clarity's wiki

Tarot-Based Situation Generator

A tool for generating some characters and a situation using tarot cards.


You'll need a tarot deck. This was designed specifically for use with a deck of mine which doesn't have narrative/representational art for the minor arcana, so use that if you also have one of those.

Creating the spread

Each court card stack is a character. The major arcana stack sets the emotional tone of the situation. The minor arcana underneath modify these.


For my sword-and-sorcery adventure, the characters are forced to land their boat on a remote island due to a storm. I drew the following stacks for what they'll find there: the 10 of Pentacles, the 8 of Swords, and the Knight of Pentacles; the 2 of Swords, the 2 of Pentacles, the 7 of Pentacles, and the Queen of Cups; and the 7 of Cups, and Strength (VIII).

Minor Arcana Ranks

When interpreting minor arcana, read the rank as follows.

Characters (Court Cards)

When I interpret court cards, I take the suit and the rank and place a person at their intersection.

The suits:

The ranks:

So, maybe the queen of pentacles is the motherly one whose house becomes a safe haven for others. Maybe the knight of cups is always making new friends and falls in love a little too easily. Maybe the king of swords is an organizer. Maybe the page of wands just transitioned. Or maybe not! There's a lot of ways to interpret these.

Minor arcana

The minor arcana are additional aspects of this character.

It might be fun to start by coming up with a trait about the character first, and then assigining a card to afterwards: maybe in her hands a smile is a weapon, or maybe it's gift given freely.


I've decided that the knight of pentacles is someone wandering with a desire to make others' lives easier. Maybe a wizard, or an inventor, or a tailor. She draws confidence from her complete mastery of her craft (10 of pentacles), which she wields subtle and patiently to great effect (8 of swords).

The queen of cups is the matriarch of her tiny island village. Her power is complicated and tangential, at once great and meaningless (2 of swords), but she's very comfortable with this ambiguity (2 of pentacles). She's fiercely protective of her village and its reliable peaceful ways (7 of pentacles).

Tone (Major Arcana)

Much has been written about the major arcana, and most of it is wrong. Just look at the art on the card and make your own decisions about what it means. I can't help you with that, sorry.

Use this card to frame the situation that the characters are present in. It might answer any of the following questions:

Minor Arcana

Use the minor arcana to add additional elements to the scene, using the suits from the following list, and the ranks from below.


Strength (VIII), to me, is about the grace & restraint necessary to face down danger with compassion. This aligns with the wanderer's patient craft. So, I imagine that she has an ambition or idea to help the people of this village, but the matriarch is resistant to the change. So, the wanderer has been living here for the last few months, learning the ways of the village, and slowly winning


What's interesting about trying this out is, the generated situation feels quite "real", but it's not particularly dynamic! I think I like this – instead of generating immediate problems or conflicts, what's been generated is something with a sort of independance that doesn't necessarily exist to serve the players. This feels pretty appropriate for tarot and its fickle tendency to not always give you what you're looking for.

I feel like Place is something missing from here, but I don't know where to fit it in. Idk.