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You have impressed me, you know.
Not many manage such a feat.
Cast Your Fate to the Wind
the cards are calling
the smell of spices, particularly cardamom, fills the air as a warm breeze washes over you. people shout to and fro in the market, trying to advertise their goods above the crowd's excited banter. a few try their luck on you, but you haggle your way to a free loaf of spiced bread—a yummy snack for later. you watch as clueless tourists, enticed by fake jewels and shoddy silk, get scammed out of their money by shopkeeps. a few owners wave, grinning both at the sight of you and at the idea of getting a week's pay out of a foolish tourist. you wave back, shaking your head in disbelief at their practices but carry on. it's a normal day in the market by all means, but something calls out to you. at first, you try to ignore it, choosing to focus on your warm, delicious-looking loaf of bread in front of you. however, no amount of yummy bread will distract you as the feeling becomes less of a calling and more of a pulling. like a fish on a hook, you feel yourself get dragged into a shop. stuffy and dim, the only thing around seems to be a deck of cards. your hand reaches for the top card, but a voice in the darkness stops you in your tracks.
"ah, i see the cards like you, too."
the voice isn't wrong, but it isn't completely right either. you glance around the room, searching for the source of the voice. it comes to you in the form of a woman draped in warmly colored silk and dazzling jewelry. one glance and you can tell the woman is a fraud. like a predator encircling their prey, she picks up the deck and shuffles it with a flourish, trying to persuade you of her skill in divining the future. you can't hold back the slight roll of your eyes as you watch. her living is made off tricking tourists and denizens alike. who knows how many tragedies she's caused? the conwoman pats the table, inviting you to sit, and you comply just for the fun of it. she cuts the deck, splays the cards in front of you, and repeats the process twice more before asking you to pick three. unlike her, you can feel slight wisps of energy from the cards. those that desire to be picked concentrate into bits and phrases of messages as your hand hovers over them. your finger swiftly points at one in the middle and two on the right. the fraud takes a quick glance at them, discreet terror flitting across her face, before plastering on a huge smile. your own eyes glance at the cards in the order you picked them in: death reversed, the knight of swords, and the eight of pentacles. past, present, and future. you don't even stay to listen to her faux interpretation, knowing that her sugar coating will only taint the message you received from the cards themselves. despite her pleas for you to stay, you quickly drop a few coins on the counter and depart from the shady tent.
the minute you arrive at home, you pull out your own deck. a precious gift, it was handcrafted to your tastes, causing more energy to be imbued into it than normal. as a result, the deck thrums with energy. the cards chosen earlier shoot out of the deck and onto the floor in the same order. you pick up the first—death reversed—and pass it through your fingers. the past. reversed means death turned his back on his duty. inevitable change came, and i could not stop it. you think of the mark on your body, a physical manifestation of the pact you made with one of the major arcana, and grimace. the next card resonates with the air as you pick it up. the knight of swords speaks the most to you. since the cards sound differently to everyone, it is up to the listener to learn their distinct language. however, the arcana tend to be cryptic and difficult to decipher. you find your readings combined with the slight phrases you can understand deliver the best result. the present. the knight of swords gets straight to the point, cutting through all resistance. bad news is incoming... or maybe it's already here. the reading you received from the tarot reader seems to fulfill the criteria, but the cards are often more than just superficial events. the knight continues speaking, their voice noble but blunt and scratchy. you try your best to listen, but you can't get anything besides a few words: danger, aid, you, and compromise. the last word fizzles out before you can decipher it, so with a groan, you pick up the last card. the future. the eight of pentacles indicates there is raw talent yet to be honed. in the future position, it indicates mastery of a skill or the acquisition of one. that one doesn't provide you with much insight. the voice is too faint for you to understand either. taking note of the cards, you shuffle them back into the deck and retire to your room for the night.
the start of a journey
when you awake, you find two cards displaced in the deck. their corners stick out in opposite directions, as if trying to get away from one another. you instinctively move your hand to push them back in but freeze. instead of pushing in, you pull them out, intrigued by the result. both are major arcana with one of them being the being that you signed a pact with so many years ago. you examine the first—the fifteenth major arcana known as the devil. possibly the most sinister of the major arcana, it represents aspects of human nature that are less than ideal: greed, materialism, and selfishness. you gaze upon the card's intricacies but feel an ominous chill come over you. it strikes you at your core, and it almost feels like the card is staring back at you. the devil manifests itself as a smooth talker, their voice tinged just barely with evil delight. whatever they're saying, you fail to understand. who knows whether that's because you can't or you didn't try though. as your hand goes to grasp the next card, the constant, subtle vibration from your deck begins to fade. you quickly reshuffle the deck and try to perform a reading but find that it provides less than fruitful results. you pose a simple question before shuffling, cutting, and drawing three cards. the cards no longer vibrate when you pick them up. the stillness is all that remains. what's happening?
whew! if you made it this far, thanks for staying so long! i'm sure you're confused as hell, but here's a quick summary. this roleplay will center around our characters (up to 22 for the 22 major arcana) trying to discover why the tarot deck has gone silent. they all have a special relationship with one of the major cards in the tarot deck. this special relationship (which i'll get into later on!) leads to them resonating with tarot decks. feeling resonance means that the cards speak to them in their unique language, but some of our characters have failed to develop or even venture into trying to understand their messages. those incapable of understanding are typically not magicians by trade (meaning that your character can be any profession they wish). however, when the silence descended on them, they were all unsettled which has led to this adventure. some have been on this journey longer than others, such as magicians who use the deck on a regular basis, and some have just begun after a reading gone wrong. they'll eventuallly discover that the deck is being silenced because of the card, the devil. it seeks to overthrow this world and create one under it's own command. to do this, they had to diminish the power of the other arcana in the deck so that no warnings would be sent to our characters which is why the deck is silent. eventually, all our characters will have to band together against the devil as it conducts a spell ceremony to overturn the current world and create it's new one. whether the heroes succeed though... that depends on the roll of the dice.
long ago, the entire continent suffered a wide range of calamaties. from the decade long famine in the desert to the plague that devoured the city and the underground, humanity met its match in every corner of the land. the population perished in droves, and as a result, many of the living have very few, or no, family left alive. the legacy of these disasters still lingers in the minds of every person. our characters, no matter what region they were born in, were fated to be one of the deceased. however, one of the major arcana in the tarot deck saved them from death. through a pact, albeit a somewhat forced pact, the arcana promised our characters salvation for a price. the price could be something simple, like a promise, but it most likely took the form of something severe. some may give up part of their heart to accomplish their desires and others accept permanent disfigurement. no matter what price your characters agreed upon, the pact left them with a mark that glows on a specific area that is meaningful to the character's sacrifice (check the heart tab for more info!)
professions and race
all beings, except for some of the major arcana, are human. the major arcana manifest in whatever form the user believes represents them best but will generally take the form they are in on the user's tarot card. this is why unique cards are preferred for those with a pact. in this universe, magic is well and alive but also only wielded by a small group of people. as a result, most of our characters will not be magicians despite having an affinity with one of the major arcana. instead, they can be anything you desire from a merchant to a handmaid to a tribe leader to the queen and king of the region. their professions will grant them special traits, like persuasion for a merchant or composure for a royal, which will come in handy for the trials and tribulations we will face later. a few magicians will be allowed, but their magic should range from beginner to highly proficient. these magicians will guide our journey, but don't worry! any and all professions will be added into the journey some way, some how.
many of the characters will have met some of the others in some way whether it be growing up together in the same region or struggling through a disaster together. their relationships do not have to be positive, or even current, but you should try to find a way to connect your character to a few others! the history portion will probably be the most intensive part of the roleplay since it'll require some background and plotting on your guys' part. but! depending on your characters' (yes, plural if you desire) history, you will receive some sneak peeks of the upcoming plot from me and be able to help me dictate what happens. for example, if your character was alive during the plague that devoured the city and helped lead the research for it (maybe even finding the cure?), then, "hypothetically", if the plague returns, the cure would be either known or in the back of your character's mind.
The Arcana - Nix Hydra
Moderate - Advanced
1 post per week
2 - 4 posts per month
feel free to ask!
are you not that knowledgeable about tarot cards? this entire tab is a short guide if you need it! all modern decks, which are what we'll be referencing, are made up of 78 cards. that might seem like a lot, but don't worry! the deck is split up in 22 major arcana and 56 minor arcana. these two subcategories will be discussed down below! our characters will be doing tarot readings to get some advice along the way, so let me explain how to do those. there are a bunch of different types, but we'll be primarily using 3-spread and 5-spread readings. to prepare the deck for these readings, the deck gets shuffled and cut up to three times. then, they get spread on the table in a nice fan shape. after that, depending on whether it's a 3 or 5 card reading, that amount of cards gets picked by the person getting the reading (also known as a querent).
the 3-spread readings provide lots of information but don't really provide any 'why?' answers. the cards get lined up horizontally with the first one picked on the left and the last one picked on the right. 3 spread readings can represent a lot of things, but here are some of the most common. past, present, and future. situation, obstacle, and advice. mind, body, and spirit. if you want information quick, this is your go-to reading!
5-spread readings are slightly more complicated but still fairly simple to understand. the 5 card readings can take different forms but therectangle and crossspreads are the most common. these cards also have varying meanings depending on the position, and what each position represents is up to you! the difference between 5 and 3 card readings is that 5 card readings can provide you with an answer to 'why?' and give you a glimpse into the solution.
let's say that you see a pattern start popping up in your readings! maybe there's a lot of major arcana. patterns that repeat in multiple readings can add another layer to your reading. some patterns to take note of include lots of swords, lots of wands, lots of pentacles, lots of cups, lots of major arcana, lots of 8s, and lots of aces. their meanings, based on the order i just listed, are conflict, big change, financial issues, relationship issues, a querent lacking influence over their own question's result, change (usually positive) in life, and powerful energy.
whew! last but not least! tarot cards can take two forms: upright or reversed. reversed is a fancy word for saying upside down. if a card is upside down, the meaning becomes completely different. it doesn't necessarily mean they're negative (like the devil reversed is actually good!) but it's just a different meaning. here's a quick cheat sheet for the meanings of all the cards when they're upright and reversed (you can find the cheat sheet under the major and minor arcana sections!)
the major arcana
there are 22 major arcana. the 22 major arcana all have vastly different meanings as well. these are the main cards you should try to have a basic understanding of. like i noted earlier, all characters in this roleplay will be sponsored by one of them because they tend to exhibit traits that match the card's (of course, the traits they exhibit don't have to be the upright traits). based on the major arcana that you choose as your character's patron arcana, they'll gain one special ability because of their pact. each of the major arcana exist in a separate realm from the rest of the world and from each other. what they look like is entirely up to whoever claims the arcana as their patron!
side note: the major arcana aren't very involved. only when our characters use their skill (which has limited uses) or are in very, very dangerous situations will they provide good advice. their advice is generally vague, and when you cross into their realm, they may do their best to tempt you into staying forever. the sort of good thing is that their powers do not work in the human realm (which ultimately means our characters will have to travel into the other realm to pursue the antagonist).
the minor arcana
there are 56 minor arcana, but they're actually pretty easy to understand! the 56 cards are split into 4 groups: swords, wands, pentacles, and cups. the four groups all have one general theme per group. for swords, it's opportunity and conflict. wands generally revolve around change and progress. pentacles focus on financial matters and hard work. cups are all about love, relationships, and dreams. they all range from ace to king like a deck of cards would, but instead of joker, we have page. use these during the roleplay to be a little more specific about the information we're getting when it comes to things like opportunity, finances, change, or relationships!
esteria is the capital of the continent. for the first time traveler, it's a little jarring to see the stark contrast between the castle's blinding opulence and the surrounding town's shoddiness, but for it's residents, the inequality has always been a facet of life in esteria. just on the outskirts of the capital lies the most populous market on the continent (and where the introduction was set in!). in the palace live the emperor and empress of esteria and its territories as well as their servants and counselors. it is unclear if their marriage is one of convenience or whether they truly harbor feelings for one another. a little more than a decade ago, a plague came and ravaged the city. the source was unknown but the people passed away in droves. all inflicted had one significant mark of the disease, a rash that took on the shape of a flower. the cause to this day is still unknown by the general public (although one of our characters might know), but it mysteriously vanished overnight. those that survived the disease found they were permanently disfigured by it. to this day, there are still worries that the disease will return so visits to the palace are restricted. at night, when the palace lights dim, the shady alleyways of esteria light up and harbor fugitives and pirates. guards often scan these areas for criminals and can be found either drinking away their sorrows or ransacking the bars.
the frozen wastes
it's hard to describe the frozen wastes. little is known about the area, but the all the information that has been gathered is told here. the people here speak a dialect foreign to anyone from outside the wasteland and are hostile to intruders. survival of the fittest is the motto that they all live by, and children are forced into a cave to fight against a beast for their lives as a rite of passage once they reach adolescence. those that fail are abandoned and those that succeed are embraced in the tribe. they regularly face famine and only allow the strongest to lead them. duels go to the death and if a family's honor is disgraced by a family member, familial duels are not uncommon. those in the frozen wastes are actually quite intelligent, but it is viewed as a land of savages. they refuse to bow down to the emperor and empress and only visit esteria to assert their sovereignty. seven years ago, the frozen wastes saw the sun dim in front of their eyes. darkness surrounded them 24/7 for years, and during this time, what little plants existed perished which led to total destruction of the animals that served as the tribe's food source. famine and darkness hurt these people for years, leading to a significant thinning of the already small population. the sun has only recently come back in the last two years.
the farmlands far away from the city are referred to as fawnela. they reside an ocean away from esteria and are the main providers of food for the city. people here work hard in the fields all days of the year. they're technically a territory under the emperor and empress but are still able to negotiate living wages from the capital for their workers. the people here are modest and have a distinct culture from city folks. however, this is also an area of imprisoned servitude. the city's worst criminals are sent here for manual labor where they slave all day long in the fields. they are watched by a few prominent magicians who make their living controlling criminals and keeping them away from the residents. 3 years ago, the magicians residing here found that their powers began fading. the criminals, many of who grew extremely resentful, ransacked the homes of the residents and committed many grevious crimes. some found their way back to esteria and found refuge in the alleyways, but a majority of them were recaptured after a few months when the magicians' powers came back. now, the magicians have periods where their powers continue to fizz out. because of this, the criminals continue to wait for their chance to escape again, and the lingering fear has led to decreased production by the residents of fawnela.
magic & rules
magic exists in this universe! it follows the rule of 'whatever you think of, you can make happen', but there are definitely rules. magic can have a sapping effect on one's lifespan and magicians that perform higher level magic require the help of multiple magicians. all magicians also have an affinity towards one of the basic elements: water, air, fire, and earth. an affinity means that magic using this element is far easier and requires almost no life force. overusing magic can exhaust the user and have strange side effects like painful headaches and temporary paralysis. however, magic is easy to cast. it requires no spells and simply for the user to think of something. magicians who are higher level can use magic for a longer time and feel the vibrations of tarot cards more which is why they embarked on the journey earlier.
magic doesn't have to be solely for magicians however. some characters might be able to pull off a few small spells like casting sparks but without training, those few sparks could turn into an unstoppable fire. the magic in this roleplay does not include the pact that your characters made with their patron arcana. you can find more information on that in the section to the right! also, all patron arcana can definitely do magic! they are capable of summoning you to their realm at any moment, and their magic has a physical effect on you when you're in their realm. it's best to avoid those realms unless you're desperate or a seasoned magician who is capable of traveling the realms.
for rules, follow all rpnation rules! i don't really have any requests except that you all remain active which means about 2-4 posts a month. 3 would definitely the sweet spot. i'd also like real faceclaims and no drama in ooc chat! ic drama is great though. yes! i encourage ic drama and relationships and lots of plotting. if you guys have any questions, lemme know! for the dice, i'll be having skill checks for magic, etc. if you pass them, it'll add a point to our upright ending and if you fail, no points are added. the points are super important for our endings so hopefully luck is on our side!
endings & the pact
just like how upright cards usually mean good things, this is considered the good ending! if we reach a 75% pass rate on our skill checks, the adventure will follow a much better ending. there will be happy moments, and the devil won't succeed in his plans. relationships flourish. both the arcana and human realms are saved, and the devil is kept from taking over. if someone picks the devil as their patron arcana, they'll get a secret choice!
if upright is good then reversed is bad. should we fail 75% of the skill checks (the number is subject to change), then the story will follow a much darker route. our characters will soon fail to save the world from the devil and everything will be shaped to please the devil arcana. our characters will undergo demonic transformations and other fates that are miserable as a result of going against the devil unless we give up. if we give up the fight because we think that there's no possible way for us to get the upright ending, the devil will spare us and put us in a different ending. what happens to us in this secret ending though? well, that's why it's called a secret~
like i've stated earlier, the pact was made between our characters and their patron arcanas to survive or accomplish a desire. when both parties agree, the mark (as seen by the picture) is placed on a significant area of the body. it only glows when the special power granted to the character by the pact is used. some abilities have a one time use (like being able to come back from death if you pass a conversation with the patron arcana), and some are constantly in effect (like if you sacrificed part of your heart to accomplish something). the powers should sort of fall in line with the patron arcana's, but truthfully, anything is game as long as it's not too op.
ohmygod- i just wanted to say that this plot? phenomenal. i'm a sucker for fantasy, even more so with tarot decks (i used to play the arcana when only asra, julien and nadia were still available and i loved it so much, haven't played it recently but the sentiment remains) and i would most definitely love to participate in this!
ahhhh another arcana fan yes yes it’s like my main source of inspiration for this with a few twists but I’m so glad you like it~ i haven’t played it much either after half of Lucio’s route came out but I know they just finished a route for Portia
Hello! I really love the idea for this! I'm not the most knowledgeable about tarot (I mostly came into contact with it from the Persona games), but this seems like a great reason to read up on it a little more, as well as a fun and intriguing RP to be in, of course.