A new RPG from Smoke & Mirrors games Kickstarting on March 19th!

Take a modern roleplaying game and deconstruct it. Take away all the trappings that we think of as essential for RPGs because of tradition: dice, statistics, equipment, even in some cases the GM. From the pure core of fantasy that remains, tempered by game rules, create something new with completely new assumptions: that is the process that created Cartomancy.

Cartomancy is a card-based roleplaying game. This doesn’t mean that you simply substitute cards for dice in resolving mechanics—although that is true, so far as it goes. More importantly, the conventions of card games—hand management, straights, kitties, trumps, window cards, widows and all the rest—form some of the most basic conventions of Cartomancy

This means that it it plays differently than a dice-based game. A die can be rolled an infinite number of times, whereas a card can be played but once, making every action a sacrifice. You never know what a die will show before it is cast, but when the cards are dealt at the beginning of a Cartomancy scene all of the luck is in place and it is up to the players to see if their hands will win or lose. As cards are fundamentally different than dice, so is Cartomancy fundamentally different from other RPGs. 

The Game

Cartomancy is a 200+ page, digest sized, black and white game book written by Daniel Warmke and illustrated by Jessie Parrotti and Emily Vitori. It creates fast, focused game sessions using a couple decks of cards, some poker chips, and your friends. It is universal in that you can play any setting you like, from love stories between gods played out over eons, to scientists trying to stop a deadly disease from sweeping the world, to adventurers planning on kicking in dungeon doors for gold and thrills. There are 3 included playsets that modify the rules to particular settings and play styles, but the system is extraordinarily malleable. 

It is not a universal system in that it cannot do things in a small way. Characters have defining powers that make big things happen in the world, and stories are painted with a broad brush of conflict. For those looking for subtlety and minutia, there are a hundred excellent games that focus on details on the market; Cartomancy is not one of them. 

The Kickstarter

This game is coming out. It has been play-tested and modded to dozens of settings and has produced fun in every one. But if it is sent into the world without a proper sendoff, it is fated to a lonely existence where only a handful of players have seen its spark. What this Kickstarter campaign allows us to do is give it some adventuring companions to make Cartomancy's journey epic:

  1. Card decks: Even though you can play with any deck of cards, we want to introduce a deck of cards that is evocative of the concept of adventure in a roleplaying game rather than any specific setting: savage spacemen, cybernetic mages, kodiak bear ninjas—whatever the fevered mind of our artist brings forth. 
  2. A players’ guide: We have all been at the first session with a new game system where everything bottlenecks at a single copy of the book. We aim to eliminate that problem for Kickstarter backers by including a staple-bound (note: see stretch goals below!) copy of the most essential rules as an additional play reference. 
  3. A free for commercial and noncommercial use online system reference document. We want to give these rules over to the gaming community as a whole so that the unique pieces of this game can be incorporated into other games without restriction
  4. A hardback cover: If you didn't know, distributers and retailers take a massive cut out of the price of RPGs you buy online or at brick and mortar stores (not complaining—something has to pay the bills at my Friendly Neighborhood Gaming Store), and that cut makes it impractical for us to print a hardback version of Cartomancy for retailers at a reasonable cost. However, the magic of Kickstarter allows us to offer a limited-edition hardback to you and make this the sort of book that we ourselves want to own. 
  5. A community: YOU are the most important adventurer to add to the Cartomancy party. If you are there to play the game, mod the game, and tell others about it, then Cartomancy will succeed. If we don’t have players like you, it will fail regardless of stretch goals and funding levels. Simple as that. 


We love talking about our project. Most inquires regarding rules, the community, or the Kickstarter should be directed to the author at daniel@smokeandmirrorsgames.com. I am happy to do either live or email interviews and would also be willing to create targeted content for interested bloggers and websites (like obstacles that are available exclusively at your site or exclusive art or content previews. Just ask and we will see what we can do.) 

Inquiries for interviews with the artists can be either sent through daniel@smokeandmirrorsgames.com or directly to the artist in question.  Emily Vitori, the artist responsible for the cards and interior art can be reach at syreene@gmail.comJessie Parrotti, the cover artist, can be reached through his website at www.jesseparrotti.com.