D&D General Using Tarot Cards in D&D

Reddit tells me that I can use the Tarot deck as a stand-in for the Deck of Many Things, but I can't find anyone to elaborate on this. If you've used a Tarot deck in this manner, how did you map the DoMT cards to the Tarot cards?

I've heard of DMs using Tarot cards during character creation, too, but again: Reddit is really lean on specifics.
The 3e SRD has a Tarot - Deck of Many Things conversion:


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I used a Tarokka deck to do an in game fortune telling in my 5e conversion of the Pathfinder 1e gothic horror Carrion Crown adventure path.

The Tarokka deck is a D&D Ravenloft specific deck of fortune telling cards similar to the Tarot deck with numbered suit cards (swords, coins, glyphs, and stars) and individual high arcana ones. Mine were from the 2e Forbidden Lore boxed set which also has guidance on the meanings and associations of the cards and different ways to do fortune tellings and possible mechanical uses.

I had a central NPC ally suggest that she had a deck and ouija board and had used them as a child at party games and could try to do it to gain some understanding of a ghost mystery that was going on that the party was involved in.

I had her do a drawing for each member of the party where they drew cards for a fortune telling focused on them and the mystery.

A simple layout is a cross format the central card is the subject, the lower part of the cross is the past, the upper part is the future, and there is an ally and hindrance to the sides, I believe. In the PC's case they were the subject of their own drawings and drawing the cards out was very atmospheric.

Part of the key then is knowing the associations and tying them into what you know about the PCs and plot in your head so that what gets drawn can make sense for you and can be framed as elements for PCs to look out for that flag campaign themes or plot points or character aspects. How you describe the aspects in the reading can frame things evocatively

The fortune teller just relates the aspects and how they relate in the drawing, so the Necromancer card in the past slot for one PC I talked about the Necromancer being a black magician at the heart of the mystery who initiated the action which tied into one of the NPC villains who the party already suspected who had started the ghost sequence with a ritual murder. When I roleplayed the NPC doing her own reading for herself and her future was the card The Broken One, which is a doomed innocent hurt by evil, I could see how it could tie into the plot further on, and I roleplayed her gasp at seeing it and explain what a horrible future fate it foretold.

If you are not doing an adventure path it still works out well as future stuff is generally open ended aspects that will fit something at some point, or that can be used as DM inspiration for future plot development ideas.

Not being super familiar with all the aspects it was useful narratively to have the tarroka reader be not an expert herself who could pull out her references book to explain some of the symbology when I could not remember specifics for say the four of glyphs.


Limit Break Dancing
As much as I'm generally loath to recommend him due to certain attitudes and overall style, I have been wanting to try out the Angry GM's adventuring/dungeon building tarot technique. That article is thankfully a bit less needlessly abrasive than the average.
Glad I'm not the only one. I don't know who first came up with that "pretend to be outraged" brand of content, but now they're popping up like mushrooms. (Was it Gordon Ramsey? I bet it was.) I'm ready for a new fad.

Anyway. I was digging around and I found a helpful-looking article over at RoleplayingTips.com:


Dave Goff

So I'm looking for some ideas over here, and I'm hoping you fine folks at EN World can help me out.

Like many small businesses during the pandemic, a tattoo shop owner in Guildford was struggling to keep her doors open. To help keep the lights on and her staff paid, she created a Kickstarter for a custom-drawn deck of Tarot cards. (It ended up being a success; it was 240% funded and her shop was saved.) And now I have a beautiful, hand-drawn, high-quality deck of Tarot cards!

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Photo and Art Credit: Esme Baker for Kickstarter

I don't practice divination, and I'm not big into Renaissance-era card games. But I do play D&D, (and also Call of Cthulhu, and Old Gods of Appalachia, to a much lesser degree.) And like they teach in improv acting classes, "everything is a prop." So I'm looking for ideas on how I can use a Tarot deck in my tabletop games, D&D in particular. Has anyone ever made use of a Tarot deck in their games? How? From character creation to dice replacement, table props to adventure hooks, I'd like to hear your stories.

I'm just here to give a shout out to Old Gods of Appalachia, the podcast. :)
I haven't tried the game yet, but I am curious.

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