Yarn cards

Posted on Thursday, November 20th, 2014 at 13:36

This page has been updated you can read the original to compare.

Yarn cards are big plot events, thrown around by Plot Dæmons and Solos. They control the flow of the plot and govern the events that are occurring, although they do not control the outcome at all. A Solo may create a huge Ordeal for another Character, but they don’t get to decide if the Character succeeds or not.

Playing Yarn Cards

Solos can play Wyrd Tarot cards as Yarn cards on themselves or others, for no additional costs.

Yarn cards are often played contextually, so the Scene and Act can effect how they behave, but a Solo can decide to access the Random Events table first (although this will burn through their cards very quickly as you always need more than one card). It is worth noting that if you are in a Zenith Scene of a Loom Story of a Frame Arc (or similar) of a Volume Story then you could automatically opt to play a Yarn Card as any of the Card types.

For Referees wanting to run an open world/sandbox game style you can give each NPC in a town an event each day and see what kind of plot the players turn that into. It can make for a fun session without having to prepare a whole plot demon.


The Suits of the cards are often important to the effect of the card. On the Random Event Table the suits effect the following aspects.

  • Hearts ♥ Love, Relationships, Affections, Family, Sympathy, Peace.
  • Clubs ♣ Power, Fame, Politics, Ability, Money.
  • Diamonds ♦ Travel, Money, Business, Contracts, Deals, Voyages.
  • Spades ♠ Misfortune, Suffering, Loss, Mourning, Treachery, Betrayal, War, Lawsuit.

So if your Referee is running a deeply involved political game, and you want to throw in a few spanners as a Solo you probably want some Clubs or Spades in your hand before you start.

During each Scene within an Act you can play as:

Conflict Embodiment

When a Conflict from a Story Demon is involved in an event it will embody BOTH sides of the Conflict in every Scene. Usually the Referee will do this automatically as they build the plot, but if Solos are trying to push a certain plot into existence then they too can force Conflicts to Embody in a Story or Scene. Each Embodiment will take a Yarn Tarot Card.

Embodiment Table
Drawn card Spades ♠ Major Character/PC Hearts ♥ Minor Character/NPC Clubs ♣ Stage Diamonds ♦ Direction
A Internal/Tension/Rational Incarna External Descendant Tension/External Tone
2 Internal/Tension/Rational Personality External Ordeal
4 Tension/Rational Descendant (Pact)
5 Core External Descendant (Location)
8 Internal/Tension/Rational Handicap: Nuisance
10 Internal/Tension/Rational Handicap: Flaw
J Internal/Tension/Rational Handicap: Woe/Flaw External Obstacle Internal or External Quest
Q Rational Monster
K Rational Monster and Draw again

Completely Random Event Table

If the Ref isn’t running a Plot (or you don’t want to play the sort of cards normally allowed in the Scene) then this table governs where you go next.

Random Event Table
Card Face Value Event
Ace Hook
2 Ordeal
3 Gain
4 Revelation
5 Red card Weft Black card Warp
6 Gain
7 Ordeal
8 Weft (any Suit)
9 Revelation
10 Revelation
Jack Warp (any suit)
Queen Sub-plot Hook
King Finale + Completion


Hooks are used in Frame Act Dæmons to to draw a character into the Plot (and explain the setting).
They target an aspect of the Character to try and draw them in, or offer something the character wants, often the aspect of the Character may be to do with the Conflict (being one of the Facets) (or may go on to inform you what the Conflict may be). Often a Hook will reveal to a Ref what sort of Character the Antagonist should be (to create a suitable hook for that aspect of the Character).

Card Character Aspect
A-3 Geometry
4-6 Personality
7-8 Core
9-10 Facet specific (or Random) Handicap<
J Largest Handicap
Q-K I-Ching


Card Value Result
Ace Action: The Story opens with Action (A Warp or Ordeal)
2 Conversation: The story opens with dialogue you’ll want a Character (Chorus Extra usually) to do the talking and you might want a Revelation to talk about…
3 Tone setter: The story opens with a powerful tone setting scene.
4 Mistake: The story hooks the character with an apparent mistake. A misdelivered parcel, or message, or some other confusion. Often opens a comedy.
5 Temptation: Offer a Gain to the Character to Hook them.
6 Call to action. Something happens that should draw the character into an Ordeal. Perhaps someone steals something and runs.
7 Warp speed ahead: The Hook is a Warp.
8 Slow start: The Hook is a Weft.
9 Finish: The Hook is a Completion of a previous related story
10 Help! : The Hook is a direct call to action. Someone (an Ally / a Friend / a Dependant / or just an Extra) requires help.
J Unexpected Visitor: A Gain and a Revelation
Q Threat: Tell the Character of a coming Danger.
K Danger: Hook the Character with direct danger.


A gain means that the Character gains something. Gains usually pay out any stored Sway (as they are usually scenes) as Proficiencies, Annexes, Descendants or removing Handicaps.

Gain Table
Card Value Spades ♠ Hearts ♥ Clubs ♣ Diamonds ♦
Ace Super-Skill Training Powerful Ally Super-Skill Descendant Super-Skill Treasure (or Chi/Yarn)
2 Proficiency Training Contact address or name Damaged (Handicapped) Descendant A shiny coin (Payout Yin/Yang/Chi)
3 Skill Training Nuisance Ally (a pet) Skill Descendant Cash prizes (Chi)
4 Skill Training Chorus Ally (A friend) Skill Descendant Piles of Cash (Chi)
5 Talent Training Chorus Ally (Good friend) Talent Descendant Suitcase of cash (Chi/Yarn)
6 Power Training Nuisance Allies 2-12 (Dog-pack) Power Descendant Gold and Gems (Chi/Yarn)
7 Increase Facet Boon Chorus Allies 2-7 (friends) Power Descendant Suitcase full of Diamonds (Yarn)
8 Increase Scale Chorus Allies 2-12 (good friends) Trophy Skill Descendant Lottery win (Yarn)
9 Resolved Handicap / Past-life / Alternate Grunt NPC Ally/Romance Trophy Talent/Power Descendant Treasure Trove (Yarn)
10 Location Mercari NPC Ally/Romance Monolith Descendant Mystical energy (Yarn)
J Real Estate Force of Nature Ally Monolith Descendant Mystic and Temporal power (Yarn)
Q Province Solo NPC Ally/Romance Artefact Descendant Arcane power (Yarn)
K Dark Territory Monster (Mercari/Solo/FoN) Ally Dark Matter Descendant Ultimate power (Yarn)


Warps work the Conflict, negatively affecting the Character.
Warps are divided into three parts

  1. The Ends: Each Character has an End that they seek, their goal for the Scene. Usually Players worry about their Character’s Ends, but the Warp Dæmon will note suitable NPC Ends. Ends are usually phrased as Quests, but Plots can be more subtle than that if you want. If assigning randomly then use the card’s suit to decide the Facet of the Quest (as well as some narrative sense).
  2. The Fray: That which works the Conflict, the Fray is what keeps the Characters from their Ends, it can be one of the following:
    1. A Test — the simplest of Tests might be a single roll on a Facet or Annex. It might be used to spot a clue, open a door, buy a meal, or lift a box. Tests are a simple pass/fail and so should be used sparingly.
    2. An Ordeal — a more complex Test, where multiple things are tried. It might be used to Craft an item, Raise cash, Pick a lock or Hack a computer. Most Frays are an Ordeal of some sort.
      1. A Motional Ordeal — A journey or trip, you might get lost, or be late, or fall to your death, depending on the stakes. And are you going alone, chasing someone else or fleeing for your life?
      2. A Fight — If you are involved in a fight it is usually against the opposite embodiment. They might capture you, or flee the fight, but the chances are at least one of you will be injured a bit. Fights don’t have to be deadly combat though, debates, arguments and even many games are simply lower stakes Fights.
    3. A Quest — At its simplest, the Fray is always a Quest, usually the one they have selected as their End. The Quest is the combination of a number of Ordeals, or Tests, that often will include a motional Ordeal or a Fight. Quests can be entire stories, or just a quick search of a room.
    Card Fray Result
    2 Facet Test
    3-4 Simple (One Stage Solitary) Ordeal
    5-7 Complex (Multi-stage / Opposed) Ordeal
    8-9 Motional Ordeal
    10-J Fight (Combat Ordeal)
    Q-A Quest (Series of Tests / Ordeals )
  3. The Snag: The complication that follows the Fray. If the Fray was won then some new situation complicates matters, if the Fray was lost then there is usually an already obvious Snag. The point of the Snag is always to stop the Depressed side from achieving their Ends, or making that End worthless once it has been achieved.
Card Snag Result
A Accident: Draw 3 Ordeal cards and randomly apply 1 to the Depressed Embodiment Character (or their equipment).
2 Opposition makes a Gain (see table)
3 Opposition has a Revelation (see table)
4 Betrayal: Character believes they are betrayed (and perhaps they are).
5 Traitor: An Ally joins the Opposed side
6 Moved The Goalposts: Although the Characters achieved whatever was required, it is no longer enough. Changes to orders, Rule changes, Late entries, Disqualifications, Re-enforcements, all are possibilities, and more.
7 Framed: The Character is accused of something they did not do.
8 Rescuers: an Ally goes missing and needs saving.
9 Loss of trust: An Ally turns against you.
10 Pyrrhic Victory: Might have been better to have lost, as the cost is so great.
J Sabotage: Character’s plans are disrupted or equipment stolen/destroyed.
Q Stealing the Limelight: Someone else takes credit for the Character’s win.
K Strange Bedfellows: an Additional Facet Embodiment appears making the other two embodiments have to work together. This could be a separate Facet or just another, stronger Embodiment of the Dominant side, such as a Guard and a Gladiator having to fight a Dragon.


The Wefts allow some working of the Conflict by balancing the Warps. Wefts are also broken into 3 parts.

  1. Recoiling: Whatever has just happened, the Characters need to adjust to it. The Plot should note the Recoils of the NPCs, noting that all Characters should have an emotional reaction, then an instinctive reaction, before they finally get to a rational reaction. Refs should allow Players to handle and have time to express their reactions, but can plan the NPCs Recoils. Recoils can best be thought of as an example of a Psychology Test. It should be obvious whether the recoil should be positive or negative and whether it should be 1,2, or 3 card Tests.
  2. Sweeping:  Helps balance the terrible effects of the last (or next) Warp by granting some aid to the Depressed side of the conflict (usually the Player Characters). A Diamond will grant a Gain, a Spade grants a Revelation, Hearts and Clubs should consult the table.
    Card Sweeping Result
    A Rest: The Character finds somewhere safe to rest and heal up.
    2 Helped: The Character is helped by a potential Ally (a Hearts Gain).
    3 Reward: Character gets a Gain (see Table)
    4 Truth will out: A lie is revealed, as the truth comes out.
    5 Dream: Character has a strange dream or nightmare, while resting. There is a slim chance (5% or so) it may be a Revelation
    6 Character gets a Revelation (see Table)
    7 Opposite Warp: something bad happens to the Character’s enemy.
    8 Comic Relief: Lose some tension
    9 Hide: the Character hides and works in secret.
    10 Travel: The Character travels to another Location (Motional Ordeal).
    J Opportunity: The Character has a chance to strike back at the enemy (Ordeal/Fight)
    Q Discovery: a Gain and a Revelation together.
    K Montage: Rest, Heal up, and make a Gain, while the Enemy has a Warp
  3. Picking: Now the Weft must present the Characters with a choice or dilemma. It is normal to make both choices equally terrible (or perhaps good), but sometimes there may be an obvious better choice. Picking between choices is an important part of the experience for players, and the choices should be important. Examples of Picks that the Weft may have can include:
    • An ethical dilemma.
    • A catch-22 where no matter what they do the same result occurs.
    • Enemy make a gain or a revelation
    • Choose between two things that must be sacrificed
    • Two Allies will not work together, choose which one is lost.
    • Behind the first door is Fiery Death, behind the second Certain Doom.
    • Choose which of two Warps comes next.
    • Or mix and match…


Whenever the Character’s find something out it is a Revelation. In some ways the Revelation is related to the Wyrd Tarot Clue card (Red 5). Although the Clue is only a hint and the Revelation is a powerful part of the Story.
First off a revelation event usually reveals an important fact along with some minor facts.

Revelations are tricky things to just drop into the plot, but here are some suggestions.
First use at least two cards to decide what information is being shared if you don’t know already. A Full revelation scene (such as the last scene of the Frame) will usually reveal more than one fact (as many as you want really but three (6 cards) is usually enough, smaller revelations that occur within other scenes tend to be more focused.

Information about…

Suit Result
Spades ♠ Opposed Embodiment (Antagonist Info)
Hearts ♥ Setting (Background Info)
Clubs ♣ Conflict / Plot / The Plan
Diamonds ♦ Self-awareness / Own Embodiment (Protagonist Info)

Specifically information about…

Card Result
A An Annex a functional detail
2 Facet (High) a specific detail
3 Handicap (Highest) a Weakness
4 Personality a cultural detail
5 Core an Ecological detail
6 Incarna a Fundamental detail
7 I-Ching (or Annex) a nuance or fine detail
8 Descendant a piece of common knowledge
9 Location a geographical detail
10 Annex Umbral a minor weakness
J An Event / Obstacle Time/ a historical detail
Q Geometry a True Name or important fact
K 2 of The Above

And a card (or the first if PCs or Refs already know what info was being shared) decides how the information is revealed.

Card Spades ♠ Hearts ♥ Clubs ♣ Diamonds ♦
A-2 Scent Riddle / Puzzle Accounts / Advertisement Informant
3-4 Flashback / Vision Red Herring Gossip / Rumour An easily overlooked detail
5-6 Deduction Joke Loud noise / Yell / Complaint Data
7-8 Residue Dream / Nightmare Defensive Wounds / Bullet holes Book, magazine
9-10 Argument Blood / DNA Deceit Broadcast (e.g.News)
J-Q Communication Obvious Clue Coincidence Faith
K Subtle Clue Hallucination Intuition Conversation

Of course you can get clever and have Odd cards signify false information, and Evens Truths, or even draw twice for a very complicated clue (e.g. A bullet hole in a book, or a coincidentally overheard conversation) or provide different facts on different information vectors.


Finales are a specific Ordeal at the start of a Zenith. They are the big battle or Denouement.
The finale determines the Completion Event that is available.


Completion Events follow the Finale and are when you work out the Conflict Resolution that has Occurred.

You cannot decide the Completion event with card play, because it depends on the Conflict, and how it has resolved.

Resolution Type Example Payout Plot Rank
Revolution Dominant defeated by Oppressed. The Happy Hollywood Ending, where the Bad Guy is imprisoned or dead, and the Oppressed are now Dominant Yes +0
Revelation And I would have got away with it too… Dominant revealed by/to Oppressed. Yes +0
Rejection The PCs ride off ignoring the threat No +1
Reversion The detective fails to catch the murderer. Who may kill again… The Dominant side wins. No +1
Revocation Everything is back the same at the end of the episode… Half +0
Reconciliation After the war there was a negotiated treaty that did nothing to resolve the problems Yes -1
Resolution The Marriage of Opposites. Quite rare in most Stories, but this is often the ending of Romance Tension sub-plots, the two sides of the Conflict are reconciled completely and the Conflict is resolved. Yes Defeated


You can find details on the Ordeals in the Card Ordeals page.


Ordeals have stakes, the table can create low,medium,high and blended stake Ordeals. Blended Ordeals might include: a running gun battle (High), across town in cars (medium), while trying to remember a phone number(low)… For example.

Stakes Card Drawn
Low Stakes 2 5 8 J Q A
Medium Stakes 3 6 9 Q K A
High Stakes 4 7 10 J K A
Number Stages* 1 2 3 4 5 6

*Refs these are suggestions only

Suit Ordeal
Spades ♠ Opposed Ordeal with a fight Obstacles
Hearts ♥ Solitary Ordeal
Clubs ♣ Opposed Ordeal with Obstacles
Diamonds ♦ Solitary Ordeal with Obstacle


Motional Ordeals are special types of Opposed Ordeals that you might want to use. You can use a single card to show what sort of Motional Ordeal you are dealing with. While they are described as Races, Dashes and so on, you can use them to model a variety of types of Ordeal, from Scientists working on problems at separate Laboratories, to a Novelist taking part in NanoWriMo…

Suit Motion type Description
Hearts. ♥ Dash Characters try to complete each stage as quickly as possible.
Diamonds. ♦ Chase Characters try to catch the Foes (who may be ahead a stage or two)
Clubs. ♣ Flee Foes chase the Characters (who are rarely ahead a stage)
Spades. ♠ Race Characters and Foes race to a goal
Card Type
A-5 Vehicles (motor vehicle or multiple beast pulled), Descendants may add to the stage difficulty
6-9 Riding (bike or beast), Descendants or Allies may add to the stage difficulty
10-K. Foot (no vehicle), only Annexes and Facets may play cards towards stage difficulty
Card Description
3,6&Q Air: Flying, rooftop running, swinging on vines,etc, or Intellectual stages
2,4,8&10 Earth: Ground running, Street, Road, etc, or Economic or physical stages
5,7&J Water: Mud or water, swimming, sliding, etc, or Emotional or creative stages
A,9&K Fire: Dangerous environment, Desert, Minefield, Battlefield, or Passionate, destructive, or purification stages*

*Increase Stake a level if necessary, add a card (or more if very dangerous) to act as a Wound for mistakes and failures.


Obstacles are usually dealt with during Ordeal Stunts(although any stage may have them), they come in many types and flavours, as you can see. If you are using this table you will have to add an extra Ordeal card in the Ordeal, and follow the rules for Obstacles there. Obstacles are easily created by Solos during Ordeals.

Value Spades ♠ Trap Result Clubs ♣ Environment Result
A Spear trap Chasm
2 Projectile Trap Slippery Floor
3 Poison on the Door Handle Sticky Floor
4 Pit Trap Hot/Cold Area
5 Poison Gas Trap Bad air/smell
6 Blade trap Rapids
7 Dead-fall trap (brick on the head trap) Loose Rocks
8 Spell trap Low Visibility
9 Crushing walls trap Narrow Ledge
10 Liquid trap Tight Squeeze
J Combined Obstacle Trap (draw twice treat one as a spade) Climb
Q Beast trap Weather (Chorus)
K Giant rolling ball trap Natural Disaster (Force of Nature)
Value Diamond ♦ Blockage Result Hearts ♥ Character Obstacle
A A locked door Specific Character Handicap (Arachnophobia? Spiders!)
2 A stuck door Ethical Dilemma
3 A secret door Shopping
4 A Maze Nightmare
5 Barricade Fake-out: An obvious trap that isn’t live anymore.
6 Gauntlet Yuk! Something disgusting like wading through vomit
7 Guardian Beast Contest. Eating, drinking, riddle…
8 Steam Vent Harmless Prank
9 Flooded Passage Pleasure Dome:I would save the pretty ladies if it wasn’t for all the pretty ladies
10 Dead End Prove your worth: A test of honour
J A difficult choice: Draw two obstacles for the branches Lie for all your worth: Pretend to be something you’re not
Q Puzzle Lock Anima: One of the Characters encounters their inner female side
K Guarded Door Animus: One of the Characters encounters their inner male side

Again these are more for flavour and inspiration. Refs can and should choose Obstacles to make sense in their world instead.


A fight is a special type of Opposed Ordeal, where… Well you can probably work this one out.
Low stakes fights are Training or sparring sessions, or perhaps debates where there is little chance of anyone being hurt, Medium stakes fights are duels or competitions, few people die but it is possible, High stakes fights are generally to the death. These tables are mainly for defining the foes in the fight if they aren’t obvious. Fights can take place in single locations, or during a Motional Ordeal.

Suit Stakes
Hearts ♥ Low
Diamonds ♦ Medium
Clubs ♣ Medium/High (Refs choice)
Spades ♠ High

In most genres you should feel free to try and kill at least one member of the party every Story (although your Plot Dæmons will probably want to take them alive in the end [changing that Dead Handicap to a Captured one perhaps], unless they are actually unimportant to the larger Plot [if losing them from the plot wouldn’t alter the amount of Yarn that it would have and they are not pivotal to the Conflict]). Most Stories raise the Stakes as the story goes on. Early in the story Ordeals tend to low Stakes, by the Zenith of a Story High stakes should be the norm.

Value Result
A Ambushed: Attacked (usually be a weaker force) with a tactical advantage to wound (or kill) then vanish.
2 A Fright: A weaker / smaller force (usually Nuisance or Chorus) that attacks and then flees.
3 3 Way: A three way fight between roughly equal forces
4 Hold: Hold against an effectively unlimited force of weaker or roughly equivalent opponents for a certain amount of time (until reinforcements arrive or whatever)
5 Minor Guardian: A bear or werewolf. A combat against a single opponent with abilities comparable to a PC.
6 Major Guardian: A were-bear, Griffon, wolf pack. Combat against a superior single “Monster” opponent, a group of equivalent, or a large group of weaker opponents
7 Greater Guardian: A dragon, Sphinx, Demon etc. Combat against a “Monster” opponent equal in power to the whole party or a group each equivalent to the best of the party.
8 Battle – Gang: Fight a group of ‘Chorus’ Extras or lower power NPCs who outnumber the Players 3-1 or more
9 Battle – Thugs: A battle against NPCs who equal the PCs in number and power (roughly)
10 Battle – Henchmen: A battle against NPCs that are at least equivalent to PCs and are greater in numbers
J Knave- Fight against a single NPC (often a Monster) equivalent to at least two PCs.
Q Femme Fatale / Bad Boy: Seductive and dangerous, the Femme Fatale or Bad Boy is at least the equal of the PCs (and often a Monster), but who will avoid direct conflict, singling out targets where possible.
K Knave &… An NPC (often a Monster) equal to at least two PCs accompanied by… (add another card)

Remember that Referees can use plot demons and Wyrd tarot cards to throw an event in if they want to. Solos and Plot Demons will throw events at the PCs to try and keep things on track (and Solo PCs will throw them at your NPCs all the time too!)