Pinochle Tables

There are many locations where I am uncomfortable rolling dice. The sound of those cubes rattling on the table draws both frowns and unwanted attention. I have used electronic “dice” and various other random number generators, but I’ve discovered a solution that works better for me: a Pinochle deck.

Most of the tables (and decisions) I make while gaming are derived from d6 tables. I never found a good way to convert those tables to a standard deck of cards. Until, that is, I remembered the Pinochle deck. A Pinochle deck only has six values: Ace, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, and King. Handily, there are eight of each, making for a nice deck of 48 cards.

Sample Substitutions

Here are some ways to use a Pinochle deck.

  • Two choices: Draw one card, ignore value. Red suits =1; black = 2.
  • Three choices: Draw one card, ignore suit. 9, 10 = 1; J, Q = 2; K, A = 3.
  • Four choices: Draw one card, ignore value. Diamond = 1; Heart = 2; Club = 3; Spade = 4.
  • Six choices: Draw one card, ignore suit. Ace = 1; 9 = 2; 10 = 3; Jack = 4; Queen = 5; King = 6.
  • Eight choices: Draw one card. Diamond Court card = 1; Diamond other = 2; Heart Court card = 3; Heart other = 4; Club Court card = 5; Club other = 6; Spade Court card = 7; Spade other = 8.
  • Twelve choices: Draw one card. A-K in Red = 1–6 respectively; A-K in black = 7–12.
  • 24 choices: Draw one card. A-K of Diamonds = 1–6; A-K of Hearts = 7–12; A-K of Clubs = 13–18; A-K of Spades = 19–24.

One could also have 36-choices by making a 6x6 table and drawing two cards, one for the row selection and one for the column selection. See the 6x6 matrix below. Need more? Lots of other matrix combinations can easily be build with a minimum of creativity.

If you’re really fanatical about this, do as I have done: buy two Poker decks with different color backs. (I get my cards used at the thrift store for $.50 a deck.) You may now have 48 choices by reading the 24 unique values on the face and doubling the choice depending on the color of the card-back.

I know. That’s crazy. Mostly I use the cards as A–9–10-J-Q-K for 1–6 choices.

Some sample tables

Below are some tables I have made for my own use. The first is very useful for solo play. Also shown are some Mythic tables and some character trait tables.

Feel free to adopt, adapt, or copy as you please!


The idea for using a table of six answers (originally based upon a d6 roll) comes from Tiny Solitary Soldiers, a very useful blog.

Use: form a simple yes/no question and draw a card. Read the “Meaning” column. Draw a second card and check the “Twist” column to see if there’s been a twist in the flow of the story (an Ace was drawn). If so, draw two more cards to see how the Twist alters the story by reading the “D1” and the “D2” column.

Card Meaning Twist D1 D2 After
K Yes, and… - PC Appears Dramatic
Q Yes - NPC Alters Dramatic
J Yes, but… - Org. Helps Dramatic
10 No, but… - Phys. Event Hinders Calm
9 No - Emotional Event Changes Calm
A No, and… Twist! Item Ends scene Meanwhile…

May be modified better or worse by Diamond/Spade if desired. E.g. any King is “Yes, and…” but a KD is really good “and” whereas a KS is just barely better than a plain “Yes”.

Alternatively, one could say that a Diamond makes things one row higher, a Spade one row lower.

Event Focus Table

- K Q J 10 9 A
K Close Thread NPC Action Move toward Thread Move away Thread PC Pos PC Pos
Q NPC Action Thread event NPC Action Move toward Thread Move away Thread NPC Pos
J PC Neg NPC Action PC Pos NPC Action Move toward Thread Move away Thread
10 PC Neg PC Neg NPC Action New NPC NPC Pos Move toward Thread
9 NPC Pos PC Neg PC Neg NPC Action New NPC NPC Neg
A Thread event Ambiguous Ambiguous NPC Neg NPC Neg New NPC



Red Trait Black Trait
K Alert K All thumbs
Q Brave Q Arrogant
J Fast J Bloodthirsty
10 Noble 10 Greedy
9 Brawler 9 Mean
A Leader A Yellow


- K Q J 10 9 A
K Charismatic Cruel Dim Free Spirit Genius Logical
Q Shy Smooth Stunning Alert Brave Fast
J Noble Brawler Leader Quickdraw Arrogant Bloodthirsty
10 Greedy Mean Coward Fixer Rage Vicious
9 Cold Driven Wary Slow Jumpy Generous
A Protected Ganger Honorable Secure Religious Technocrat

Mythic Tables


Draw two cards. First for column, second for row. (Actions are less Develop, Adjourn, Care, and Work Hard; Subject table is without Intrigues, Opulence, Exterior Factors, and Disruption.)

Card Diamond Heart Club Spade
KD Attainment Dominate Debase Refuse
QD Starting Procrastinate Overindulge Mistrust
JD Neglect Praise Adversity Deceive
10D Fight Separate Kill Cruelty
9D Recruit Take Disrupt Intolerance
AD Triumph Break Usurp Trust
KH Violate Heal Create Excitement
QH Oppose Delay Betray Activity
JH Malice Stop Agree Assist
10H Communicate Lie Abuse Negligence
9H Persecute Return Oppress Control
AH Increase Imitate Inspect Attract
KC Decrease Struggle Ambush Failure
QC Abandon Inform Spy Pursue
JC Gratify Bestow Attach Vengeance
10C Inquire Postpone Carry Proceedings
9C Antagonize Expose Open Dispute
AC Move Haggle Carelessness Punish
KS Waste Imprison Ruin Guide
QS Truce Release Extravagance Transform
JS Release Celebrate Trick Overthrow
10S Befriend Travel Arrive Passion
9S Judge Block Propose Oppress
AS Desert Harm Divide Change


Card Diamond Heart Club Spade
KD Goals Friendship Jealousy Trials
QD Dreams A Project Dispute Masses
JD Environment Pleasures Home Vehicle
10D Outside Pain Investment Art
9D Inside Possessions Suffering Victory
AD Reality Benefits Wishes Dispute
KH Allies Plans Tactics Riches
QH Enemies Lies Stalemate Status Quo
JH Evil Expectations Randomness Technology
10H Good Legal Matters Misfortune Hope
9H Emotions Bureaucracy Death Magic
AH Opposition Business Disruption Illusions
KC War A path Power Portals
QC Peace News A burden Danger
JC The innocent Advice Fears Weapons
10C Love A plot Ambush Animals
9C The Spiritual Competition Rumor Weather
AC The Intellectual Prison Wounds Elements
KS New Ideas Illness Extravagance Nature
QS Joy Food A representative Public
JS Messages Attention Adversities Leadership
10S Energy Success Liberty Fame
9S Balance Failure Military Anger
AS Tension Travel The Mundane Information