01 – The Masterdeck Card Basics

01 – The Masterdeck Card Basics

Anatomy of a Card


(Click on the caption of the feature to get the explanation)

(Borrowed from Masterbook Core Rulebook, WEG)

If you purchased MasterBook as part of a boxed set, then you have one the MasterBook card deck, also known as the Action Deck.

The Card Number

The Card Number is at the top of the card’s face. Used in the same way as Masterbook.

The Card Name

This identifies the type of card. Used in the same way as Masterbook

The Enhancement/Subplot Line

This short paragraph outlines the effect the card has on gameplay. There are 2 types of cards in this respect: Subplot and Enhancement. Both are explained below There are also Picture Card which look totally different than the diagram above. They are explained later.

Critical Skill Resolution Line

Critical Skill Resolution is explained later, for sake of consistency. This line is used only for this system. I have never found a use for the system, but if you have, then here it is.

Initiative Lines

Here is where the Masterdeck makes its major change into Star Wars/D6. The Star Wars/D6 initiative system is basically thrown out, and replaced with the Masterdeck system. It bases the initiative more on chance than on the players ability, but the system over all adds so much to combat that is worth the sacrifice. It makes things easier on GMs because he doesn’t have to keep up with who has the highest Perception. Perception rolls still can effect the order of combat, however, as explained in the optional rule in Initiative.

There are two Initiative Lines on each card. One is labeled “S:” and the other “D:.” The first indicates a Standard scene and the second indicates a Dramatic scene. The GM determines which to use, based on the plot of the adventure, and how things are developing. Dramatic basically is defined as a pivotal moment or scene with in the adventure, and anything else is Standard.

Action Line Effect

“P:” stands for Player Characters and “G:” stands for Gamemaster Characters. These abbreviations are followed either by a dash (“-“) or a word (called an Action Line Effect).

For a full explanation of Cards in Combat and Interaction, it explained in the page by that title.

Approved Action Line

The last tag on the card is the Approved Action Line. This is abbreviated “Act:” and shows what actions, if any, are approved during a particular combat round. This line is explained later.

The Anatomy of the Card Deck

If you have a standard Masterdeck set, it is made up of 108 cards. Of these cards, 83 are enhancement cards, 17 are subplot cards, and six are picture cards. There are also two blank cards. All are used differently at some point during the game. But all have some similarities as well.

Enhancement Cards

Enhancement cards are colored black on the top and red on the bottom. The black area of the card is the enhancement side. Players only have to worry about the top of the card (black side).

Subplot Cards

Subplot cards are distinctive because they are all red, rather than red and black. When a player is dealt a red card, he should turn it face up on the table and alert the gamemaster immediately. The gamemaster will then tell the player whether or not that particular subplot can be used during the adventure. If it can, then the player keeps the card in front of him for later use (as described below). Otherwise, he puts it in the discard pile and the gamemaster awards the character one 3 Character Points. Regardless, the player draws one more card (if it’s a subplot card, repeat the procedure above; if its an enhancement card, the player keeps the card in his hand).

If the player draws a subplot card and simply has no interest in pursuing it, he may choose to discard it. Again, he can receive a 3 Character Points for doing this.

No character can have more than two subplots in effect at any one time, and no more than six Character Points can be awarded to any one character for having subplots that cannot take effect – all other subplot cards are lost. The gamemaster can overrule either of these rules if he feels the need.

Subplot cards do not count as cards in the character’s pool/ hand. A character who receives a subplot card should draw another to put into his hand – regardless of what happens to the subplot.

Number of Cards

The number of cards given to each character is based on the number of player characters in the party. This is included for consistency. This is the Masterbook standard, while the conversion says to just give out 3 to each player, regardless of the amount of characters. The GM can opt either way.

Card Distribution Chart

Number of Player Characters Number of Cards for Each
1 5
2-5 3
6+ 2

The Hand vs. The Pool

The card “hand” and the”pool” are mentioned several times. It is a major part of the Masterbook Card system, and is explained here in terms of D6. It encourages action during combat turns, plus dynamic interaction between players.

Whenever player characters are not in combat rounds (round-by-round combat), the cards are in the player’s hand. They can be played at any time simply by throwing them into the discard pile and applying their bonuses or effects. Any number of cards may be played in this manner, as long as this does not violate any other rule. However, in Combat Rounds, it is explained below.

Cards may be traded between players on a one-for-one basis only. No player may give or receive a card without receiving or giving an equal number of cards.

In and Out of Rounds

Most of the time, characters are “out” of rounds during an adventure. A round is any time period where something very important to the adventure is happening – or, at least, something very intense. Whenever fighting breaks out in an adventure, the characters are automatically “in” rounds (normally five second combat rounds); sometimes, the gamemaster will put the characters “in” rounds when the tension of the adventure has grown to a peak, or when something time-critical is happening (called interaction rounds, which can cover any period of time from five seconds to representing much longer periods of time).

Combat Rounds

Once the action of the adventure enters a round sequence – always during combat, but sometimes during tense interaction or critical skill resolution as well – the players “pick up” their cards and should hold them in their hands. At this point, players cannot play or trade any of their cards until they have been put into the player’s card pool.

How this works is simple. After a character performs an action during a combat round – a simple or complex action, he may place a card face up into his pool (on the table in front of him). At this point, all the players and the gamemaster can see the card. At time after the player has placed the card into his pool, he can then play it or trade it with other players on a one-for-one basis.

There is no limit to the number of cards a player may have in his character’s pool at any one time.

Cards received as part of a trade are placed in the character’s pool. Cards received from approved actions must go into the player’s hand first, and can only be played into a hand at least one round later. Other means of receiving cards (use of leadership or rally cards, or the inspiration effect) are discussed in other areas of the text.

During rounds, there is no limit to the number of cards a player may have in his hand or pool.

After rounds are over (the combat or the interaction is resolved), the players pick up their cards. They may have to discard cards because cards in their hands may not exceed the total on the Card Distribution Chart (or three, depending on the system the GM chose).

Gamemaster or subplot (all red)
cards and most joker cards never count toward the player’s hand total (the wild card is an exception).

Playing for the Critical Moment

This is an exception to the “in rounds” hand vs. pool rule. During a crisis situation while in rounds, a player may announce he is “playing for the critical moment” and play all his cards in that round. He must discard any cards he does not want to play – at the end of the round, the player has no more cards.

When a character plays for a critical moment, he can only obtain new cards through the normal rules. In addition, a character may play for only one critical moment per adventure.

The only reason characters can only “play for the critical moment” during rounds is because they can throw any number of cards from their hand when not in rounds so there is never a need to declare a “critical moment’ when not in rounds. If a character were, for example, trying to run quickly down a street in non-rounds time and he had three adrenaline cards, he could use them all to increase his running skill without having to declare a critical moment.

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