Lately, we’ve been playing a lot of Monster of the Week. I’ve found that MotW is great for campaigns that run about 6-10 games max, but if you wanted to run a longer story your hunters tend to get way over-equipped pretty quickly and have to either be swapped out or put in the back seat and have one of their followers take point. That didn’t really sit well with me or my group, so I worked out another way to do experience in a slower, but still pretty fun way.

What changes from the core rulesets:

  • No more marking experience. If a move would have you mark experience, instead you may gain back either 1 health or 1 luck (at the player’s choice).
  • No end-of-game experience voting. This was a hard hit for me, as this is one of the most charming parts of MotW. But it was contributing to the “too much, too fast” problem.
  • Leveling is “milestone” and only happens at the end of a mystery. As a longer campaign may have dozens of mysteries, this only happens when the current one is totally resolved.

How Tarot Leveling Works:

So, first you will need a tarot deck. I use only 42 of the cards, namely the major arcana, the suits (king, queen, knight, page), and the aces. I leave out of the deck the number cards (2-10) for each suit. Each one of these cards has a different leveling option (see the table below). Once a mystery is complete, I shuffle the deck and deal out one card to each player.

Cards come in two varieties:

  • Cards you keep as a bonus. These are things like stat bonuses (+1 to Weird, for example), or the ability to recruit a follower from the last completed mystery (Knight cards). Cards you keep are finite in number, so you will notice that there is only one +1 and one +2 to a stat card for each of the five stats. This is intentional. Those bonuses should be rare prizes players want to keep, or trade, as the game goes on. Similarly, there are a total of 8 possible follower cards. Once all have been dealt, you got your full cast. More than that gets cumbersome.
  • Cards you spend for a boon. These are things you spend either immediately, or hold on to spend at the right time. Once you use them, they get returned to the deck so that someone else can draw them later on. This might be a card you spend to get another move on your playbook (The Fool and The Hermit), or a card you spend to gain full health when you really need it, etc.

Once each player has a card, they can choose to share it with the rest of the group, keep it secret, or trade it with each other. Over time, the trading thing has proven very fun, and has led to a bunch of interesting narrative choices with trading followers and the like.

A quick note on followers: I suggest having followers gained by cards should be from “previous episodes” or mysteries! Those helpful (or hurtful) bystanders that the party encountered may show back up, grateful for the help or seeking to join the fray.

The “advanced” moves are gained by having the correct card. Because of this, not everyone will gain access to those in the game. My party has self-sorted themselves to each have a different one based upon their role, but a recommended optional rule is to have each player only be able to have one of these (if your party has someone who isn’t a team player).

In the long run, you eventually weed out the deck to only the cards that you spend for a boon, which allows for more and more growth on your playbook. But in the early part of the campaign, gaining new moves on your playbook is really, really rare. This makes players really think of creative ways to expand the uses for their current moves.

The Item Cards:

  • The Fool: Gain the Advanced “Read a Bad Situation” moves.
  • The Magician: Gain access to another Weird Move (Use Magic, Telepathy, etc).
  • The High Priestess: Use this card to Restore all of your Health and Stabilize, then return this card to the Keeper.
  • The Empress: Gain +2 Wierd (Max +3)
  • The Emperor: Gain +1 Wierd (Max +3)
  • The Hierophant: Gain the Advanced “Help Someone” Moves.
  • The Lovers: Gain the Advanced “Manipulate Someone” moves.
  • The Chariot: Use this card to teleport yourself and any number of allies within 30ft to a new location you have previously been, then return this card to the Keeper.
  • Justice: Gain Advanced “Protect Someone” moves.
  • The Hermit: Gain the Advanced “Investigate a Mystery” moves.
  • Wheel of Fortune: Restore all of your Luck. If your luck is full, instead restore 1 luck to each other player, then return this card to the Keeper.
  • Strength: Gain the Advanced “Kick Some Ass” moves.
  • The Hanged Man: Pick one character or NPC that previously died, they instead survived, unbeknowst to all, and turn back up. Explain what twist of fate allowed this to happen, then return this card to the Keeper.
  • Death: If you would die, instead you survive, then return this card to the Keeper.
  • Temperance: Gain a move from any playbook but your own, then return this card to the Keeper.
  • The Devil: Use this card to make a deal with a devil, changing your playbook while keeping any additional boons you have received, then return this card to the keeper.
  • The Tower: Gain a Haven (from the Expert playbook).
  • The Star: Gain a Combat Magic (from the Spell-Slinger playbook).
  • The Moon: Gain a Monster Breed (from the Monstrous playbook).
  • The Sun: Call upon the Keeper to provide supernatural aid by calling out to something you believe in (gods, luck, mama, etc.), then return this card to the Keeper.
  • Judgement: Gain the Advanced “Act Under Pressure” moves.
  • The World: Choose one: Either swap this card with any remaining card in the Keeper’s deck, or keep the card as a copy of any card in play.
  • Ace of Swords: Use this card to gain an additional move from your playbook, then return this card to the Keeper.
  • Knight of Swords: Gain a combat-ready follower from a previous episode.
  • Queen of Swords: Gain +1 Sharp (max +3)
  • King of Swords: Gain +2 Sharp (max +3)
  • Page of Swords: Gain a non-combat follower from a previous episode.
  • Ace of Wands: Use this card to gain an additional move from your playbook, then return this card to the Keeper.
  • King of Wands: Gain +2 Charm (Max +3)
  • Queen of Wands: Gain +1 Charm (Max +3)
  • Knight of Wands: Gain a combat-ready follower from a previous episode.
  • Page of Wands: Gain a non-combat follower from a previous episode.
  • Ace of Pentacles: Use this card to gain an additional move from your playbook, then return this card to the Keeper.
  • King of Pentacles: Gain +2 Tough (Max +3)
  • Queen of Pentacles: Gain +1 Tough (Max +3)
  • Knight of Pentacles: Gain a combat-ready follower from a previous episode.
  • Page of Pentacles: Gain a non-combat follower from a previous episode.
  • Ace of Cups: Use this card to gain an additional move from your playbook, then return this card to the Keeper.
  • King of Cups: Gain +2 Cool (max +3)
  • Queen of Cups: Gain +1 Cool (max +3)
  • Knight of Cups: Gain a combat-ready follower from a previous episode.
  • Page of Cups: Gain a non-combat follower from a previous episode.

And that’s the full set. I hope this is helpful for some of you! I’ve enjoyed how it plays out and am excited to see it keep going moving forward. Hopefully you will too!