Three Different Decks


I like cards — art cards, index cards, tarot cards. Cards are good because you can focus on a card without being distracted by other things (text, other art). And of course you can carry them around and pass them around the table if they’re a play aid. These are some not-roleplaying but definitely creative card sets.

Oblique Strategies

Very cool because Brian Eno, etc. Subtitled “One Hundred Worthwhile Dilemmas”. Developed in 1975 as a means for artists (and specifically musicians?) to overcome blocks. Several sets, project ended with the death of Peter Schmidt in 1980. My version is the 5th printing.

oblique 1

Each card has a terse sentence. Sometimes that sentence is telling you to do something like “Be dirty” or “Use an old idea”. Other times it’s asking you to be critical with advice like “What to increase? What to reduce?”.

oblique 2

oblique 3

No suits or groupings or context or instructions.

Uses in games? Certainly in the prep stage of a game; probably also for low-prep games where you’re responding to a miss in Apocalypse World or similar (especially when there isn’t an obvious hard move to take).

Salad’s Ericksonian Hypnosis Cards

Pete Kautz wrote Five Conversational Hypnosis Tools for MCs. He also recommended these to me as ways to insert hypnotic language into GMing.

salad 1

salad 2

Based on Ericksonian Hypnotherapy. These come as a deck of 52 playing cards, so you can learn the hypnotic language while playing patience. The language is roughly grouped by the four suits. Clubs tend to be about stimulating thought and curiosity, Hearts are often about thinking about what other people are capable of, and so forth.

Uses in games? I guess if you want to train yourself in suggestive language and then use that to encourage certain sensations or lines of thought in the players.

Roger von Oech’s Creative Whack Pack

This is a deck of inspiration cards for management types, with an endorsement from Fortune on the back. If you can stomach the corporate overtones they’re pretty interesting: four 16-card suits for a 64 card deck. Blue Explorer cards are about gathering resources (finding patterns, asking questions), orange Artist cards are about transformation (exaggerating, changing perspectives, etc.), green Judge cards are about viewing your ideas critically (“what can I take less seriously?”, “what’s lacking/doesn’t fit in?”) and red Warrior cards are about implementation (what support systems can I create, what surprising tactics can I use to reach the objective, etc.).

whack 1

These form a deliberate create-expand-critique-implement cycle. They’re like a more focused and goal-oriented Oblique Strategies.

whack 3

whack 2

Uses in games? Definitely for whole-process design from start to finish of a whole game or adventure. Possibly also for specific stages of the game where you’re blocked at a particular step or feel what you’ve got is a bit boring or obvious.