Custom Card Ideas: Photo of Dorian Gray
Not familiar with the lore of Dorian Gray? In really short terms, he was a guy who never aged, only his portrait did. There are multiple endings based on word of mouth and other sources, but my favorite occurs when Dorian Gray looks at his aged image, his own age caught up to him immediately, turning him into dust.
One interpretation of this is in the movie called The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. If you shouldn't watch it for any other reason, Sean Connery is in it. A lot of people didn't like it to be fair, but I'm not reviewing that film here so let's move on.
What Does the Card Do?
The card reads thusly: "While you have this item in front of you you are immune to Death. However, if you lose this card for any reason, even selling, you die." So, this card prevents you from all the additional effects from these custom cards, as well as others such as Rocks Fall, Everybody Dies or the numerous afflictions from the Munchkin Cthulu deck.
However, the second effect also makes getting this card kind of a bad thing in certain decks. Losing this card causes you to die. You can't sell it from your hand, unless you're willing to die. Trading, losing by Bad Stuff or Curse effects, or having someone Steal it from you will also cause you to die. Not only if someone steals it from you do you die, but they now have it, meaning the same effect can happen again, and again, and again...
A lot of my custom cards revolve around the promotion of Death in Munchkin. Ritual Knife kills yourself, Ritual Sacrifice kills your helper, Roulette kills someone at random, and the Necrophillic Amulet gains bonuses from people dying. You can rise above all of that, face terrifying monsters with little worry to your own health, and basically play the game with security from some of the more foreboding consequences within the game.
This is potentially a very good card for games with little to no stealing chances. If you can couple this card with the special Headgear card from Munchkin 2: The Unnatural Axe (forgive me, I've forgotten it's name for the time being), you can protect yourself from Thieves and the like. However, when put into a game with plenty of thieves and kleptomaniacs from Cthulu, you might find yourself more at risk than you are protected.
Other times, this card becomes incredibly dangerous to draw, making its first effect to seem trite and insignificant with what serves as a guillotine hovering over your head. You cannot get rid of the card, not altogether different from the Rubbish cards, because you will die. Wanna sell it? Card says you can't. Want to trade it? The card says "if you lose this card for any reason...you die." Your best bet is hoping another player draws it in a game of hungry thieves.
When my friends and I play Munchkin and make deals to heal another player out in combat, we decide the rules for the Treasure first. A player receiving help can make the deal that they will give x amount of Treasures to the helper, the receiver's choice. Pulling up 4 or 5 cards with a Photo of Dorian Gray card is ideal in this moment since you can give it away if you don't feel you can properly protect it.
Again, there is some advantage to dying in Munchkin, as there always has been. A dungeon in Munchkin Cthulu 4: Crazed Caverns gives you a potentially winning level when you die. You can also escape from a fight where you would lose all your gear but not die, allowing you to start fresh instead, or even play this with Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies. It's all about how you use this card at the right time.
In any Munchkin game you can die, but those with death less frequent will not mesh well with the Photo of Dorian Gray. The best decks are those with stealing powers, whether they're the Thieves from the original Munchkin, afflicted Kleptomaniacs from Munchkin Cthulu, or any deck that allows you to take a card from another player, this card gains more weight. The more thefts, the more deaths, and the crazier gameplay can become.