Sunday, September 14, 2014

Game Props Part 1: Tarot Cards

I decided to do a short series on gaming props I've used in my face-to-face games.  Just some simple props that add to the atmosphere of the game.  To kick things off I'm starting with tarot cards.  I dug through my chest of cards and I see I have seven different decks.  I'm not a tarot card reader, but back when I was much younger and had hair, I collected them because they were cool.

The first time I used tarot cards in game it was to simulate a Deck of Many Things.  In the beginning this went over well.  Having the physical prop was too much for them not to dabble.  In the 1st Edition DMG there is a guide to using a regular deck of cards.  I used the Rider Tarot deck at the time.  And I assigned cards as close as I could to the cards identified in the Deck of Many Things.  Today you could use WotC DoMT generator or buy an actual Deck of Many Things.

While I was looking at all the cards I put off to the side I would see their design and think of different boons or punishments.  I wrote a post years ago called Deck of Many Things and Then Some, it provides an excellent example of what I ended up doing.  I made a Deck of Many More Things.  Here's an example.

Hazardous Journey
Tarot Card: 6 of Swords
Playing Card:  6 of Spades

Upon the players next journey any random encounters during the journey will not be random.  The encounter will occur and GM selects the most difficult creature/situation available on the list.  The creature will focus its attack on the character who drew the card.

Note: The GM will have to decide how many encounters the player will need to endure.  To activate this card the character should be going someplace that will at least take one day to travel.  

With the advancements with virtual table tops these days you could to something like this virtually.  Although there is not replacement for the tactile experience.  


  1. I looked hard at my set of tarot cards in regard to using them in game, but I never got any further than coins = thieves, swords = fighters, cups = clerics and staves = wizards...

  2. I used Tarot cards a lot in my WitchCraft RPG game and little bit for Ravenloft.

  3. I once based a rather extensive multiverse game off the Tarot deck, a mixture drawing on the idea of Trumps from Roger Zalazny's Amber novels. A bit of hubris when you realize just how many potential worlds you're outlining with one deck of cards.