Friday, April 15, 2005


Green Ronin's new Advanced GameMaster's Guide is out, part of their attempt to reattach the 'A' to 'D&D'. EN Worlder Garnfellow reports a neato tidbit from it:

There is a very interesting variant using playing cards instead of d20s. Take a deck, pull out all the face cards, aces = 1, black suits = 10 + card value, and deal 5 cards to each player, and the DM gets 8 or so. Instead of rolling 20s, you play a card, applying all the normal D&D modifiers. The players get to choose when to use each card; when they've used up all 5 they are dealt 5 more.

This would be a nice mechanic in a story driven game. Task resolution is still random, the math stays the same with the same success/failure probabilities, but players have a lot more control over when they "roll well" or "roll badly."
I like this idea, though I know some folks won't. I'd want to keep the face cards and jokers and come up with something jazzy for them to do. The other problem would be players trying to work the system by initiating non-dangerous but roll-requiring actions in hope of dumping their low cards.

Anyway, if you're intertested in the Advanced GMG it's not yet available in print but RPGnow has it in PDF form.


  1. I've also learned that the AGMG also has a mass battle system in which PCs play out small chunks on the tabletop to affect the overall battle. I have unformed ideas about just this concept going back to my early-to-mid-90s fascination with Pendragon.

  2. The card system sounds like what was used in the Dragonlance Fifth Age SAGA system. I believe the main issue as you have noted was people getting stuck with crap cards and then doing mundane things so they cound burn through the bad cards. "I pull up my trousers, I'll use a card..."

    I still think it sounds interesting though...What else does the AGMG have in it?

  3. Hey Rich! Nice to here from you! Email me (jrients AT gmail DOT com) the next time you get down to CU. We should at least play together in something at Winter War.

    Here's the thread I'm getting all my info from:

    And here's the Table of Contents:

    Introduction: Read this First!

    Chapter One: Running a Game
    Designing a World
    Sensitive Subjects
    Running a Game Session
    Th e Play Environment
    Information Management
    Styles of Play
    Knowing Your Group
    Tricks of Pacing

    Chapter Two: Adjudicating Play
    Combat Rules
    Bushwhacking Rules
    Class Dodge Bonus
    Disabling Critical Hits
    Representative Battles
    Speeding Play
    Set Criticals
    Set Damage
    Simplified Attacks of Opportunity
    Timed Turns
    General Rules
    Experience Debt
    More Average Rolls
    Fortune Points
    Hex-Based Movement
    Magic Rules
    Metamagic Points
    Self-Limited Spells
    Spell Points

    Chapter Three: Preparing Adventures
    The Basics
    Readying Pre-Written
    Reading for Comprehension
    Scaling Adventures
    Personalizing Pre-Written
    Designing Adventures
    Starting an Adventure
    The Challenge
    Wrapping it All Up

    Chapter Four:Non-Player Characters
    Designing Antagonists
    Simplifi ed NPC Design
    100 NPC Quirks
    NPCs with APM Classes
    NPC Eldritch Weaver
    NPC Evangelist
    NPC Scout
    NPC Spellmaster
    NPC Th anemage
    NPC Warpriest

    Chapter Five: Running a Campaign
    Defining a Campaign
    Choosing a Campaign Theme
    Choosing a Cosmology
    Choosing Monsters
    Choosing PC Races
    Choosing Technology
    Campaign Styles
    The Evil Campaign
    Magic-Free or Low-Magic Campaigns
    High-Magic Campaigns
    Campaign Rules
    Feats in a Campaign
    Designing Feats
    Prestige Classes
    Designing Prestige Classes
    Bringing It All Together
    Campaign Worksheets
    Table Rules

    Chapter Six: Characters
    Group Dynamics
    Playing with Power Levels
    Boosting Power Levels
    Reduced Power Levels
    Ability Scores
    Character Backgrounds
    The Passage of Time
    Character Advancement

    Chapter Seven: Treasure and Magic Items
    Magic Chakras
    Innate Abilities
    Ars Vitae
    Mundane Item
    Sovereign Materials
    Armor and Shields
    Spell Lenses
    Making Artifacts

    Chapter Eight: Conditions & Environments
    New Conditions
    New Environments
    and Hazards
    Waking Up
    New Diseases
    New Poisons
    Mystic Locales
    Magic Locations
    Holy Sites

    Appendix One: Compiled Feats

    Appendix Two: Initiative Cards

    Character Cards

    Monster Cards

    Campaign Worksheet


  4. I suppose one work-around for the Trousers Dilemna would be to only issue cards at the start of a combat and then take them back at the end. If someone wants to waste a 'roll' in the middle of a fight, I'm willing to let them take that action.

    For actions not in combat you would still roll a d20.

  5. That sounds like a good idea...or they have a hand of cards, when a combat begins, all cards are put back in the deck reshuffled and handed back out. Same at the end of combat, essentially giving them a combat "hand" and a "non-combat" hand, without having to keep track of two hands at the same time. Sounds cool...not sure what the players I know would think of not rolling the ol' d20 tho.....

  6. Yeah, as much as I like mixing things up in games I'm not sure I would like an entirely card-based version of D&D. I've played diceless game but when it comes to D&D I think I might feel naked without my trusty dice.