The idea to design BATTLE of TAROT was not intentional. It came to me in a dream.
As an artist, I was drawn to the tarot as I had seen a lot of my fellow artists illustrating their own decks. I was looking for a personal project to work on near the end of 2022 and so picked up a classic Rider-Waite-Smith deck from my local bookstore more for research than anything, but also because I loved the art.
I was familiar with the classic deck, or at least the iconic Major Arcana archetypes as seen through modern culture. But as I was digesting the art from Pamela Colman Smith I could see there was so much symbolism and elements I wasn’t as familiar with. So I started diving into researching the history behind tarot. I was surprised that it had initially been designed for use in card games, and was even the precursor to our standard card deck of diamonds, hearts, clubs, and spades. I hadn’t known this connection before and had only thought of tarot in relation to its esoteric divination purposes. I’m not a spiritual person, so that side of it didn’t interest me as much personally, but it did make me wonder why I hadn’t heard of many card games that used a tarot deck, which was strange to me as the art and themes are so strong.
With this tucked away in the back of my mind, in the early morning of Christmas Eve 2022 at around 3am I woke up with the rules of BATTLE of TAROT just in my head. I tried falling back asleep but my designer brain couldn’t shut off as I saw the cards stacking to form armies and positioning themselves on the battlefield in the three lanes to attack each other. So to satiate the fixation, I got up and then spent the next 3 or 4 hours typing up the rules. The funny thing though, is it felt like I wasn’t really designing it as much as I was just typing as it was dictated to me by my subconscious. Now, some who might be more divinely inclined might say the tarot was involved in some way, but as an atheist and non-spiritual individual I don’t see it that way. I’ve been working in game studios professionally for over a decade surrounded by game design and mechanics, not to mention obsessively digesting games personally for my whole life. I think a lot of the inspirations for this game have been sitting back there in my subconscious percolating and the strong themes and art of the tarot deck just happened to click and give me that ‘ah ha’ moment.
And so that’s how BATTLE of TAROT was conceived. And while I did need to flush out the minor details and rules, the core idea came to me from the depths of my subconscious in a dream.
– Denman Rooke
About the Designer:
Denman Rooke is an artist based in Galway, Ireland who’s been working in entertainment for the last 16 years. Starting as an illustrator for role-playing games he moved into the video game industry 10 years ago. While his day job is primarily art direction & concept art for PC and console games, he also illustrates for the card game Magic: the Gathering. While creating art may be his main occupation, Denman also enjoys designing games. Obsessed with games since childhood, the only natural progression was into an adulthood of creating them.
If you’re interested in Denman’s art, you can check out his portfolio here: DenmanRooke.com
About the Artist:
The public domain tarot art found on this website and in the rulebook are from the fantastic illustrator Pamela Colman Smith. She was the artist on the famous Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck originally printed in 1909. Learn more about Pamela Colman Smith, aka “Pixie” here: https://engelsbergideas.com/portraits/pamela-colman-smith-the-queen-of-tarot/