Roleplaying With Tarot Cards

Everway is one of those games I look back on and wish I had taken more seriously. I have never actually had an opportunity to play Everway, but I have always been intrigued by it. I am not sure why I have never taken the plunge and bought the game. It could have a lot to do with how much it cost when it was released, and also my overall attitude toward collectible card games in general. Also, I am not sure how receptive some of my past gaming groups would have been to Everway.

Lately, I have been thinking more and more about how the tarot deck can be used as a storytelling tool, and how that can translate into roleplaying mechanics. If I understand correctly, Everway used a fortune deck, which was heavily influenced by the tarot. I also see that Mage: The Awakening has a tarot deck, and there are rules for using the cards as a storytelling tool. And I believe Alluvia is another game that used the tarot, but honestly I know almost nothing about the game. I can't even find a working link on Google to learn more about it.

This time I am turning to my readers for answers and advice. Below is a short list of questions. Do not feel you are limited by these questions at all. If you have something to share, please do. Even if you think that using the tarot as a rolepaying tool is a terrible idea, I want to hear about it. Thanks!

My questions:
  1. I would like to hear from other gamers who have had experience using the tarot (or fortune deck) as a storytelling device for their games. (How well does it work? Is this a style of game you use often? etc.)
  2. If someone has used the Mage deck I would like to hear how the game mechanics work, and how well they translate to a roleplaying game?
  3. Does using the tarot in this manner lend itself to other gaming genres other than fantasy? For example, how well would it lend itself to a horror game, like Call of Cthulhu?


Norman J. Harman Jr. said...

try this

Shane Mangus said...


Thanks for sharing all the linkage! This looks like great stuff.



Patrick W. Rollens said...

Everway was my group's system of choice for several years. We used it straight-up to run a variety of fantasy campaigns, and we also adapted it (through rules rewrites and the creation of "custom" tarot decks) to play genre games like Star Wars, Little Fears and superhero gaming.

Anyway, it was a great system. Everway's tarot cards as written are great for generic D&D fantasy, especially if you have a mature group that is willing to "go deep" when the cards dictate something truly outrageous.

For our genre adaptations, we created custom decks of cards that approximated the good/bad divide of the Everway deck but still left room for genre-specific interpretation. And we got campy with it. Our Star Wars deck had cards like "I Have A Bad Feeling About This" and "These Aren't the Droid You're Looking For" simply because it was awesome, and it fit perfectly with the good/bad concept of the tarot decks.

I can't recommend Everway enough. It crops up on ebay pretty frequently, and you would do well to pick up a copy if you can.

Shane Mangus said...


Thanks for for sharing some insight into your dealings with Everway (yes that pun was placed there for a reason). That settles it then... I am going to try to find a reasonably priced copy very soon. I am curious how it might handle genres beyond default fantasy, especially horror. If I ever get that far, and have time to delve deeper into designing something for the horror genre I will share with those interested.