What on earth is tarot?


What on earth is tarot?

In: 0

A serious answer: A fortune telling system based on a custom set of cards.

There is a huge amount of legend and lore around the process, the interpretation, and the cards themselves. In other words, it’s pretty typical fortune telling hokum.

It can be entertaining, but if you take it seriously, you’d be better off with a magic-8 ball.

Tarot is a form of divination using cards, and also a card game. A tarot deck includes four suits of 14 cards each, plus 22 named cards:

The Magician, The High Priestess, The Empress, The Emperor, The Hierophant, The Lovers, The Chariot, Strength, The Hermit, Wheel of Fortune, Justice, The Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, The Devil, The Tower, The Star, The Moon, The Sun, Judgement, The World, and The Fool.

Hands of cards, put in certain ways at the desk, are interpreted by the divinator as omens, answers to questions, and so on.

More information at:


It has a Wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarot

It’s a very old (15^th c.), Italian in origin, set of paying cards with numerous variants nowadays.

In countries where the game isn’t played it’s mostly used for *cartomancy*, divination by cards.

Through its somewhat mysterious images it has inspired writers and painters, for example the Surrealists:



(From the Surrealist Tarot Deck.)

Originally, the tarot cards were an “expansion pack” of sorts that you would add to an ordinary deck of cards to play certain games. E.g. the game of French Tarot is played using a 78-card deck, with 56 ordinary cards (the French play with an additional “knight” rank between jack and queen), 21 tarot cards which act as trumps, and one “fool,” which is like a joker.

Cartomancy, or using decks of cards for fortune-telling or divination, predates the tarot deck, but these days in the English-speaking world the two are virtually synonymous.

Tarot is what a GM uses to instill fun into a rather dull campaign. Pull a card any card unsuspecting PC.