Deck of Many Unearthings

Deck of Many Unearthings: Use This New ‘Deck of Many Things’ for Alternative D&D 5e Artifacts

“Playing Cards Background” by evilcaca, CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Fair warning to DM’s: this deck contains many powerful items. Though we hope none of these are game-breaking, the weight of rewarding players with the deck should be heavy.

Deck Lore

Historian and treasure hunter Karl Lonbar spent his life searching for the most powerful ancient artifacts. He accumulated 20 of these in his career.

“The Village Secret” by ncorva, CC License

His collection awed adventurers around the world, which brought the challenge of keeping them safe. Some artifacts are cursed, and some hold immense power. To protect his life’s work, Karl hid the artifacts in pocket planes of his own creation, accessible only by activating the entrances, contained in simple playing cards.

The current holder of the deck, Karl’s great grandson, has come into financial peril. He has decided to sell off cards to selective adventurers. He admits that he doesn’t know the ramifications of the cards, only that they are valuable. His price is 40,000 gold per card.

(Alternative idea: as a reward for saving his life, he allows each adventurer in the party to draw one card for free.)

The guide to which card holds which item was lost years after Karl’s death. DMs should wait until the items are inspected or used to reveal their powers (though the DM may feel free to give hints as to the effects, such as ‘an ominous feeling fills the room’ or ‘you feel lucky as you pull out the item’).

Players will draw a card, which is plain and without details except a suite and a rank (A, K, Q, J, 2). The player must clasp the corners of the card until it turns black (five seconds). Then the player can reach their hand into the pocket plane (about a cubic foot in size, depending on the item) and pull out the artifact.

Cards in the Deck of Many Unearthings

Ace of Diamonds } Nimersyl’s Shield
King of Diamonds | Bracers of Divine Deflection
Queen of Diamonds | Diadem of Protection
Jack of Diamonds | Map Kit of Palisades
Two of Diamonds | Brass Dragon Figurine
Ace of Hearts | Death’s Scythe Shard
King of Hearts | Merlin’s Heart
Queen of Hearts | Glorlo’s Hearth
Jack of Hearts | Fetterfists’ Scepter
Two of Hearts | Aimless Book of Spells
Ace of Clubs | Phossey’s Hammer
King of Clubs | Enereb’s Menagerie
Queen of Clubs | Chaos Blade
Jack of Clubs | Lifestealing Locket
Two of Clubs | Cloak of Quick Travel
Ace of Spades | Mask of Cyric
King of Spades | Pendant of Time Mastery
Queen of Spades | Necklace of Constriction
Jack of Spades | Death Scarab
Two of Spades | Orion’s Eyepatch

Ace of Diamonds

You pull out a beautiful bronze shield adorned with Elven ornament.

“Mirkwood Spearman” by JLazarusEB, CC License

Lore: A favored line of defense by the renowned Elf commander Ferryl Nimersyl, this shield was among his possessions at his last stand in the final battle against the daemonfey at the Vale of Lost Voices.

Nimersyl’s Shield: This shield grants +3 to AC. While wielding it, the wearer can grip it with two hands and slam it into the ground to create a magical dome around them, up to 10 feet wide and 10 feet tall. This barrier absorbs up to 10 times the player’s level damage before shattering. A player can willingly dismiss the dome.

Value: 50,000 gp

King of Diamonds

Bracers of Divine Deflection

You pull out two sturdy leather bracers, lined with colorful feathers that seem to have come from a couatl.

Bracers of Divine Deflection: These bracers increase a wearer’s AC by 2. Once per round, as a reaction, player wearing and attuned to these bracers can make a DC 16 Dexterity saving throw. On a pass, the player uses the bracers to deflect an oncoming physical attack, taking no damage.

Additionally, gods, angels, and other divine beings cannot see, detect, or directly hurt whoever attunes to the bracers, and the wearer has advantage on saving throws against evocation spells.

Value: 70,000 gp

Queen of Diamonds

Diadem of Protection

You pull out a emerald-encrusted diadem from the portal. The radiant glare emanating makes it difficult to look upon for long.

Art by mockbird, CC License

Diadem of Protection: When attuned to and worn, this diadem emits a radiant light in a 20-foot radius. Any creature hostile to the wearer in the radius must make a DC 18 Wisdom saving throw. On a fail, creatures suffer -2 to attack rolls and damage dealt. Additionally, all allies to the wearer in the radius gain 10 temporary hit points, but cannot do so more than once per day. A creature who passes the saving throw cannot be affected by the artifact for another twenty-four hours.

Value: 80,000 gp

Jack of Diamonds

Map Kit of Palisades

An ornate wooden box is pulled from its pocket plane. Inside the box is a folded piece of leather, a jade pen, and a bottle of glittering blue ink. The leather has faint colorings that look like a map of the world. The glittering blue ink was used to draw articulating lines on the leather, some bordering known countries, some randomly throughout the map.

Map Kit of Palisades: Using the glittering ink and jade pen, a player may draw upon the leather map. Every line drawn erects a twenty-foot stone wall in the location corresponding to the map.

Value: 30,000gp

Two of Diamonds

Brass Dragon Figurine

A cold copper figurine in the shape of a small dragon is pulled from the pocket plane.

Photo by Jess Mann, CC License

Brass Dragon Figurine: A player may rub the figurine to summon a Young Brass Dragon for no longer than 24 hours. The dragon is friendly to the player and allies and is controlled by the player, so long as it does not violate its alignment. The dragon’s initiative will be the same as the player, and will take its turn immediately after the player. The player can decide what the dragon will do. If the dragon runs out of hit points, the dragon returns to the statue. A player cannot summon the dragon again for 7 days.

Value: 20,000 gp

Ace of Hearts

Death’s Scythe Shard

The player pulls out a worn shard of wood. Glittering speckles can be seen beneath the dilapidated surface.

Death’s Scythe Shard: This piece of wood, when attuned to, prevents a player from death. When a player dies, the wood pulses, and an hour later, the player is brought back to full health where his or her body lies. However, each time they’re brought back, a characteristic randomly changes, based on this table. If the player already has this characteristic, the DM may alter it so as to add a new element to it:

  1. The player becomes a more impatient person, making him or her more reckless.
  2. The player gains a new phobia, such as of the dark or demons.
  3. The player develops a slight physical impairment, like a limp or poor hearing.
  4. The player does not remember a significant non-player character in his life.
  5. The player gains an inclination for one of the seven deadly sins (lust, greed, wrath, pride, gluttony, envy, slothfulness).
  6. The player’s alignment changes to neutral if it was not already.

Value: ??????

King of Hearts

Merlin’s Heart

You reach your hand into the pocket plane and feel a chest with a beating vibration.

“Treasure Chest” by IgorPavliuk, CC License

Merlin’s Heart: Contained in a chest, the still beating heart of one of the most powerful sorcerers who ever lived. The heart can be used as a spellcasting focus, and when used as such, all spells made with the heart count as two levels above the level of the spell slot used.

Value: 80,000 gp

Queen of Hearts

Glorlo’s Hearth

As soon as you reach your hand into the portal, you feel warmth emanating. You pull out a large, glowing gemstone. Inside the gem, it pulsates like fire.

“Soul Stone” by Saiol1000, CC License

Lore: The infamous Fighter/Cleric Dwarf Glorlo discovered this stone in the heart of a mountain while adventuring, the story of which became one of his glorious chanting tales.

Glorlo’s Hearth: This gemstone radiates warmth at all times. A player who attunes to the gem is granted an AC of 20 (no bonuses can be added to this). After each short or long rest, the player gains temporary hit points equal to 5 x his Constitution modifier as well as immunity to fire damage.

Value: 120,000
Inspiration/Source: dndbeyond homebrew

Jack of Hearts

You pull out a tall wooden scepter, roots spiraling up the rod. At the top, a dark green gemstone reflects incoming light.

“Magic Staff” by MariGarb, CC License

Lore: Cailek Balathorp, nicknamed Fetterfists, made his living by capturing surface dwellers and delivering them as slaves to the drow. Before his death, Fetterfists developed an arcane focus that would allow him to summon fey creatures and capture them, ameliorating his line of work. This focus, his scepter, was lost in his final attempt to imprison beings before being run through by Jack Ravenwild’s blade.

Fetterfists’ Scepter: A player who attunes to the scepter immediately becomes true neutral. The scepter becomes the player’s arcane focus.

Any player attuned to this weapon can once per day cast one of the following spells with a DC 17 and Wisdom as the spellcasting modifier:

Dominate Person
Dominate Beast
Mass Suggestion

The scepter also acts as a +3 mace for the wielder.

Additionally, twice per day, the player may freely cast Conjure Fey. However, the effects are altered by the scepter:

  • The CR for the fey summoned can be determined by rolling a D12, with a roll of 1 corresponding to a CR of 0, 2 to CR ⅛, and so on increasing with the table found here.
  • When the fey creature appears, the summoner must make a Wisdom saving throw against the creature’s passive perception. On a pass, the creature becomes enslaved to the summoner for one hour and follows all verbal commands (no action required by the summoner) it can reasonably enact, regardless of alignment.
  • After the creature is released from the spell, it knows it was magically enslaved and may become hostile toward the summoner.

Value: 70,000 gp

Two of Hearts

Aimless Book of Spells

You pull out a thin wood-covered book.

“Empty Spell Book” by tedil, CC License

Aimless Book of Spells: This book contains two spells at a time. Whoever attunes to this book can once per day cast the two spells inscribed on its pages without the required components. Each day, two new spells from the table below appears. If a person opens the book and is not attuned to it, they take 2d6 psychic damage and see blank pages.

Roll a d100 (or two d10’s) twice to see which spells are chosen each day.

Value: 40,000 gp

Ace of Clubs

Phossey’s Hammer

You pull out a crafting hammer, which glitters like gold. The handle is ornately carved.

“Terraria: Paladin’s Hammer” by BlacksmithOWY, CC License

Lore: An alchemist who specialized in explosives, Phossey Dugdeep spent years crafting this magic hammer. Unfortunately, it was stolen and remained undiscovered for centuries.

Phossey’s Hammer: When a player attunes to this hammer, he or she can bypass the monetary restrictions associated with creating magic items and reduce the time required by half.

Value: 100,000

King of Clubs

From the pocket plane, you pull out an ivory canopic jar with the top shaped like a lion’s head.

Image from Wellcome Collection. CC License.

Enereb’s Menagerie: When attuned to the item, opening the jar releases a Gynosphinx named Enereb (otherwise, it appears empty). Bangles adorn his ankles like shackles. Opening the jar again will recapture him into his container. If Enereb moves more than 300 feet from the jar, he will magically teleport back into his container. Enereb does not have to obey the commands of the jar owner, but the two of them are telepathically intertwined and can direct thoughts toward the other. Enereb may be friendly or hostile toward the jar owner, but is ultimately lawful neutral.

Value: 30,000 gp

Queen of Clubs

Chaos Blade

Reaching your hand into the pocket plane, you grasp a hilt, which fits perfectly in your palm. You pull out a long black sword, which emanates an unsettling feeling.

Art by Kluwe, CC License

Chaos Blade: Formed by an ancient Lich, this sword radiates discord. When attempting to attune to the sword, a player must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw. On a failure, the player still attunes but must take 1d10 psychic damage each time he or she draws the sword. A player can repeat the saving throw before each draw to negate damage for that instance. A character who attunes to this sword becomes chaotic.

When attuned, this sword has +3 to attack and damage rolls and is magical for overcoming resistances. The sword is also versatile (1d8) and can be thrown with a range of 20/60.

Additionally, the Chaos Blade has 6 charges per day. At dawn, the charges refresh. As an action, an attuned player may expend a charge, roll a d6 and cast the corresponding spells:

  1. Vitriolic Sphere
  2. Black Tentacles
  3. Dimension Door
  4. Faithful Hound
  5. Greater Invisibility
  6. Polymorph

Value: 80,000 gp
Inspiration/Source: dandwiki

Jack of Clubs

Lifestealing Locket

You pull out a small locket in need of a polish.

Art by GeorgiaTheBudgie24, CC License

Lifestealing Locket: This mysterious pendant, when opened and looked into, takes the viewer to a realm of their own memories, where they relive their favorite memories. Each minute spent viewing the pendant reduces the viewer’s maximum hit points by 6. A viewer cannot close the locket himself. If somebody else closes the pendant, the spell is broken, but the victim is left with a feeling of longing.

Value: 40,000 gp

Two of Clubs

Cloak of Quick Travel

You pull from the pocket plane a folded bundle of fine red silk. When unfurled, it appears to be a large cloak, embroidered with orange and blue designs.

Lore: Woven by the great human adventurer Sir Cumberdash, this cloak was his sneaky means of escape when he spoke too brashly to a nobleman’s wife or took on a duelist he could not defeat. In an instant, the cloak would whisk him away.

Cloak of Quick Travel: When surrounding up to six medium-sized creatures and commanded with the word “Yip,” the cloak will begin to float and soar at a high speed, reducing travel time by 75%. A player may guide the cloak with verbal commands.

Value: 60,000 gp

Ace of Spades

Mask of Cyric

You pull out an enticing stone mask .

“The Idol” by Maradraws, CC License

Lore: Cyric, god of trickery, hated most of the other deities of Toril, and easily made a variety of enemies. One of which was Mask, whom he temporarily killed. Mask was revived, and in a fit of rage, ironically trapped Cyric in a stone mask artifact.

Mask of Cyric: Whoever wears this mask shares a duplicity of minds with Cyric, god of trickery. Cyric and the player carry a dialogue in their mind. The player who wears the mask has control over his actions, but if he critically fails or fails a saving throw, the DM may roll a d10, and on an 8 or higher, take control of the body. A player can also allow Cyric to take control. To regain control, a player must make a DC 18 Wisdom saving throw, which he can attempt once per round before his turn or once per minute outside of combat. A player must be in control to remove the mask.

While wearing the mask, a player is granted the Cloak of Shadows and Invoke Duplicity Channel Divinities, of which he has two uses per long rest (two additional uses if he already has Channel Divinity).

While Cyric is in control of the player, he may spend one minute summoning Kezef the Chaos Hound, who will listen to his commands. When a player regains control, Kezef will disappear.

Guidance for the DM: Cyric is a chaotic evil god, but he has been contained into this artifact. Therefore, he recognizes the mutual relationship he must build and maintain with the mask owner in order to have a host. He wants the mask owner to wear the mask and to allow him to take control. So the two of them must come to an understanding. Nevertheless, Cyric has his own agendas and desires, so he will try to exploit the character tactfully. As the DM, decide what those goals are, and how to best represent Cyric in your campaign.

Value: ??????

King of Spades

Pendant of Time Mastery

A silver pendant sits in the pocket plane. At the end of the pendant is an hourglass that naturally sits horizontally on its side. An open eye symbol is etched onto the left side and a closed eye on the right.

“Green Hourglass Poison Necklace” by ArtLanding, CC License

Pendant of Time Mastery: When worn, this pendant ties together the past and the future. By turning the hourglass with the open eye to receive a thick green liquid, time begins to reverse.  When the closed eye half receives liquid, time speeds forward. A minute of reversal or progression moves time by one day. As a player shifts time, he or she pops into the ethereal plane and can see the changes of the material plane. When done, the wearer returns to the spot where he or she was in the material plane in the time where the hourglass stops.

Each time a player ends the time shift, the DM may roll a d20. On a 20, the player remains in the ethereal plane.

Value: 80,000 gp

Queen of Spades

Necklace of Constriction

As you reach your hand through the card into the pocket plane, you grasp cold metal, almost seeming to wrap itself around your fingers. The necklace is a thick gold snake chain. An ornate ruby pendant with winding gold serpents hangs from the chain.

“Snakes and the Goddess Pendant” by CosmicFolklore, CC License

Necklace of Constriction: Short of the use of something as powerful as a wish, this necklace can only be identified as a cursed item when placed around a character’s neck. The necklace immediately constricts, reducing max hit points by 6 per day until the character dies. Only when the character has decayed to a dry skeleton (after approximately one month) does the necklace loosen, ready for another victim.

Value: 60,000 gp

Jack of Spades

Death Scarab

From the pocket plane, you pull out a small ivory box with a carved skull on the lid. Inside the box is a small gold-trim pin in the shape of a beetle.

“Scarab of Death” by Maradraws, CC License

Death Scarab: If this pin is held for more than 1 round or carried by a living creature for 1 minute, it animates into a burrowing beetle, eats through any fabric or leather, burrows into flesh, and reaches the victim’s heart in 1 round, causing death. A DC 25 Dexterity save allows the wearer to tear the scarab away before it burrows too deep, but he or she still takes 3d6 damage. The beetle then returns to its scarab form. Placing the scarab in a container of wood, ceramic, bone, ivory, or metal prevents the monster from coming to life and allows for long-term storage.

Value: 80,000 gp

Two of Spades

Orion’s Eyepatch

You pull out a decorated gold woven eye patch.

Lore: The formidable pirate captain Orion, known as Clive the Fearsome, commissioned the creation of this wondrous item when Cthulhu consumed his right eye while trying to steal his soul.

Orion’s Eyepatch: This ornate gold-embroidered eyepatch has 6 charges per day. At dawn, 1d6 expended charges are replenished. A player attuned to and wearing this item may expend a charge as an action to cast one of the following spells:

  1. Arcane Eye
  2. Scrying
  3. Eyebite
  4. True Seeing

Value: 60,000 gp

See our other Deck of Many Things homebrew, Deck of Many Blings!

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