Tarot-based games?

I saw a couple of them here:

Alas, Vegas: A wild Vegas story. I don’t really know the details of what it uses Tarot for though, would love if someone could explain this in more depth.

Spindlewheel: Less an RPG and more an informed narrative engine, it sounds like:

Are there any other games like this? I’d really love to see more ideas about using tarot for:

  • event resolution
  • character definition
  • Tarot-as-GM

Definitely interested in this as well. Something I’ve thought about doing: breaking the deck up into the major and minor arcana, and using the minor arcana as a numberical decider similar to dice (and bringing along specific meaning for flavor), and the major arcana for more narrative interpretation things.


there is royal blood -

get it here - https://gshowitt.itch.io/royal-blood

actual play here - http://sasgeek.com/podcasts/37-royal-blood-the-players/


Spitefire & Straightlace by Allie Bustion is a 2-player detective game. It has optional rules to use Tarot cards for generating the case, background for NPCs, and entanglements during the game. I like playing with the spread for setting/case because it gives prompts and ideas while still working with the open-ended storytelling feel of the rest of the game.


There’s Fortune’s Fool, but the publisher seems to have disappeared now. I picked up a copy in some Humble Bundle. From what I recall, the system uses minor arcana as a randomiser, and major arcana have special effects.

And not quite tarot, but Everway is heading towards a new edition.

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I’m developing a game called The Long Stair that uses Tarot and ritual to guide a surreal journey into the self.


Oooh. Interesting. Where can I find out more about The Long Stair?


It’s currently in a playable state but I’m not happy with the rules formatting and need some time to improve it before I release an ashcan to my itchio and the public at large. That’ll probably take a little time as I’m focusing on another project but I’ll absolutely post about it here and on Twitter :sparkles:


I have a game called Wayfaring Strangers, inspired by Where The Water Tastes Like Wine, where you play vagabonds and travellers telling stories to pass the time during a terrible storm. The Tarot cards are used to prompt elements that you have to include in the stories you tell.

There’s also Semiotician’s Gambit, a very cool solo RPG about using pattern magic to achieve your deepest desire.


There is also Dungeon Solitaire which uses a Tarot deck.

I enjoyed it, the deck gets used as both your resource tracking and as the opposition as you delve through it. It’s essentially a solitaire variant that is played with a Tarot deck.


Misericord(e) by Emily Care Boss uses a tarot for stories the characters tell in its setting. In the course of a campaign you could also draw new interpretations for the cards from the developing fiction.


Just been bouncing some ideas around in my head…

Tarot (78)
Crit Success = 2 specific Major Arcana 2/78
Success = Other Major Arcana 22/78
Win Lose = King Queen Knight Jack 16/78
Failure = 2-10 36/78 (half?!)
Crit Failure = Ace 2/78

swords=change in the amount of conflict
wands=change in the amount of parties involved
coins=change in the amount of wealth
cups=change in the amount of emotion

task = 1 card, assisted = 1 card each
difficult/long task = 3 cards

downtime-between quests 3 card spread each
love letter-back to game 3 card spread each

issues = totally reliant on the cards, playbook/class has no effect on results
(but does that matter!?!)

each person would need
1a redraw option
give one card to someone else for their situation
1*take one card from someone else for their situation

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Alas Vegas uses Tarot cards for the base system, which is basically blackjack, but played with Tarot cards. Your abilities give you additional optional cards to play, making it less likely that you bust, and major arcana are worth 10 or their value (so you might get 21 by using a 5 and The Tower for 16). More interesting is how each player has a signifier card, and when anyone draws that card, you get a flashback and gain new abilities (since it’s a game about amnesia). You can see the base system here to see how it works. Tarot cards also figure thematically into the campaign in various ways (and I think in the other campaign paths for the game, though I haven’t tried those yet).

House of Cards uses Tarot cards for its base system, but it’s been a while since I looked at the game so I don’t remember how it works.

Ganakagok uses a Tarot-like deck of cards in really smart ways, where the core conflict resolution rules are ultimately directed toward who gets to interpret the cards. At the start of a conflict, you draw a card of ambiguous imagery that says something like To pursue strenuously a foolish goal". Which raises a lot of questions: who is pursuing a foolish goal? what makes it foolish and how does that turn out? Then you invoke traits and roll dice and narrate a conflict. If the GM wins,t hey interpret the card in a way that is bad for the PCs, describing how the goal they were pursuing strenuously was foolish and how they fail. But if the players win, then they get to interpret the card, maybe describing how they pursue their goal so strenuously they succeed despite their foolishness, or maybe how it’s an antagonistic NPC who was strenuously pursuing a foolish goal.

I’ve also made several little Tarot based games, or games that used Tarot-like oracle cards, some of which are pretty fun.


Hey, what is that Tarot deck in those photos? I like the art style.

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It’s actually two decks by the same artist. The Major arcana are from the Sasuraibito Tarot by Stasia Burrington. The oracle cards are from The Empty Cup Oracle from the same.


My go-tos are usually Royal Blood and Spindlewheel (already mentioned) and The Fool’s Journey.

Also, I believe @JasonT may have something cooking! :slight_smile:


There is The Way You Make Me Feel. a tarot card based GM-less storytelling game based on the Janelle Monae song.

Mage the Awakening has a whole book for a cardomancy merit and story seeds that explains how to use tarot cards in game.


I am developing a story game/ campaign development tool called Decuma. In Roman mythology, Decuma is the Fate tasked with allotting a mortal’s thread of life.

(Special thanks to all the members of the Gauntlet community who have been helping, encouraging and testing for me! <3)

Imagine if PBTA character connections, A Quiet Year, and For The Queen had a gothic baby who liked tarot… that is Decuma! The game is a tool that facilitates collaborative world-building and character connections using tarot cards. It is effectively a game-before-the-game and gives your PCs the threads of life that you can weave into your campaign! Decuma works in conjunction with any RPG system, from D&D or Savage Worlds to PBTA and FATE! After playing, you end up with a fully developed location, backstories and connections for the PCs, and NPCs/situations that the GM can use. Best of all, everyone understands and is invested in the world that you create together!

Being a tarot nerd, the wold creation questions are connected to the actual meaning of each tarot card. Just like a tarot reading, the way the card faces (called reversals) also change the meaning/question that you answer on the card. It’s heavily tied into the concept of tarot and reading the fate of your characters, but without taking away agency or creativity from the players/group.

I’ve been play testing it now for a few months and it has gone well. If you’d like more information or updates you can visit goldenlassogames.com and join the mailing list.

(It will only let me attach one image! Sorry!)


Shadowrun: Book of the Lost is a campaign book that also ties into the Shadowrun themed tarot deck that they published. They claim that it can be used with their rules-light system Shadowrun Anarchy with slight modifications.

The other thing Alas Vegas does is for skilled / unskilled unopposed actions, where you’re looking to draw a minor arcana card to hit a target, but succeed immediately with a major if skilled and fail with a major if unskilled. Always though, the imagery on the cards then influences the narrative of the scene.