Sunday 16 June 2013

Resolving Wizard projects with the tarot

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"My wizard spends the month installing lasers in undead. So that is a thing in your campaign now"

here is a little subsystem the makes use of unwieldy chart and tarot cards.
Well you can use any cards really, just assign them to the various rows in the chart.
Chart is here:
It won't make any sense yet(..).
So a wizard wants to make up a new spell or slime or duck hybrid or wand of broiling hair.
You , the g.m and the player shoot the shit about how the mechanics work and that.
I'm not going to try and write a system that does that job. That would be GURPS or rolemaster companions. Also, madness.
Then the g.m picks a large number of moneys and the player blathers on about various monster parts that are cluttering up their character sheet that they are throwing in or exactly what they are sewing to what and how drunk and things are crossed off and this is so campaign variable I will not attempt to write a system for it (also I don't want to)

This is for the next bit , where you want something to happen that will surprise you both, involves an element of risk, chance and meaningful player choices. Also gimmicks!

The player draws 5 cards from the major arcana of the tarot (or pokemon cards if you re-skin the chart) .
 They then play 5 rounds.
The first round is for the cost or resource requirements of the project. A card is drawn from the deck and then the player chooses a card to play against it.
Cards have suits Soul, World, Sun, Night.

 Soul beats Sun, Sun beats Night, Night beats World, World beats Soul.

 In the case of Same vs Same or Sun vs World or Night vs soul, the highest value card wins (the major arcana cards have a value from the Fool with Zero , to the World with 21).

The chart result for that card explains what that means for the project. If you lose against a drawn card , the second "inauspicious"  result (after the / ) is applied.

You then continue to round 2 in which the Potency of the project is determined,
 round 3 the convenience or useability ,
round 4 the danger the project puts you in (if any)
and finally 5 , repeatability , ie if an item can you attempt to make another one? If a spell, is it "worked true"? (ie it may be copied into your spell book and be cast and memorized rather than just a one off ritual) and if the project is a creature will it breed or can you even glue another one together ever?

Alternate1 :all 5 opposing cards can be drawn at once and the player then decides which of their cards to play where ( I would think you want to make the chart results have more arbitrary and nasty results)
Alternate 2: The player has only 3 cards and must randomly draw a card for to play 2 of the rounds


I tried to make the chart results general , yet interesting and somehow applicable to making monsters , new spells and items. Which might of been a mistake. Also 22 fucking cards took me so long I really stopped caring a couple of times.
 I hope if it sees use it your campaign you hack the shit out of it. The 5 rounds thing I feel coulda been simplified down but sometimes an idea is too big to manage to grasp correctly on the first go and you need to just let it go and hope someone sees a better way for it.


  1. I think it is close and exciting but adding the layer of "soul, day, night" etc seems to be a layer of complicated you didn't need because the suits already have suits and I'm sure there are more intuitive ways to categorize the major arcana

    1. yeah originally I was thinking that the cards with lower numbers would have better win results and then trying to write it like that did my head in. So I slapped on a Yu-Gi_oh style card allegiance system. This system just uses the major arcana because they are excitingest, so I can't use the minor arcana suits.
      (well I could, and I thought about using them but it felt weird trying to assign suits to the major arcana).
      Yeah... It's kludgey. I'm hoping now that its all out there refinements will become apparent.

  2. Gamble with the minor arcana, but with the majors as prizes?