Carrion Crown 5th Edition
The Harrow is a method of divination widely used by many Varisian fortune-tellers using a Harrow deck (see below) and possibly the harrowing spell. By these means, the reader is said to be able to receive small bits of information about what has occurred, what is happening, and what will come to pass in the future. Some Harrowers are even able to draw additional power from the Harrow to enhance their spellcasting, and the harrowing spell may allow the caster some influence on future events.
The Harrow deck is considered to be innately invested with power (that can be read to wrest information about a person’s life, or controlled to subtly influence events), and so must be treated with respect: disrespecting the deck leads to ruin.
The Harrow deck is a sacred tool of Varisian fortune-tellers. They use this deck for a form of divination to tell customers whether they should hope for the best or prepare for the worst. Some of these decks are elaborately illustrated, but most of them are nothing more than paper with hand painted images. The more elaborate Harrow decks are passed down through the generations. Between their heirloom status, and the powers that Varisians believe that the Harrow deck contains, most users of these cards treat them with respect and care.
The alternate use of the harrow deck is as game aid for gamblers to play the game Towers. This game is frowned upon by the Varisians who regard the harrow deck as a sacred object.
Towers is a sacrilegious gambling game played with the sacred deck of cards used for the Harrow by Varisian fortune-tellers. The game is played with two to four players with a Harrow deck. The players lay out the neutral cards for each ability to represent the foundation of a tower, such as the Tower of Intelligence and the Tower of Wisdom. On their turn, the players try to play a card from their hand that matches the position of a card in one of the towers. Otherwise, they must “flee”, paying each payer a number of coins equal to the number of cards left in their hand.
Suits and Alignments
The deck consists of 54 individual cards, each of which symbolizes a topic and moral stance. Each card has a symbol for the six basic attributes of a creature: strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma. Each symbol is arranged on the face of the card to represent its ethical dimensions (lawful, neutral, and chaotic) and moral dimensions (good, neutral, and evil). The Queen Mother, for example, has a star in the center-left, so it is the lawful neutral card of wisdom.
Each of the six basic abilities also indicates a broader symbolic topic Similarly, the ethical and moral dimensions of a card represent its temporal position and outlook: the lawful ethic represents past events; the neutral ethic represents present events; the chaotic ethic represents future events; moral good represents a positive outlook; moral neutrality represents an unclear outlook; and moral evil represents a negative outlook. Harrowers that perform a harrowing for evil subjects may do a reverse reading, in which negative cards are bad for the subject’s foes, and positive cards reflect well for the subject’s foes.
Performing a Harrowing
A harrowing consists of two parts: the choosing and the spread. During the choosing, the subjects of the harrowing phrase the knowledge they seek in the form of a single question and decide which of the six abilities suits that question. During the spread, the harrower shuffles the deck, draws nine cards, and places them in a three-by-three array that indicates the positive and negative tidings of events past, present, and future. The left column represents the past, the middle column represents the present, and the right column represents the future. After the spread is laid out, the harrower chooses a number of cards to interpret. A “role card”, which is a card selected by the subject during the choosing, must be interpreted. Other cards that may be interpreted include true matches, which is a card for which the card’s alignment symbol matches its position in the spread, as well as opposite matches, partial matches, and cards in misaligned positions. In practice, while each card has its own basic meaning, the meaning of each card is interpreted by its circumstances in the spread.18 Good and evil cards, for example, have different meanings if they appear in a different row than would match. Doing this well requires a skillful harrower.