Flip-a-Card: Sample Cards

December 07, 2019 - 3 min read

This is not going to be an exhaustive list of cards - doing that is beyond the scope of one blog post. But let’s say we’re building a standard fantasy world, and want to use the flip-a-card rules to do it.

Character Cards

We’ll divide cards into three sub-types: Heritage, Role, and Drive. Regardless of sub-type, the rule is: if you narrate something from the top side of the card, flip it over and succeed at a test (e.g. attack, jump over the chasm, cast a spell). If you narrate something from the flip side of the card, flip that card back.

The Heritage cards all have the same writing prompts: “Do something your people are well known for doing” is on the top side, and “embody or struggle against the stereotypes of your people” is on the flip side. Each heritage ought to elaborate what these things are, of course. Sample cards would be Northlander, Forest Elf, Desert Dwarf, Demi-Orc, and so on.

The Role cards similarly cover the traditional “classes”. Their prompts are something like “Do something you’d logically be good at” on the top side, and “Fall prey to a weakness or stereotype of your role” on the flipside. Sample cards would be Soldier, Spellcaster, Burglar, Priest, and so on.

The Drive cards are motivational, and let characters get stuff done because they want to do certain things. Their prompts are “Achieve a goal compatible with the Drive” and “Go too far or get sidetracked by your Drive”. Sample cards would be Curiosity, Greed, Vengeance, Honor, and so on.

Example: a Curious Forest Elf Spellcaster wants to explore an old forest. She can flip Curious to succeed at a test to discover the mysteries within, or flip Spellcaster to fight a monster, or flip Forest Elf to identify familiar plants or animals. If those cards are flipped, she might flip Forest Elf back if she must confront an elf-hating lumberjack, flip back Curious if she goes too far and falls into a trap, or flip back Spellcaster if something about her magic goes awry.

Condition Cards

The rules for condition cards are: you receive a condition card if you incur the corresponding condition. You can flip the topside if you aggravate your injury during a desperate effort. You can discard the condition on the topside if you spend a scene attending to the condition, or on the flipside if you spend significant downtime attending to it. Beyond this, the conditions will logically apply to any narration.

Sample condition cards might be Wounded, Poisoned, Cursed, Lame, Tracked, and so on - anything that would hamper a character’s progress.

For example, the elven mage from above is in a fight with some forest creepers. She is Poisoned, draining her stamina and causing her to struggle to cast spells. She spends a scene searching for healing herbs in the woods, and discards the condition card as a result.

Challenge Cards

These cards represent opponents, places, and situations of dramatic interest. They can have almost any kind of rules on them, but the simplest topside rule is “Flip over to succeed on a test when this card would be to your advantage”, and the equivalent flipside rule is “Flip over when this card presents a problem or hindrance”.

Sample challenge cards would be Ogre, Cave, Pit Trap, and so on. Challenge cards can also be adjectives, which change the situation. For example, Labyrinthine changes the character of a city, dungeon, or library. An Oversized Ghostly Ogre is more than just an Ogre!

Challenge cards can present tests for the PCs to overcome, just by existing. For example, if the elven mage encounters an Eldritch Underwater Cave, full of mysterious magic, she might think to use a water-breathing spell to traverse it - but the Eldritch quality might change or distort her magic! If the game has a GM, they can call for a test for the spell to happen correctly.