A Gamemaster’s job is never easy. Thankfully, with games like Pathfinder and Starfinder, Paizo has a steady stream of highly detailed adventures that are exciting for players and comparatively easy for a GM to run. But some GMs don’t WANT easy. What they want is to tell their own stories and are very good at telling them. But even the most seasoned GM sometimes likes to streamline their creative process, or just need a little inspiration. The Deck of Many Worlds is one of the many tools available to fulfil both of those needs, and then some.
At its heart, the Deck of Many Worlds is a simple tool to quickly create a planet for use in any Starfinder game. However, the combinations of card elements can be used for so much more. But we’ll get there, let’s start with the basics. Each of the 100 double-sided cards has 9 interconnected elements. Some have limited uses, like the art and physical descriptions. Then things get more interesting. Below all of that is six boxes, with the same six attributes, in a different order on each card. All of that forms the core of the world you are creating, depending on your needs you might even stop there.
The reverse side is what starts to flesh out your world. Across the middle of that side is six boxes, with an up, down, or neutral symbol that line up with the Attributes when tucked under the front of the first card. Still showing below that is a Story Hook to help flesh out your world, and a view of two Star Fields, that conveniently also look like a pair of d6 dice. These can be used as a 1 or 2 d6 random number generator for things like determining how many creatures live on a world. The cards can even help determine what those creatures are. in the top left of each card (the part you covered up while lining up the Attribute boxes) have a sapient species that live on your world, just tuck that card, again, under the main card with just that species showing, and any other sapient under the first in the same way, and so on for however many species you want. The top right corner of the card has a non-sapient threat that is populated in the same way. (Between the two the cards are numbered 1-100 so can be used for a d%/d100 random number.) Voila, you have a planet.
Want a whole system of planets? Use the starfields for 2d6 worth of planets, and go to town. Use the Hooks and/or Attributes to quickly come up with a basic settlement. Need a sapient NPC for when the players wandered off course? Pull a species and use the Attributes to give them a basic personality. Plus, since all the Sapient species have the appropriate Racial Traits (in their cited sourcebooks or the free online System Reference Documents) the same process can start you on your way to a full-fledged Player Character.
Users are both welcome and encouraged to add, change, or just plain ignore whatever parts of the cards or process they want, but this makes for a great tool right out of the box. My only complaint is that it comes in a side-opening tuck box with no way to keep the cards separated. This only really matters for the instructions, since those are printed on cards as well. An easy fix for me was to just fold the card of legal and licence mumbo-jumbo around half the cards to keep it organized. I’m just particular that way, I guess.
Having more tools at your disposal is always better than having less tools, and the Deck of Many Wonders is a terrific addition to any GM’s toolkit. Maybe consider picking this up to thank your GM them for all the games I am sure they are running for you online under quarantine.