My question concerns this question on the main page: Deck of Many Things: How problematic is each card for a campaign?

It was closed for a mixture of being unclear, being too broad, and being opinion-based. It has caused a vivid discussion and already collected some reopen votes. Independently of whether it gets reopened I would like to tackle possible concerns with this question.

Me explaining what I wanted to get out of the question

It seems to be widely agreed upon that the Deck of Many Things can cause significant problems in a game up to and including ruining said game. This was for example discussed in [this question][2]. What I am interested in and which is different from that other question (happy to hear your concerns if you disagree) is the following:

  • Which cards specifically cause the negative effects that the Deck of Many Things exhibits?
  • What makes these cards so problematic?

I suggested using a tier system to explain how likely a card is to exhibit significant problems which may cause a game to be ruined. In retrospect it seems this has caused more harm (i.e. confusion) than good.

Concerns I believe to have seen expressed

  1. It is a duplicate of this question: Why is the Deck of Many Things considered unbalanced?

    This question is much more general than my question and the answers talk neither in detail about specific problems nor about specific cards that might cause them.

  2. The question is too broad:

    Not sure about this. It is clear that a rather long answer would be necessary because at least one to two sentences would be needed for each of the 22 cards in the Deck. The impression of the question being too broad may also have arisen by me asking both for some kind of rating for each card as well as a reasoning. However, I don't see how leaving the reasoning out could make for a good answer. Of course there could be another problem in this area that I haven't seen now.

  3. The question is unclear:

    This is obviously the case, otherwise it wouldn't have caused so much discussion. This does seem easy to fix, however, once the other concerns have been adressed.

  4. The question is opinion-based:

    Now this question is obviously not a rules question and I agree that the Deck's effect on a campaign depends on the group. Nevertheless, it seems to me that someone with sufficient GMing experience and who has used the Deck would be able to give an objective answer. Let's take, for example, the Donjon card. In the comments, people said that this card could create problems because it will (at least temporarily) remove a character from the game and (unless it is permanent) require a quest to get the character back. It was also said, and I agree, that this unproblematic if the style of play includes making a new character with no hard feeling whenever a character is killed or similar. Saying: "This card is highly problematic if players are very attached to their specific character. If rolling a new character when necessary is part of the play style, or if a party can simply take on an adventure to get the character back while the respective player plays a different character for some time, it will not cause any big problems." seems like an objective and useful answer for this particular card. I think, my idea with the tier system might be a problem because such a ranking would contradict an answer as nuanced as the example I give above.

What should I do with my question?


2 Answers 2


You Should Take It To A Discussion Forum

You should take it to a discussion forum because in my opinion, even with the fixes, it's inherently opinion-based. Really, it's twenty-two opinion-based questions wrapped up under one heading-- maybe even forty-four because both answers so far rate each card individually for both the GM/campaign and for the players. And both questions hedge a lot and qualify a lot based on what the GM or the players might prefer in a game.

Further, this question seems like one where, once there is enough detail about the preferences in the question, those details effectively provide much of the answer. Not all opinion-based questions are like that, but this one seems to be. (For example: "You don't like cards that remove a character from play? Oh, well then Donjon is obviously going to be a problem.")

I think I have a higher tolerance for both subjective and opinion-based questions than most, but this seems like a very poor fit for the stack. Separately, I actually do think it would be a good fit for discussion forums where it is more appropriate to discuss the reasons behind an answer, or discuss different ways to look at certain card draws and how to make them less devastating.

Sorry, going to go vote to re-close.


Personally, I Think This is Answerable

I suspect that many will disagree with this point of view, however, as I stated in the comments I believe that some folks possess adequate expertise by virtue of being able to identify the concept of, 'failure state for the campaign', that renders this question answerable per the Good Subjective, Bad Subjective criteria. My initial view on this question was to close, however, I reversed course after seeing that point of view.

Any answer associated with this question is going to need to be long, ideally backed up by a combination of rules interpretations and table experience.

I disagree with that taking such a question to a forum is likely to get you a better an answer. Rather, I think your signal to noise ratio is going to be off the charts due to how broad the question is.

Regarding the specific concerns you've listed:

1. The question is a duplicate of Why is the Deck of Many Things considered unbalanced?

I concur with your interpretation that the cited question is extremely broad and does not provide any criteria to evaluate the deck's cards with specificity.

2. The question is too broad

Just because a question is hard to answer doesn't inherently make it unanswerable. The alternative to this would be to have you make 22 separate questions for each card in the deck, but that would make it more difficult to write an answer that also evaluates the deck as a whole.

A question with defined parameters that necessitate a long answer may take a long time to receive an answer, however, this doesn't mean it's unsuitable for the site.

3. The question is unclear

The only thing that I might request clarification on is for you to define your tiers a bit more clearly to mitigate answers filling in blanks with whatever they think is appropriate. But you've provided information on what you're looking for, detailed what's happening at your table, and also provided some of your own initial insights so I think you're as clear as you can be.

4. The question is opinion-based

Yes, it is. But a good answer is going to need to be supported by experience as I stated above. Probably the perfect answer for this would need to be a self-answer because it's trying to get at the heart of what's a failure in the campaign for you; but that's also not practical. Alternately, learning the experiences of others can help you to evaluate how your own table might receive certain draws from the Deck. Ultimately, the community will vote as it sees fit, and you will award the check mark to whomever you see fit.

One final thing I will note is it's likely that whatever answers you do get to the question will probably be under appreciated. I would recommend throwing some bounties as a thanks.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It should be noted that “answerable” does not mean “should not be closed”. Most opinion based questions are answerable with Good Subjective, but we still close them. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 8, 2023 at 13:49

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