A young man from Gotham named Roger Klein discovers that he can see strange cards which allow him to summon creatures from other worlds.
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One Card Short of a Full Deck contains examples of the following tropes:
- Absurdly High-Stakes Game: Shadow Games are these, wherein the loser can lose something important, like their soul. It also doesn't have to be played with Duel Monsters. Ra's al Ghul lost his soul in a sword duel.
- Alternate Universe: Seems to be one to one of the authors other works, The One Ring, as one of that quest's main characters, Samuel Derricks, is one of the characters here.
- Backstory: Given to a number of Roger's duel spirits. Such as Dark Witch actually being a Norse valkyrie and the Raging Flame Sprite being part of a living weapons project by Thestalos the Firestorm Monarch.
- Bag of Holding: Roger turns one of Zatara's top hats into this by using Level Up! on it.
- Bait-and-Switch: When Kid Flash expresses his disbelief in magic, it seems like Aster will start an argument with the speedster. Instead, Aster just says that he doesn't know if what he has can be explained by science or really magic and that it doesn't matter to him; what matters is what he can do with it, like the fact that he was able to use it to save his mother's life.
- Blatant Lies: Captain Marvel gives one when asked to explain how he was able to avoid infection from the KV-DV.Green Arrow: So, Kid is now a Speed-bruiser and Robin got KAF-finated. How did you get out of the virus range, Marvel?
Batman: Its not importan-.
Captain Marvel: (seriously and confidently) I turned into a swan and flew away, the virus didnt target me
Flash: (bewildered) How... did you turn into a swan?
Captain Marvel: Power of Zeus.
Green Arrow: ...That checks out.
- Cool Versus Awesome: Duel Monster summons versus supervillains. Such as a valkyrie taking on a martial-artist assassin.
- Cruel to Be Kind: Batman decides to not have a healer on hand for the Team. His reasoning is actually to keep the relationship between the Team and Aster healthy.The Shadow Team would not be relying on available healers to cover for their mistakes. Roger Klein was not going to be their personal doctor and let them make stupid moves.
They didnt need that safety blanket and Roger didnt need the guilt that came with only seeing his friends when they were dying.
No one did.
- Disappeared Dad: Roger's father isn't around. It's later explained that he was a soldier who was killed in action.
- Empty Shell: Ra's al Ghul is revealed to have been reduced to a soulless husk after losing a Shadow Game.
- Evil Versus Evil: Based on Wire's statements, his master is opposing the Light.
- The Fair Folk: Suffice to say, the first few faeries Roger summons reach varying degrees of crazy. Case in point, one of the Dancing Fairies being crazy and Pixie Knight being a knife-happy nutjob.
- Freudian Slip: Zatanna accidentally lets out something in front of her father after seeing Maugrim."If we put a bag over his head..."
- Futureshadowing: Some of the cards created from others can do this, such as with versions of Nightwing and Oracle.
- Giant Enemy Crab: The result of Roger somehow evolving the powers of Turtle Oath and calling forth an original monster. Said monster being Karkinos, a giant crab wielding cosmic powers. No you did not misread that.
- Godzilla Threshold: Time Wizard and Time Wizard of Tomorrow interfere with Kid Flashs Shadow Duel, because the later is about to create a formula for the Negative Speed Force.
- Headbutting Heroes: Aster and Kid Flash do not get along with each other.
- Helping Hands: Manju of the Ten Thousand Hands is made up of hands that can combine together to form different shapes, such as chairs or horses, for Aster to use.
- Heroic Build: After the Shadow Game against Pestilence, Kid Flash finds that he's become much more muscular.
- In Spite of a Nail: Wally is still forced to don the Helmet of Fate against Klarion.
- The Medic: Batman averts this with the Team by preventing Aster from acting as this, for the good of both the young man and the members of the Team.
- Mind Control: Strings does this to Wire, who himself then controls others.
- Morton's Fork: Roger finds himself caught in one once he learns the stakes of the Cosmic Chess Game hes caught in. If Darkness wins then his world is plunged into endless conflict and strife, but if Light wins then his world assimilated into the Duel Realm and everyone it transformed into cards.
- My Significance Sense Is Tingling: Several people attuned to either Order or Chaos are able to sense Roger summoning Chaos Sorcerer.
- Mythology Gag: The names that Roger can see on the cards are their international names. It's revealed however, that the Japanese names are the ones that are more accurate to who they are.
- Negative Space Wedgie: In the climax of Roger and Yuzuf's duel, they wind up summoning both Chaos Dragon Envoy of the End and Black Luster Soldier Envoy of Beginning. The result? The sheer presence of these two titans of power is enough to radiate chaos energy that builds until it punches a hole in reality and thus, Roger, Yuzuf, and their monsters wind up in a void of pure chaos itself.
- Our Monsters Are Different: Roger is confused by how monster types work for Duel Spirits.I gave up, these monster types made no sense. Demons were Warriors, fairies were angels, and robots were also angels.
- Our Zombies Are Different: After Zatanna tests the first Zombie type monster that Aster summons, they find that Zombie types count as sort of undead when it comes to magic.
- Power at a Price: Roger learns early on that some cards require LP, or Life Points, to be used. The process is painful and leaves him weakened momentarily.
- He experiences a more extreme example of this trope after he summons the Right Arm of the Forbidden One.
- Random Events Plot: Due to the fact that what Roger can get is entirely up to chance, it's hard, if not impossible, to predict what will happen in the story.
- Refuge in Audacity: When asked how he was able to avoid being infected by the KV-DV, Captain Marvel says that he just turned into a swan using the Power of Zeus.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Captain Marvel and Green Arrow act as emergency backup for the Team. However, if they do get involved and their presence becomes known, then they'll need to resign from the Justice League so that it doesn't get caught up in an international incident.
- Sneeze Cut: When Roger asks himself if anyone else has to argue with his power, the scene briefly cuts to Jaime Reyes, who felt a shiver down his spine at that moment.
- Summon Magic: This is most of what Roger can do. As such, he'll be the weak point that others will target when fighting him.
- The Team: At first it looks like Roger is gearing up to join the team from Young Justice but it turns out Zatara and Green Arrow want him on an entirely new team geared towards mystical threats made of Zatanna, Artemis, Jason Blood's apprentice Sam, and December Graystone, who begrudgingly agrees to join in in exchange for some freedom.
- Toon Physics: Roger temporarily gains this after he activates Toon World.
- Unexpected Character: One of the people controlling civilians and looking for Roger turns out to be Strings, a minor antagonist from Yu-Gi-Oh!.
- Wham Shot:
- Another person with access to Duel Spirits is in Gotham and looking for Roger.
- Ra's al Ghul is in intensive care with his soul removed. It's implied to be the result of a Shadow Game.
- In exchange for Roger's help in defeating Black Adam, Thoth offers replica Millennium Items. Sanngriðr is shocked to see them, which clues Roger in to how important/dangerous the offer is.
- Black Pendant shards become embedded in Zatanna's right hand. They seem to be enhancing her magic somehow.