Mage: The Ascension Tarot

This deck/book set was designed to be used in a storytelling game series published by Whitewolf. The cards measure 2 5/8" X 4 5/8" and are highly laminated with a glossy finish. The art is excellent, in a comic books style, with deep rich colors. The overall look is somewhat dark, as befits a deck set in a place called The World of Darkness. The Major Arcana have the traditional names, for the most part. Luna replaces The Moon and Gaia replaces The World. The scenes on the Majors are fairly traditional in some cases and very different in others. The suits "correspond to the various sort of essences that color mystick Avatars." They also correspond to the traditional as follows:

  • Primordial = Cups
  • Dynamic = Swords
  • Questing = Wands
  • Pattern = Pentacles

The Court consists of King, Queen, Knight and Page. The scenes on the Minors are non-traditional and original for the most part, though quite a few Pamela Colman-Smith influences can be found. They give the feel of a murky and somewhat hopeless world, where violence is not uncommon, and where the primitive and high tech have struck an uneasy balance.

The set is packaged in a hinged top box. There are two wells at the bottom of the box to hold the cards and the book lies on top of the well. This is one of the better packaging ideas I have seen for a deck/book set which other publishers would do well to follow. The book is smaller than a standard paperback. A color picture of each card is provided, as well as a key word interpretation, an upright and a reversed interpretation. Each card also has an "Association," which I believe shows the type of character the card is associated with in the game. The key word interpretations seem to be based on the Golden Dawn/ Crowley system, though there are some differences. A short description of the scene is also provided. The book has three spreads, including the Celtic Cross. Information on how to use the deck in conjunction with the game is provided with examples. There is a brief suggested reading list which recommends books by Eden Gray, Mary Greer and Paul Foster Case.

I recommend this deck for those who are into role-playing or storytelling games, and for those looking for something different. I think that some knowledge of the game the deck was designed for would be most helpful in interpretation. Reviewing this deck reminded me how much I like it. A friend who was recently visiting asked me to name my 10 favorite decks in my collection, not for reading, per se, but just because I liked them. I could only name four or five off the top of my head, but had I to do it all over again, this deck would probably make the cut. I like the mixture of the modern and futuristic with the primitive. I like the colors and the nightmarish quality. I have never tried to read with this deck, but I enjoy looking at it. I get the feeling that I an outsider looking at this world from a safe distance.

Mage: The Ascension Tarot Deck
ISBN: 1-56504-433-9
Publisher: White Wolf Game Studio
Price $25.00

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This page is Copyright 1997 by Michele Jackson