The Alchemists of Adventure: Inside the Creation of ‘Dungeonmeister: The Deck of Many Drinks’

Dungeonmeister: Deck of Many Drinks

Get ready to shake up your game night with Dungeonmeister: Deck of Many Drinks, a fun new addition that adds a twist to your gaming experience. It blends the unpredictability of chance with custom-crafted cocktails.

I had the opportunity to chat with RPG experts and authors Jef Aldrich and Jon Taylor, the masterminds behind this new deck. Jef and Jon have combined their passion for tabletop gaming with their love for creative libations, resulting in a product that’s likely to become a staple for game nights. From how they developed this idea, their challenges in bringing it to life, and their favorite concoctions from the deck, check out my interview with Jef and Jon below!

Dungeonmeister: Deck of Many Drinks
Dungeonmeister: Deck of Many Drinks / Image Credit: Adams Media, an imprint of Simon and Schuster

What inspired you to create a cocktail version of The Deck of Many Things?

We’ve had so much fun writing books that aren’t roleplaying games themselves but speak the language of roleplaying games, so when the time came to update our cocktail book Düngeonmeister into a popular form factor (folks just love recipe decks), we were only too happy to do so. And it seemed like the perfect time to flex our comedy RPG design muscles as well.

As soon as we heard our publisher suggest a “drink deck,” the connection felt pretty much perfect and inevitable. Why not make a box that’s a recipe set and a full-fledged in-game magical item at the same time? We’re just huge fans of things that are actually two or more things.

Walk me through the naming process of the cocktails. Which ones were you most proud of?

S,o several of the cocktail names have been around for quite some time, as we wrote the initial Düngeonmeister book during the first few months of the pandemic lockdown. The two of us had already been making a comedy podcast about RPGs (System Mastery) for nearly a decade, so pun names and RPG jokes came fairly easily to us, even when quarantining restricted us to chatting online. Our favorite names have always been the most pun-infused, including beverages like the Illithid Substance and the Wight Russian.

Can you explain how the effects of the drinks are balanced for gameplay?

Honestly, in the 5th edition, D&D potions aren’t especially well-integrated into gameplay anyway (this may change with the upcoming updates!). And we didn’t want to unbalance any campaigns, so we went light and silly for the vast majority of potion effects. Sure, a few will give you a temporary breath weapon or the ability to fly briefly. But most of them focus on silly effects that make a scene more exciting and vanish before they overstay their welcome.

We also anticipated that players would like to make a party out of the deck. Readers will find advice for how to run Düngeonmeister as a magical interplanar tavern in which the potion-style drinks flow freely and the rules don’t matter as much (Death is a minor inconvenience, fights are entirely optional but don’t aggravate the bartenders or they’ll bounce you to another dimension).

Dungeonmeister: Deck of Many Drinks
Dungeonmeister: Deck of Many Drinks / Image Credit: Adams Media, an imprint of Simon and Schuster

What advice would you give to Dungeon Masters looking to incorporate the Deck of Many Drinks into their campaigns?

There’s a great deal of advice on how to incorporate the deck included in the recipe booklet in every box. We split our suggestions into a variety of modes of play. DMs can choose between incorporating individual cocktails as adventure rewards, giving players the entire deck as a magical artifact, treating it as a collection of functioning in-game potion recipes that can become adventures to acquire the ingredients for, or the aforementioned trip to a magic tavern that exists in the space between worlds!

What challenges did you face in designing cocktails that align with RPG themes and effects?

The biggest challenge was just stepping outside of our own comfort zones when it comes to alcoholic beverages. Both of us tended to be the sort of drinkers that prefer sweet, candy-style cocktails, basically anything on a chain restaurant’s menu that contains the words sunset, frozen, or Jamaica. But we wanted to cover a wider range of palates, including more complex herbaceous and bitter flavors, spicy drinks, smoky cocktails, and more.

Also, the Gelatinous Cube recipe took several weeks of trying to find a recipe for an almost perfectly translucent gelatin shot that stands firm outside of a wrapper or cup, has a decent hit of booze in it, and still tastes great. A fun trick with that recipe is putting candy bones and treasure into the cubes, and that was also a trick to experiment with what candies will and won’t just melt into hot gelatin.

Can you share an example of how a specific card and its effect might play out during a game?

One of the more interesting ones that can be used is the Never Split the Party Punch. Instead of a single drink, this has a punchbowl that anyone can drink from. However, anyone who drinks from the punch will be magically bound into a group, forcing everyone to remain within 50 feet of each other but gaining a bonus to saves, attacks, and skills as long as they stay close to another party member. It’s great for a way to force a weird combat restriction, but it’s much more amusing when someone who isn’t in your adventuring party drinks from it. And now, a group of locals are being magically dragged along on your shenanigans for the day.

Dungeonmeister: Deck of Many Drinks
Dungeonmeister: Deck of Many Drinks / Image Credit: Adams Media, an imprint of Simon and Schuster

What was the process like for playtesting and refining the deck?

Refining the deck’s effects was mostly a process of either toning things down, from a mechanical power perspective, or ramping things up when it came to the sillier effects. We didn’t want there to be a card that was going to be clearly the best choice if you wanted to power game things. We tried to ensure that any GM would feel alright, including the effects, because they wouldn’t drastically imbalance their setting.

Are there plans for expansions or additional themed decks in the future?

We would love to create more, either within the fantasy setting we’ve been in or branching out into more sci-fi-type cocktails for those who like to get their drinks from weird alien bartenders. While nothing is set as far as the next evolution of the drink deck, you can bet we have an arsenal of cocktail ideas and the puns to back them up.

Be sure to check out Dungeonmeister: Deck of Many Drinks here!


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