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Harrow deck


Curse of the Crimson Throne

Taldor

I have a problem and I hope I can glean some helpful advice from our outstanding community.

The Harrow deck is going to play some part, large or small, in the upcoming adventure path. The deck looks like a fun prop to me; the style of the art doesn't particularly appeal to me and yet I find it very fitting for this deck. Plus the images are both classic D&D and mysterious.

The problem I have lies with one of my players. This player says the deck makes them uncomfortable because of its similarities to a Tarot deck, which the player opposes on religious grounds. Now, I know the player is generally not closed-minded about role-playing, fantasy, dark magic and a plethora of other issues. What can I say or do that will ease this player's mind and make the adventure path easy to enjoy, without removing the Harrow deck? Of course, removing the deck is still one solution, but I would enjoy presenting it to the other players. Thanks very much in advance.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

[moved to Crimson Throne forum]


I guess you could reiterate that its a roleplaying game...does said player offend to spells that summon extraplanar beings (summon monster)?

Or you could point out that modern playing cards devolved from traditional tarot cards.

If the player objects to the cards because they feel tarot cards are "of the devil" let his character roleplay the same attitude "get that demonic deck of vile putrescence away from me!"

I really dont see the objection here, i mean the Harrow Deck is about as mystical a deck of playing cards (with prettier pictures). It was designed by D&D enthusiasts as a game prop that is intentionally paralleling the Tarot.

If your player can handle playing a game with devils and demons as villains they should be open-minded enough to accept the Harrow Deck.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Well, the strongest two points I've got are these:

1. Emphasize that the Harrow deck is *not* a tarot deck—it's a fantastical representation of a fictional fortunetelling device. Whether or not you believe in the divinatory powers of the tarot, the Harrow deck is no more magical or better able to predict the future than a d20.

2. We know that the tarot isn't everyone's cup of tea, and, while that concept certainly serves as an inspiration for the Harrow deck, we have gone to some lengths to differentiate the Harrow deck from some of the more controversial aspects of the tarot. For example, there's no Death card, and no Devil card. Suits work differently, as does almost all of the "reading" mechanic. It's considerably and intentionally different.

Maybe some other folks can think of other points, but that's what comes to my mind...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I'll go out on a limb and suggest that a problem which arises with Tarot, but not with Summon Monsters spells etc., is that it can be disturbing to some people to do an in-game "fortunetelling" and have it come true. It's upsetting to their worldview. And statistically speaking, if you do in-game fortunetelling it *will* come true now and again. (I know several people who have been badly unnerved by "too accurate" Tarot readings, and stay away as a result.)

You might get around that objection by saying, "I don't plan to do actual readings; all of my readings will be artificially constructed to fit the module plot. Therefore, no chance of anything spooky happening." And then stick to that--don't ever deal out random cards and interpret them.

I don't know if that will help your player, but it might be worth a try.

I love Tarot, and would like to use the Harrow deck, but unfortunately the art completely doesn't work for me. We'll probably use a regular Tarot deck instead. Hm, it might be fun to hunt for a thematically appropriate one....

Mary

Cheliax Contributor

You can point out that tarot decks apparently started as a means to gamble and only later gained their fortunetelling aspect. Point your religious person the wiki page on Tarot. :)

Of course, the counter to that point is that, while the tarot deck was designed for gambling and later became a fortunetelling device, the Harrow deck was designed as a fortunetelling device with a game tacked on. So I just ruined my own argument! lol :D


It always amazes me that modern religious people are still beating on Tarot - I know two people who use them and it is nothing more than a feat of understanding human psychology, wisdom, and careful use of generalism.

How can they pay D&D but feel troubled with a game prop?

Good luck.

Pathfinder Adventure Card Game Designer

Here's what I would do: Sit the player down and say, "This is a randomizer, just like these d20s we've been using. But instead of randomizing the results of an attack roll, I'm going to randomize some modifiers to something that happens in the game. Might be good for you, might be bad. But the great thing is, no matter what, your character's actions and your dice rolls will determine what happens. You're still as in control of your character as you would be if we weren't using the Harrow deck." That might put his discomfort to rest.

Mike

Cheliax

Well, I would probably be a complete dick to the player, and point out that he plays D&D, a game that has been pretty universaly reviled by most of the minor religions (correct me if I'm wrong here; I know only a few actually made a ruckus over it, but last i heard, the new pope officialy stated that the Harry Potter books were bad, and if he doesnt like harry potter, I cant imagine he'd be a fan of D&D. And yeah, I know protestantism is extremely diverse, but if a given sect doesnt like tarot, i somehow doubt they like D&D either.) He's already going to hell anyway.

I think the problem here is that, someone taking religion seriously kind of, in a way, also as to take things like Tarot and Satanism seriously. I mean, if you already accept supernatural explainations for things, then there's nothing to stop you from beleiving in all sorts of crap. you may hate this crap, but you nonetheless beleive in it. I hate tarot when it's taken seriously, and even then, I dont dislike tarot, i dislike the people who are taking it seriously. I dont beleive in it. No sane person should, unless they've been very poorly educated, or very influenced by their religon/parents.

Obviously, I'm not advising you to get Dawkins on his arse. I would, but I have alot of flaws.

Explain to him that Tarot isnt real, that Harrow isnt Tarot, Harrow isnt real, Tarot has no connection to satanism, satanism never even actualy existed (in the way that he probably thinks, anyway. Yes, there are satanists, but they have nothing to do with wiccans or pagans. They're just a bunch of posers who watched The Omen too many times. In fact, christianity probably invented satanism), That the harrow deck isnt satanic, or tied to any religion or beleif system, that it's as random as a D20, that if you think D20s are satanic, you're playing the wrong game.

If he starts to quote scripture at you, or you think his brain is going to shut down and enter "zelot mode," you've lost. I mean, these arguments are rock-solid, the only way they wouldnt work is if the guy doesnt accept logic and fact as valid forms of argument, or doesnt beleive you (or, if you show him sources to back up your claims, he thinks it all an elaborate conspiracy by the satanists to make people get tarot readings). When it comes down to it, many of these people beleive what they have been told to beleive. thats it, and moving beyond that is scary for people.

Sorry If I come off as kind of a jerk here, but this sort of thing is like crack to me. He's probably nothing like this, or he wouldnt be playing D&D. but I do have to bring up the question: exactly why is someone who thinks tarot is evil playing D&D?

Taldor

Jodah wrote:
Obviously, I'm not advising you to get Dawkins on his arse. I would, but I have alot of flaws.

lol

Cheliax Contributor

Jodah wrote:
stuff stuff stuff

I like your arguments, Jodah. :)

I happen to know some really cool, open-minded Christians (some of whom post to these boards), but it makes me sad that they are a tiny, tiny, tiny minority of Christians I know or have met or have encountered or have endured. I don't think I would get along well with the person of whom the OP speaks. :\


Mike McArtor wrote:
Jodah wrote:
stuff stuff stuff

I like your arguments, Jodah. :)

I happen to know some really cool, open-minded Christians (some of whom post to these boards), but it makes me sad that they are a tiny, tiny, tiny minority of Christians I know or have met or have encountered or have endured. I don't think I would get along well with the person of whom the OP speaks. :\

I like them too, frankly, and I would fall into Mike's small minority.

Not all Christians take a strictly literal interpetation of the Bible.. Personally, I think that's folly.

I wrote a huge post, and deleted it. Perhaps another day and time. But I believe the Bible is metaphoric. So I'll be going to hell too. :D

But I wanted to add, mature Christians do seperate reality from fantasy.

Cheliax

Compleatly off topic...

Spoiler:

Jodah wrote:
In fact, christianity probably invented satanism)

Well, to be honest, you have to be Christian/Jewish/Islamic to be a Satanist, otherwise, how could you believe in Satan, if you didn't believe in God? Or put the otherway, without one of those monotheistic religions, there is no concept of Satan. So no "probably" about it really.

Satanism, like witchcraft was a tool used to convert the "heathens" and allow the medieval church to assert it's control over the populace.

On topic :) I would try to have a good talk with the player, I think the best answer is Polevoi's; give the player the chance to out the feelings against the tarrot, in game, and explore them, that after all, is one of the most interesting parts of the game, exploration. Of course, this only works if the player likes the idea too.


Tarot cards were the Pokemon of their day.

Much of the church's objection to them were not the designs on the cards themselves or divination (which came later) -- simply that it made young gentlemen idle. So instead of applying themselves to hard work, making money, paying taxes (and donating more money to the church) or getting married (and having kids, who would be baptized into the church) our gaming counterparts of yore sat around playing cards.

(Back in the early middle ages, the church made the same complaint about dice games, especially backgammon. That was a big time-waster among gentlemen -- frowned about greatly by church fathers. The fact these young noblemen would *gasp* place wagers on the outcomes of games was even more deplorable from the perspective of the church).

All I can say is it's a good thing those early Tarot cards didn't come in blister deck -- or civilization might've stopped right there!

As a Christian who himself is not offended by the Tarot but mindful of the fact that it may cause others' grief, I for one was pleased with the idea of the Harrow deck. The same, but different, and it fits the fantasy motif so very, very well. (Plus, the art, is really cool).

But the fact is once someone gets it in their head they've been offended by something -- regardless of the reason (religion, politics, ethnicity) -- I don't hold out much hope they'll change their mind.

Taldor

Actually Mike, I think you would get along fine with the player I mentioned. She has been a regular gamer in my group for several years. She draws her own characters' portraits and writes extended backgrounds and stories about them between sessions. She has also been complimented on her male and female characters in terms of realism and depth.

As for the suggestions, I'll explain why I think the cards will be fun to use, and point out the differences from Tarot cards only if she makes a point to bring it up again. The historical perspectives on card games were also helpful!

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

I am the DM for our group. Right Now we are still in Rise of the Runelords. Interestingly enough the whole group met at Church and we are all Christians.

The main objection to things like Tarot is that they are divination and to a Christian that is a "no-no"

That said the Harrow is a divination for a Fantasy Character so not exactly applicable. The problem lies in that it is too close to the real world application so most Christians would not be okay with Fantasy Harrow readings.

Here's How I have decided to approach things.

#1 I have not read the information from Harrow and the AP. But I would give the Characters the option to seek out a Varasian Fortuneteller or a Priestess for a certain God.

That lets the Characters make the decision of where they want to go. I would make the Priestess similar to the old Delphi Oracle so the Characters can either have a Harrow reading or they can seek out this Oracle.


Durin1211 wrote:

I am the DM for our group. Right Now we are still in Rise of the Runelords. Interestingly enough the whole group met at Church and we are all Christians.

The main objection to things like Tarot is that they are divination and to a Christian that is a "no-no"

Do you and your group not use divination spells? This is not an attempt to be snide or pick a fight. I'm curious.

Also, my main problem with the idea that tarot cards are "divination" and thus a no-no, is that is gives the cards more power than they actually have. I worry a little about people who see such sinister supernatural forces everywhere. Actually, I worry about people who see supernatural forces everywhere, sinister or no.

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

I am simply telling you how most Christians would feel about Harrow/Tarrow. It is the conjoining of real world/game world that most Christian would have a problem with. Most of the Folks see the Game as just that a fun game. They want to keep it that way. Tying something like real world divination to their game would not be a good mix in their opinion.

I am not telling you my opinion but what I think the opinion of most Christians who play D&D would be.

Regardless if you believe wheather the aka Supernatural exists most folks do to some degree or another. In fact the Whole premise of the Christian faith is that Jesus rose from the dead. You don't get any more supernatural than that.

Cheliax

Sean, Minister of KtSP wrote:
Durin1211 wrote:

I am the DM for our group. Right Now we are still in Rise of the Runelords. Interestingly enough the whole group met at Church and we are all Christians.

The main objection to things like Tarot is that they are divination and to a Christian that is a "no-no"

Do you and your group not use divination spells? This is not an attempt to be snide or pick a fight. I'm curious.

Also, my main problem with the idea that tarot cards are "divination" and thus a no-no, is that is gives the cards more power than they actually have. I worry a little about people who see such sinister supernatural forces everywhere. Actually, I worry about people who see supernatural forces everywhere, sinister or no.

I'm going to border on the cutting, and I hope to start a intelligent, well-mannered argument.

Do you, in fact, actualy beleive in "divination?" I realize that, since you're a church-goer, you already might accept things like miracles and the power of prayer. But, are you aware that, really, you dont have to beleive in that sort of stuff to beleive in god? You dont need to avoid science and logic like it's some sort of infectious disease; science can't disprove God, no matter what Richard Dawkins says.

and, quite frankly, I find the real, natural beauty of this world to be far more wondrous than anything I learned back when I went to church and CCD. But, I digress. the point I was trying to make is that, I dont feel any deep need for your brand of spirituality; I get my reccomended dose from a book by Jack Cohen, or swimming in a pond, or just being outside. Just giving you some perspective on my views, you understand.

what exactly do you define as divination, anyway? does it have to be supernatural? or is it just predicting the future? is it sinfull to watch the weather forecast? I mean, it does predict the future, using means that you dont understand. In the middle ages, it would have been called magic, and that seems to be the mindset of this prohibitiion against divination. What about horiscopes? thousands of people in america, sadly, read and beleive in their newspaper horiscopes every day, despite the fact that the doctor who slapped their bottom had more gravitational influence on them on the day of their birth than jupiter did. most of these people are technicaly christian as well, and are they going to hell for it? obviously, only religious people can beleive in divination in the first place. but these people are just stupid (or very unthinking and oblivious, with a poorly-organized mind), regardless of any denomination or creed. New-agers and wiccans are worse; at least most people have the excuse of being raised to beleive in their religion, but most of these folks switched over when they were teenagers. yes, i know the average teenager has all the intelligence and judgement of a lemming, but still, I would expect better of lemmings.

some say the supernatural is just a natural process we dont understand yet. after all, wasnt weather and and the mechanics of living things once unknown, and considered magical? therefore, anything you dont understand is supernatural. therefore, if you accept the first statement (which you may not, but let me finish), then any form of prediction using means you dont understand is devilish divination. do you understand meteorology? I dont. but it's reasonably accurate over short periods of time.

But, this line of argument has a rather nasty leap at the beginning, so I suppose it's not particularly valid.
Read at your own risk. i think i'm getting a little wound up here.

Spoiler:

Quite frankly, your relgion bans the use of a practice that doesnt work in the first place. i guess it could be an admonishment against frivilous things, but you also go to church every week, I'd call that pretty frivilous. so, in fact, it's just another command in a long line of commands who's only purpose is to demand your complete and utter slavish loyalty. read only the bible. discuss only your religion, and never have an original idea. have sex face-to-face, man on top, and only if you're married and dont wear a little rubber thing, and the woman isnt on the pill. dont question anything a guy in a cassoc says, and dont listen to the guy in a labcoat. Work every day of your live, except sunday, and give all your money to the church. vote the way we tell you.

to conclude: divination ISNT REAL. IT DOESNT WORK. in a fantasy world, its a FUN method of IMMERSION. You WONT GO TO HELL FOR IT!

Andoran

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

Allright, I really did not want to start a thread on Christianity/Athiesm / whatever. The first guy said he had an issue with one of his players who was a Christian not liking the idea of the Harrow Deck. I explained the Christian position on that, that's all.

I think I could use the Harrow deck or be involved with a game that had that element in it without a problem. D&D is just make believe after all.

As far as your question I do believe that the Bible says you should not take part in Divination. Do I believe in Divination. I believe that the person who invests themself in Horoscope, Tarot, ect. believes. And as a Christian that is not where someone should place their belief. I also believe that Divination places one in the future and not trusting God in the Now.

I don't avoid science or logic like it's some sort of infectious disease. Science has brought tremendous gifts for our lives today. Unlike D&D characters I like cell phones, indoor plumbing, and advanced medicine.

Divination by it's very nature implies some sort of supernatural activity.

The Definition of Hell is the Absence of God. I don't believe God will twist people's arms to be with him in Heaven. You have to want a relationship with Christ. As per my Definition above I think of Hell a little differently than most. It's not fire and brimstone it's just where God won't go.

I don't believe the Supernatural is natural in any way. It is not another name for a natural process that we don't understand. It superseeds the natural.

Your view on how I do Church or my faith is very different from my view. Just so you Know.


Threadjack, vaguely on topic but basically a distraction.

Spoiler:

Note to myself: "You deserve a reward for not posting that three page essay on this topic a few days ago. See? Going simple is the right way to sometimes. Enjoy that Slurpee on the way home..."


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Cards, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Isn't this getting way off topic? The OP wanted advice not a debate on Christianity.

When the product is available, check it out. Read the AP and see how the deck is supposed to be used. Explain the mechanic to the player and go from there.

matt


I don't see it. It's a fictitious deck of cards in a fictitious world. Does she have problems with the plethora of deities? Because many of the more zealous believers in monotheistic religions object to D&D's belief system because it suggests that there is more than one god. If she has no problem seeing them for what they are - a make-belief part of a make-belief world in a make-belief game - what's the problem with the cards?

Point out that she doesn't get readings, just like she doesn't have to belief in Desna or Serenrae. Her characters get the readings, her characters have to make sure to be in a lightning-proof environment when they say anything like "Desna's a big phoney". Neither even suggests that she herself engages in heresies.

Cheliax

Durin1211 wrote:

Allright, I really did not want to start a thread on Christianity/Athiesm / whatever. The first guy said he had an issue with one of his players who was a Christian not liking the idea of the Harrow Deck. I explained the Christian position on that, that's all.

I don't believe the Supernatural is natural in any way. It is not another name for a natural process that we don't understand. It superseeds the natural.

Your view on how I do Church or my faith is very different from my view. Just so you Know.

Okay. I'm sorry. This is a subject that I tend to get wound up on. I would have edited that post upon reflection, if it was an option. really, I just dont enounter people like you firsthand, so my veiws on the subject are very skewed. I encounter alot of hellfire, ignorance, and self-righteousness whenever I interact with religion.

really, I regret the thread hi-jacking.

to be more mature; yeah, if you have to beleive in something, you could do worse than moderate, intelligent christianity. it's better than occultism. i just get very, very frustrated when people allow their faith to cloud the way they see the world. the world deserves better than that.

Actually, I can actualy see the point of the "no divination" thing. it only seems hypocritical from the outside. from the inside, it's trying to tell people "this crap isnt real. there are better things you could be doing."

net message; tarot is okay when used for entertainment. but dont start beleiving in it. that's stupid.

another net message: dont act like a jackass. the internet has enough of those.

I really, really need to remember that second one more often

Qadira

Vendle wrote:

I have a problem and I hope I can glean some helpful advice from our outstanding community.

The Harrow deck is going to play some part, large or small, in the upcoming adventure path.

The problem I have lies with one of my players. This player says the deck makes them uncomfortable because of its similarities to a Tarot deck, which the player opposes on religious grounds.

I realize that this trail is cold as a dead fish, but here goes. I happen to be a member of a rather conservative new testament church. That said I happen to have been playing D&D since 1976 in one form or another. I wasn't always a thoughtful or sympathetic person so I need to point out that at times people have gotten my dander up demanding that I too edit my games to deal with religious dogma. If there is one thing that I have a talent for - it is total separation of Church and Game.

However...

The issue here is really not the cards - frankly I wont be using them, and not because they are purported to be linked to EEEeeeevil, rather I am not having some writer tell me what goes in my game - I devised a deck back in '82 and it has worked great so ... Jog On...

No - The issue here is that you have a friend. You have already decided to respect their point of view or to try to sway them to a different point of view on this topic.

I caution you all for the following reason - This game is all about relationships & rhetoric, people play the game and they become important to one another forging relationships. Some of the folk that play the game, though giants in many mental capacities, are rarely solid in the area of self image and inner personal strength. In fact many people turn out to be a tad vulnerable. Now they are likely in your home, playing your game and eating your food using your toilet. In short they hold you in a special place in the grand scheme. You are a reference for them in a number of defining interpersonal reference points.

Take care what you say in reference to this issue.

The person has pointed out their vulnerability in asking you in the first place. How you deal with this issue could either endear them to you or endanger your future dealings. Deep down I think that you, knowing and caring for the people in your group far more than myself or any of the other trolls on the web, are equipped to answer this question despite any apparent misgivings or concerns.

Taldor

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Raemann wrote:
Deep down I think that you, knowing and caring for the people in your group far more than myself or any of the other trolls on the web, are equipped to answer this question despite any apparent misgivings or concerns.

Hopefully that's what happened.


One of the PCs in my campaign is a LG Paladin... really really uppity (not that your player is). Either way whenever Zellara and her cards come out, he leaves the room. Granted my player doesn't actually do this, he just roleplays this. Maybe she can make it work for her character as well though.

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