On The Talis Deck

Organization Of Talis Cards

Each Talis card has a suit and a number. Each card also has a specific porientation and game use. Descriptions of these follow.


Talis cards have six suits of 10 cards each: Flames (orange), Winds (white), Waves (blue), Leaves (green), Beasts (brown), and Fates (purple). These suits represent the elemental forces of the universe: fire, air, water, earth, animals, and the Powers, respectively. Each of these suits is represented by a different character type: dwarves for Flames, elves for Winds, coastal society humans for Waves, halflings for Leaves, barbarian humans for Beasts, and gods for Fates. The Seeker card represents all six suits.


Each suit is number, from 1o (an ace that stands for 1 and 10) to 9. Each number has a specific figure representing it. These are detailed in the lists that follow.


The organization of each card when placed is important. If the card is right-side up to the dealer, the card's orientation is light; if it is upside-down to the dealer, the card's orientation is dark. This orientation affects the meaning of the card.

Game Use

Every Talis card has a special game use that adds a new twist to familiar card games. Sometimes, the card's orientation affects its game use.

The Sash

The sash that accompanties the Talis deck can be used to store the cards and to organize a reading. The seer lays it out with the tassels to his right. The symbols on the sash represent the four elements, eternity, the past, the present, and the future. The side away from the seer represents challenges; the side nearest the seer represents supporting forces. Cards are always placed from the left to the right. The 55th card of the Talis deck represents the Seeker, the one seeking an answer that the reading is being performed for. It is placed at the start of the reading.

The sash is as wide as the shortest dimension of the card, and is five times as long as the longest dimension.

Meanings of the Talis Cards

The following list details each card number and its significance in terms of suit, orientation, and game use.


DRAGON/ORB cards represent both great beginnings and great challenges. These cards depict a Good (Metallic) and an Evil (Chromatic) dragon in conflict around a dragon orb of might.

Game Use: Played as a DRAGON, this card CONQUERS any card except the CHAMPION. Played as an ORB, this card nullifies any DRAGON card.

Beasts A copper dragon battles a black dragon.
Light: Fair dealings, trust
Dark: Greed, avarice
Leaves A brass dragon battles a green dragon.
Light: Trueheartedness, friendlyness, alliance
Dark: Envy, sloth, malice
Waves A bronze dragon battles a blue dragon.
Light: Steadfastness, faithfullness
Dark: Betrayal, deceit
Winds A silver dragon battles a white dragon.
Light: Loving, caring, loyalty
Dark: Coldheartedness, emotionlessness
Flames A gold dragon battles a red dragon.
Light: Opportunity, control, calm
Dark: Anger, rage, hatred

PEASANT cards represent the common man and his relations with the beasts of the world.

Game Use: PEASANT cards can MELD with all other cards.

Beasts A barbarian girl confronts a cornered badger.
Light: Hidden dangers, deceits
Dark: Hidden secrets, hopes
Leaves A young halfling watches industrious mice.
Light: Patience, rest
Dark: Impatience, action
Waves A human child fishes in a bountiful stream.
Light: Peace, blessings
Dark: False peace, curses
Winds An elven child sings as she herds sheep to market.
Light: Contentment, control
Dark: Daydreams, frustration
Flames A dwarven maid in a cave is startled by bats.
Light: Guidance, surefootedness
Dark: Lost way, clumsiness

STEWARD cards represent those who tend the land and master the fields.

Game Use: STEWARDS can STEAL other cards.

Beasts A barbarian whips an ox to plow a field.
Light: Brutes, louts
Dark: Fair labor, strength of purpose
Leaves A halfling maid harvests a bounty of grapes.
Light: Cooperation, joyful help
Dark: Carelessness, selfish aid
Waves A human irrigates a growing field.
Light: Deeds rewarded, kindness
Dark: Barreness, selfishness
Winds An elven maid stands in a field of grain.
Light: Innocence, good news
Dark: End of innocence, bad news
Flames A dwarven lad fights to control a forest fire.
Light: Courage, tenacity
Dark: Surrender, failure

ARTISAN cards represent craftspersons plying some trade or art for the love of beauty.

Game Use: ARTISAN cards can TRADE for other cards.

Beasts A barbarian woman makes a saddle for her horse.
Light: Dire warning, omens sought
Dark: Preparation, mustering for war
Leaves A halfling youth whittles a statue beside a pond.
Light: Inspiration, worthwhile deeds
Dark: Foolhardiness, wasted time
Waves A human paints beside a waterfall.
Light: Great beauty, firm resolve
Dark: Fraud, misplaced step
Winds An elven youth plays a flute as rain approaches.
Light: Competition, success
Dark: Rivalry, anxiety
Flames A dwarf tempers a blade in a tub of water.
Light: Pride, careful work
Dark: Jealousy, flawed character

SCHOLAR cards represent students of lore and the lessons from the past.

Game Use: SCHOLAR cards REVEAL other cards' identities.

Beasts An aged barbarian spins a tale to a wise old owl.
Light: Superstitions, false stories
Dark: Legends, lessons of history
Leaves A halfling student ignores lessons to watch the wind.
Light: Curiosity, lessons of nature
Dark: Slothfullness, cunning
Waves A sailor plots his course beneath a rainbow.
Light: New goals, careful plans
Dark: Dissatisfaction, hasty plans
Winds An elven maid surveys the blowing snow.
Light: Sound advice, perception
Dark: Foolish decisions, deception
Flames A dwarven priest writes by a lamp despite fog
Light: Enlightenment, hard study
Dark: Confusion, misdirection

WARRIOR cards show warriors defending their home.

Game Use: WARRIOR cards can PROTECT a hand of cards.

Beasts A barbarian and wolves stand guard by torchlight.
Light: Accusation, demand
Dark: Judgment, understanding
Leaves A halfling maid defies passage in a desert.
Light: Duty, caution
Dark: Theivery, thorny problems
Waves A human warrior blocks the way past a geyser.
Light: Protection, adaptation
Dark: Capture, defeat
Winds An elf warrior wearily watches a smoldering town.
Light: Freedom, victory, waiting
Dark: Bondage, despair, brooding
Flames A dwarven warrior attacks before a burning town.
Light: Champion, costly freedom.
Game Use: This card, the CHAMPION, defeats DRAGON cards.
Dark: Adversary, threat passes

MAGE cards represent mastery over the elements.

Game Use: MAGE cards can cause play to SKIP a player or can force a CHANGE (discard one card and draw another).

Beasts A shaman and baboon dance an arcane ritual.
Light: Dishonesty, treachery
Dark: Wariness, dark forces
Leaves A halfling druid grows a plant in a misty graveyard.
Light: Rebirth, renewal, healing
Dark: Fear, rejection, infection
Waves A human sorceress summons marshy mists.
Light: Friendliness, charm
Dark: Hatred, seduction
Winds An elven warlock summons the fury of a cyclone.
Light: Self-control, mastery
Dark: Turbulence, cruelty
Flames An ogress feeds a cauldron before volcanoes.
Light: Imminent trouble, festering wounds
Dark: Unfounded fears, false rumors

LADY cards represent matriarchs of their people.

Game Use: LADY cards PRESERVE peace, negating an action.

Beasts A barbarian woman and bear look on from a hill.
Light: Recalcitrance, stubbornness
Dark: Dependability, support
Leaves A halfling matron surveys the earth's bounty.
Light: Rewarded work, reaped bounty
Dark: Ignored work, poor harvest
Waves A human woman meditates over the sea.
Light: Health, tranquility
Dark: Illness, doubt
Winds An elven matron presides over dancing dreams.
Light: Faith, hope, charity
Game Use: This is the FAITH card. It can COMPLETE any COURT.
Dark: disillusion, despair, nightmare
Flames A dwarven matron tends the hearth.
Light: Hospitality, warmth, welcome
Dark: Overindulgence, chill, refusal

LORD cards represent the lords of the lands.

Game Use: LORDS can COMMAND, increasing the value of each of his suit's cards in a hand by one.

Beasts A noble barbarian is enthroned before a stag.
Light: Injustice, tyranny, corruption
Dark: Justice, democracy, fairness
Leaves A halfling lord drinks wine beneath an oak tree.
Light: Prosperity, fortune
Dark: Slothfulness, misfortune
Waves A coastal lord reigns before a stormy sea.
Light: Council, purpose
Dark: Bad council, misdirection
Winds An elf lord commands before a borealis.
Light: Command, leadership
Dark: Tyranny, monomania
Flames A dwarf lord rules before a rising phoenix.
Light: Triumph, fulfillment
Dark: False victory, loss of vision

Meanings of the Fates Suit

Each of the ten Fates cards represents two distinct gods. This displays 20 gods of a pantheon. Traditionaly, the CHAMPION (6 of Flames) and/or the FAITH card (8 of Winds) also may depict a particular god from the pantheon. The 2 of Fates through the 6 of Fates also show as a ruling card over the five lesser suits.


DRAGONLORD/CHAOS: The chief god of Good opposes the chief god of Evil. The orb in the center of most ACES is replaced by a bisected light and dark moon.

Light: Order, consequence, mercy, control, beacon
Game Use: The DRAGONLORD card CONTROLS a foe's action.

Dark: Chaos, self-service, evil, deceit, rampage
Game Use: The CHAOS card SELECTS another's next play.


BALANCE: The god of Wealth opposes the god of Greed. It is the Fate of Beasts.

Light: Wealth, freedom, peace
Game Use: This card BORROWS 1 card from another hand.

Dark: Greed, slavery, betrayal
Game Use: This card BETRAYS, exchanging 1 card for 2 foes.


GROVE: The god of Nature opposes the god of the Wilds. It is the Fate of Leaves.

Light: Nature, bounty, abundance
Game Use: This card PARLEYS, guarding the holder from attack.

Dark: Wilds, bestial nature, chaos
Game Use: This card COERCES two foes to battle each other.


SEA: The god of the Sea opposes the god of Violence. It is the Fate of Waves.

Light: Sea, creation, passion
Game Use: This card RECOVERS a discarded card.

Dark: Violence, repressed rage, jealousy
Game Use: This card REVERSES the order of play.


WISDOM: The god of Wisdom opposes the god of Knowledge. It is the Fate of Winds.

Light: Wisdom, hidden treasure
Game Use: This card REVEALS another's hand.

Dark: Superficiality, numbness
Game Use: This card DEMANDS all players to tell the truth.


WEAPON: The god of Smithing opposes the god of Destruction. It is the Fate of Flames.

Light: Forge, tool, shaping
GAME USE: This card DEFEATS other cards (1 is discarded).

Dark: Vengence, weapon, destruction
GAME USE: This card SLAYS a hand (draw new cards).


WIZARD: The god of Change opposes the god of Illusion.

Light: Change, transformation
GAME USE: This card TRANSFORMS one card into a wild card.

Dark: Illusion, phantasms, missdirection
GAME USE: This card REFLECTS an attack back on any foe.


EMPRESS: The godess of Life opposes the god of Death

Light: Life, blessings, beauty, abundance
GAME USE: This card STRENGTHENS a hand (draw 2 cards).

Dark: Decay, disease, weakness, barrenness
GAME USE: This card WEAKENS a hand (discard 2 cards).


EMPEROR: A great Hero god opposes his arch Enemy.

Light: Hero, justice, general
GAME USE: This card LEADS, increasing a hand's value to the next highest.

Dark: Bane, enemy, raveger
GAME USE: This card DESTROYS an entire hand.


The SEEKER card has no light or dark side. It represents all of the suits, and the person for which a reading is being given, or a question answered.
GAME USE: The SEEKER card is a wild card.


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Fortune Telling with the Talis Deck

Using the Sash

Lay the sash out with the tassels to your right. Place the Seeker card in one of the cells, depending on the time in question; it goes where it seems most relevant to represent the person being read. Lay cards in the empty cells above then below, proceeding left to right (so 7 cards dealt). Consult the meanings list.

Sash decides light or dark; the side away from the seer uses the light reading (supportive) and the side toward the seer uses the dark reading (challenges).


Shuffle cards, spread them out in an arc, draw three and lay them face up. Count how many are light aspect.

3 Prospects are positive, good fortune.
2 Prospects are hesitantly positive.
1 Prospects include some ill fortune.
0 Prospects are definitely negative or harmful.

The Journey

    F                             5    8
    a    A                   4
    t         0    1    2         6    9
    e    S                   3
    s                             7   10

Remove the Seeker card and set it aside; it is unused. Place the sash in the position indicated, and start putting down cards in the numbered pattern. Every time a Fates card comes up, place it on the other side of the sash and replace its spot in the pattern with another card.

The Fates now represent overall outside influences to the choices the character being read is going to make. The card in the 0 spot represents the most imminent consequence of the character's present actions, and the 8, 9 and 10 cards represent possible futures.