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Dev Blog : Major Arcana

Hello again! In this weeks dev blog we’re sharing some of the information surrounding the dark mystery of the tarot and the representation of tarot cards in the game!

There are many elements in play with Martha’s story, from the tragic murder and following investigation and the oppressive presence of war, to the mysticism around dark arts and age old folklore, with the shattering impact this all has on the family and those around them.

Before we dive into the cards themselves, let’s have a little history lesson on the origin of tarot, and why it fits with Marthas authentic Italian themes.

The History of Tarot

Tarot decks were invented in Italy in the 1430s by adding to the existing four-suited pack a fifth suit of 21 specially illustrated cards called trionfi (“triumphs”) and an odd card called il matto (“the fool”).
these early tarot cards—tarocchi cards, in Italian—had suits, trump cards, and even pips.

The widespread use of tarot cards for divination only took off in the late 1700s, when Frenchman Jean-Baptise Alliette published the first definitive guide to tarot card reading.
Pseudonymed Etteilla, he wrote a guide to using the cards and released his own deck alongside it. He gave meaning to each of the cards, incorporating beliefs about astronomy and the four elements. He claimed to have borrowed heavily from the Book of Thoth, an Egyptian text supposedly written by Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom.

The Tarot Cards In Martha

Fancy your hand at being a Tarot reader? As you progress through the game the player will come across the Tarot cards and be able to use them once per in game day.
The player will choose 3 of them at random each day and then a set reading based on the results is given, hinting to things that have happened in the past, that may happen in the future, or potentially even evoking spirits and communicating with them.

Each card has two different meanings, depending on how the image appears when the card is turned over: upright or reversed.

In the first case the card normally has a positive meaning, in the second case a negative one (in some cases, which will be specified, the opposite is true).

The meaning of each card is also profoundly influenced by the other cards that accompany it. For this reason the interpretation of the tarot is neither easy, immediate nor unambiguous.
Let us analyse each card with its possible and contrasting meanings.


The Fool

It represents an individual who is about to face something new.

It encourages one to face life lightly, without fearing what will come and without giving weight to the judgement of others.

Indicates insecurity and depression, a preamble to bad results.

The Magician

Represents energy.

Indicates an important encounter in love or friendship and the ability to get what you want.

The end of a relationship, difficulties in friendships or work.
Indicates deception, seduction leading to mistakes.

The High Priestess

Represents feminine knowledge, endowed with great spiritual power.

Indicates a female person who will help with the wisdom of her advice.

Announces clashes with the males.
May indicate a period when one faces life passively, suffering problems rather than facing them.

The Empress

It represents love and prosperity.

Successful completion of an undertaking, happiness and stability.
Could indicate a close engagement or marriage.
Represents a practical, strong, successful person.

Betrayal and gossip. Could represent the approaching end of a relationship.
Represents a superficial and unreliable person as they lack feelings.

The Emperor

Represents a man of power, material power as opposed to the The High Priestess.

Great experience, ability to control oneself and influence others.

Powerful, selfishness.

The Hierophant

Represents spiritual strength.

Ability to teach others, may indicate that the person is protected by a higher good.

Inability to take responsibility.

The Lovers

Represent a contrast between good and evil, between vices and virtues.
It normally concerns the emotional and love sphere.

Heralds an active and satisfying social life as well as a positive love life.

Dangerous temptations lead to negative consequences in the emotional and sentimental sphere. Consequences that can only be resolved through suffering.

The Chariot

Represents the victory that can be achieved through self-discipline and commitment.

Success is on the way, you can overcome some difficult moments.

Difficulty in getting what you want, failure.
Difficulty in making decisions and loss of control


Represents two opposing forces.

Ability to master one’s instincts, self-control.
Problems will be solved with determination.

Dominance of insecurity and brutal force.
Aggression and violence undermine relationships with others.

The Hermit

Represents wisdom and thoughtfulness

Invites reflection, patience and making decisions on one’s own.
Indicates capacity for reflection and prudence.

Indicates regression or loss.
It may represent an inability to make decisions for oneself, but also a situation of excessive isolation.

Wheels of Fortune

Represents destiny

Luck is on us side. There will be positive changes.

Fate is adverse and will put us to the test.
There may be negative changes.


Represents balance and the consequences of actions.

We can get what we deserve, be successful.
Indicates an impartial, honest and moral person.

Our actions will not take us where we want to go.
Major quarrels and possible relationship breakdowns.

The Hanged Man

It represents sacrifice and its acceptance. Very ambiguous card.

There are important changes in sight. It indicates rebirth to a new life.

Many doubts are the preamble to difficult times.
May represent unrequited love.


It represents the inevitable end, destruction and subsequent regeneration.

We end something that will bring something better. We overcome something that was not right. It is necessary to destroy something in order to build something better.

Something ends that leaves a great void and brings suffering, despair. You go through a difficult period to overcome.


Represents harmony.

Harmony and balance help to avoid mistakes and accompany us towards serenity.

We lack the right balance and harmony to face life’s challenges.

The Devil

Represents the vices that imprison the human being.

Positive (if drawn upside down)
Negative values are mitigated. May represent the ability to be master of one’s own destiny and to influence others. Magnetic force.

Negative (if drawn upright)
Laziness, fear of responsibility, weakness.
Announces external, but also internal obstacles that are the incarnations of our fears.

The Tower

Represents a sudden and shocking change.

For the strong ones, there is an opportunity to overturn the destiny, to be able to pursue great goals.

A mental breakdown or physical accident from which it is very difficult to recover.
Psychological distress and physical suffering.

The Star

It represents the ideals to which we must aspire.

Favourable events and possibilities that must be grasped and that will bring us happiness.

Bad luck, contrary fate and difficulty in pursuing our goals.

The Moon

It represents illusion and night. A light that does not make you see things clearly.

Positive (if drawn backwards)
One needs to see things beyond their outward appearance.
Represents a naive, dreamy and creative person.

Negative (if drawn upright)
Reality is only apparently serene, but hides much negativity.
It indicates a materialistic and false person who moves in the shadows without ever showing his true nature.

The Sun

It represents victory, success and, in general, joyful events in life.

The undertakings we are carrying out and our projects will be successful.
May indicate deep regeneration and happiness.

The rays of the sun are dazzling reality and creating illusions.
We are also in the dark in our relationships with others. Deep misunderstandings will not have positive consequences.


It represents consciousness and the possibility of a new beginning.

Positive and unexpected surprises.
Indicates a patient and eccentric person.

The impossibility of changing what we don’t like makes us suffer and leads to great disappointment.

The World

It represents joy, beauty and prosperity.

Success, positive conclusion of a project or path.

Failure to complete a project or path that we thought was within our reach.


For more information on Martha Is Dead, be sure to wishlist the game on Steam, join our Discord and follow our socials!

We can’t wait to see what the cards hold for you on Feb 24th…

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