Skald in the Dark (Tarot) - Forged from the Dark

I’m currently working on a hack for Blades in the Dark and its slowly turning into a full blown revision, so much so I’m thinking its more like Forged from the Dark instead of Forged in the Dark.

The basic premise is this, I wanted a version of Blades in the Dark where I could mash together various TV/Literature Genre’s quickly but maintain the pressure cooker / sandbox atmosphere. The initial feedback I got was without a foundational knowledge of the setting people wanted a more personalized sandbox. What I’ve settled on is building worlds using a Tarot Deck to build the world around the player characters instead of the other way around.

Character Creation
As a summary, after describing the basis of the campaign and providing the Genres and some examples, you use the 22 Major Arcana to start 4 blank lists so you have space for; 22 Factions, 22 Characters, 22 Locations & 22 Objects with one potential entry against each card. You then take turns with the players during character development getting them to pick a card and describe a relationship their character has in the game world with one of these elements. The ST then documents these in the game while the player uses the relationship to stat to one of their attributes. There are also elements related to the 16 Royal cards of the suits but that’s a little bit to much to explain here.

I also have a list of motivations, emotional states and a couple of other pieces which help make the world feel real. Once you have these lists and cards it can be very easy to just draw a couple of cards and create a new persistent situation in the game world, new relationships as well as new Hierarchies/webs of influence and power. Would this be something people are interesting in hearing more about?

This sounds interesting, but are you expecting to have the players come up with 22 entries for each category, or is that just the maximum? If the former, I’d be worried about too much player-driven creativity in the first session, unless you’re planning on making the process a whole game like Microscope, just because of creative fatigue.

Otherwise, I really like the idea of using Tarot to help create a world, and would definitely be interested in seeing how you do it.

Your right, 22 is way too much in the first session. I was hoping the players would each come up with three and pick maybe 1 from someone else. The rest would slowly get invented as time went on adding more and more history and complexity to the players actions as the world starts to come together.

From my mind, any blades idea needs a closed ecosystem of some kind to create the pressure cooker environment. I think the untapped possibility of this element is the chance to constantly refer back to previous events in the game and draw causality.

I.e. “You did this, now I have drawn this card again so it has an impact now.” Actions would then carry weight.