Many fantasy epics begin with a prophecy. Sometimes those prophecies come from a seer or a witch. These glimpses into the future may be the result of an innate gift or a divination tool. You know, things like scrying runes, crystal balls, or cartomancy.
If you’re wondering what cartomancy is, it’s the art of fortune-telling using a deck of cards. Contrary to popular belief, you can use any deck of cards as a divination tool—even regular playing cards—but the most famous and recognizable are the tarot. These days, tarot decks come in all sorts of shapes and styles. There are even different symbolism systems. Basically, there’s a tarot deck out there for everyone.
But even if you’re not an aspiring cartomancer, tarot card decks can just be plain beautiful! There’s no shame in collecting tarot decks because you appreciate the art or aesthetic. And if you are a cartomancer—aspiring or otherwise—having more than one deck in your arsenal doesn’t hurt.
Plus, if you’re a fantasy reader, why not add some fantasy tarot card decks to your collection? What could be more fitting considering the role that fortune-telling often plays in the genre?
Stephanie Pui-Mun Law’s fantasy artwork has graced numerous games, covers, and magazines. Blending fairy tales and folklore from around the world, her ethereal illustrations veer away from the Eurocentric aesthetic that so often characterizes tarot. This deck also uses the popular Rider-Waite-Smith approach to symbolism, making it ideal for tarot fans just starting on their cartomancy journey.
Tarot of the Divine
Like Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, Yoshi Yoshitani takes a multicultural approach to tarot. This deck also features mythology from around the world. Based on the Rider-Waite-Smith system, this tarot deck is suitable for newer tarot readers. But even if you’re not an aspiring or experienced cartomancer, this beautiful deck would fit in any collection.
Star Spinner Tarot
A modern interpretation of classic tarot symbolism, the Star Spinner deck takes an inclusive approach. Queer-friendly and diverse, it features beautiful artwork inspired by different cultures and stories. Its bright color palette is also a nice change of pace from the tones that characterize many fantasy tarot cards. Despite the bold colors, though, many people have commented on the deck’s calm, uplifting energy.
Forest of Enchantment Tarot
Many fantasy quests have led adventurers through a forest where they may encounter monsters, witches, and deadly magic. This deck uses that concept to create an interesting set of divination cards. While the deck does rename most of the cards to suit its enchanted forest theme, don’t be intimidated. The cards retain their traditional meanings, so while this deck wouldn’t suit a complete tarot novice, anyone comfortable with the Rider-Waite-Smith system should be fine.
Dark Wood Tarot
While other fantasy tarot decks put you in the role of an adventurer, the Dark Wood Tarot casts you as a witch entering a mysterious forest. Using the Rider-Waite-Smith system, this deck is geared toward people interested in exploring the hidden depths and secret desires of the inner psyche. Typically referred to as shadow work, the witch and dark forest theme are perfect for anyone unafraid of exploring the dark side of cartomancy.
The Lord of the Rings Tarot Deck
Love Lord of the Rings? Interested in tarot? This deck combines both. The unique, woodblock art style brings Tolkien’s Middle Earth to life, and its lovely collectible box makes it the perfect gift.
A word of caution though: this deck might not be suited for tarot novices. While the Major Arcana are fully rendered, the Minor Arcana are pip-only and lack the full illustrations found on decks based on the starter-friendly Rider-Waite-Smith system.
The Druid Craft Tarot Deck
Druids, paganism, and nature-based magic can be found in the pages of many fantasy books. Blending Rider-Waite-Smith symbolism with traditional Druid lore, fantasy readers who love those elements will enjoy this deck.
From the Lord of the Ring’s Gandalf to David Eddings’ Polgara, wizards have played a prominent role in the fantasy genre. This deck pays homage to that history by featuring spellcasters from across the spectrum: novices and masters, contemporary settings and, of course, classic high fantasy. Forget cartomancy. This deck is great for anyone looking to add a little fantasy magic to their collection.
StarDragons Origin Cards
Oracle cards are similar to tarot. But instead of the 78 cards split into Major and Minor Arcana, oracle cards use straightforward meanings unique to each deck’s themes.
In many ways, they serve as a better introduction to cartomancy for aspiring readers. For more experienced readers, they can work in parallel with traditional tarot, especially for people who like to use multiple decks in a spread. The StarDragons Oracle uses another notable fixture of the fantasy genre: dragons.
The Dungeons and Dragons Tarot Deck
Perfect for dungeonmasters running their own games, this deck puts a Dungeons and Dragons spin to traditional tarot. Fully illustrated, each card can serve as inspiration for your campaigns.
Though it's a wonderful collectible for any tabletop RPG aficionado, the deck might pose a challenge for all but the most experienced tarot readers. The Minor Arcana switches up the traditional suits from wands, swords, cups, and pentacles to strength, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma. Not impossible to use, but not ideal for tarot novices.
Game of Thrones Tarot
The final season of Game of Thrones may have polarized fans, but that didn’t stop people from tuning into House of the Dragon, which is set in the same world. People just can’t get enough of backstabbing nobility scheming for the throne. Now you can revisit some of the high points from the original series with this deck.
Even more novel, the guidebook not only explains the meanings of each card as per usual, it features a few spreads unique to the Game of Thrones world. This may not be striking to newer tarot readers, but more experienced readers tend to be interested in learning new spreads and seeing how they can be applied.