A number of years ago I was running a D&D 3e game and it ran for about 3 years. The characters got pretty high level, about 17-18th or so. Due to the hunting of some young and foolish red dragons, their activities angered an ancient and canny red dragon that visited the town they were currently bivuacked in The adventurers had led a number of refugees from another town deeper in the tundra plains that had been overrun by a horde of mixed orcs, frost giants, and their leader, the mysterious Von Lokari. In order to bribe the red dragon from slaughtering hundreds of refugees, not to mention the near thousand people in the town proper, they offered her some of their most precious magical items and treasures, including the mage’s custom staff that he had spent nearly a year crafting, a magical set of armor that had belonged to a long dead dwarven hero, scrolls containing powerful spells, several magical rings, and a king’s ransom in gems. The red dragon, who was not entirely vicious and petty, thanked them for their generosity, and in turn gave them something in exchange: a deck of cards.
Laughing, she gathered up her new treasure, and flew off to her hidden lair.
I then handed them a leather pouch, and they drew out my home-made Deck of Many Things.
Silk wrapped in a leather bag, the backside of the cards revealed a silver inlaid snowflake design.
The front sides of the card, and the deck laid out.
Details of the cards:
Top row: Star, Knight, Sun
Bottom Row: Donjon, Thief, Flames
Top Row: The Void, Ring (Gem), Moon, Throne
Bottom Row: Euryale, Comet, The Fates, Balance
Vizier, Key, Idiot, Talons
The Fool, Ruin, Death
Of course, as I was gathering them back up, I realized one had escaped my picture taking, having hidden behind another card:
The Jester, of course.
To create the cards, I took a sheet of parchement paper and outlined the number of cards I needed, then transferred the sketches I had made over, inking them and cutting out the image. I spray-mounted them onto the back of some extra playing cards (I think they were of the old Dragons! cardgame) and waited intil they dried completely. I then spray-painted the backs in a matte black and again waited until they dried.
I used gold paint on the edges and border, and a silver snowflake stamp for the center design on the back. In my attempt to make them thick and shiny, I used a liquid shellack, which when dried I hoped would make the cards heavier and give them a good shine. It didn’t work too well in the fact that the shellack was not plastic and/or glass-like; it made the cards a bit tacky, and they have a tendancy to stick together if the weather is humid. It actually damaged a couple cards that became stuck together (most notably the Knight) when I was separating them.
Ah well, I was pretty happy with the results. Now I know how to make a set of custom cards.