There’s something undeniably attractive about magical schools, as evidenced by the trove of books, anime and other experiences set in mystical academies - we even maintain a list of the best magic school tabletop RPGs. Upcoming title The Covens of Midnight taps into that collective charm with a solo RPG that uses a deck of tarot cards to guide players through their arcane studies and introspective growth.
Designed by Crossed Paths Press, creators of Brambletrek, The Covens of Midnight sends players to the magical world of Akeroth as students enrolled in The Midnight Court. Here, they will hobknob for three semesters with other students bearing latent magical talent, but not everyone boasts a connection to a mysterious and powerful Paragon. This choice between entities such as The Archfey, Morrah, The Great Old One, nature spirit Hal-Yun and others will determine the student’s class and indelibly shape their time within the school.
Using the included tarot deck (beautifully illustrated by Marta Kowalczewska, better known as mal-vva), players attend their various lessons, construct powerful artefacts and spar with their fellow students and rivals. The cards can be interpreted in many ways, as befitting tarot’s inherent urge towards introspection, and will prompt players to dig deep to narrate victories, defeats, insightful discoveries and moments of vulnerability.
Along with card-drawing, the chunk of The Covens of Midnight’s gameplay revolves around journaling the daily happenings within The Midnight Court - whether that focuses on academic studies or social life is wholly up to the player. The designer said in a press release that this aspect should be “therapeutic and [...] personally meaningful”, and the solo play nature should encourage thoughtful consideration of how choices echo throughout the character’s life and alter their future in surprising but fitting ripples.
The Covens of Midnight can be purchased with an accompanying tarot deck illustrated by Kowalczewska, but any standard tarot will work perfectly fine. The art style is evocative of the character and event cards used in the 2014 video game RPG Dragon Age: Inquisition, combining elements of dark fantasy, dramatic portraiture and symbolism while also leaving plenty of room for a player’s own interpretation of the world and their burgeoning student’s place within.
The Backerkit campaign for The Covens of Midnight launches on January 16th and seeks funding for a physical rulebook print run alongside the themed tarot deck (both can be purchased separately, according to the designer). The core book will include a separate guide for interpreting tarot for those new to the practice, which can then be directly applied to the RPG’s narrative campaign play.