Whimsy Cards

         Whimsy Cards are a near-universal role-playing accessories originally published by Lion Rampant in conjunction with their innovative and influential game, Ars Magica. This was a deck of cards with plot devices on them. Each player would get one at the beginning of the game, and would play them at some point during the game when it would make the story more interesting (or make the PC's lives more difficult!). If the GM liked the use of the Whimsy Card, the player might get another one to replace the one she played. Use of Whimsy Cards is always subject to GM approval and/or modification.

         To give you a feel what Whimsy Cards were like, this is a listing of the cards that were found in the original Whimsy Card deck.

Abrupt Change of Events
Suddenly things are not happening the way they were a moment ago. Alliances switch, secrets are revealed, and new information surfaces.
Added Animosity
The ill-will between characters grows past current levels. This animosity can be openly expressed or harbored secretly in the heart.
Bad Tidings
Someone gets bad news. It might affect play or it might be news of distant and still important events.
Bizarre Coincidence
Two or more things come together against incredible odds. Old friends (and enemies) run into you in the supermarket, you just happen to have the rare item you need in your closet, etc.
Change of Heart
A character's feelings change and alter a decision. Pirates spare prisoners and hassled innkeepers decide to make room for you after all.
Double Jeopardy
Failure carries a double penalty. It could mean the normal penalty doubled, but it could also mean a penalty in addition to the normal one.
Draw a Blank
Emotional Release
Strong emotions are let out. What are the emotions, and what triggers their sudden eruption? Is it a healthy release or a wild tempest?
Someone covets something that another person has. The envy could be expressed as an outright attempt to get the object of desire or something more subtle.
Erratic Behavior
Someone or something exhibits wild, unexpected behavior. Could be party members, enemies, mounts, spells, or equipment.
Error of Judgment
Someone's better judgment fails. The trouble that ensues depends on the specific error that is made.
Extreme Caution
Someone exercises extreme caution. Is the caution necessary, or is it exaggerated? What is the disadvantage from using so much caution?
Desire for wealth diverts a character from normal activity. The object of this desire can be specific (e.g. a certain necklace) or general (e.g. gold!).
Horrible Failure
What was a simple failure becomes a disaster. Attempts to persuade people backfire, arrows strike the wrong targets, and the wrong demons get conjured.
Inopportune Arrival
Someone or something shows up to the chagrin or disadvantage of someone. Unwelcome relatives and hated enemies are possibilities.
Internal Conflict
Conflicts arise within a person or within a group. How did these conflicts come about? How can they be resolved? Are they hidden? Poorly hidden?
The green-eyed monster rears its ugly head. How does the jealousy show itself?
Delight floods a character, making the world seem beautiful. What brings about this wonderful feeling?
Lasting Impression
An impression is made, or an old one is reborn. Emotional experiences return to a character affecting actions or something happens that will leave an impression for years (e.g. a scar).
Wrath rises in a character toward someone or something. Even if the anger can be held in check, it will affect the person's behavior.
Misguided Love
Love affects a character in ways others fail to approve of. The character seems out of control. (To the lover of course, the love is true and wonderful; to others, it is misguided.)
Misplaced Trust
Undeserved trust is or has been placed in someone or something. "Faithful" hirelings desert, "sturdy" ropes break, and politicians are believed.
Moral Dilemma
A character is faced with a moral question. What should the character do? What are the personality traits or personal values that make the decision to difficult?
New Role
You take over another character, either of a player or of the gamemaster. The original owner can ask for it back and veto your actions while you have the new role.
Ominous Omen
Something suggests future evil, an event that portends calamity, misfortune, or death. The players might not understand the significance of the omen.
Parting of Ways
People or things go their separate ways. The parting can be happy or sorrowful, anticipated or sudden. Depending on the circumstances, those who part might meet again.
Personality Clash
The personalities of two characters come into conflict. The cause of the clash and the gravity are up to you. How could the conflict be resolved?
Sympathetic sorrow for another person affects a character's actions. This pity might provoke action or merely set a mood.
Pivotal Decision
Someone is faced with a decision that will affect something dramatically. A potential ally chooses sides, or a leader chooses a plan of action.
Second Chance
Someone gets a second chance. Maybe that bullet missed the heart after all, or maybe the character realizes something that allows a second skill attempt. You must give the reason.
Someone is very lazy. Guards become lax, squires neglect their duties, and bartenders give you slow service.
Something Missing
Something that should be here is not. The seriousness of the lack depends on what is missing. It could be your sword or a friend you were supposed to meet.
Special Circumstances
Unusual conditions change the normal course of events for good or ill. The circumstances can be personal, such as character's mood, impersonal, such as the weather.
Spectacular Success
What was a normal success becomes spectacular. Those rare, unexplainable feats are now possible. The gamemaster must watch this card because it is easy to abuse.
Sudden Reversion
Suddenly someone or something reverts to the way it used to be. People revert to earlier patterns of behavior and problems go back to the way they were at the beginning.
Tables Turn
Something in the situation reverses, an advantage turns in to a disadvantage, a disadvantage turns into an advantage. It is a surprise to all.
Things Are Not As They Seem
Characters have been deceived, perhaps without malicious intent. The truth need not be known now. A good card for a secret note to the GM.
Trade Places
You take over the role of another character and the player who was running that character takes yours. Either of you can end the trade at any time.
Turn for the Worse
Things were going well, but suddenly something comes up that changes things for the worse. What is the change? How can those affected overcome the new problem?
Ulterior Motive
A character has motives besides those that are already known, and the ulterior motive can conflict with the surface motive. A good Whimsy for a secret note to the gamemaster.
Unexpected Aid
Much to your surprise, aid shows up. Aid could be anything from fog that helps you sneak into an enemy camp to the arrival of the cavalry. But does this aid have a price?
Unexplained Consequence
Someone's actions have results that were not, perhaps could not have been, foreseen. The result can be good or bad, minor or extreme.
Unexplained Event
Something happens. You don't know why.
Vivid Detail
Break into the storyline to describe something in detail so the whole group can share the image. You cannot directly change the course of events, but you might inspire the GM.

John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Tue Apr 26 17:33:51 2005