Let's talk about Tarot

Discussion in 'General Lounge' started by watermark, Feb 5, 2019.

  1. watermark

    watermark Veteran Veteran

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    I really am making a game based on tarot cards. So I want to learn more about it.

    Do I believe in the tarot? Let's just say for now, I think they are very interesting and a very good tool for inspiration. Regardless of what they are, they make for great storytelling. Besides googling everything, I want to hear your opinion on the matter:

    1. Are you a believer? Or think it's all pseudoscience? (if you answer the latter you can skip question 2)
    2. Do you know of an instance where tarot cards helped either you or someone else resolve a problem? How did the cards help?
    3. And since we're game devs, we have to have this question: What's a good way to use tarot cards in games?
     
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  2. Poryg

    Poryg Dark Lord of the Castle of Javascreeps Veteran

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    In all honesty, I believe in supernatural things. I've even experienced a couple of supernatural occurences myself. However, I don't believe in tarot. The reason is, tarot is a deck of cards. This deck of cards if shuffled, changes order depending on how you shuffle the cards. And then depending on how the cards are picked (some pick top 3, some let you pick random three from the deck, some separate the deck to piles and use the top cards,...) I can't say there's enough magical influence in it to convince me of its accuracy. In fact I've never gotten a meaningful tarot reading.
     
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  3. TheoAllen

    TheoAllen Self-proclaimed jack of all trades Veteran

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    There was never been a practice of tarot in my place, in fact, it was a new concept when I discovered it. Like, "well, it looks like some people in another side of the world are into something like this". So to answer your question, I have never been a believer in tarot reading practice. But the concept is cool regardless.

    As for a game concept, there's one game that use Major arcana to boost their specific spec. Like for example, if you equip The Sun, you will have an increase in fire elemental damage. If you equip The Devil, your fire-based character will get increased defense. In addition, it can be a summon too.
     
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  4. Soulrender

    Soulrender Veteran Veteran

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    @watermark - I'm a man with strict mind (physics, chemistry, biology, math etc.) and I didn't believe in such things as Tarot, premonitions etc... Until one day... One weird day when I hired to my current job. There's a guy working with me with very strange look in his eyes. He once told me, when he was you he read a lot about black magic and mystic arts, since my job is ordering car parts and it's intense job. But back to my "friend".
    When something terrible is going to happen he complain on his left knee and you know what? He has 10/10 hit with that. I once was a witness of his "ability", when he returned from break (18:30) he started complaining and he started limping on his left leg. At the end of day (21:43) in our company was tragic acciddent - deliveryman hit security officer. Two days later he died... I thought firs this is coincidence, but everybody I talked and they know that guy confirms his "special ability".


    But wait! There's more. When he complains on his right knee weather changes in 1-2 hours from sunny to rainy/stormy.

    So, I don't believe in tarot and paranormal activities but if it will be scientific or logical proven, then I change my mind. So for now I skip question #1 and #2.
    Using tarot in game? Easy, as hints, or simple interation with NPC.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2019
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  5. LaFlibuste

    LaFlibuste Veteran Veteran

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    There was a time in my life during which I took a great interest in tarot, I read a bunch on it and used to do drawings. At that time, I would probably have told you I believed in it. Today is a more complicated answer. The short verfsion is “No, I don’t believe in it”. The long answer is I don’t believe it is somehow magical or whatever, but I believe it is built in a way that makes it “work” and it can have some uses as a tool to understand yourself/a situation. Some more information is probably needed to clarify what I mean:

    Now you have to understand that there are a lot of beliefs surrounding tarot cards, a lot of different traditions/ways to use them. I probably don’t buy into each of them. What I did when I did drawings were mostly celtic crosses. So all that I’m gonna say is probably tainted by that. You also have to get the idea that tarot is used to predict the future out of your head. It is not what it does per se. A celtic cross centers around a question, a situation, it describes its past (where it originates from), describes its present (how it is now, who is involved, etc.) and gives an idea of how it might develop if it continues the way it currently is. Nothing is set in stone. Also, I don’t believe in drawings using the minor arcana. The minor arcana are very numerous and precise and try to detail stuff out too much, I don’t think it works. Major arcana, on the other hand, are only 22. They are very broad symbols, with a lot of different possible interpretation and a healthy amount of overlap. It is possible to convey the same general message in different ways using them. If you add to all of this that a complete celtic cross has you draw 10-12 cards and calculate about 6 more from these 12 drawn cards (numbers are not exact, I haven't done this for over ten years, the details are a bit fuzzy), possible interpretations of a drawing can be very broad. Now, of course the position cards are drawn in and whether they are reversed or not conveys meaning, but still. So I think these tarot drawings are a bit like those mind readers you see sometimes (their exact name eludes me at the moment), those that reveal details about you just by talking to you. It almost seems mystical, but in truth they are just very keen to the information you give them by your attitude, reactions, and let you fill in the blanks. I think tarot is kind of the same, using cards as a support. So no, I don’t think it is magical, I don’t “believe” in it. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe it has any worth or use, however. Like any intellectual endeavour, it can spark a different way of looking at a given problem, can make you approach things from a different angle, help you identify your problems or figure out other possible solutions to it. So in that sense, I do think it has value.

    Has it helped me or a friend in a situation? I don't know. When I used to do drawings (mostly for myself), it was mostly about my love life (I was a teenager, after all). And the readings were accurate enough.

    I recently said a lot about the individual arcana in another thread so I’m not gonna repeat all that. But since you’re interested there is something else I want to point out, and it is the artwork itself. The one I favor is the original Tarot de Marseille art. It is arguably not very good looking but it succeeds where it counts the most, and where newer redrawn versions usually fail: it is loaded with symbolism and imagery. There is a lot you can infer from just looking at the cards. Look at the Hermit, for instance:
    [​IMG]

    First I want to point out that the imagery used in the cards is around high medieval European imagery. I don’t know all of your cultural backgrounds, what I’m gonna say is not universal, of course, you have to put yourself in that cultural mindset. So the hermit is a man. An old man. This is not fortuitous, the old wise man is a staple symbol in many culture, it conveys something. It would not have been the same if it were a woman, or if he had been younger. It conveys something of wisdom, experience, something mystical (I’m not saying old women or younger people are not wise or experienced, of course, I’m talking about the symbolism from a high medieval european point of view, remember). Also, the character is facing left, looking to the past. It also suggests experience. Plus, although it is a man, he wears a blue cloak: the colour of feminism in tarot imagery (vs red for masculinism). It suggests passivity, thought, secrets, etc.


    Something else I find interesting is determining if the characters are frowning or smiling. The hermit is not a good exemple for that because of the beard, take this one instead:
    [​IMG]
    Now, is she smiling or frowning? Personally, I’d say she is doing both. Look at the corners of her mouth carefully, it is as if there is two corners, one going up and one going down.

    So you see, just looking at the cards, depending on the theme, if the card is upright or upside-down, the mood of the drawing and the energy from the person you are drawing for, you can infer a lot of meaning. I think it is pretty interesting.

    If you want to read more about this (which I suggest you do if you are serious about this, documenting your projects is always good) I recommend this book. I’m not a 100% sure it has been translated into English, but I thought it was very enlightening, it’s a great read.

    So anyway, what to do in a game with tarot cards, now? You could create PCs/NPCs to fit each card. You could divide your game in 22 chapter, following the cards’ symbolism (because they are telling a kind of story, after all). You could use them as a kind of elemental affinity system (although with 22 entries it probably would be a rather complicated one). You could look at Ogre Battle: March of the Black Queen, that used them to determine your hero’s class and starting stats and alignment and used them as magic powers (amongst other things). Personally, if you just tie them to characters or story chapters but it’s just an inspiration and you do nothing else with them in the game, I think why not, but what’s the point? If you want to make a game around these, I’d go at least a few steps farther than that.

    An idea that could be interesting could be having the player do a complete celtic cross (or whatever) at the start of the game, before they do anything else. Each arcana could be tied to a specific character that can join the party or not at different times, maybe even become an antagonist, depending on if its arcana comes up in the drawing, where it comes up and whether it is upright or not. Alternatively (or on top of that), you could have a somewhat branching storyline, that specific events happen or not or are resolved in different ways depending on the results of this initial drawing. Going even further, maybe the player has some measure of free will and you present them with alternative ways to go about events that can influence the drawing and future events. Maybe there is this fortune teller character that the player can go to in order to consult their fate, and the fortune teller can tell them if it has changed, they can see their initial drawing, with any changes to it if needed. Since the cards are actually part of the game world itself, maybe they are also used as items or magic powers or whatnot. I think that would tie in well with the actual tarot and could be interesting, but it would certainly be a sizable amount of work to design and then put together.

    I’m not an expert and my memory fails me at times but if you have follow up questions or want to use me for consulting or throwing ideas at, just ring me up :)
     
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  6. PitjePitjePitje

    PitjePitjePitje Veteran Veteran

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    1. Are you a believer? Or think it's all pseudoscience? (if you answer the latter you can skip question 2)

    I don't believe that cards can tell the future, neither can anything else. We don't have the brainpower (either in our own brains or in artificial ones) to accurately model everything. That said, our brains are very, very good 'predictors', we're very good at detecting patterns, especially the 'subconscious' part of our minds/brains (which I believe to be the same thing). Which IMO is the coolest way to use the cards: when I draw the cards in their positions, what things stand out to me? And more importantly, why do those things stand out? If I'm focussing on the meaning of a certain card, or a particular graphic, why is that happening? I think the cards are a great tool to 'capture' an image of the state of my mind.

    2. Do you know of an instance where tarot cards helped either you or someone else resolve a problem? How did the cards help?

    I regularly use them (monthly, usually) as a kind of 'sanity check'/mirror, a way to get to how I really feel about things. This often helps me, keeps me centred and balanced, which helps in most aspects of life. Occasionally I 'read' for friends as well, but as this is a terribly intimate affair, I only do it for very close friends.

    3. And since we're game devs, we have to have this question: What's a good way to use tarot cards in games?

    The major arcana and the face cards can function as character templates/archetypes. You can use them for inspiration, or as generators for characters/stories/arcs. Or you could use the fool's journey as a template for a story. I read a book once on how to use the cards in writing, there's loads of ways to incorporate them. The majors could be the basis for worlds, or maps, or...

    Or you could have a spoopy card reader as a quest giver/NPC, or maybe collect the cards throughout your adventure
     
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