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View Full Version : Cards in D&D - Good or Bad?



Person_Man
2008-09-04, 09:15 AM
I think this strip tells the story well (http://www.pvponline.com/2008/09/04/nerrrdddd-fiiiggghhht/).

I've occasionally used cards in D&D for a long time now. When playing a low level spellcaster, I would just write down the crunch of the spell on an index card, and then put it in a discard pile as they were used. For higher level PCs I used a spreadsheet with the appropriate page numbers listed, mostly because it was too cumbersome to sort through a deck of so many cards during combat.

Then when Tome of Battle came out with per encounter powers, they became almost mandatory if you wanted to play a Warblade, Swordsage, or Crusader. I thought ToB was a vast improvement. I wanted every PC to have something interesting to do in every combat, disliked the wild imbalance between casters vs. non-casters, and I hated having to constantly save spells "just in case" the next fight was the BBEG. And hoped that it would be the template for 4E.

Then 4E came out, and I was pissed. It seemed as if they had completely stripped 90% of the fluff out of the powers/spells/manuevers/whatever, specifically because they wanted them to individually fit on cards. And there were so many levels, and every class had to gain new powers every level, that each individual power seemed horribly mediocre. "Deal X[W] damage + minor effect." I've played 4E, and 4E is fun. But it didn't feel like D&D, even though the roleplaying/puzzles/riddles/etc aspect (roughly 50% of the game for my groups) hadn't changed.

I would be fine if all of my powers and feats and whatnot were on index cards - it would make gameplay a lot easier. But I also want the powers to be meaningful, somewhat unique, and flavorful.

So, what's your opinion? Do you use cards in D&D? Why? Do you think they make the game better or worse? Do game designers dumb down powers specifically so that they are easy to understand and fit on a index card, or am I just too old (30) to understand 4E?

AstralFire
2008-09-04, 09:19 AM
I think the fluff got stripped out so that they were more obviously generalized, seeing the partial reaction to ToB as "OMG ANIME." Not nearly as many attacks have been levied on 4E for the same thing.

I don't use cards, but primarily because I play online primarily, and there're easier ways to quickly strike out something or reference abilities on a computer. I think they're a prime idea for meatspace play.

valadil
2008-09-04, 09:23 AM
Cards seem like a good way to keep track of your abilities. I've also been tempted to use them for material components (ie, GM acts as bank in a bean counting material component game so players don't have to keep track of quite so much). I'd even go so far as to consider using WotC published cards, if such a thing existed.

What I would NOT be cool with is if the cards were ever collectible or if you had to have the card to have the ability. As soon as another player suggests that I can't use Power Attack because I don't own the Power Attack official game card, I'm out.

AstralFire
2008-09-04, 09:26 AM
Cards seem like a good way to keep track of your abilities. I've also been tempted to use them for material components (ie, GM acts as bank in a bean counting material component game so players don't have to keep track of quite so much). I'd even go so far as to consider using WotC published cards, if such a thing existed.

What I would NOT be cool with is if the cards were ever collectible or if you had to have the card to have the ability. As soon as another player suggests that I can't use Power Attack because I don't own the Power Attack official game card, I'm out.

The sad event of D&D actually becoming a CCG is the only way I see the irrational reaction in the linked comic strip making any sense at all.

Proven_Paradox
2008-09-04, 09:26 AM
I play purely 3.5, and when I'm playing an in-person game, I end up using cards fairly often. If I'm playing a ToB character, I've definately got some cards for my maneuvers. When I'm playing a spell preparing caster, I'll use cards with a short spell description as well. I've never had a problem with bringing index cards to the game, and never encountered any others who have a problem with them either.

Tsotha-lanti
2008-09-04, 09:32 AM
You need spell cards in D&D 3.5 anyway. What's the difference?

DrizztFan24
2008-09-04, 09:36 AM
And this is where the beauty of
http://theonlysheet.com
comes into play. No cards, all tables are calculated, everything is listed in a nice and clean manner.

used with maptool this sheet is so much awesomnocity it isnt even funny.:smallwink:

Tsotha-lanti
2008-09-04, 09:47 AM
And it only costs... well, however many hundred euros/dollars laptops cost at your nearest computer retailer.

I think I'll just Excel myself some cards and print them.

Charity
2008-09-04, 10:47 AM
I'm quite a fan of the cards, it is an excellent way to track 'consumables'.
We've used them for treasures quite often in the past (even back in 1e), you get a card with a description on one side and as you discover stuff about the item you write it on the other. I can't be bothered with it for my present campaign (lazy git) but on Enworld there are some really good cards available for just about anything.
I'm going to get some clear deck protectors and rustle up some images to represent my daughters fairy (eldarin wizard) powers, to help her select which to use as she can't read yet (shes 4).

Mark Hall
2008-09-04, 11:37 AM
And it only costs... well, however many hundred euros/dollars laptops cost at your nearest computer retailer.

I think I'll just Excel myself some cards and print them.

Actually, at low levels, I've got a nice Open Office spreadsheet which does a little bit of auto-calc, in addition to have blank templates for powers. At 1st and 2nd level, I'm keeping everything on a page (my wizard has 3 at-wills, 2 encounter attacks, 2 different daily attacks he might choose, and 2 utilities he might choose), but might go to cards as things multiply.

Feel free to e-mail me if you want a copy.

Kurald Galain
2008-09-04, 11:44 AM
I never use cards, because I find a well-printed customized character sheet more convenient for showing all of a character's powers.

RTGoodman
2008-09-04, 11:48 AM
[...]I'd even go so far as to consider using WotC published cards, if such a thing existed.

I think I remember reading or hearing somewhere that they ARE going to put out official cards, bur I can't remember. For now, index cards work fine, or if you want something fancy you can make 'em in Word, Inkscape or something like it, or even the Magic Set Editor.


What I would NOT be cool with is if the cards were ever collectible or if you had to have the card to have the ability. As soon as another player suggests that I can't use Power Attack because I don't own the Power Attack official game card, I'm out.

See, I know people always bring this up ("OMG they're a big bad company they're going to oppress us with high-priced accessories they're so evil!"), but I honestly can't see them doing that for D&D. I mean, I know they're THE company of CCGs, but they've already got that market cornered on that and would just make people mad by trying to force that aspect of the business onto D&D. Yes, they're a company out to make money, but despite my total lack of background in economics I can tell you that pissing off your fan based probably WON'T make you more money than keeping them happy.

valadil
2008-09-04, 12:46 PM
See, I know people always bring this up ("OMG they're a big bad company they're going to oppress us with high-priced accessories they're so evil!"), but I honestly can't see them doing that for D&D.

I actually think that if this happens it'll be players who try to require cards moreso than WotC. Let's say that with each splatbook, WotC also publishes a set of cards for the new abilities. I don't think that's unreasonable and I'd actually rather they keep cards and books separate so I don't have to pay the increased cost of books that include cards. I can definitely see a few players I know suggesting that I only use ability cards that I own. I can also see something like this happening in one of the living campaigns (though in all fairness it's about 5 years since I played living greyhawk and I didn't play it for too long).

Whether or not WotC implies that we have to use their printed cards is a moot point. I don't want to play with players who insist I have to buy more stuff to support this hobby.

Person_Man
2008-09-04, 01:36 PM
I actually think that if this happens it'll be players who try to require cards moreso than WotC. Let's say that with each splatbook, WotC also publishes a set of cards for the new abilities. I don't think that's unreasonable and I'd actually rather they keep cards and books separate so I don't have to pay the increased cost of books that include cards. I can definitely see a few players I know suggesting that I only use ability cards that I own. I can also see something like this happening in one of the living campaigns (though in all fairness it's about 5 years since I played living greyhawk and I didn't play it for too long).

Whether or not WotC implies that we have to use their printed cards is a moot point. I don't want to play with players who insist I have to buy more stuff to support this hobby.

That's an interesting point.

I highly doubt WotC would ever have random booster packs of D&D feats or powers. It's far more likely that they'd put together a box set with the core rules, cards, dice, some miniatures and a low level module with a few maps. If it were popular, they'd put out other similar everything included modules/minis/maps/cards to supplement their splat books.

Bob walks up to his DM John and asks if he can use 4E Complete Warrior. John says ok, but you have to have power cards, because in his experience combat grinds to a halt every time a player stops to look up a power that they don't use very often. Bob now has to buy the cards, or take the time to write them all out on index cards himself, thus giving him a big incentive to buy the cards (or whatever the cards come packaged in).

I'm not one to deride Hasbro for trying to make money. I like capitalism. And as far as hobbies go, D&D costs a lot less money then Heroclix, Warhammer, going to most sports events, fishing, video games, and most other pastimes that people might enjoy. I'm more worried about the play style of the game. Also, I thoroughly enjoy the wider social aspects of D&D - going to cons, posting on the boards, meeting and playing games with new people outside my social circle, etc. As 4E (a game I'm conflicted on) crowds out 3.5 (a very flawed game that I nonetheless thoroughly enjoy), it'll be harder to do those things.

Tengu_temp
2008-09-04, 02:22 PM
I think this strip tells the story well (http://www.pvponline.com/2008/09/04/nerrrdddd-fiiiggghhht/).


I agree with the fat guy in the last panel. What's the other guy's deal?

Cards are a handy and fun tool that help you keep track of your powers and stuff. I'd probably use them, but I'm playing 4e PbP only.

ericgrau
2008-09-04, 02:25 PM
My sig says it all.

only1doug
2008-09-04, 02:30 PM
Brent (the thin guy who always wears sunglasses) is a Mac elitist and also a gamer purist.

Francis (the guy with the punisher type T-shirt) is a PC gamer Elitist and hates MtG

Cole (the fat guy) is a general gamer and usually the GM.

Skull (the giant blue troll) is gone, I hope he'll be back!

black dragoon
2008-09-04, 02:39 PM
I'm a 3e man myself and personally if I ever build up the ambition would use cards to track treasure abilities spells and the whatnot...But I'm lazy so yeah....:smalltongue:

bosssmiley
2008-09-04, 02:39 PM
I've used initiative cards, spell cards and abbreviated monster stat cards for years how. They're handy, practical and tidy away well. Cards were a great idea in the days of "Heroquest", they were a great idea in the 2E days of spell cards and the "Birthright" mass battle system, and they're a great idea now whether you use paizo's equipment cards, ToB/4E power cards, or whatever.

Only an fool fights a sensible idea. :smallbiggrin:

Treguard
2008-09-04, 05:22 PM
Yeah, if it's today's PvP then Francis was acting like a jerk.

Tsotha-lanti
2008-09-04, 05:34 PM
What I would NOT be cool with is if the cards were ever collectible or if you had to have the card to have the ability. As soon as another player suggests that I can't use Power Attack because I don't own the Power Attack official game card, I'm out.

How is this even theoretically feasible? Unless they stopped including things in the books - stopped printing the books, I guess. They've already got CCGs, and D&D isn't one of them.

black dragoon
2008-09-04, 05:52 PM
Perhaps that was the plan all along!:smalltongue::smallbiggrin:

AslanCross
2008-09-04, 06:04 PM
The medium used to keep track of powers, spells and maneuvers is irrelevant. If one can manage fine with a ream of legal pad and he enjoys it, that's fine. Index cards are fine. It would stop being an RPG if the powers were not distributed in books but in randomly sorted booster packs.

black dragoon
2008-09-04, 06:08 PM
Then it becomes a serious version of munchkin....I like munchkin funny not serious or rare for that matter...

EvilElitest
2008-09-04, 10:41 PM
i think they are a useful book keeping device
from
EE

TheThan
2008-09-05, 03:07 AM
I can see WOTC printing cards in the back of their dnd books for players to punch out and use. Whether they are used is up to each individual. Some people like them and find them an asset to their game. Thatís fine, but some people donít, for whatever reason.

People have their own play styles, and WOTC cannot really force people to all play the same way (itíd be unreasonable if they thought that way), I think they know this, so will we see decks of cards for people to use? Well I donít know only time will tell.

Starsinger
2008-09-05, 04:24 AM
I love power cards. It's a handy little tool. Hell I'm considering making status effect cards and keeping them in my DM binder (That's the notebook, not the 3.5 class :smalltongue:). Just hand them to someone, "You're stunned" "you're dazed" "You're taking on-going damage X (Type)" Cuz y'know human memory seems to be a lot more fallible when it's remembering that you're under a status effect...

Hal
2008-09-05, 05:31 AM
I actually make cards for most magic items. If it's a weapon or armor with an enhancement that isn't just a numerical increase, or any sort of wondrous item, I'll write out a description of the item and its mechanical effects. If I'm feeling really generous to my players, I'll print out a GIS picture of the "item" on the other side of the card.

DigoDragon
2008-09-05, 08:43 AM
As Dungeon Master I have nothing against my players using cards. I do find them quite useful for the spellcasters to keep track of ongoing effects and to track consumable equipment.

bosssmiley
2008-09-05, 09:47 AM
I love power cards. It's a handy little tool. Hell I'm considering making status effect cards and keeping them in my DM binder (That's the notebook, not the 3.5 class :smalltongue:). Just hand them to someone, "You're stunned" "you're dazed" "You're taking on-going damage X (Type)" Cuz y'know human memory seems to be a lot more fallible when it's remembering that you're under a status effect...

Eric Grau's versions of these are quite good. He has a link to them in his sig above.

Jerthanis
2008-09-05, 02:51 PM
I love power cards. It's a handy little tool. Hell I'm considering making status effect cards and keeping them in my DM binder (That's the notebook, not the 3.5 class :smalltongue:). Just hand them to someone, "You're stunned" "you're dazed" "You're taking on-going damage X (Type)" Cuz y'know human memory seems to be a lot more fallible when it's remembering that you're under a status effect...

I personally hadn't been able to find a use for cards until now. You tend to have only a few powers at one time, and their use is memorable, and there's a box to mark off for encounter and dailies, so keeping track of their use seems like mostly a no-brainer. I tend not to have much trouble memorizing the use and function of my powers, since I use them a lot and they're mine, so I don't usually need their full text on hand. Also, I'm terribly disorganized, so I'd lose extra accessories rather quickly.

However, Yes, conditions are the perfect thing for cards to help keep track of.

drengnikrafe
2008-09-06, 10:07 PM
I like this whole "cards" idea. I used to write stuff on my character sheet (items, spells, skills), and erase it, and write it, and erase it... when a campaign actually went somewhere, my character sheet was more tape then paper (it didn't occur to me to rescribe it). I may use this now, for quick references to monsters, or items, or other things. Thanks for the idea.

Gorbash
2008-09-06, 10:57 PM
For a 3.5 spellcaster a list of spells with at least a short description (like the ones in phb/spell compendium, just the basics, range, save etc) is a must to avoid situations like:

Player: I cast name_of_spell
DM: Ok, what does it do?
Player: Dunno, let me check in PHB

Then he has to find the spell, read it... Also, it happens that people sometimes make mistakes concerning range, area etc and an indexed list of spells helps avoid that. I've recently had a situation in my campaign when player thought that area of Acid Breath was a 30 ft cone instead of 15. For 2 whole levels.

Justin_Bacon
2008-09-07, 12:10 AM
For higher level PCs I used a spreadsheet with the appropriate page numbers listed, mostly because it was too cumbersome to sort through a deck of so many cards during combat.

My brother uses a spreadsheet with HTML links to the SRD descriptions of the spells. If you're playing somewhere with wi-fi access, this is pretty slick. (And even if you aren't, you can always link to a locally stored copy of the SRD.)


Then 4E came out, and I was pissed. It seemed as if they had completely stripped 90% of the fluff out of the powers/spells/manuevers/whatever, specifically because they wanted them to individually fit on cards.

If the trend had just been limited to powers, I could see the connection. But, honestly, 4E stripped the fluff text out of everything. Actually, they went one step further in many cases and stripped out any meaningful connection between the numbers being mathematically manipulated and the game world.

So, for me, this looks like a complaint completely separated from the use or non-use of cards. The entire game became very oriented on mechanical interactions and heavily de-emphasized the game world.


So, what's your opinion? Do you use cards in D&D?

Looking back over the past 20 years, I'd have to say that I have frequently been excited at the idea of using cards. But, in practice, it's never really proven to be all that useful to me.

But I've seen other people get tons of utility out of them in 2nd Edition and 3rd Edition. So I've never understood the irrational silliness being (quite accurately) portrayed by Francis in PvP.

Irreverent Fool
2008-09-07, 12:32 AM
3.5

I routinely yell at a friend of mine who plays a Conjurer/Master Specialist/Malconvoker because he summons templated creatures and the game always grinds to a halt when he has to look up his creature's stats.

Conversely, the Druid/Master of Many Forms in the group has all of his usual forms handy on index cards along with his typical buff spells and the modified stats. He says "My character wildshapes into a Hag" and bam! he's ready for combat.

As far as using them for spells, I don't find it useful simply because there are WAY too many spells to have cards for every one I might cast. I suppose it might be useful for my warblade, but I have a sheet with my character's known maneuvers and simply mark them as 'prepared' or 'expended' with little check boxes.

For a Crusader, however, I can't think of any other practical way to do it.

Edit: Our group also likes to use them for DM notes. We always get an uneasy feeling when the DM scribbles something down and tosses someone a folded index card.

Morandir Nailo
2008-09-07, 02:13 PM
Nothing wrong with using cards (as was said, the medium is inconsequential), though I'm not very happy about the idea of a player who has so much crunch to manage that s/he needs a stack of index cards to handle it all. (the DM, on the other hand...) IMO, you should be able to fit your entire character on an index card, but I'm a big fan of rules-lite, old-school games.

And WotC is putting out power cards for 4e; individual decks (non-randomized) for each PHB class, then a set for Martial Power when it comes out (both are listed in the 2009 product catalog, IIRC). The character sheet pack already has punch-out blank power/item cards.

Mor