Saturday, October 5, 2013

It's Written in the (WILD) Cards...

Okay, I have a confession. I’m terrible at motivating myself.

I’m one of the Kings of procrastination, and I will often find myself sitting and staring at the newsfeed on Facebook rather than actually doing anything even remotely productive. If I have a project I’m enthusiastic about, I’ll put every waking moment into it, but after time I can become tired and bored.

What I need is deadlines. Luckily, I’m in a little group of writers we like to call “Write Club” (though we do not talk about Write Club), and we meet once a month to chivy ourselves along. We hear how each other’s projects are coming along, and offer advice and encouragement. Last month we decided to set goals, to give ourselves something to aim for. I knew that NaNoWriMo was approaching in November, and while I have an idea of what I’d like to write, I thought it would be helpful if I finished the Tarot cards for the WILD RPG before then.

The roughs for the Suit of FOCUS, for the WILD RPG's Tarot

The benefits of completing them were many –

* I’d be able to actually start playtesting the game. The cards are fairly integral to character creation, and I’ve been wanting to try that out for a while.

* If I got stuck for a direction of where to go with writing the NaNoWriMo book I could draw a card and see if it inspires a plot twist or more.

* I wouldn’t be drawing cards when I should be writing.

So I set myself the task of completing the full set of WILD Tarot cards by the next meeting, and thankfully, I managed to hit my goal. It required drawing roughly two or three cards a day, but I did it. They’re only rough, but they give the impression of what the cards will do in the final game, and I can use them to generate some characters and see if that process works at least.

I mentioned the cards briefly in a previous post, but the tricky bit has been working out the images for each card. I’ve tried to incorporate not only the classic meaning of the Tarot card, but also some aspect of the most commonly recorded dreams, as well as keeping a narrative element that you’d normally find in Tarot cards only this time telling the story of the characters who were involved in pioneering the dreamshare technology.

The roughs for the STRENGTH Suit for the WILD RPG Tarot

Rider-Waite version
of The Lovers
I showed the cards to some of the Write Club group at the most recent meeting, and one of the comments was exactly what I’d hoped. “The Lovers card, it doesn’t look like they’re supposed to be together, it looks like it’s an affair.”


In the traditional and Rider-Waite imagery of the Tarot, the Lovers card usually depicts a couple as you’d expect, but sometimes it’s about the choice between two people. In the narrative of the Tarot suggested by a couple of books I’ve read, they’ve said that it sometimes represents the man’s choice between staying at home with his mother, or leaving with the new love in his life.

For WILD, I’ve interpreted the card slightly differently, with the card showing the wife of the creator of the dreamshare technology, having an affair with another man. This is part of a long story of her being ignored by the tech inventor, as he spends more and more time working on his computers and creations, than being at home with his wife and daughter. There’s a tale of separation and redemption, about creating the device to be with his daughter, and… well, I won’t give it all away here.

Very, VERY rough
version of WILD's
The Lovers
So the card not only reflects the traditional imagery of the Tarot, it also tells part of the story of the dreamshare device, and the people who made it. On top of that, some of the most common dreams that people have are incorporated into the cards as well. In this case, it can be many of the most common themes in dreaming – showering or bathing, being discovered somewhere you shouldn’t be, finding yourself naked, having an affair, having an argument, or simply a sexual encounter. The GM can take any of these dream-elements and incorporate them into the game if control over the dream is lost and the expected narrative succumbs to the randomness of dreams.

On top of all that, the card suits have been renamed to the four Attributes in the game – they seemed to match their Tarot counterparts perfectly – and the Court Cards, when paired with the Ace of each suit, can be adapted to match the five “Skills” in the game (I put Skills in quotes as they are more than just Skills, they’re more descriptors – broad areas of ability).

All this and I haven’t really touched upon how the cards are used in character creation. We’ll come to that after I’ve given it a try to see if it works.

Until next time, stay multi-classy!

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