Tarot Sandbox System

Using Tarot for Story Elements

I’m trying to figure out a way to do the sandbox thing (wherein the PCs are totally free to do whatever the hell the want) without the game grinding to a halt because the players are (as we’re wont to do) paralyzed by too much freedom. To that end, I thought about using the Tarot to effectively set up the plot elements for the next session.

Mechanics: Each Major Arcana will be assigned to a “Faction” (for example, the Magician would be the White Council of wizards, while Wheel of Fortune would be an ‘Arc Card’ and The Moon would be Red Court vampires.) At the end of each session, each Player will draw one card. I, as the GM, will note what that card is and then craft a subplot for this.

Each of the four Minor Arcana are also assigned a “subplot” but apply only in the event of a “Face” card (King, Queen, Jack, Page).

Example: At the conclusion of a session, LabRat draws … The Sun (inverted, so it’s upside down.) This conforms to White Council. Since it is inverted, that’s bad, so I as the GM craft a plot where Sofia learns that the Wardens have pursued a warlock on the run into OKC and finds herself getting involved. Gigermann draws the Page of Wands Inverted – consulting the chart, I note that Wands are related to home life (home, friends, family), so I spin up something bad related to his friends or family (a buddy is in an accident or something.) Magman draws a 9 of Swords – this is nothing, so he doesn’t get a a groovy plot this round. Zorgon draws a 2 of Pentacles (Inverted), but this also means nothing, so he doesn’t get a spiffy subplot. Budah draws The Hanged Man, which is … Black Court! So he gets eaten next week.

The Tarot System (Currently)

Major Arcana
The Fool: Faction – Media (Popular & Journalism)
The Magician: White Council
The High Priestess: non-White Council spellcasters (low-level practitioners)
The Empress: Summer Court
The Emperor: Monoc
The Hierophant: The Church (or other religious institutions)
The Lovers: White Council
The Chariot: Faction – Government/Law Enforcement
Justice: Winter Court
The Hermit: Jade Court
Wheel of Fortune: Arc Card
Strength: Winter Court
The Hanged Man: Black Court
Death: White Court
Temperance: Red Court
The Devil: Faction – Underworld (criminal, not supernatural)
The Tower: Denarian!
The Star: Summer Court
The Moon: Jade Court
The Sun: White Council
Judgement: Arc Card
The World: Red Court

Minor Arcana

  • Cups: Romantic life
  • Pentacles: Work life
  • Swords: Enemies
  • Wands: Home life (friends, neighbors, etc.)


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Tarot Sandbox System

GURPS: Red Sky RigilKent