Constellation Cards
Armored (Front)

"My daggers bounced off that plate mail! What now?" -- Basler

This encounter includes something important that is heavily defended.

This could mean body armor of leather or metal, hardened barriers of stone, or wood, a protective aura of magic, a divine blessing, or something else.

You may be challenged if you try to penetrate or circumvent the armor to get to what's inside.

Something armored may:

  • Ignore harm from typical weapons or other sources of damage
  • Destroy weaker things that strike it or are struck by it
  • Protect unarmored allies

Flip to see ways to meet the encounter's challenges.

Armored (Back)

"You know what metal does? Heats up. Fireball!" -- Tana

Every armor has a weakness or comes at a cost, like making someone slower or something heavier. Some armor has weak spots or is vulnerable to a specific attack. Armor can also suffer if not regularly maintained.

You can confront an Armored obstacle without a challenge if you can find and exploit one of these weaknesses.

Something armored may:

  • Have limited senses that can be exploited by nimble, stealthy, or evasive opponents
  • Be forced to shed the armor if it's heated, if they sink, etc.
  • Be susceptible to area-effect attacks or those of a particular type (magic, psychic, electric, etc.)

Flip to see ways the encounter challenges the PCs.

Base (Front)

"Aheheh.. We come in peace?" -- Basler

The encounter includes a place where creatures stay for a common purpose.

A Base can be a temporary encampment, an outpost, a secret headquarters, a wild animal's den, or some other protected space.

You may be challenged if you try to find something specific in the base, find your way out or through, or confront its occupants and their preparations.

A Base may:

  • Bristle with defenders
  • Defy intrusion with traps, labyrinthine structure, or other clever preparations
  • Enable its defenders to cut off escape routes or easily give chase

Flip to see ways to meet the encounter's challenges.

Base (Back)

"Next time, I'll let my sword do the talking." -- Emory

While Bases can be big and imposing, their nature can work against their occupants.

Tents, side-passages, stacked crates, and many other things can help a character even the odds. Camps have a lot of supplies that can be looted or bargained for.

A Base may:

  • House something you're looking for, or something unexpected that can help you
  • Rely on infrastructure that can be destroyed or disrupted
  • Give up secrets about the plans and activities of its occupants

Flip to see ways the encounter challenges the PCs.

Diabolical (Front)

"Back, foul fiend! Light will overcome you!" -- Emory

A Diabolical encounter has the touch of evil. An actual summoned demon, a possessed victim, or a dark and malevolent force are all Diabolic.

You may be challenged if you engage with the Diabolical without proper protections or if you unknowingly encounter its influence.

A Diabolical encounter may:

  • Seek to corrupt or influence the vulnerable
  • Exploit moral weaknesses or dark secrets
  • Expose its true nature and hellish powers

Flip to see ways to meet the encounter's challenges.

Diabolical (Back)

"Basler, stop cringing. He's not talking about you." -- Woody

Evil hasn't won, though it keeps trying. Powers from beyond are bound by their own rules too, and can be defeated accordingly.

Characters who arm themselves with occult lore or divine blessings may circumvent or neutralize a Diabolical power.

A Diabolical encounter may:

  • Be susceptible to folk incantations or rituals
  • Recoil from the pure of heart
  • Flee to fight another day

Flip to see ways the encounter challenges the PCs.

Elemental (Front)

"Earth sprites. They have the ore we seek." -- Tana

This encounter involves powerful elemental forces. This can mean creatures made of such forces, or dangerous sources like a volcano or a violent storm.

You may be challenged by the raw power of an Elemental threat, or it can cause environmental dangers or obstacles.

An Elemental power may:

  • Create, animate, or manipulate its element in useful or dangerous ways
  • Change the environment with aspects of its element, such as making rivers of fire or barriers of wind
  • Control or manipulate its element, even inside complex or living things, like the metal in electronics or the water in blood

Flip to see ways to meet the encounter's challenges.

Elemental (Back)

"They had some nice gemstones too!" -- Basler

The elements represent a complex system with rules that can be exploited.

Each element is usually weak to another element, such as fire being weak to water. Elements are also bound to their natures. Fire needs some sort of fuel to persist, for example.

You can weaken or neutralize an Elemental threat by exploiting its vulnerabilities or using its nature against it.

Elemental threats may:

  • Be vulnerable to their element's normal vulnerabilities or rules
  • Require a nearby source of the element to control, or just to survive

Flip to see ways the encounter challenges the PCs.

Flying (Front)

"Did something just swoop overhead?" -- Emory

This encounter includes an important aspect that can fly or is otherwise airborne.

Winged creatures, skilled magicians, and others can fly. Floating platforms, mischievous winds, and more can keep important assets or dangers aloft.

You may be challenged when a flying threat holds your object out of reach, or when you try to affect something in the sky.

Flying threats may:

  • Strike targets on the ground without risking counterattacks
  • Move faster than those trapped on the ground, or reach places they can't
  • See greater distances or from better angles

Flip to see ways to meet the encounter's challenges.

Flying (Back)

"Meet my best girl, Annette! A net, get it?" -- Basler

Wings require lots of energy to sustain flight, and are often fragile. Magical or elemental sources of flight can be counter-spelled or negated. Turbulent air can thwart flyers, forcing them to ground, where they might be vulnerable.

You may avoid the challenge of a flyer by disturbing its source of flight or forcing it into situations where its flight won't help.

Flying threats may:

  • Become entangled, trapped, or confined in ways that negate flight
  • Be unable to lift heavy loads or fly under difficult conditions
  • Suffer great harm if they fall a great distance

Flip to see ways the encounter challenges the PCs.

Gang (Front)

"They outnumber us 5 to 1, folks!" -- Basler

This encounter includes a group of people or creatures bound together in common purpose.

Gangs can be organized, like criminal gangs or military units, or they can be informal groups, like angry mobs or startled herds of animals.

You may be challenged by a Gang's numerical advantage, or by its planning and influence.

A Gang may:

  • Surround or isolate individuals through strength in numbers
  • Shout down or bully a lone voice
  • Bring a variety of skills or resources to bear on a problem

Flip to see ways to meet the encounter's challenges.

Gang (Back)

"Sounds like fair odds to me. Have at you!" -- Emory

The strength of a gang is in its numbers. Dealing with individual members can be very different from confronting the gang as a whole.

While an assembled gang acts instinctively, individuals can be made to consider actions more carefully.

You may avoid or circumvent the challenge of a gang by disrupting the group, or by addressing individual members.

A Gang may:

  • Have competing impulses or mixed sympathies or agendas
  • Fall apart if a leader is weakened or shamed
  • Follow a new leader or impulse that better matches its agenda

Flip to see ways the encounter challenges the PCs.

Hybrid (Front)

"A Gryphon. The heraldic symbol of my kingdom. Majestic!" -- Emory

A Hybrid being is made up of two or more things, not always living.

Such beings can be part-human (mermaids, harpies), mixed animal (cockatrices, pegasi), shapeshifters (werewolves), or weirder (tree-ogres).

A Hybrid may pose a challenge if characters are unfamiliar with the combination.

Hybrid beings may:

  • Use the best of their combined abilities
  • Use different abilities together in some unique way
  • Reveal a surprising new ability

Flip to see ways to meet the encounter's challenges.

Hybrid (Back)

"That thing was terrifying! Your kingdom is messed up!" -- Basler

Not every hybrid has a perfect command of its own nature. Hybrids must also obey the rules of all their component parts.

A Hybrid may not pose a challenge if the characters exploit its weaknesses.

Hybrid beings may:

  • Suffer the vulnerabilities of any of their contributing parts
  • Become confused by conflicting impulses or instincts

Flip to see ways the encounter challenges the PCs.

Large (Front)

"The bigger they are, the harder they fall!" -- Tana

This encounter includes something of enormous size. It might be naturally large, like a dragon or a giant, or have been enlarged by magic or other forces.

You may be challenged if you can't overcome your diminutive size relative to a Large threat.

A Large threat may:

  • Resist human-scale attacks or effects
  • Reach or hit an entire area at once
  • Deal devastating damage to smaller creatures and objects

Flip to see ways to meet the encounter's challenges.

Large (Back)

"Just as long as it doesn't fall on us." -- Basler

You may have trouble engaging with a Large encounter due to the size difference, but that trouble goes both ways. It can be hard for Large things to perceive or target smaller foes.

You may counter the challenge of a Large encounter by exploiting your respective sizes somehow.

A Large threat may:

  • Lose track of small details or targets
  • Be easily targeted due to its size
  • Move slowly or clumsily

Flip to see ways the encounter challenges the PCs.

Monstrous (Front)

"That ain't no ordinary wolf, folks.." -- Basler

Monstrous threats are altered forms of the familiar. They are fiercer, more feral, or disturbingly unnatural.

The characteristics of a mundane thing become exaggerated and gruesome. Muscles knot and bulge. Jaws elongate and bristle with vicious fangs. Hide thickens and goes patchy. All is as seen through the lens of nightmare.

You may be challenged by a Monstrous threat's adaptations, or by its relentless aggression.

Monstrous threats can:

  • Lash out viciously
  • Use their adaptions to overwhelm the unprepared
  • Terrify onlookers with their awful nature

Flip to see ways to meet the encounter's challenges.

Monstrous (Back)

"Whoever corrupted this creature will pay. Let's press on." -- Woody

A Monstrous threat is powered by its rage or aggression, but those can be its downfall as well.

Monstrous creatures often lack a sense of self-preservation, fighting relentlessly when others would retreat.

You may avoid the challenge of a Monstrous threat by taking advantage of its twisted, feral nature.

Monstrous threats may:

  • Lose themselves in their own ferocity
  • Fall into traps when skillfully goaded
  • Misunderstand those not driven by similar instincts

Flip to see ways the encounter challenges the PCs.

Notorious (Front)

"That's Gretamaw, the Beaked Butcher!" -- Basler

This encounter includes someone or something that bards sing about.

A Notorious monster whispered of by fearful villagers. A place of power that most folks avoid. An artifact of legend, replete with arcane power. A person known for great or terrible deeds.

You may be challenged by the weight of Notorious reputation, by those who follow or worship it, or by the very power that made it famous.

Notorious things may:

  • Impress or intimidate you with their presence
  • Live up to the legend in a big way
  • Reveal some unexpected or unreported ability

Flip to see ways to meet the encounter's challenges.

Notorious (Back)

"Save the beak. We need it to claim the reward!" -- Basler

Fame has its price.

If the stories that have gotten around are accurate, you might know how to take on this encounter - maybe.

Sometimes tales are false, and notorious things prove to be very different than you expect.

You may avoid the challenge of a Notorious threat when you correctly leverage its lore, or when you look at it with fresh eyes and discover the truth behind the stories.

Notorious threats may:

  • Behave or react just as the legends say
  • Draw unwanted attention to themselves in the region
  • Hold a deeper, unsung truth

Flip to see ways the encounter challenges the PCs.

Portentous (Front)

"Where are all those crows going?" -- Tana

This encounter foreshadows something important. It can be a mystical experience, laden with dreams and prophecy, or just a mundane glimpse into a momentous reality beyond.

Ominous encounters not only foretell change, but confront a character with a question: are you ready for what comes next?

Portentous encounters may:

  • Give a taste of things to come
  • Force people into hard moral or personal choices
  • Subtly mingle the mundane and the symbolic or dreamlike

Flip to see ways to meet the encounter's challenges.

Portentous (Back)

"They're going the same way we are. Come on." -- Woody

The Portentous is the first step on a larger road. It both surprises characters, and prepares them for what is next.

You may avoid the challenge of Portentous encounters by meeting the future they suggest with your eyes open.

Portentous encounters may:

  • Reveal an important clue or suggest a strategy
  • Unlock a hidden strength or personal conviction

Flip to see ways the encounter challenges the PCs.

Spectral (Front)

"My arrows go right through it." -- Woody

This encounter includes something ghostly or purely spiritual.

Spectral entities might have obligations or passions binding them to the mortal world. They may be frightened, angry, or confused. They might wish to go - or stay.

You may be challenged by a Spectral threat if you can't interact with it, or if its otherworldly nature has dangerous effects.

A Spectral threat may:

  • Pass through solid matter or people
  • Wield morbid magics like chilling touch or possession
  • Ravenously pursue something the living have that it wants

Flip to see ways to meet the encounter's challenges.

Spectral (Back)

"I'll have a magic circle up in a moment!" -- Tana

Spectral beings came to the waking world for a reason, whether for mischief, malice, or other needs. The bonds holding them to life are tenuous, and if they're given what they want, or can no longer get it, they might be forced back.

Spectral encounter may not pose a challenge if their objective is obtained, threatened, or destroyed. A Spectral threat may:

  • Be forced back into the other world by applying arcane lore
  • Be weakened or repulsed by warding rituals
  • Make a compromise to achieve its objective

Flip to see ways the encounter challenges the PCs.

Tense (Front)

"Deep breaths. Stay calm. Show them we're friends." -- Tana

The encounter includes a highly charged situation that affects some or all of the beings present.

Maybe someone expects something momentous to happen at any moment. Maybe two or more parties are on the verge of taking drastic action.

You may be challenged to navigate a Tense situation without making it blow up, or losing an important opportunity.

Beings in a Tense situation may:

  • Lash out with ill-considered action
  • Make bad assessments or assume the worst
  • Heedlessly run away, often making things worse

Flip to see ways to meet the encounter's challenges.

Tense (Back)

"You mean the real villain all this time was...?!" -- Emory

If you discover the reason for a Tense situation, you can often find ways to diffuse things.

If you don't get caught up in the tension, maybe you can talk the others down, or pacify them.

You may avoid the challenge of a Tense situation by getting all the facts and making careful choices in your approach.

Beings in a Tense situation may:

  • Hold the key to a secret or a misunderstanding
  • Exchange their trust for support
  • Overlook past beliefs and opinions in the stress of the moment

Flip to see ways the encounter challenges the PCs.

Toxic (Front)

"Don't let it touch you! Your skin will rot away!" -- Woody

This encounter includes something that can poison you.

Venomous creatures, assassins with poisoned blades, swamp gasses, and many other things can afflict you with sickness. Poisons can be fast acting and deadly, or gradually debilitating.

You may be challenged to engage the toxic things without getting infected.

A Toxic threat may:

  • Sicken anyone in contact with them
  • Fend off an attack with the threat of toxin
  • Deliberately attack with the poison

Flip to see ways to meet the encounter's challenges.

Toxic (Back)

"My arrows can fly farther than its spit." -- Woody

Poison is not selective. It will harm anyone, friend or foe.

Some toxins have antidotes, or may not penetrate some kinds of defense. For example, a snake's fangs might be deflected by armor.

You may avoid the challenge of a Toxic threat if you discover its secrets or thwart its method of delivery.

A Toxic threat may:

  • Inadvertently harm allies, or themselves if they are not immune
  • Be unable to deliver its poison if you find adequate protection
  • Fail to harm something or someone with a natural or acquired immunity

Flip to see ways the encounter challenges the PCs.

Undead (Front)

"This unholy abomination will fall!" -- Emory

Necromancy, curses, or strange phenomena can bring a deceased creature back to a false life. The being is sustained by magic, not biology. Some undead are mindless; others are disturbingly cunning. They are frightening reminders of mortality, often endowed with dread powers.

You may be challenged when you confront the undead using the same tactics you would use against mortal foes.

An Undead threat may:

  • Ignore attacks or effects that target life force
  • Sustain more damage than normal before being defeated
  • Infect those they harm with a plague or sickness

Flip to see ways to meet the encounter's challenges.

Undead (Back)

"Not so much fell as fell apart..." -- Basler

Being sustained by dark magic, the undead are equally vulnerable to it.

Many cannot abide holy objects, places, or effects. Others are bound by orders to only guard a certain place, or do a certain thing.

You can avoid the challenge of an Undead threat if you learn what raised them and why, and use that knowledge to outsmart or dispel them.

An Undead threat may:

  • Weaken or expire in the presence of the sacred or the pure
  • Fall prey to tricks or traps a thinking being could avoid
  • Have limitations its creator didn't anticipate

Flip to see ways the encounter challenges the PCs.