New adventures: My first tarot reading event

I have been playing Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) on and off since I was a kid. We’re now playing in a campaign with our kids who are older when we were when we first started playing! When I found out that a company was making a D&D-inspired tarot deck I was intrigued, and when I realized that they were based right here in my home town of Ottawa, I knew I had to reach out to them. And that’s how I ended up taking a Fool’s leap to become a tarot reader for my first-ever in-person event, the launch party for the Fablemaker’s Animated Tarot Deck.

It. was. amazing.

I was a little anxious going in. I’ve done tonnes of readings, and I’m confident in my skills. However, I generally prefer to give written readings for a couple of reasons. I’m a writer at heart, and written readings give me time to reflect, review and craft a story from the readings. I get caught up in peoples’ energy doing in-person readings and tend to rush, and I find I get better insights when I take quiet time to look at how all the elements work together. Moreso, though, my aging brain likes to play hide and seek with facts, and I’ll occasionally blank on keywords the same way I blank on people’s names – I know them, I know they’re buried deep in the overstuffed file catalogue that is my brain, but they won’t always come when they’re called, so I like to have my little notebook handy. It didn’t feel “professional” to say, “hang on, there’s something about this card that’s tweaking a memory – please allow me a moment to consult my grimoire.” The kismet of a D&D-flavoured tarot deck being produced right here in Ottawa was way too much fun for me to be able to resist, though, and I am SO glad I managed to hush my inner critic long enough to reach out. I took a Fool’s leap and channelled my inner Magician – and it paid off!

The Fablemaker’s Animated Tarot deck itself is a treat – I’ll post a separate review shortly. The guidebook that comes with it has some fun and inspired ideas on how to actually use the deck as a D&D player or Game Master (GM), so I thought I’d flavour my readings with a little D&D fun. I added some D&D terrain pieces and figures from a recent adventure and my GM’s screen to my table for flavour, along with some Halloween treats and my business cards. I had the querrents cut the deck as they saw fit, then instead of having them draw a card, I had them roll a d20 for each card in the spread; if they rolled a 12, I counted to the 12th card in the deck. If someone rolled a natural 20, I said that card was the one with the dominant message. No natural ones were rolled!

I used a six-card dyadic cross for most readings, and on a hex battlemap I kept a tally of their rolls. At the end, I added the numbers from the rolls together and distilled it down to a two-digit number the same way you calculate a birth year card, and talked about the resulting link to the Major Arcana. (For example, if the number distilled down to a nine, we talked about the Hermit.) All of my querrents were also D&D players, so if I had time I asked them to describe their character and I pulled one card for their character, too.

To my delight, I loved doing live readings. I loved the interaction with the querrent as each card came up, and loved the creative push to make connections on the spot. I did not, as I feared I might, freeze under pressure and blank on the meanings of all 78 cards; in fact, my grimoire sat untouched behind my GM’s screen. The folks I read for seemed to enjoy the D&D spin, and seemed happy with the insights from their readings.

I’m genuinely delighted with this deck. The creators have paid equal respect to the art of tarot and the game of D&D, and the guidebook is full of clever ways to integrate the cards into your table-top role playing games. And the cards are mesmerizing – when I came home, my teenager spent time examining every single card in the deck. I think we have another convert to team tarot!

I’ll post a proper deck review soon, but in the interim I thought I’d get the word out. If you’re looking for a tarot reader who loves to tell stories, has a great sense of humour and has never left behind her inner 14-year-old geek, I’d love to hear from you!

And if you love tarot OR dungeons and dragons, be sure to check out the Fablemaker’s Animated Tarot! How have you used tarot cards in your TTRPGs – or how would you adapt tarot readings for TTRPGs? I predict a divination wizard who uses a tarot deck as their arcane focus in a future campaign for me!