The Deck Of Many Drinks by Jef Aldrich & Jon Taylor

subtitled The RPG Cocktail Recipe Deck with Powerful Effects! A part of the Dungeonmeister line of books and gaming aids.

This has got to be one of the most fun and useful items I’ve ever whipped out while running a game of Dungeons & Dragons. Sure, there may have been more fun items, not that any come immediately to mind. And, let’s face it, the Dungeon Master’s screen is the most useful aid for any DM trying to hide the results of their rolls so they can save their party of reckless adventurers from certain doom, ahem. But as a combination of both fun and useful? This deck cannot be beaten.

The fifty oversized cards come in a sturdy flip top deck box, accompanied by a high quality booklet that serves as both guide and recipe book. Let’s talk about the book first before I ooh and aah over the cards. The glossy interiors are in black and white, and are divided into two main parts. First, there’s a How To Use section which talks a little about the D&D lore-related inspiration behind the deck before discussing the drinks’ potential uses as treasure and craftable items, complete with very handy game-mechanics advice for both. The authors then describe the Dungeonmeister Tavern that can be used as a setting related to these drinks, complete with non-player characters the DM can use to staff the bar.

The bulk of the booklet has real world recipes for each of the fifty drinks in the deck. As a former bartender, I can attest to the creativity of the drinks included! Many of them are twists on old staples, while some are mere reskins. A surprising number are alarmingly creative, with an eyebrow-raising amount of energy drinks and green liqueurs included in their ingredient lists. Thematically, my favorites are the set that alludes to Magic The Gathering, but also I am a big old nerd.

I have to say that I really appreciate how the deck goes to great pains to keep the actual alcohol list separate from the cards themselves. It might not seem like much to people who aren’t recovering alcoholics or otherwise uncomfortable around intoxicating beverages, but keeping the recipes to the guidebook and not printing them on the cards themselves really helps distance players from the real world triggers associated with alcohol abuse. It’s the kind of thoughtful gesture I’ve come to expect from this creative team.

The cards themselves lean hard into the fantasy aspect, further dissociating them from any potential triggers (tho ofc a responsible DM will have discovered if alcohol is a subject to avoid in the game’s Session Zero.) Each oversized card comes with a cute color illustration of its drink, an in-game effect of imbibing, and a mechanical benefit or drawback. I was already impressed by the creativity of the recipe book, so this part straight up knocked my socks off! After evaluating this deck on my own at home, I was super excited to bring this to my May Game Day. It would fit perfectly into a little interlude I’d planned for my player characters in our Ghosts Of Saltmarsh game, between the haunted house chapter and confronting the bad guys in the next part of that module.

My PCs all chose to stay at the same inn between adventures, so awoke to find an invitation to an “intimate” soiree thrown by one of the town’s grandees slid under each of their doors, to celebrate their recent victory. Ofc, half the town showed up at Gellan Primewater’s manor, where he’d hired a bartender from the Dungeonmeister Tavern to serve each guest one special drink in addition to as many regular drinks as they chose to imbibe. I shuffled up the Deck Of Many Drinks and gave each PC a card, to hilarious effect. The Electrum Piece was the first drink randomly chosen, setting off a rain of 3d6x100 electrum pieces, which my greedy ass PCs adored (and luckily there were plenty of healers on hand to deal with the 1d6+4 bludgeoning damage that was a result.)

The Natural 20 that my foolhardy halfling ranger drew also came in super handy later on in the adventure, when I had them accompanying a Gen Alpha mermaid named Gali down to ruins that the party kept insisting on exploring despite Gali protesting that the place was way too skibidi. I let my ranger use the card effect to replace a die roll, that might have literally gutted her on a failure, with a nat 20 instead. I now have to figure out what to do with this magic item that they somehow made it past a level 10 undead priestess to obtain, by virtue of said ranger declaring — while coming down the stairs to where the party didn’t know that the priestess was meditating — that she was going to straight up worship the lonely priestess’ deity, thereby earning herself a new bestie. I think I’ve got a good solution that will make the weapon potentially deadly for a lower level user (the party is all level 2) so hopefully that will help rebalance the game once they figure out what they have. Because, as a responsible GM, I refused to let them know exactly what it is until I could figure out the workaround, lolololsob.

I’m also pretty psyched that one of them drew the Dungeonmeister card, which I turned into a one-time-use in-game business card that allows the PC to teleport themself and the rest of the party to the Dungeonmeister Tavern. That not only gives them a get-out-of-jail-free card but also gives us an excuse to use this deck again, and you’d better believe we’re all looking forward to another round of drinks from it! My players and I had such a brilliant time using these cards, and conceivably could work the actual recipes into the festivities at some point. Highly recommended for any gaming table that’s okay or better with alcohol use.

The Deck Of Many Drinks by Jef Aldrich & Jon Taylor was published yesterday May 28 2024 by Adams Media and is available from all good booksellers, including

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  1. This sounds awesome!

    1. Genuinely the most fun prop I can remember ever using in D&D. Just realized that it’ll have to permanently live in my GM’s bag since I gave my Ghosts of Saltmarsh PCs the Dungeonmeister card, which they will likely pull out when I’m least prepared for it lolololsob. Already trying to figure out how to accommodate one of the PCs not being there this weekend. I’ll figure it out, right?

      1. I hope it went well! And yes, even more awesomeness.

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