Tarot of Cthulhu: Major Arcana

From [YSDC] The Veiled Society
Jump to: navigation, search


Front Cover

Publisher: Ronin Arts

Product Code: HITE002

Publishing Year: 2008

Pages: 38

Cover Price: $19.11

Author(s): Kenneth Hite

Artist(s): Kenneth Hite, Phil Reed

Setting(s): Non-Specific

Format(s): PDF and Print-on-Demand Softcover


While the title of this item may suggest that it is a deck of cards, it is actually a book containing images of cards. Twenty-two monochrome line drawings are provided, showing the Major Arcana of a uniquely Cthulhu Mythos tarot. The book also includes a (fictitious) history of the designs, notes on the interpretation of each card and ideas on using the cards in a Call of Cthulhu game.

The book comprises the following sections:

  • Introduction,
  • The Tarot of Cthulhu: A Hypothetical Provenance
  • The Twenty-Two cards of the Major Arcana (each with a relevant quote from a Mythos tale plus notes by Hite about the symbology of his drawing)
  • A Speculative Minor Arcana
  • Using the Tarot of Cthulhu in Roleplaying Games
  • Recommended Readings

The Tarot Deck

As with most standard Tarot decks, the Tarot of Cthulhu is made up of seventy-eight cards, only twenty-two of which (The Major Arcana) are pictured in this book. Some text notes are given suggesting titles for the remaining cards.

The Major Arcana cards are shown in the table below (along with the correspondance to the common names of the Rider-Waite cards)

no Tarot of Cthulhu Card Name Rider-Waite
0. Azathoth The Fool
1. Yog-Sothoth The Magician
2. Abhoth The High Priestess
3. Shub Niggurath The Empress
4. Cthulhu The Emperor
5. Hastur The Hierophant
6. Futility The Lovers
7. The Sigil The Chariot
8. Chaos Strength
9. Tsathoggua The Hermit
10. Power Wheel of Fortune
11. Insanity Justice
12. Cthugha The Hanged Man
13. The Pursuer Death
14. Despair Temperance
15. Nyarlathotep The Devil
16. The Dolmens The Tower
17. Algol The Star
18. Fear The Moon
19. The Eclipse The Sun
20. Doom Judgement
21. Failure The World

The Minor Arcana of the deck is, as is traditional, divided into four suits. For the Tarot of Cthulhu, the following suits (and their themes) are as follows:

  • Suit of Mirrors: represents Light, and is made up of historical (and pre-historical) individuals who represent the lineage of human magicians
  • Suit of Rings: represents Time, and is made up of images depicting the history of Earth from Ubbo-Sathla, through to humanity and beyond
  • Suit of Keys: represents Geometry, and is made up of cards depicting dimensions, planes and the like
  • Suit of Stones: represents Gravity, and is made up of depiction of scenes from alien planets

Call of Cthulhu Mechanics

The book includes a short section with rules for using the deck as an in-game artifact. Most of the rules relate to effects associated with each of the Major Arcana cards (mostly spell-like effects, or improvements to summoning chances)

The in-game deck is referred to as the "Deck of Borellus"; there also exists a Latin book written by Borellus discussing the divinatory abilities of the cards. This book is called Novum Iamblichum; game statistics are given.

Also included are some brief thoughts on treating the cards as a Keeper accessory for generating plots or story ideas. To this end there is a table assigning some abstract "event" to each of the Minor Arcana cards.

Front Cover Text

No additional text.

Back Cover Text

"They had, indeed, come themselves from the stars, and brought Their images with Them." -- H.P. Lovecraft, "The Call of Cthulhu"

Twenty-two of Their images, to be precise. For the first time ever in Full Edwardian Colour, the Major Arcana of the Cthulhu Mythos unfold beneath your avid gaze. This is the Tarot of Cthulhu: Major Arcana!

  • DISCOVER the symbolism cunningly hidden in the bizarre drawings!
  • REVEAL the Awesome Lies behind this deck's creation!
  • SHUDDER at the cosmic hints within the Minor Arcana, described here for the first time!
  • BLAST your players' Sanity to shreds!
  • FORETELL THE FUTURE of your own horror games!

Kenneth Hite, having broadcast the Suppressed Transmissions, dreamed the Nightmares of Mine, and pieced together the Dubious Shards of the Cthulhu Mythos, now lays bare the secrets of the timeless Tarot of Cthulhu! With fully licensed rules for Call of Cthulhu, and with story-building methods and mechanics suitable for any game of Cthulhoid horror, great and terrifying gaming is only as far away as the turn of a card.

Comments / Trivia

Several of the cards presented in this book were previously printed in Dubious Shards. The designs themselves were drawn by Hite back in the 1980s for use within his own Call of Cthulhu game.

The name "Borellus" associated with the in-game version of the deck is drawn from the name of alchemist named in The Case of Charles Dexter Ward (fiction).

This book should not be confused with several actual Lovecraft-themes decks of Tarot cards that have been produced over the years, including Donald Tysons all-colour "Necronomicon Tarot".


Spoilers - Keepers Eyes Only

Players should not read any further.

Comment here to Keepers about this book. Comments on specific Scenarios and Campaigns go on their respective pages. Keep DISCUSSION on the talk page.