Review: Paizo Plot Twist Cards

plot twist cards to shake up your game

A lot of us are always looking for ways to spice up our games, and with the myriad of game add-ons and tools out there for RPG’s today it can be pretty hard to make the decision on where to place your hard earned bucks. Well you can rest assured that eleven of those dollars would be well spent on Paizo’s plot twist cards.

While I’ve not normally been a fan of cards of all sorts for use in RPG’s I think the plot twist cards take a different route than the others by adding a new element to your game rather than just simply taking existing ones and putting them into card format (magic item cards, monster cards, etc.).

What the package contains are 51 unique and wonderfully illustrated “plot twists” that can be played to keep everyone constantly on their toes. Each card is printed on a bicycle quality playing card stock and contains two options for plot twists – a black box containing one combat element that strictly adheres to an in-game mechanic and 4 other bulleted points detailing the plot twist [Pic]. The mechanical text in the black box is specifically attuned to the pathfinder/3.5 setting but it’s easily adaptable to nearly any RPG. I’m unsure precisely on how the rules are actually intended to be used, but within the 4 “instructions” cards that come with the set they explain to distribute them once per character level, which seems fair. The rest of the instructions I didn’t bother to read because really who the hell reads instructions?

I give players the choice to use them in combat and acquire the bonus/effect the mechanical text provides or anytime in or out of combat that the flavor plot twist text provides. I set the guidelines at no more often than once per player, per encounter – but that’s about all I’ve come up with so far. I have been using them as instructed, once per level and perhaps will allow them to draw a card if they group pulls off something really spectacular as a reward but that would be a “group’ card and they’d have to decide collectively when to use it. Another idea that might get some playtime would be trading in X amount of action points for a card, or at least a chance at a card but I’m still unsure about trying that just yet.

plot'd!

The amount of directions the cards can take your game seem pretty extensive, they definitely add a good sense of unpredictability to your game if you’re running a light hearted campaign or one that’s serious business the deck can prove to be a great tool for players and DM’s alike. Even games full of hack & slasher players should get good use out of the combat mechanic aspect of the cards if nothing else. Another great thing about them is that they encourage improvisation on both sides of the screen as well as promoting role playing. Ive gotten some of my most shy and non-rp’ers (I’m looking at you @momanatrix) to come out of their shells a bit to explain to me just exactly why the goblins they were fighting should ally with the PC’s and fight against the beholder they had been serving. Urging players to explain just exactly why and how “your enemy shares your goal”.


The only possible pitfall I can foresee with using these are that they can really alter play quite a bit, and depending on the DM’s ability to adapt – may completely break his or her storyline. With that being said I can’t recommend a better way to spend 11$ to add fun and random elements to your D&D/RPG game, that is if you’re a fan of that sort of thing. Remember as a DM it’s an unwritten law that you reserve the right to say “no” to anything in your game, so really there’s not much to lose if you let your players have at these. If you like the idea of the plot twist cards or you have a pretty combat-centric group then you might also want to check out the Critical Hits & Critical Fumbles decks to add some even more spice (without adding much randomess) to your game.

Happy gaming!


Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Jerry resides in the placid cornfields of Indiana with his Wife and 2 goblinoid minions. His geek credentials sport a Masters in Video Gameology and Computer Geekery. His obsession with D&D started by spending an inconceivable number of hours playing Baldurs Gate and the rest is history. Outside of the gaming world he's an IT Professional & Social Media guy, budding writer, gaming advocate and wannabe designer. You can visit him over at www.dreadgazebo.net or follow him on twitter (@DreadGazeebo)


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About DreadGazebo

Jerry resides in the placid cornfields of Indiana with his Wife and 2 goblinoid minions. His geek credentials sport a Masters in Video Gameology and Computer Geekery. His obsession with D&D started by spending an inconceivable number of hours playing Baldurs Gate and the rest is history. Outside of the gaming world he's an IT Professional & Social Media guy, budding writer, gaming advocate and wannabe designer. You can visit him over at www.dreadgazebo.net or follow him on twitter (@DreadGazeebo)
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