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Published March 25, 2023 Updated March 26, 2023

Dungeons & Dragons “Curse of Strahd” Tarokka Deck

Enhance your Dungeons & Dragons game with the Tarokka Deck, a tarot-inspired set of cards that bring mystique to your adventures.

2016 USA Gale Force Nine Wizards of the Coast Dungeons & Dragons Chuck Lukacs Cartomancy Fantasy Pop Culture Tarot Card Games Add to Collection

The Tarokka Deck, distinct from the German Tarock or Tarok, is an addition to the Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) "Curse of Strahd" adventure game. The deck comprises 54 black-and-white cards designed by artist Chuck Lukacs and, inspired by real-world Tarot cards, adds unpredictability that keeps players engaged throughout the game.

A selection of cards from the Curse of Strahd Tarokka Deck; the Diviner/two of pentacles (stars), the Wizard/ten of pentacles (stars) and the Avenger/one of swords.

Above: a selection of cards from the "Curse of Strahd" Tarokka Deck; the Diviner/two of pentacles (stars), the Wizard/master of pentacles (stars) and the Avenger/one of swords.

Prophet’s Gambit

The Tarokka Deck also includes a bonus card game called Prophet's Gambit, designed for 3 to 5 players. This engaging and somewhat chaotic game challenges players to strategically assemble poker-like hands using a combination of shared, hidden and face-up cards over the course of three rounds.

Players aim to create the strongest hand using shared, hidden, and face-up cards over two rounds. During each round, players either play a card, covering their previous card, or discard a card to activate a High Deck card's ability. After two rounds, the Focus card may be kept or discarded, and players reveal their hands. The player with the best combination of cards, including the Focus card if kept, wins the game.

Booklet containing the rules for game Prophet's Gambit

Above: booklet containing the rules for game Prophet's Gambit, which can be played with the Tarokka Deck.

The deck is comprised of forty Common Cards (similar to Minor Arcana), which is divided into four unique suits: Glyphs, Pentagrams (stars), Coins and Glyphs; and 14 High Deck cards, marked with the crown symbol (equivalent to the Major Arcana). Each High Card represents powerful figures and forces within the game’s world of Barovia. The suits are numbered from one to ten, with the 10th card being the “master of that suit”.

The box also includes a booklet with the rules for Prophet's Gambit, a game that is played using the “Curse of Strahd” Tarokka Deck (see Prophet’s Gambit sidebar).

A Madame Eve fortune teller miniature is also available for purchase

Above: Madame Eve fortune teller miniature.

A crucial event in the game involving the Tarokka Deck occurs during a fortune-telling meeting with the mystical seer Madam Eva. This reading unveils key narrative details, including the locations of significant items, the adventurers' route, and the ultimate confrontation with the Dracula-like nemesis, Strahd von Zarovich. The wide range of outcomes adds immense replayability to the adventure, ensuring no two games are the same. A Madame Eve fortune teller miniature model is also available for purchase to be used in the game (shown on the left).

Although not strictly required to play the "Curse of Strahd" adventure, the Tarokka Deck elevates the campaign by adding depth, flavour and a sense of mystique.

The Tarokka Deck's inclusion in the "Curse of Strahd" adventure game highlights the growing influence of tarot and tarot-like cards in mainstream pop culture, and also demonstrates their timeless appeal for modern audiences. These mystical cards, rich in symbolism, have evolved beyond their purpose and become a captivating addition to games, movies and other forms of entertainment. See my article Branded Tarot Decks and Modern Mystic Lifestyle for more on this.

Also see my review of the Dungeons and Dragons Tarot, published by Wizards of the Coast.


High Cards (Major Arcana)

Shakespeare Playing Cards by Noir Arts Shakespeare Playing Cards by Noir Arts
Name Interpretation
Artifact The importance of some physical object that must be obtained, protected, or destroyed at all costs
Beast Great rage or passion; something bestial or malevolent hiding in plain sight or lurking just below the surface
Broken One Defeat, failure, and despair; the loss of something or someone important, without which one feels incomplete
Darklord A single, powerful individual of an evil nature, one whose goals have enormous and far-reaching consequences
Donjon Isolation and imprisonment; being so conservative in thinking as to be a prisoner of one's own beliefs
Ghost The looming past; the return of an old enemy or the discovery of a secret buried long ago
Executioner The imminent death of one rightly or wrongly convicted of a crime; false accusations and unjust prosecution
Horseman Death; disaster in the form of the loss of wealth or property, a horrible defeat, or the end of a bloodline
Innocent A being of great importance whose life is in danger (who might be helpless or simply unaware of the peril)
Marionette The presence of a spy or a minion of some greater power; an encounter with a puppet or an underling
Mists Something unexpected or mysterious that can't be avoided; a great quest or journey that will try one's spirit
Raven A hidden source of information; a fortunate turn of events; a secret potential for good
Seer Inspiration and keen intellect; a future event, the outcome of which will hinge on a clever mind
Tempter One who has been compromised or led astray by temptation or foolishness; one who tempts others for evil ends

Common Cards (Minor Arcana)

The Swords suit represents conflict and challenge, symbolising the trials adventurers face in their quest; the Pentagrams (stars) suit embodies hope and guidance, reflecting the light that guides heroes through darkness; the Glyphs suit signifies knowledge and arcane power, illustrating the secrets and magical forces that shape the world; and the Coins suit stands for wealth and material gain, reminding players of the tangible rewards and resources at stake in their journey.

Coins

Shakespeare Playing Cards by Noir Arts
Card Name Interpretation
One of coins Swashbuckler Those who like money yet give it up freely; likable rogues and rapscallions
Two of coins Philanthropist Charity and giving on a grand scale; those who use wealth to fight evil and sickness
Three of coins Trader Commerce; smuggling and black markets; fair and equitable trades
Four of coins Merchant A rare commodity or business opportunity; deceitful or dangerous business transactions
Five of coins Guild Member Like-minded individuals joined together in a common goal; pride in one's work
Six of coins Beggar Sudden change in economic status or fortune
Seven of coins Thief Those who steal or burgle; a loss of property, beauty, innocence, friendship, or reputation
Eight of coins Tax Collector Corruption; honesty in an otherwise corrupt government or organization
Nine of coins Miser Hoarded wealth; those who are irreversibly unhappy or who think money is meaningless
Master of coins Rogue Anyone for whom money is important; those who believe money is the key to their success

Swords

Shakespeare Playing Cards by Noir Arts
Card Name Interpretation
One of swords Avenger Justice and revenge for great wrongs; those on a quest to rid the world of great evil
Two of swords Paladin Just and noble warriors; those who live by a code of honor and integrity
Three of swords Soldier War and sacrifice; the stamina to endure great hardship
Four of swords Mercenary Inner strength and fortitude; those who fight for power or wealth
Five of swords Myrmidon Great heroes; a sudden reversal of fate; the triumph of the underdog over a mighty enemy
Six of swords Berserker The brutal and barbaric side of warfare; bloodlust; those with a bestial nature
Seven of swords Hooded One Bigotry, intolerance, and xenophobia; a mysterious presence or newcomer
Eight of swords Dictator All that is wrong with government and leadership; those who rule through fear and violence
Nine of swords Torturer The coming of suffering or merciless cruelty; one who is irredeemably evil or sadistic
Master of swords Warrior Strength and force personified; violence; those who use force to accomplish their goals

Pentagrams (Coins)

Shakespeare Playing Cards by Noir Arts
Card Name Interpretation
One of Pentagrams (stars) Transmuter A new discovery; the coming of unexpected things; unforeseen consequences and chaos
Two of Pentagrams (stars) Diviner The pursuit of knowledge tempered by wisdom; truth and honesty; sages and prophecy
Three of Pentagrams (stars) Enchanter Inner turmoil that comes from confusion, fear of failure, or false information
Four of Pentagrams (stars) Abjurer Those guided by logic and reasoning; warns of an overlooked clue or piece of information
Five of Pentagrams (stars) Elementalist The triumph of nature over civilization; natural disasters and bountiful harvests
Six of Pentagrams (stars) Evoker Magical or supernatural power that can't be controlled; magic for destructive ends
Seven of Pentagrams (stars) Illusionist Lies and deceit; grand conspiracies; secret societies; the presence of a dupe or a saboteur
Eight of Pentagrams (stars) Necromancer Unnatural events and unhealthy obsessions; those who follow a destructive path
Nine of Pentagrams (stars) Conjurer The coming of an unexpected supernatural threat; those who think of themselves as gods
Master of Pentagrams (stars) Wizard Mystery and riddles; the unknown; those who crave magical power and great knowledge

Glyphs

Shakespeare Playing Cards by Noir Arts
Card Name Interpretation
One of glyphs Monk Serenity; inner strength and self-reliance; supreme confidence bereft of arrogance
Two of glyphs Missionary Those who spread wisdom and faith to others; warnings of the spread of fear and ignorance
Three of glyphs Healer Healing; a contagious illness, disease, or curse; those who practice the healing arts
Four of glyphs Shepherd Those who protect others; one who bears a burden far too great to be shouldered alone
Five of glyphs Druid The ambivalence and cruelty of nature and those who feel drawn to it; inner turmoil
Six of glyphs Anarchist A fundamental change brought on by one whose beliefs are being put to the test
Seven of glyphs Charlatan Liars; those who profess to believe one thing but actually believe another
Eight of glyphs Bishop Strict adherence to a code or a belief; those who plot, plan, and scheme
Nine of glyphs Traitor Betrayal by someone close and trusted; a weakening or loss of faith
Master of glyphs Priest Enlightenment; those who follow a deity, a system of values, or a higher purpose
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By Adam Wintle

Member since March 15, 1997

Adam has been involved in developing the site as well as reviewing new decks and conducting research. He is particularly interested in innovation, Kickstarter and East Asian cards. He is a member of the IPCS and webmaster of the EPCS.


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