The Universal deck is real.
My father created the Universal Deck in 1977, the year after I was born.
At the time there were several things going on that inspired him to design the cards. For one, he found it tiresome how many decks of cards people needed to have to play the various popular card games. He decided it would be great if there was a single deck that all games could be played with. There was also a local backlash against the use of traditional face cards, so he came up with an alphabetic card system. He hired a company to print out the cards and designed a card punching machine that would cut them out in a metric 6×9 CM size. He marketed it as Universal, The Deck of the Future.
After attempts to sell the cards to major game companies failed, he developed his own game using the unique aspects of the cards and called it Universal. It became somewhat of a local hit. My family played the games that became Elements and Unity every week growing up. We even had local card tournaments in the community.
In 2001 when I was writing my first draft of Eye of the Moonrat and Messenger of the Dark Prophet, and designing the magic system used in the Bowl of Souls series. I was struggling with it a bit, but then one night I thought of the cards and everything fell into place. The colors, the symbols, it was perfect. As a result, the Universal Deck is the deck used to play most card games in the world of the Bowl of Souls. It is also the same deck used by the wizards in the Mage School to teach the different elements of magic and to play the games Elements and Unity.
There are four suits representing the different elements of magic along with the runic symbols that would be used to give magic items their different abilities.
Air = Gold = the crescent rune
Water = Blue = the circle rune
These two elements are linked together on the Blue and Gold infinity card.
Fire = Red = the triangle rune
Earth = Black = the square rune
These two elements are linked together on the Black and Red infinity card.
If you want your own deck, you can order a copy.
Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Decks cost $5.00 US each, plus shipping. For most places in the US shipping has run around $2.50 to $3.00. Of course, if you order multiple decks, the shipping will be less per deck. For overseas orders, we will need to calculate the shipping charges first and come back to you with a total. We have been taking PayPal payments so far, but we could do a check my mail.
Alternately, use this contact form.
Included is an original 1977 Vintage Universal deck with a current rulebook that lays out the rules for playing Elements and Unity.
Links to rules Here