Blood and Jazz
Deck of the Veil
The Deck of the Veil, also known as the taraka, the Deck of Ways, or the Deck of Triumphs, is a deck of 22 illustrated cards codified into its present form by mercane occultists and woodcut printers in Aasimique in the 33rd century. Its origins lie in similar card decks invented by early civilizations of Estorn and spread across Northern Komwë and Qri Rakshas via cultural exchange made possible by the conquests of ancient Svergurd in the mid-20th century, then spread to Tynwë by the Mezzërdinian slave trade. It is sometimes combined into a single deck with other classic decks such as Aglondale’s 34-card Deck of Courts in order to play much more complex games with larger groups, but many simple and popular games of chance and skill can be played with the Deck of the Veil alone and this has made it the most popular playing card deck in most parts of Ërdin. In addition to its popularity as a game deck, the Deck of the Veil is shrouded in mystery and superstition, rumored to have innate powers of divination.
The Deck of the Veil can be played in two styles that lend themselves to different games, as opposed to the single style used with the Deck of Courts (i.e. four 8-card courts of Cups, Pikes, Rings, and Staves plus two “wild” or “mate” cards). The first style (‘2-court’ or ‘coinflip’ style) divides the cards into two opposed 11-card courts (Weal and Woe) with no mate cards. The second and more common style (‘3-court’ or ‘journey’ style) divides the cards into three 7-card courts (Magic, Matter, and Mind) plus one mate card.
There are three common decks in print, and although the names and images on cards are different in each, they are considered mechanically equivalent to one another for both games and fortune-telling. The newest of the three (the Taraka de Nordeille) was designed by anthropologists and archaeologists based on ancient records and a handful of surviving cards housed in museums, and is perhaps the closest to a proper reconstruction of the Estornian original, but it is much less well known than the other two. The second-newest (the Taraka de Siraz-Comte) is currently the most well known in the the world; it is supposedly based upon legends and prophecies and secret divination formulae uttered in trances by devotees of Boccob that the mercanes, being Boccob’s supposed chosen people, are privy to, though similarities to the Nordeille deck suggest that in reality it probably just evolved culturally from the Estornian original. The oldest, second-most popular worldwide, and most well known in Aasimique itself (the Taraka de Dojér) is based upon iconic themes from Aasimican literature and history, though the mercanes will have you believe that they are actually based upon ancient astrological signs from worlds that came long before Ërdin.
#. Nordeille / Siraz-Comte / Dojér: Courts
00. The Fool / The Destroyer / The Sky: Woe / Mate
01. The Idiot / The Magician / The Herald: Woe / Magic
02. Euryale / The High Priestess / The Seductress: Woe / Magic
03. The Gem / The Empress / The Crown: Weal / Matter
04. The Throne / The Emperor / The Ram: Weal / Matter
05. The Key / The Hierophant / The Bull: Weal / Mind
06. Talons / The Lovers / The Twins: Woe / Matter
07. The Knight / The Chariot / The Dog: Weal / Matter
08. The Donjon / Strength / The Lion: Woe / Matter
09. The Vizier / The Hermit / The Virgin: Weal / Mind
10. The Fates / Wheel of Fortune / The Storm: Weal / Magic
11. Balance / Justice / The Scales: Woe / Mind
12. The Jester / The Hanged Man / The Sea: Weal / Magic
13. The Skull / Death / The Scorpion: Woe / Magic
14. The Rogue / Temperance / The Horse: Woe / Mind
15. Flames / The Devil / The Goat: Woe / Mind
16. Ruin / The Tower / War: Woe / Matter
17. The Star / The Cup-Bearer / The Fish: Weal / Mind
18. The Moon / The Archer / The Huntress: Weal / Matter
19. The Sun / The Sun / The Sun: Weal / Magic
20. The Comet / Judgment / Hades: Weal / Mind
21. The Void / The World / Time: Woe / Magic
Note that the Fool, the Idiot, and the Jester have somewhat converged meanings in modern Common, which may cause some confusion. As used in the Taraka de Nordeille, the Fool refers to a reckless (i.e. “foolhardy”) person, the Idiot to a person who literally possesses an intellectual handicap, and the Jester to a person who serves as a professional entertainer at a royal court.