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Castle Falkenstein: The Second Tarot Variation $1.95
Average Rating:5.0 / 5
Ratings Reviews Total
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Castle Falkenstein: The Second Tarot Variation
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Castle Falkenstein: The Second Tarot Variation
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Nick M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/29/2017 15:24:21

The Second in Mr J Gray’s series on Castle Falkenstein rules variations, once again ,covers the use of Tarot cards instead of an ordinary pack of cards but this time as the general Fortune Cards pack rather than one for Magicians only. There is a very useful page of discussion about the effects on game balance that using a Tarot-based Fortune pack produces and suggestions of a variety of ways this can be balanced or used to enhance the wild card nature of the Major Arcana cards. Just like the previous Tarot Variation, the Minor Arcana cards simply act like slightly altered normal pack of cards. The Major Arcana produce a range of quite powerful negative and positive, but always interesting, outcomes on play.

From my strictly personal view, I won’t be using this Variation in my campaign. simply because I really like the idea of the Tarot pack being a Special Set of cards just for magical purposes (as in the first Variation) and since Magick gives great power to a Dramatic Character, I love the idea of Magicians having less control over the outcome that the Major Arcana cards bring to the game system.

That said, what I will do is make a small Host’s pack made up of just Major Arcana cards and use Mr.Gray’s excellent ideas as wild card effects. So, when a joker comes up in the mundane pack, I, as the Host can draw a card from my little pack and gain inspiration for the outcome the players receive.

As ever, this Fat Goblin’s Games product is beautifully laid out with clear text. Even though I am not making use of all of it myself, it scores 5/5 as this is a quality product that many Hosts of “The Great Game” will like.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Falkenstein: The Second Tarot Variation
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 06/26/2017 10:54:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second of Tarot-based alternate rules-pdfs for Castle Falkenstein clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Wait, first, before we do: If you have not yet picked up the first Tarot Variation, please do so NOW. It has made my Top Ten RPG-product list for a reason - it is brilliant. The genius idea here is to use the Rider-Waite-Smythe tarot deck instead of the regular playing cards deck - the result has not only been an increase in atmosphere, but also a more interesting gameplay. I literally never want to play vanilla CF again.


Okay, that out of the way, to a degree, this pdf represents more of an amazing thing, we begin with establishing the connection between suites of playing card decks and tarot decks corresponding to another. The values for cards of the minor arcana are properly assigned their values. Since the deck contains one more face card per suit, but no jokers, the fortune deck includes 4 cads worth 15 points instead of 2.

The major arcana deck requires some choices to be made by the game's respective host: First, are major arcana cards held in a player's hand or apart. If they are held as regular cards, that decreases the number of minor arcana cards potentially held and as such, there is a balancing component there. If the major arcana is held on a separate hand, the plot-twisting elements of these cards become more potent, obviously.

The second decision would pertain how many cards the players can hold from the major arcana suite. If players hold these cards in their regular hand, the cards should be limited to a maximum of 1 or 2 held to maintain the option to keep succeeding at tasks via minor arcana. If a separate hand is chosen as the option to go for, the host can elect to cap the total at 3 or even 4 - the more of these a player can hold in a separate hand, though, the more volatile the game becomes, at least potentially - but that does fit well with Castle Falkenstein's high-adventure aspect.

Thirdly, an easy means to balance the impact of the major arcana is the third choice -here, the host determines how many major arcana cards can influence one given Feat. As you may have noticed, this does assume a host at least familiar with the game and confident regarding the ability to interpret on the fly the respective results.

These basics out of the way, the rest of the pdf is devoted to listing the major arcana and their effects - these range from spectacular successes, to conversions into other cards, the option to exchange cards for one minute (nut not those drawn to power sorcery). Returning cards just played to the hand, increasing success levels...and drawing e.g. Justice can result in either fumbling or high successes of the Feat in question. Increased success-levels at the cost of injury and there is also an option to draw a card and increase an ability ranked Poor to Good for the action in question - in short, the proceedings become more volatile.


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard that is beautiful and the pdf doesn't sport artworks, but requires none at this length. Same goes for bookmarks - the pdf has none, but doesn't require any at this length.

J Gray's second tarot variation is amazing - while the novelty of the concept and enriched coolness obviously does not extend to the second of these, the matter of fact remains that this represents a glorious option that enhances the gameplay of Castle Falkenstein in much the same iconic manner as the original. All for a single buck. So yes, this is very much worth checking out - and a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Falkenstein: The Second Tarot Variation
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by James E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/18/2017 09:46:36

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product for the purpose of this review.

The Second Tarot Variation is an alternative set of rules for Castle Falkenstein - namely, replacing the normal Fortune Deck with an expanded one that uses the 22-card tarot deck. This is generally something of a powerup, although the limit on how many cards a player can have in their hand at any time means they are giving up the normal benefits of the minor arcana. It's very much a player-focused system, as Hosts won't make much use of the tarot effects. The product itself is a six-page, full-color PDF.

I'm actually rather fond of this addition, since it adds an additional level of spontaneity and excitement to drawing cards... and in the end, aren't people present to have fun? That said, being unpredictable also means the Host needs to be good at improvising. For example, the Emperor allows a player to discard a card from the Host's hand for awhile - which could throw a wrench into your plans - while the Fool has the possibility of making a Feat succeed in, and I quote, "the most spectacular way possible".

To put it another way, this product is probably best for experienced Hosts, either with a number of Castle Falkenstein games under their belt or significant experience running other systems. I don't feel this is a drawback, exactly - not every product is meant for first-time players - but it is something to be aware of before you buy. Aside from that note, though, I enjoyed this product and it gets a full score from me.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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