Five Elements -- Five Suits?

edited March 2006 in Story Games
So I've been working on my "fantasy heartbreaker": . The game atmosphere is meant to be a westernized wuxia fengshui fantasy. For various reasons (pentatonic scale, 5 fengshui elements, D&D stats minus one), I've decided to have five elements/stats/classes. I want to have locations in the game with distributions of the five elements. I want to be able to quickly randomize these, e.g. drawing a card and saying "okay, this is a strong Earth-primary location, which sets these numbers for the five elements," or "this is a weak Water-primary location," etc.

Are there any easily-accessible cards or games or things that I can use for this? Most Western stuff uses four suits...

Additionally, the element distributions are pools that the players can fiddle with. I'd like a nice, visual and/or tactile way to keep track of them. Moving between locations will sort of be like a a boardgame, with play "zooming in" at interesting locations.


  • Could you possibly have a fifth suit being Void? Or something super rare so that Jokers could be used?
  • You have an excellent reason now to make your own deck, then!

    At risk of being tacky... How about the land cards from Magic? The land cards are common enough to get easily, and they're broken up into 5 elements.

  • DevP: Yeah, awesome.
  • Hey, :)

    Tarot decks also have four suits, although I think one of them doesn't have the same number of cards as the other four.

  • Tarot decks have the Minor Arcana (meaning secrets) cards with 4 seperate suits: Swords, Pentacles (or Coins), Cups and Wands.


    The Major Arcana cards-- 22 of them numbered Zero (The Fool) through 21 (The World) which have no suit.

    Here is a link to the card images and one explanation of what they mean (there are many different interpretations)
  • Depending on the flavour of the setting, some meld of card suits and Mah Jongg tiles might be in order.

    Don't forget that you're changing all of the probabilities as well.
  • Hey dude, I was at a store on Saturday that had a deck of cards with five suits, the fifth suit was "Stars", and the king/queen/etc were black. Otherwise, all the standard cards, just a fifth suit.
    Dang, I can't find it now, but it was called "5 Suits" or "5 Kings" or something, and the cover of the box was purple. I almost bought it for shits and giggles.

  • THat's it! Thanks!
    BTW, here's a small pic of the cards:
    They're really well designed, and it sounds like they'd be perfect for what you're working on!

  • Frustratingly, the sets don't have deuces and aces.
    It's a good start, though, if you don't mind the rather odd deck setup (clearly made so that it functions for only its own game and not as a poker-deck-with-appendix), and as Andy said (I've seen them in the store too), the cards are gorgeous.

  • Full five-suited decks of cards are readily purchasable online. They're not expensive, but a bit of a novelty item. Requiring one will be a signficant barrier to entry. More than one is probably right out.

  • Yeah. I think I'll figure out a way to get equivalent probabilities with d5's and use index cards for placement, but say that it is much cooler if you do have a 5-suit deck. Or land cards. :) And possibly have a set of print-and-cut-out cards.
  • edited March 2006
    If you want an alternate solution - make use of one of the standard size address labels, and make stickers for a couple of packs of cheap Bicycle cards, sacrificing one pack to make a fifth suit for four others.
  • edited March 2006
    Stardeck 5 Suit Card Decks
    $6.00 for one and $10.00 for two

    Empire 6 Suit Card Decks
    $25.00 Candian for two decks
  • Here's my take on the five suits in a story game, just from a moment's inspiration.
  • edited March 2006
    Funnily enough Marvel Saga uses five although tailored to superheroes (4 good suits--tied to attributes and a 5th negative suit) I used it for a model for ACE cards (albeit aiming at less direct attribute mapping and more based on potential actions)

    I mocked up playtest ones here

    You might consider doing something similar--custom cards using the classic elements of China (Wood, Water, Metal etc..?)
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