Cartomancy in D&D 5e: Unveiling the Mysteries of Divination

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Cartomancy in D&D 5e: Unveiling the Mysteries of Divination

Cartomancy, a form of divination using playing cards, has been a popular practice throughout history. It has also made its way into the realms of tabletop role-playing games (RPGs), including Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition (D&D 5e). In this article, we will delve into the fascinating world of cartomancy in D&D 5e, exploring its mechanics, uses, and the potential it holds for your campaigns.

What is Cartomancy in D&D 5e?

In D&D 5e, cartomancy refers to the use of a deck of playing cards as a tool for divination or fortune-telling within the context of the game. Just as real-world cartomancers interpret cards to glean insights into the past, present, or future, characters in D&D 5e can employ cartomancy to aid their decision-making, gain knowledge, or even predict outcomes.

Mechanics of Cartomancy in D&D 5e

While D&D 5e doesn’t provide an official set of rules for cartomancy, several homebrew resources have been developed by creative players and Dungeon Masters (DMs) to introduce this intriguing element into their games. These homebrew mechanics often revolve around assigning meanings to each card, drawing them in specific spreads, and interpreting their combinations.

To incorporate cartomancy into your D&D 5e game, you’ll need to decide on the following aspects:

  • The deck: Determine the type of playing cards used for cartomancy in your campaign. It could be a standard deck of 52 cards, a tarot deck, or a custom deck designed specifically for the world of D&D.
  • Card meanings: Assign unique meanings to each card in the deck. These meanings can align with traditional interpretations or be tailored to fit the lore and themes of your campaign setting.
  • Spreads: Determine the different ways cards can be drawn and laid out. This could include spreads like the “Past-Present-Future” spread or the “Celtic Cross” spread commonly used in real-world cartomancy.
  • Interpretation: Develop guidelines for interpreting the cards and their combinations, bringing the insights gained through cartomancy into the game world. Encourage creative storytelling and allow the players to incorporate the readings into their characters’ decisions.

Uses of Cartomancy in D&D 5e

Once you’ve established the mechanics, how can cartomancy be used within the context of D&D 5e? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. Foretelling the future: Characters can seek out cartomancers to gain glimpses of what lies ahead. This can provide hooks for quests, generate suspense, or guide the party’s decision-making.
  2. Unlocking hidden knowledge: Cartomancers may possess rare insights or information that can aid characters in their quests. The players can interact with these NPCs to gather clues, learn about hidden treasures, or unveil the true nature of their adversaries.
  3. Character development: Encourage players to incorporate cartomancy into their characters’ backstories or personal quests. Characters could have inherited the talent for card reading, seek redemption through divination, or use it as a means of coping with the uncertainties of their journeys.
  4. Plot devices: As a DM, you can utilize cartomancy as a plot device to introduce prophetic events or foreshadow future encounters. Previous card readings can become significant milestones, allowing characters to reflect on their progress or reassess their strategies.

Bringing Cartomancy to Life: Tips and Ideas

To make cartomancy truly immersive for your D&D 5e games, consider the following tips:

  • Create physical props: Print or craft physical cards to represent the deck of cards used in cartomancy. It adds a tactile element that enhances the players’ engagement.
  • Artistic flair: Add illustrations or visual symbols to the cards that correspond to their assigned meanings. This makes the experience more visually appealing and aids players in remembering the interpretations.
  • Chance encounters: Introduce NPCs with cartomancy skills who can offer readings to the characters. These encounters can occur in bustling city squares, mystic grottos, or even during long travels to spice up the game world.
  • Collaboration: Encourage collaboration among players during card readings. Allow them to discuss interpretations, share their insights, and collectively decide on the most fitting outcomes rather than relying solely on individual character perspectives.

Additional Resources and Inspiration

If you’re interested in exploring cartomancy in D&D 5e further, here are some excellent resources and inspiration:

Resource Description

Cartomancer Class – Dungeon Masters Guild
A homebrew class that specifically focuses on cartomancy, providing detailed mechanics and abilities for card-based divination casters.

5 Table Rules For Cartomancy In RPGs
A helpful article from Johnn Four’s Roleplaying Tips newsletter, offering some intriguing rules and ideas for incorporating cartomancy into tabletop RPGs.

Using cartomancy in the campaign – Reddit
Join the discussion on Reddit to explore how other DMs and players have utilized cartomancy in their D&D campaigns, and gain inspiration from their experiences and ideas.


Cartomancy can be a captivating addition to your D&D 5e campaigns, infusing them with a sense of wonder, mystery, and guidance. By customizing the mechanics, incorporating it into the story, and creating immersive experiences, you can leave your players spellbound as they unravel the secrets hidden within the cards. So go ahead, shuffle that deck, and let the cards reveal what lies ahead!

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Cartomancy in D&D 5e: Unveiling the Mysteries of Divination