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The Compass of Fate

A Tarot Inspired Card Deck

For many years I was inspired by the strange and yet curious designs of Tarot cards. It was a card deck where the image within the card was just as important as the suite and its number. unlike standardized playing cards that could be shorn down to just a suit symbol and #, tarot cards required that unique image that made them so special. That pluss it was supposedly required for the alternative use of fortune telling. with such a long running inspiration I decided to finally take a stab at createing my own card deck. I wanted to make something strange and not identifiable as standard poker deck with new imagery. I searched about for various games and finally found one I was already familiar with. Mahjongg had 5 suites and possibly a 6th 'joker' suite. Verry differnt in the fact that 2 of the suites bore no numbers whatsoever. This was it. The game which was almost impossible for american observers to identify when disguised. So I got to work.

I first made a list of the suites, and the number of cards within them. I brainstormed for a while and came up with an ingenious plan that would make the final product even more tarot like. Five suites were ideal to be renamed Who, What, Where, When, Why; all with differnt names of course but blatant themes. Each card had to have a special decorative border but I was satisfied that the same border would be used for each card within their own suits. Once I had a list of cards, each with a title, #, and image associated with the title I got craking. I took out a pen and pencil and drew up the first deck entirely by hand. Unfortunately the first deck was too much like a Mahjongg deck. To play mahjongg you had to have 4 duplicates of each card. The task of createing the deck was long and laborious but I thought It was ok as it sat and left it at that.

Two years later I decided to finally act out on my disatisfaction with the original set. First off Each suite had its own unique border. There was no need for an icon like symbol in the upper left corner to say what the suite was. Second I had to make new associations and organizations for each set of 4 cards. For example. The original first card of the 'who' (aka cast) suite was the "farmer". I took that and made that group of 4 cards that would share the same suite and number into the 'food producers'. So I ended up with 4 cards with an association to each other and to the fact they were people. They were the farmer, fisher, hunter, fowler. And so I went down the list redoing the whole suites and each cards individual associations untill I had a complete new deck. I got to drawing new icons and digitally scaned them in and combined them with the new borders. Everything was hand drawn, but digitally combined unlike the first time. Near the completion point of the cards I became unsatisfied with the jokers. They were just the same card copied over and over & also served as 'flowers/seasons' in a mahjongg gameplay sense. I decided to finally add those 'flower/season' cardss and erase the need for the jokers. Unfortunately I was not satisfied with the first set of flowers. I redid them and auctually ended up with 8 unique jokers and new flower/season cards. This really completed the fortune telling aspect of the entire deck moreso than I had originally anticipated.

It was two years in the making. An original card deck of my own creation and design. Although the entire deck is current unaviable online please feel free to check out my beta preview. This preview was made after I had completed the main deck but was still fiddeling around with the jokers, flowers, seasons, cards. you will find a dead link to those cards on the preview page. When I am capable of posting the card deck online I will update the link.

UPDATE 8/2005
I have since redone the entire border to the "lands" suite. It now fits in with the detail level found with the borders found for the Virtue, Elements, Family, and Joker Suites. I also redid some primary card imagery within the 'lands' suite. I am currently satisfied with the overall deck but feel that the "Items" and "Cast" suite borders now look too simplified and low quality in comparison to the rest of the suite.


Click Here to preview the earlier card set.
You can now download the entire deck from here! (coll.html)

Make your own Cards

Creating these cards was fun to do. With tarot cards as my main influence I made sure that there were universal elements in all of them. Most of the people and items you see in these cards were pretty much present in most cultures around the world.

Aside from appearance I wanted these cards to be easily distrubted through the internet. Though color would have been easy to implement I decided against it. There are a LOT of cards. Printing them all out in color would be verry expensive due to the amount of color ink used. Thus all these cards are in simple black & white.

Click HERE or to the card on the RIGHT
to read more about preparing your own
card deck from my images.

How to Play

The rules on how to play 'Compass' are verry easy to learn. It can be played with 2, 3 or even 4 players. It's a lot more fun with 4 players though.

Click HERE or to the card on the LEFT
to read the rules on how to play 'Compass'.

The Card List

With a total of over 140 cards "TCOF" is a humongous card deck. It not only has relationships between each card in a suite but between each 4 duplicate cards. There are even relationships between the cards themselves as can be seen in the 'reason' and 'season' suites. To make it easier to understand I placed them all in a chart that can be found at the following link.

Click HERE or to the card on the
RIGHT to read the Card List

fortune Telling

Fortune telling tarot cards were the main inspiration for the imagery in 'Compass'.

In the original creation of "TCOF" the deck was intended to give the impression of a fortune telling deck. Whenever I bring out the deck and show it to people they are verry convinced. Though I only created the suites to reflect who, what, where, when and why instead of an auctual fortune telling deck. So many people expect it to be used for fortune telling that I once created a simplistic set of card definitions. Unfortunately with the expansion of the card deck the fortune telling definitions also have to be expanded. On the following page you will find an entire list of the cards and a few of those definitions.

In contemplateing how I would make this deck more like a tarot deck I began my light research. After all the possibility of using this deck to tell fortunes is a secondary gimmick rather than a primary goal. I discovered rather quickly that many fortune telling methods leave somewhat generic results with more of a flexible 'impression' instead of a hardline yes or now answer. In fact many of the tarot cards represent the relationships between people instead of what they straight forward represent. With a smaller amount of cards like you find in tarot this is a simple task to create, but in my 140+ card deck this becomes somewhat of a problem.

This is a work in progress and any input is welcome. If you would like to donate any potential definitions please review existing submissions as to prevent repetition. Please feel free to use these cards for fortune telling in your own way. Doccument what works best for you and submit your results and method. I'll start to keep a log of all submissions and to post them when I can. At the moment I stress the need for 'card definitions' rather than method even though method of use is just as important. Should any publisher seek to print this deck along with any submitted definitions and methods, The I'll try my best to keep your name recognition to your donations.

Click HERE or to the card on the
RIGHT to read the fortune telling rules.
Web page and content (cr) Robert Kalin 2004