Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Minor concerns

Did a bit of event generation for my upcoming horror game. Like the NPCs I explained before I've been using tarot cards for these. A much simpler design as this is just littering the sandbox with shiny things for my players to look at so today I think I'll talk a bit about tarot cards.

Tarot decks have 2 sets of card "types" that don't even seem related. Arcane major which goes from zero to 21 where people are more familiar with including the infamous Death card. The Arcane Major is major happenings in ones life, when one shows up it should be payed attention too, though seemingly all tarot readings in movies has Major Arcane after Major arcane which is sometimes appropriate but is silly with how often it happens.

The other type is the Minor Arcane. This is the daily life events which are probably better for cold reading and normal things if not as interesting as the major arcane. There are 4 suits of 14 cards numbered from ace to king. If this sounds like a regular playing card deck it's because the modern ones were based on tarot cards without the major arcane and combining the knight and page into the jack while changing the suits. The four suits follow a general theme and I'll go over them. Pentacles or more likely known a coins is largely based around money issues and goods. Swords is the second suit, it commonly has cards easily interpreted as reasons for things, easily negative reasons. Cups the third suit is commonly based on emotions. The last of the Minor Arcane is Wands, it is typically people and their status or actions. While this is the general theme each card is different and some change meanings based on other minor arcane in the reading.

Another theme in Tarot is the reversed card which strengthens,minimizes, inverts the meaning of the card on hand. It's generally easier for the Major Arcane than the Minor with how they go. For instance Eight of Cups has a meaning of "The card speaks for itself on the surface, but other readings are entirely antihetical - giving joy, mildness, timidity, honor, and modesty" from the Radint Rider-waite booklet I have. A booklet that I have caused to be very worn out due to how much I look through it even though I've only had these things for a few months now and looks like I won't be working on only memory any time soon.

It's been fun playing with them especially after playing with some of the persona series. For my games it has taken a lot of sitting around doing nothing but worry if an idea I have is good for the game. For better or worse using them as seeds gets me to work faster and pump out ideas for this game. Currently have a list of 40 events to scatter throughout the game generated by this, and a cast of roughly 30 NPCs to play multiple personality disorder with. I am actually aiming to increase these numbers a bit more too.


  1. Your method of coming up with personalities for the NPC's and such, while seemingly unique, is really working well for you, and you did a pretty good job of explaining Tarot. Though the first time I did have a reading done, there were a fair amount of major Arcana, it is a rarity, but it does sometimes happen. I think I might have to bust out my cards now actually, been way to long since I used them.

  2. I only care about the major arcana, cause that's the cool one. :P

  3. A lot of the minor ones are pretty fun too. You need their little ideas to twist any big ones.

  4. Do you think the effect the tarot cards had in the process of npc creation will be apparent in the finalized game?

  5. every journey starts with just one step

  6. @Mark
    Thanks, I wish I was a bit more learned in them though but I am working on it.

    It was a horror game so I devised to have the big bad thing to happen with them to be based on the major arcane I drew for them. So yeah I think they'll influence a lot of things in game. Was working on a random monster maker based on tarot but it's been mothballed for a while right now.