Game Mechani(sm) of the Week #3: Tarot Mysteries

I'm running late with last weeks option, and I'm going to cheat a bit.The following cut and paste is from an email that I sent to someone who was thinking of using Tarot Symbolism in a game they were developing.

This coming week I'll try to make sure a new idea is presented as a part of the weekly mechani(sm)s.

> Hi Lon,
> Thanks for the chance to see how your game was developing from its
> initial stages.
> The Tarot mechanic is instantly evocative, and grounds the game
> thematically in a number of ways.
> I quickly mentioned in passing that I'd had a couple of Tarot based
> gaming systems that I'd considered over the years.
> A couple of points to consider:
> 1. There are numerous groups who have linked the Tarot to the Kaballah.
> The ten sephirot each representing different aspects of reality are
> interlinked by 22 pathways, each of these pathways is commonly linked to
> one of the 22 Major Arcana. With this in mind, an alchemical concept can
> be applied to the development of characters.
> 2. All tarot cards have two readings, one for when they are upright and
> one for when they are reversed.
> 3. Tarot meanings can vary dramatically in different parts of Europe.
> I'm not sure what preconceived notions you may already have, and how far
> your game mechanic has already come, but given the discussion on spreads
> and a hesitancy about character representation through the cards I
> thought I'd share one of the recent ideas I'd come up with (an idea that
> I probably won't have time to develop much further).
> My theory along these lines was simple.
> * Each tarot card reflects a positive and a negative aspect of the
> character, every card is both a merit and a flaw.
> * The Tarot cards are laid in a simple three card spread. Past, Present,
> Future.
> * The future card is face down and can be used to substitute for a
> present card at a minor cost to the character's soul. If this is done,
> the present card is discarded and anew random future card is drawn.
> * The present card is face up. It represents something that the character
> is currently working toward, they suffer a penalty based on the reversed
> aspect of the card. As they achieve mastery over the card, they gain a
> benefit based on the standard reading of the card.
> * The past card represent cards that the character has gained mastery
> over. They may have transcended the penalty of the card, or they may not,
> a character has a repetoire of cards that they may use for their past
> card, each being a crad that they have mastered at some level.
> Eg. a character going into either combat or a courtly party would be
> stuck with the same present card but they could choose a suitable past
> card that they think will be advantageous to the upcoming situation.
> * It might take a period of sleep to commune with the dream world, or a
> period of focused meditation to change a character's past card.
> * As a character gradually masters an arcana, they must pass through a
> number of steps.
> 1. Novice. A novice has dedicated their present to studying an arcana.
> They must spend a period suffering under the arcanas flaw before they may
> uncover any of it's benefits. A character may stop being a novice of an
> arcana with no ill effects.
> 2. Disciple. A disciple has transcended the first stages of the arcana
> and may now access the minor benefits of the arcana. A character may stop
> being a disciple of the arcana, but they lose access to the minor
> benefits. In addition, they permanently acquire the flaws of the arcana,
> until they return to their study and transcend the flaws.
> 3. Journeyman. A journeyman permanently acquires the benefits of the
> card, as long as they keep it in their past slot. They only suffer the
> penalties of the card while it is in their past slot.
> 4. Master. A master no longer needs to keep the card in their past slot
> to gain it's minor benefits, but if they do choose to keep it in their
> past slot they gain access to a major benefit (on the down side, they
> suffer the penalty while they have access to this major power).
> 5. Oracle. An oracle has completely transcended the weakness of the card.
> While they have it in their slot they gain the benefit of the major
> power, while they do not have it in their slotthey gain only the minor
> benefit effects.
> * All characters begin having mastered a single past card to the disciple
> level. This was their apprenticeship, or maybe an awakening through some
> dramatic event. More powerful characters might begin with the option of a
> single card at journeyman level or two cards at disciple level.
> * The whole idea with the arcana cards is that the minor effects are
> subtle while the major effects are more dramatic. A minor effect of the
> devil might allow you to change someone's mind while they are weighing up
> a decision, a major effect might allow you to completely change their
> mind when they are adamantly opposed to a concept. The down side of the
> devil might be that you always have to be argumentative and play the
> devil's advocate whenever the chance might arise.
> * A character may have to visit elders who have mastered certain card
> level in order to gain more power and knowledge from them.
> I've delved a bit further into this idea, working onthe concept that
> maybe the world has only a single oracle for each card, and perhaps some
> oracles have reached enough power to control two or more
> cards.completely. Reality is a fight between these incredibly powerful
> transcended beings as they each struggle to dominate the entire deck.
> Students could learn from elders up to a level below the elders value; if
> they want to go further, they need to find a new master or consume the
> old one, like Sith in the star-wars universe killing their former masters
> (or like vampiric diablerie). A cabal of individuals killing an elder
> would find the oracles power randomly distributed between them. If the
> last oracle of a card is destroyed, then the most experienced mystic in
> that card will ascend.
> This sets the dynamic for a shadow war. Which may, or may not be what you
>'s just an idea I had.
> An idea I'm offering you if you want to run with it.
> If you want to discuss this further, I'd love to help out.


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