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"Tarot Cards" Topic

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1,077 hits since 24 Jan 2016
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Ottoathome Inactive Member24 Jan 2016 6:48 p.m. PST

In my perverse quest to break out from the standard methodology of war games I have in the past used different equipment for the games. This includes multi-purpose dice in naval games, throwing sticks instead of dice in ancient games which double as measuring sticks, temples and small statues in games. It has long been my desire to do something for my Renaissance games. I am thinking of using Tarot Cards. I used them in a redesign of an old Avalon Hill Wargame Wizzard's quest which was a game about families and factions in renaissance Italy and it worked well. But that was not a truly tactical game.

I'm now working on an idea for the Renaissance tactical games with minis.

It should be workable in some way as each card has a number , and a rank, and a verbal title, and a divination meaning. While we don't really care about the divination meaning, the numeric ranking of the four suits, the twenty twp cards of the major arcana, and some transposed values might be able to provide interesting results.

In addition the four suits themselves besided the major arcana are another differentiation, where one might apply beneficially to the French but at the same side detrimentally to the Turks, etc.

Terrement Inactive Member24 Jan 2016 7:24 p.m. PST


Buck21524 Jan 2016 9:18 p.m. PST

I once played poker with Tarot cards. I got a full house and three people died…

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP25 Jan 2016 6:21 a.m. PST

We have used tarot cards as a combined activation/special event system. As Terrement suggests, each of the major arcana was assigned a generic game effect. They were shuffled in with the minor arcana. The overall deck was used for activation (you held a hand of cards, played one for sequence, and drew a new one after your turn). If you drew a major arcana card, you had to immediately play it, apply its effect, then draw another card.

(Phil Dutre) Inactive Member25 Jan 2016 6:59 a.m. PST

I also have used tarot decks as card decks in fantasy games.

The minor arcana was used as "ordinary" activation cards, and the major arcana could be played as general effects, sometimes as modifications to ordinary cards, or as interrupts in the opponent's turn.

Plenty of insipration for meta-effects (cards effecting other cards, rather than affecting the battlefield directly) can be drawn from mechanics as used in Magic the Gathering.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP25 Jan 2016 10:11 a.m. PST

Well, they were originally designed as playing cards. Tarrock (and numerous variants) play similar to bridge, but with the major suit always being trumps.

I love the Bavarian Schafkopf deck!

I've bought lovely decks from here:

Ottoathome Inactive Member25 Jan 2016 11:18 a.m. PST

I do not intend to use them for activation. I am going to use them for combat resolution. Something like assigning the suits to various major powers. For example Suppose

Cups – French
Wands- Turks
Swords- Imperials
Pentacles (coins)- Italians.

If one unit of landschnects (Imperials) attacks a unit of French and a sword is drawn they beat the p[[pmemt but if it were of the suit of Cups the French would win. The number of the card details the result. An Ace might wipe out the enemy unit, a two might just cause it to be "no suit" for a turn. That is it loses it's winningness from Cups. If a suit NOT involved is drawn there is no effect. So in the above combat a Wand or a Pentacle is no eff4ect or indecisive. Major arcana are major events which happen in the game. So if say the Emperor is drawn, the whole side opposed to it must be pushed back 1 move, or if card 8 of the Major Arcana is dreawn which is "strength" one side or the other gets reinforcements or a +1 to its morale or something like that.

Card XVI, the tower might mean that some units desert to the other side, or something.

It is important to remember that in my Renassance collection, the units are BIG units! A Landsknecht regiment has 20 pikemen, five officers, 8 doble soldeners (halberd or long swords) and 32 musketeers on ONE huge stand. The swiss have 72 pikemen and halberdiers on their stands, so the forces engaged are large and you won't have lots of cards being used.

I don't believe in idly-fiddly movement and stands.

I use Tarot cards in my role-playing game of the Renaissance "Chiaroscuro." Here the divinationary meaning is used as an indicator.

rmaker25 Jan 2016 12:04 p.m. PST

I believe the old Lace and Steel pseudo-renaissance FRPG used tarot cards.

AWuuuu Inactive Member25 Jan 2016 3:51 p.m. PST

You have to use Visconti-Sforza deck!


Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP25 Jan 2016 7:01 p.m. PST

The unfamiliar suits will cause problems for many people trying to read the cards. Not a problem if the GM is doing all the card play, but if players are expected to understand the meaning of the cards, it could slow the game.

Last year I found a tarot deck at that uses the standard French suits (spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs) with red backs or blue backs. The decks are not high quality (thin material, fuzzy printing that looks like a bad photocopy), but I haven't found any other decks like this.

I would still happily buy a 1JJ Swiss Tarot with English card labels and Arabic numerals on the suited cards. I think the artwork is perfect for evoking a Late Medieval or Renaissance theme.

As I've never found one of those, I settled for the Old English Tarot, which you can actually get on Amazon.

- Ix

Ottoathome Inactive Member26 Jan 2016 6:37 a.m. PST

A simple list of suit correspondences and the results for each will be sufficient. The major arcana is just another short table. If players can deal with pages and pages of modifiers and charts, they can deal with that.

They're big boys now.

Eclectic Wave Inactive Member26 Jan 2016 1:22 p.m. PST

There is a RPG game Fortune's Fool, that uses a Tarot card deck instead of dice. Major arcane have special meanings, as well as suits, and players have 'meta-powers' that allow them to rearrange the deck to s small degree.

(Phil Dutre) Inactive Member27 Jan 2016 11:21 a.m. PST

If you use the deck for combat resolution by drawing a random card, you could also use the major arcana to modify or enhance the effect of the next suit card. That would allow for more variability, and perhaps some more excitement and fun.

(Phil Dutre) Inactive Member27 Jan 2016 11:23 a.m. PST

There is also the boardgame Condottiere, which uses tart-style cards to resolve conflicts. But it is more a bidding and bluffing game. However, it captures the flavour of the period rather nicely.

Ottoathome Inactive Member27 Jan 2016 1:50 p.m. PST

Dear Phil

I have that game and it's a rather nice one. I see he similarity o the tarot cards.

You understand the intent. To add color and picture to the game.

Ottoathome Inactive Member27 Jan 2016 1:57 p.m. PST

Dear Phil

Another point you anticipate me on. It's one thing to use the minor arcana for a small scale result unit to unit thing, but the major arcana can apply far more varied results. The key of course is to get wide varieties of results out of the combat resolution system.

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