I can’t find any notes which describe what this item is or how it works, I thought I ought to just make it up again, so here it is:

The deck of illusions is a standard deck of 52 cards. Each card correlates to a specific illusion which will be cast when the card is drawn, and last for 1 turn after it appears. Only one card can be drawn at a time, and once a card is drawn it must be used. If the players do not use it themselves, then 1 turn after it is drawn it will activate on its own in whatever way the GM deems to be the most obvious.

After the card is drawn, but before it is cast, the party may decide precisely how it will be applied. No adjustments can be made to the illusion. But, for example, if the players draw the Ace of Hearts, they may decide what color the rubber ball is, where it comes from, and how hard it is thrown. Do not mistake this to mean that the players control the illusion, however. Any instructions they wish to give the illusion must be given before the illusion is cast. So if they draw a vampire, they may tell it to be intimidating, and it will attempt to intimidate, but the players cannot choose the illusion’s individual responses.

All illusions are perfect unless otherwise noted. If a smell or a sound is appropriate, the smell or sound exists. The rolling boulder appears to smash objects in its path, even though those objects haven’t been touched. Likewise, an illusory table of food can be eaten, and it will have smell and taste and even an false sense of fullness from overindulgence. The one thing none of these illusions can do is cause lasting effects. Dangers cannot harm, food cannot sustain, halfling insurance cannot be counted upon. (Which is true regardless of whether the halfling selling it is an illusion or not, but my point stands).


Ace: A roaring fire which can fill a room or hallway immediately, or spread gradually through it.
Two: A large rolling boulder.
Three: Eight orcs, armed with wicked barbed spears, charging and screaming.
Four: A pit, 30ft deep, spikes at the bottom, several dead bodies.
Five: A group of twelve shambling zombies.
Six: A blade which scythes out of the wall, floor, or ceiling, blocking forward passage.
Seven: A gelatinous cube.
Eight: Objects already present in the area animate, and act aggressively.
Nine: A volley of arrows from an unseen attacker. Volley is repeated every few moments.
Ten: A ceiling collapse.
Jack: A group of heavily armed adventurers. No particular appearance can be specified.
Queen: A vampire, accompanied by 10 skeletons.
King: An illusory, black-scaled dragon.


Ace: A coin purse, with gold pieces spilling out of it.
Two: The smell of something delicious. No visual
Three: A nice campfire.
Four: A bush filled with full, ripe berries.
Five: A golden sword which sparkles with hinted-at magical power. Vanishes the moment a successful hit is made with it.
Six: A crate of the finest wines and ales.
Seven: A closed chest.
Eight: A small journal detailing the defeat of a dragon, and the location of a hoard which is “too large to move just now.”
Nine: A full spread of delicious food on a table, complete with pleasant smells.
Ten: An open chest with gold and gems spilling out of it.
Jack: A fish, flopping around, who chokes out “I’ll grant a wish to whomever returns me to water!”
Queen: A stunningly attractive human woman. Attempts to seduce any living creature she sees.
King: A stunningly attractive human man. Attempts to seduce any living creature he sees.


Ace: A small, bouncing rubber ball.
Two: A songbird.
Three: A large, stationary boulder.
Four: A wall.
Five: A window. Actually works as a window, and can be seen through.
Six: A door.
Seven: A table.
Eight: A tree.
Nine: A simple door.
Ten: A large, ornate double door.
Jack: A roaring fireplace, with a comfortable chair.
Queen: A lovely, comfortable meadow. Complete with freshwater pond.
King: Invisibility for up to 10 people.


Ace: A dancing ball of light.
Two: A streaking goblin, running naked and whooping.
Three: A sunflower grows to maturity. This appears to happen as naturally as possible. (On a stone floor, it comes through a crack, etc.)
Four: A marching band.
Five: A court jester.
Six: A clothesline.
Seven: A lost child.
Eight: A painter, supplies in tow, who simply MUST paint the first creature it encounters.
Nine: A porter who became separated from his adventuring party.
Ten: It begins to rain frogs.
Jack: A halfling intent on selling insurance of some kind.
Queen: A tall woman, who attempts to take charge of whatever situation she finds herself in. It’s time to get things done!
King: A naked man who proudly, and quite loudly, asks everyone what they think of his lovely new clothes.

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4 thoughts on “Magical Marvels 15: Deck of Illusions”

    1. So, this is already an item, and I just mistakenly assumed it was something I had come up with on my own and forgotten about?

      That’s pretty funny.


      1. Just wanted to tell you that I used this in an adventure recently. Rather than illusions, I thought the deck would be more interesting if it really summoned the items listed. However, the players did not have control over what was summoned.

        To make a long story short, the (real) black dragon – which I ruled was quite young – served as the final battle in one of the best sessions I’ve run in a long time. I love random chance in this game. Thank you!

  1. Yeah, this is huge improvement on the official version. I think I’ll be using this one instead from now on.

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