Mini-review: New crit/fail decks for 5e


The new 5e card decks from Nord Games

Earlier this week I finally received my new Game Master’s Toolbox card decks from Nord Games. They were Kickstarted a while back and I got in on the whole shebang: Critical Hit Deck for Players, Critical Hit Deck for GM’s, Critical Fail Deck and the Luck Deck.

Unfortunately, as I’m in the middle of a Call of Cthulhu/BRP binge, there will be some time before I get to test these cards in-game, but I will try to give a first impression of them here. 

The KS was run in a most professional way and I must also commend Nord Games for not swamping backers in bazillions of updates or ads for other Kickstarters.

The decks themselves are pretty, with OK art and they are printed on quality cardstock, with rounded corners and they come in sturdy boxes that I hope will hold out at the gaming table and in the GM bag.

Now, over to the decks…

Critical Hit Deck for Players

This is a 52-card deck with critical effects for when the players roll a natural 20 on an attack roll. The effects are divided in four severity levels: Setback, Dangerous, Life-Threatening and Deadly. Yes – you can behead an enemy just like that. To lessen the impact of these cards the authors recommend that you only use Setback cards at level 1-4, introducing Dangeous cards at level 5 etc. Or, you can use all cards from level 1. This is a good idea, making the use of the cards flexible for different groups. Each card has four entries, depending on what type of weapon was used in the attack: Slashing, Piercing, Bludgeoning or Magic. The type of attack is marked on the cards with a little symbol, portraying an old wax seal. Sadly, the symbols are tiny and it is very hard to see the difference even for a set of fresh eyes. For this middle-aged dude, it takes both excellent lighting and reading glasses to manage reading the symbols… Fortunately, the order is the same on the cards (from top down: Slashing, Piercing, Bludgeoning & Magic), so it shouldn’t be a big problem at the gaming table. The effects are often a damage multiplier and/or a save to be rolled or the monster will suffer some crippling effect.


Hard to read wax symbols

 Critical Hit Deck for Game Masters

This is a 52-card deck that is the same as above, only for GMs. However, the effects are a bit different. Often a saving throw or the PC will suffer some crippling effect. Also, often damage multipliers, disadvantage on X and so on. On an initial reading I get the impression that PCs get more saves to negate the card effects than the monsters, but I’m not sure.

Critical Fail Deck

As above, a 52-card deck with fail effects for when players or GM:s roll a natural 1 on an attack roll. These cards also have a severity level (from easiest to hardest: Awkward, Embarrassing, Shameful and Disgraceful) and as with the critical hit decks the authors recommend that they are introduced gradually as the PCs level up. Or not. And just like the  crit decks, the Fails are grouped into four categories according to attack type: Melee, Ranged, Natural or Magic. And just like the crit decks, the symbols are tiny and very hard to read, but luckily arranged in the same order on the cards. The effects are varied and looks to be fun to roleplay out.

Luck Deck

This deck introduces a new mechanic to 5e – Good or Bad Luck. 52 cards as we have come to expect, half is Good Luck and half is Bad Luck. These cards are used when a player rolls a natural 1 or 20 on any d20 roll. If they roll 20 they take a Good Luck card (blue) and may keep it and use at any point in the game. If they roll a 1 they take a Bad Luck card (red) and lay it out in front of them, for the GM to use against the PC at any point in the game. A PC can only have one card of each type at any time. The cards may force the player/GM to re-roll a die roll, to automatically deal maximum damage, to get a bonus/penalty additional die on saves etc. Quite cool and definitely not overpowered. The authors also suggest that a Good Luck card may be handed out instead of an Inspiration point.


All in all, I like these cards and I think they will add some extra drama and opportunities for role-playing for our 5e games. The only negative is the hard to read “type” symbols, but fortunately they are in the same order so it should work out even for our group of middle-aged veterans.

The cards are basically the 5e version of Paizo’s Critical Hit/Fail Decks for Pathfinder, which we have used extensively in our Pathfinder games (with the other GM in our group). I do own the PF cards, having planned to use them for my OSR games but eventually I decided against since they contain a great deal of PF-only rules that are hard to apply to say, Blood & Treasure.

However, I do think that these 5e cards would work with OSR style games with minimal fuss, since they are more universal in scope and they do not rely so much on very specific rules.

Well done, Nord Games!

Link to the cards on Nord Games homepage

Lazy Sod Press |Project Longpig begun

News from Cthulhu-land…

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delta_green_investigates_by_raetjor-d3nt1l8 Investigare necesse est

I’m all in Cthulhu-land now.

Aside running Masks of Nyarlahotep using the CoC 6e rules, I’m also reading up on the new CoC 7e rules as well as re-reading my old Delta Green books as well as the new DG materials from Arc Dream.

And I must say I’m most eager to run some Delta Green soon. It will be the playtest version of a DG/CoC adventure called Longpig that I’ve been planning to write for a long time now.

The big news here are that I contacted the author of the KULT fan adventure Longpig a while back, to discuss the possibility of a conversion from Kult to Delta Green. He was very positive, and even volunteered to help out!

Longpig is 130-ish pages and in French (not my strongest language, I’d say about 15-20% skill) and translation has taken a while. Now I will re-write it to fit the…

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Confessions of a game master


This new edition of an old book has surprisingly many “modern” gaming concepts in it. And it is the grandfather of all BRP/d100 gaming. Respect.

As much as I like D&D and OSR-style d20-based gaming, my real RPG love is, and has always been the BRP/d100 family of games.

They are easy to grasp and have simple and consistent rules for most situations. There are also variants that will let you play high fantasy, dark fantasy, horror, modern, sci-fi – basically whatever you want.

What I like the most is that the characters, even if they’re veterans, are fragile. If you’re outnumbered or if you’re surprised in the wrong situation, you’re going to get hurt. And there are no potions of healing anywhere to be found (at least not in my games). This automatically leads to another style of play from the characters – more cautious, more thinking and planning before doing reckless stuff. There are no artificial levels, just different levels of expertise that you learn the hard way. And combat is deadly. One misstep or lucky critical hit will kill even a veteran character.

That said, doing D&D-style subterranean dungeon romps with d100 rules is nearly impossible. The PCs will surely perish before they even reach level 2 of the dungeon. As a GM, this naturally encourages me to play other types of adventures if we play d100-based games. And players that insist on solving problems the D&D way will die. Quickly.

Having been away from GM:ing d100 gaming for over a year and coming back, I realize (again) that d100 games have about all that I want from an RPG. Also, the cross-compatibility of these games lets me take a Call of Cthulhu monster and chuck it into my OpenQuest or RuneQuest game with almost no hassle.

I think I’m going to stay in the d100 field a bit longer this time around, as we always seem to get dragged back to D&D by some unseen force…

If you’re interested, here’s a link to the recap of our latest Call of Cthulhu game session

Some first thoughts on 7th ed Call of Cthulhu

As I now own CoC 7e I jotted down some initial thoughts after having browsed through the books…

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b645e7dee73030289a8f323604d64028 What’s behind the door…?

Yesterday I was checking out Chaosium’s site for some info on the fate of the BRP rule set when I happened to notice that the kickstarter slipcase edition of CoC 7e is actually available directly from them.

I have been planning to get the core books and the screen from my trusty FLGS, but some quick math convinced me that the slipcase set was actually easilly the best value. In that kit, you get the Keeper’s and Investigator’s hardbacks as well as the Keeper’s screen, all enclosed in a pretty slipcase. Furthermore, Chaosium adds all the PDFs for those products as a bonus, further adding to the value.

As Chaosium has an EU shipping point in the UK, the shipping was ok and consequently I don’t have to pay import tax either.

So I ordered the set as a birthday gift to myself as I will get…

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Some thoughts on the new Delta Green and CoC 7e

Ruminations on the new editions of Call of Cthulhu and Delta Green

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ie5 Investigating…

After lunch today, I had some time over and decided to pay a visit to my favourite FLGS in town. They recently moved to new expanded premises and I wanted to check out the new store. And wow. There they were – the new shiny editions of my long time favourites Call of Cthulhu and Delta Green.

I have only seen these books in pictures, so it was nice to feel them physically and browse the contents. Very colorful, very shiny and very heavy full color hardcover books. Top quality, and very desirable. Sadly, they didn’t have the 7e Keeper book for CoC, but they did have the screens for both games.

Standing there in the shop, I almost whipped up my card to buy it all, despite having promised myself to buy fewer games and play more of the ones I have instead. The joy of finding such…

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