Omens and Tarot in Mork Borg
TAROT AND OMENS
Recently, I posted a pic on Twitter that made the rounds of a Mörk Borg game I was running and there were a good handful of folks inquiring about the deck of Tarot cards behind the GM screen so today I’m going to tell you about how I puts them to use in my games.
Because I love collecting Tarot cards I find excuses to put them to use in my games a lot, they are great for theme and flavor. So I have a little system for how to narrate when an omen is used to re-roll in Mörk Borg. Right now I’m using a deck of the original Rider Waite tarot cards, but really any tarot cards will work. I’d really like to design my own Tarot themed around the game but that would require wmore resources and art budget than I have. Anyway, How I use them is simply that if an omen is used in-game to re-roll a die, I use the cards to assist in the narration of how the character twists their fate into success. Since Tarot cards are divided up into major and minor arcana, the deck itself functions in two different ways:
If a major arcana is drawn I simply give the card to the player and I ask them to narrate to me how their omen succeeds, based upon the theme of the card either aesthetically or with any tarot knowledge they might have. They can also choose to allow their re-roll to fail and keep the card for future use in the session to grant an automatic success to a different omen re-roll. Regardless of their decision, when major arcana is drawn, I do not count the omen as used so it’s essentially a freebie. The only catch is that they must narrate how their omen succeeds.
Minor Arcana for Omens
If a card from the minor arcana is drawn I look at the suit, and use its meaning to narrate explanation as to why the omen succeeded or failed. I mostly ignore the value, but sometimes use it to gauge how “heavy” the effect being narrated should be. Each suit is associated with an element and and some meanings, of course these things are entirely interpretive so you can use them however you want. When an omen succeeds, instead of the mechanical effect simply taking place, I use tarot to facilitate narrating how it succeeds. Below is a quick reference for how I put the suits to use:
|Swords||Air||Force / Movement||Weapons or Armor|
|Cups||Water||Emotion / Intuission||Valuables or Trinkets|
|Pentacles||Earth||Resolve / Luck||Jewelry or Relics|
|Wands||Fire||Inspiration / Aggression||Scrolls or Consumables|
For example, a character attempting to pick a lock might use an omen to re-roll and draw a 6 of pentacles and succeed on his re-roll I would narrate that just as they gave up on raking the tumblers of the lock and a last frustrated flick of the wrist bumped something into place and the lock pops open. On the inverse if they had failed the re-roll I might have said their persistence has managed to jam the lock. You can also use the Possessions column to help faciliate these narrations with any personal effects the character might have on them that would help or hinder their attempts.
Another use of this system is that if you ever need to generate random treasure quickly and for some reason you don’t already have an official Mörk Borg table or one of its many fantastic third party supplements (check out some of ours over on Itch!) or zines to give you ideas, you can use this table to inspire items that might be found within the gloom soaked hellscape that is the world of Mörk Borg.
As for that other deck you might have noticed in the photo, that’s the very useful and very fantastic deck full of monsters that dwell in the forest from Wet Ink Games’ “Into the Wyrd and Wild” and I highly suggest you check it out!