One of the great aspects of Tabletop RPGs is just how varied different tables can play the game. One party might be all about theater of the mind armed with only their character sheets and a pencil, describing what they see and where they want to move. Another table might use ambient music, 3D printed and painted miniatures on a large and intricate setting carefully measuring out each character's movement making sure line of sight rules apply. As a DM that enjoys props they can add a lot in terms of visual storytelling, and aid in drawing new and old players further into a world. Hitpoint Press' Deck of Many Animated Things and Deck of Many Animated Spells are player companions offering quick and clear access to spell information.
Tempt your players with the Deck of Many Animated Things
The Deck of Many Animated Things is exactly what it sounds like, it's a physical deck of cards meant to match the in-universe item The Deck of Many Things. For those uninitiated the Deck of Many Things is an extremely powerful, yet random, magical items where a player can declare how many of a card they're drawing and pull them. Depending what's on the card all manner of special effects can occur. A good draw might be Gem, which give you 50K worth of gems, or you might summon an Avatar of Death that will fight the drawing player to the death. There are rules for how to use a normal deck of cards as the Deck of Many Things but Hitpoint Press' product lets players get their hands on the deck itself.
The Deck of Many Animated Things comes with all 23 cards, each is Tarot sized, and a rulebook that lets the DM know what each card means and how they should react. What makes these cards special is their lithographic effect. As you tilt and move the cards they'll beautifully animate in front of your eyes. It does really add to the ambiance of a magical deck of cards to have them moving. Some of the effects on these cards definitely work better than others, the animation for Balance is a figure looking left and right shifting between angelic and devilish features, as each element overlaps some of the finer details can get muddied up. Gem showing a character with outstretched arms watching colorful stones rain down, or Throne and its depiction of a knights cape billowing in the wind really show off just how good these lithographic cards look.
The back of each card is beautifully illustrated with a distorted reflection of a tree full of leaves and one with barren branches forking unnaturally. The only exception to this is the previously mentioned Avatar of Death card that contains the creatures stat card. Don't fear as you still have the Death card in play, and Avatar of Death to show and scare you players with as it appears before them.
Speed up your search with the Deck of Many Animated Spells nearby
Accompanying the Deck of Many Animated Things Hitpoint Press has also created similar products for each of the spells available in the SRD. For example the Deck of Many Animated Cantrips contains the basic rules cantrips from Acid Splash to Vicious Mockery, but also includes six customizable spell cards. There are also decks for all levels of spells, though some are split into multiple volumes. Each card has a lithographic animation of the spell effect, the name, level, and basic details on the front like casting time and range. The back of the card goes into more detail on the requirements for the spell, as well as the effects and what class can learn it.
Again while some cards animations can be hit or miss, the cards that nail the look make everything absolutely worth it. The card for light has frames that alternate between a swords blade eminating a light from within from tip to guard. Tipping the card slightly you can see the spells origin as just a small spark on the tip and light slowly crawling down the blade. Getting to see different artists interpretations of these effects is also interesting. Sacred flame is one of those spells that doesn't quite fit the name as 'flame' is in the title but it's an attack of radiance. Seeing the animation on the card as holy symbols appear leading a line of divine energy from the heavens to cast judgement on your foes is a much better mental image than a holy fire
Organized and alphebatized these cards can help the DM quickly refresh themselves on whatever spell their player is trying to use, or as a player can allow you to keep detailed information on your own spells nearby for quick consultation. While the list of spells on the cards are limited, as so many expansions have additional cantrips and spells, you can use the customizable spell cards to add spells of your own creation, or transcribe spells you're likely to use. While the artwork on these custom cards isn't effect specific there are a few animations that do look like they borrow from previously created spells like Toll the Dead.
The Bottom Line:
The Deck of Many Animated Things and Deck of Many Animated Spells are a fun table companion. Definitely not something that's needed at any table, but for those who enjoy to play with their own props as a player, or to share props around the table the Hitpoint Press Animated Decks are a neat addition. In the world of Dungeon & Dragons 5th edition where you might be rolling with digital dice and playing using free modules online not wanting to put money into it, these Decks are definitely a 'luxury' purchase. Though the idea of players pulling a gorgeous card that spells instant doom for their character is also an enticing thought.
Get this product if:
- You enjoy props at your Dungeons and Dragons table
- You're a spellcaster who wants to have sleek reference cards for their spells
- You want to give players a Deck of Many Things and a normal pack of playing cards won't cut it
Avoid this product if:
- You laugh at the idea of paying $30 for 30 animated cards with information you could google
- You only play melee classes
- You like everything on your character sheet
The copy of The Deck of Many Animated Things and The Deck of Many Animates Spells Cantrips Vol.1, Level 1 Vol. 1, and Level 1 Vol. 2 used in this review were purchased by the reviewer.