Harrowing Divinations

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

It's not every day you get a chance to create a means of time travel. Some might argue that divination isn't really time travel, but the way I envision it, a harrower—one gifted in the use of the Harrow deck—uses her deck of 54 cards to travel the paths of time, catching glimpses of the past, present, and future along the way.

With this in mind, I had to imagine myself as a harrower. Each card must be defined broadly enough to cover a number of situations, yet narrowly enough for those conducting harrowings—and those running adventures—to get some real information. Once some of Kyle's evocative art began to come in, I tweaked the cards' meanings to enhance their connection to that art.

The divinatory system itself needed to be easy to run, create the proper mystical mood, and fit into the roleplaying milieu. We gave every card a symbol of one of the six abilities in a position of one of the nine alignments; for example, The Unicorn is a chaotic good Charisma card, as shown by the crown in the upper right corner. The harrower lays the cards in a three-by-three divinatory grid matching time (past, present, and future) to the Law/Chaos alignment axis. After all, the past (represented by Law) is most fixed and difficult (although not impossible) to change, while the future (represented by Chaos) is infinitely changeable. Similarly, the Good/Evil axis came to represent positive, neutral, and negative situations for the person whose questions the harrower is answering. The good section of the grid represents the positive, while the evil section reflects negative outcomes. This basic grid presents the harrower with a solid framework to begin doing readings, but the nuances of the cards are evocative and expansive enough to let a capable harrower use them in many situations—both in game and out. Take a look for yourself and see if you agree.

Teeuwynn Woodruff
Harrow Designer

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Tags: Cards Curse of the Crimson Throne Harrow Kyle Stanley Hunter
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