Video Game Tarot

Dishonored : A Game of Nancy


Nic is a hobbyist of tarot and video games and really wanted to see if a tarot deck published largely as a tabletop game by a video game company can be used as a working deck.

As mentioned in the Tarot: A Flirt with Video Games post, I mention that I would look at the Dishonored tarot deck and see if it can be used as a working tarot deck. For the sake of the project I will look at giving a little overview about the video games story and describe the characters to make it easy to follow the project. So lets start with a little overview of the deck and then a little overview of the story.

some of the major arcana and the suits

Tarot Deck

Often video games release special editions of their games in order to help secure pre order sales and offer additional trinkets to fans. Dishonored was released as the game or you could purchase the special edition which contained the Dishonored Tarot Deck. Inside this deck there are instructions to a game they call “A Game of Nancy” and they state that “It should be played with the Dishonored Tarot Deck, however it also possible to play with the 78-card Tarot decks…” That is a story for another time though, if somewhere puts “tarot” in the title of a deck of cards, I’m going to dissect it.

The deck itself has 22 major arcana which all depict different characters in the game and this is what we will start off with. They also have the 56 minor arcana which largely follow the traditional set of playing cards. The main difference really is that rather than go with hearts, diamonds, clubs and spades the deck opts for swords, skulls, pistols and rats. Again, we will look into this later, however, the whole weaponry and death thing is relevant for the game.

Game Overview

Dishonored is set in the city of Dunwall; a rat-infested, plague-consumed city. There is a steam-punk element to the world and a definite aesthetic of dystopia, disease and corruption.

You take on the role of Corvo, royal bodyguard to the Empress, who at the very start of the game arrives from a journey just in time to witness the Empress assassinated and her daughter kidnapped. Swiftly, he is placed into jail by the royal Spymaster for the murder and kidnap of Emily, the daughter.

back of the cards

The story now really begins as Corvo escapes imprisonment and begins a quest for revenge and to discover the true events with the help of a group of people termed “The Loyalists”; a band of subjects who wish to fight the usurp and find Emily, the rightful heir to the throne.

It is a world of spies, mystery and lies. Quickly into the game a mysterious diety-like entity called “The Outsider” empowers the dishonored bodyguard with magical abilities – the reasons why are not clear, nor who he is or what he truly knows.

The play style is also important to know. There are two ways to play this game and multiple endings, depending on how you play the game. You can choose to sneak your way through the game, knocking people unconscious and “getting rid” of targets that you need to destroy by means other than killing. Or, you can fully embody the concept of rage at being framed for the murder of the Empress and kill anything and everything that moves.

Through this project you will hear about “tallboys”, “weepers” and “Overseers” all of which will be explained as will more parts of the story as I carry on the project.

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