"Fear attracts the fearful." - Darth Maul
I thought the Despair Deck was a great addition to special encounters and events for D&D, and I've really wanted to carry over to D&DNext. So, I created a chart in Excel and tried to do my best to replicate the effects in terms of D&DNext rules. I know some of these might need a little playtesting/tweaking, but I wanted to share them with the community and maybe allow others to try out the rules in their own Halloween themed games.
Remember, players each draw a Despair card when the finish an extended rest in a place the DM deems appropriate. This could be the Shadowfell, Castle Ravenloft, or a haunted cathedral. Alternatively, the DM could have each player draw from the Despair Deck when they encounter something horrifying, such as witnessing a dear friend having been transformed into a vampire.
In order to remove the Despair effect, the player must make a saving throw, applying no Ability Score modifiers. These saving throws are made after two combat encounters, unless the DM permits it otherwise (due to good roleplaying, etc). If they have proficiency in the skill listed, they may add their proficiency bonus to the roll. I would say that the saving throw DC should be 10. While this is classified as an Easy DC, the players are not applying their Ability Score modifiers, so without adding proficiency bonuses, they are already at a 55% chance of overcoming the Despair effect.
Overcoming the Despair effect grants the players a Boon, which gives them some sort of benefit until their next extended rest.
Also, be aware of the 3 categories the Despair Deck falls into: Fear, Apathy and Madness. DM's can always remove cards from the deck in order to allow players to acquire certain traits. For example, while exploring ancient crypts, Fear cards might belong better due to the environment. You never know when something will jump out at you!
Below I've included the list of the different cards in the deck and their new D&DNext equivalents.
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Also, if Wizards is ever interested in a Feywild supplement, I would love to contribute!