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Haunted Items: Leaping Stag Deck

Haunted Items: Leaping Stag Deck

Haunted items are magical curios inhabited by a soul, typically the soul of their former owner or someone with a close connection to the item.

The soul has its own thoughts and motivations, and often unfinished business keeps them tethered to the item.

The soul may communicate with the item’s new owner, empathically, telepathically, or as a manifestation, and may even demand the new owner complete a quest.

Characters who help a spirit achieve their goals might lay the spirit to rest, and perhaps increase the power of the haunted item in the process!

Check out other haunted items in the series!

Saidendrina “Sadie” Cormack/The Leaping Stag Deck

Wondrous Item, Legendary

This deck of playing cards is made from thick, high-quality cardstock. The back of each card is embellished with gold leaf, an elegant design of a leaping stag bordered by oak branches.

The deck originally belonged to Saidendrina “Sadie” Cormack, a human card sharp and hustler who worked gaming halls all across the land. Skilled in cutting wit, sleight of hand, and intuition, Sadie began her life as nothing more than a charlatan, happy to take poor saps for their coin and cut them at their pride in the bargain.

After several years at card tables, however, Sadie discovered she was actually quite good at a popular gambling card game, Rooks and Ravens. After a close call outside a tavern with a shadow goblin gang, Sadie made a vow to go straight. She laid low for a few months, then joined the gambling circuit with the intention of winning her coin—and her fame—fair and square.

Sadie chased success for several years, working through every tournament she could find, from the Frost Giant Open to the Moonlit Invitational. She won this deck in a tournament along with a sizeable purse and several propositions of marriage (all of which she declined).

Her goal, however, was to win everything in the Crossroads Cup in goblin territory, which she finally did in her third year of legitimate competition. She won several rounds of the tournament, and was a heavy favorite to take the championship cup.

Her return did not go unnoticed. The night before the final round of the tournament, shadow goblin assassins broke into her room at the Seven Bells Tavern, killed her, and claimed her possessions—including the leaping stag deck—as restitution for her slight years ago.

Properties. This white card deck is decorated with gold-leaf designs and slides neatly into a white leather case. When attuned to this deck, you gain +2 to your Dexterity checks.

Sentience. The leaping stag deck is a sentient neutral item possessed by the spirit of Saidendrina “Sadie” Cormack. It has an Intelligence of 11, a Wisdom of 13, and a Charisma of 16. It has hearing and sight at a range of 120 feet.

The item can speak, read, and understand Common, Elvish, Gnomish, and Dwarvish, and can communicate with its wielder telepathically. It speaks with a slight rural accent that becomes more apparent if the spirit of Sadie becomes agitated.

Personality. The deck is boisterous, gregarious, and charming. It can help its wielder learn to play several different card games, but is especially proficient at Rooks and Ravens. It can also point out tells and mannerisms in others, and is adept at reading social situations.

The spirit of Sadie loves being in the presence of good-natured drinking, gambling, and carousing, and encourages the deck’s owner to take her out for a night on the town whenever possible.

Goals. Sadie wants to travel the continent with her owner, playing in all the gambling houses they can. She particularly longs to finally win the Crossroads Cup with her new owner.

Spirit of Competition. When you fulfill Sadie’s goals, you can unlock additional abilities tied to the deck. To fulfill a goal, you must be attuned to the deck, and it must be in your possession when you accomplish one of the following.

  • When you play at least one game of Rooks and Ravens with the deck, you gain advantage on Charisma (Deception) checks for the next 24 hours. You may only gain this benefit three times by playing in the same establishment.
  • When you win at least one game of Rooks and Ravens, you gain advantage on Wisdom (Insight) checks to determine whether a creature is lying for the next 24 hours. You may only gain this benefit three times by playing in the same establishment.
  • Winner Takes All. If you win the Crossroads Cup Tournament, Sadie is thrilled. Her exuberance fills you with a sense of accomplishment and pride. At dawn each day, as long as you are attuned to the deck, you gain inspiration. This inspiration disappears after 24 hours if it is not used.

The spirit of Sadie Cormack is competitive, whip-smart, and highly observant. She is not satisfied if you play against a foe far beneath your skill level. Additionally, she wishes to play new opponents and see new taverns and gambling houses. If you attempt to cheat to satisfy an above goal (for example, playing against a child or against an opponent who willingly loses to you), or if she thinks you’re twisting the purpose of the deck to suit your own needs rather than fulfilling her wishes, she withholds the benefits of the deck until she is satisfied with your behavior.


Find more magic items for your D&D game in Vault of Magic, Deep Magic, and Tome of Heroes!


about Sarah Madsen

Sarah Madsen is an author and TTRPG designer. She has contributed to projects from Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, Ghostfire Gaming, Cubicle 7, and others. Her cyberpunky urban fantasy novel, Weaver’s Folly, is available from Falstaff Books. You can find her on Twitter (@UnfetteredMuse), Facebook (facebook.com/SarahMadsenAuthor) or WordPress (unfetteredmuse.com).

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