Friday, February 3, 2017

Cardtography 1: The Basics

I have a new series of articles starting up over at Kobold Press this week. It's all about using a standard deck of playing cards to generate dungeon layouts and, in a larger sense, adventures. I'm pretty excited about it, because it's a topic and a system I've been playing with for years. Here's a taste:

My goal in this series of articles isn’t to put forward the ideal dungeon generator, whatever that might be. It’s not to put forward the most comprehensive, the most flexible, or the one that’s most likely to please everyone. It’s to put forward a generator that’s easy and FAST to use. One that doesn’t require a lot of materials, cross-checking pages of tables, or even drawing a map. Instead of using tables and dice, it uses a standard deck of 52 playing cards (54 when the jokers are included, which they sometimes are) and plenty of six-sided dice. One of those plastic boxes of 36 12mm dice is perfect, but any d6s will do.

This system is fast enough to use on the fly in the middle of a game session. It could be used by a solo player or by a group without a GM. When a GM is involved, it still pays to create the dungeon ahead of time and do some critical thinking about how it can be improved and made more logical (not necessarily the same thing). But if you need a dungeon NOW for a no-prep game session or to kill some time in solo exploration, this will do the trick.

Read the rest at Kobold Press . . .


  1. This is a very smart idea.

    I would have used d8s for the corridor directions, and just have the numbers represent the 8 cardinal & ordinal directions clockwise. (1=N, 2=NE, 3=E, etc.) The ordinal directions would be positioned on card corners. That's pretty much the only change I'd make!

    1. d8s would work if the cards were laid out in a square grid. Then each card would be surrounded by 8 other cards -- 4 orthogonally and 4 diagonally. But I prefer laying out the cards in an offset grid so each card is surrounded by just 6 others.

      Besides, it's easier to come up with 40 d6s than with 40 d8s, unless you're an inveterate die collector.

    2. I must admit... I do have more dice than is normal... Can't wait for the third installment, btw!

  2. That is actually a great idea. I've tried that before but failed previously since I didn't have much experience of tabletops.