Cards of Power
Ancient Artifact, Cards of Power are small, rigid pieces of paper or cardboard which possess paranormal or magical powers. The abilities they possess vary widely from one narrative to another. In some works, they can summon creatures or monsters. In others, they are used to cast spells or as a Transformation Trinket. They are also often tarot cards and may use Tarot Motifs. A Sub-Trope is Ofuda, a Shinto talisman of protection. Compare Death Dealer, when the cards are used as physical weapons. For a version specific to video games, see Fight Like A Card Player.
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Anime & Manga
- Cardfight!! Vanguard: The cards allow access to another realm from which you can summon the monsters/characters (though you also need a special ability to use the cards in this way).
- The Clow cards in Cardcaptor Sakura contain magical spirits and each card allows the main character to have access to various types of powers such as Playing with Fire or Making a Splash. Arguably are one of the Trope Codifiers due the series popularity and memorability.
- Hitomi Kanzaki from The Vision of Escaflowne uses Tarot cards for what she thinks is ordinary fortune-telling. However, while she is on Gaea, her psychic talent actually creates the future she foretells.
- Fairy Tail: Cana is capable of using her cards to create magical explosions, water geysers, scantily-dressed women and at least once uses them to put a person to sleep. She usually throws them like shurikens but can also imprison people inside them.
- Mahou Sensei Negima!: When a mage and his partner form a Pactio, the partner receives a card that allows them to summon a powerful artifact, such as Asuna's fan/sword and Nodoka's magic diary.
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: Naturally, for an anime based on a card-fighting game. In that world, cards played summon a monster in a field that fights the opponent's creature. Most of the time, they're just big holograms; sometimes, though, they're all too real.
- Digimon Tamers: A drawing of a Digimon created by Takato went through a card swiper, causing the Digimon portrayed, Guilmon, to become real. Any other tamer could power up his digimon by swiping a card in his digivice.
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, Chrono eventually gets a Storage Device Durandal, that has a card form when on standby.
- In Bleach, one minor Bount villain could summon traps from a distance using what looking suspiciously like a Trading Card Game.
- Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA: The Class Cards can be included to a transform it into a Noble Phantasm, a weapon corresponding to the Heroic Spirit the card is based off of, or installed, temporarily granting the user access to the Heroic Spirit's abilities instead.
- Lucifer: The Basanos; a magical set of tarot cards with the power of prophecy (amongst other things), created by the angel Meleos. Not merely magical, but also sentient. The Basanos also have a few more Arcana than a standard Tarot deck, including several cards representing major angels such as Lucifer (as The Lightbringer, not The Devil).
- In Roger Zelazny's The Chronicles of Amber novels, the royalty of Amber uses Tarot cards for communication and teleportation.
- Warhammer 40,000 works such as The Last Chancers and Ciaphas Cain often make mention of the Emperor's Tarot, a special tarot deck used by psychically-attuned Imperial agents believed to have genuine precognitive powers thanks to a link with the God-Emperor himself. In Ian Watson's Inquisition War trilogy we see how it works - each card is a screen featuring images that alter based on the one using them and the situation. When Draco does a reading in Inquisitor, the Daemon card took the form of a Hydra and the Harlequin card took that of Zephro Carnelian.
- In the novel The Greater Trumps by Charles Williams (obscure Inkling and friend of C. S. Lewis), the original Tarot deck can be used to control the elements (with the suit cards) and has even more profound, if obscure, powers in the trump cards.
Live Action TV
- In three separate Kamen Rider series (Kamen Rider Ryuki, Kamen Rider Blade and Kamen Rider Decade), cards are used to give the heroes weapons. In the case of the last one, the hero also inserts a card into his transforming belt in order to Henshin. Kamen Rider Dragon Knight, being an adaptation of Ryuki, also qualifies.
- Tensou Sentai Goseiger has the heroes insert cards into their Tensouder to cast spells, as does its counterpart Power Rangers Megaforce.
- In Kamen Rider X Super Sentai Superhero Taisen, the Goseigers even loan some of their cards to the card-based Kamen Riders.
- In Bar Karma, the magic card deck shows three possible outcomes or "timelines" for its patrons, who wandered into the bar mysteriously, because their decisions will dictate the direction of their destiny. In most cases, many lives will be at stake in order for a patron to be drawn into the bar.
- The front cover of the Blue Oyster Cult's Agents of Fortune album shows a sinister Dealer spraying out Cards of Power.
The flash of his cards was sprayed with red!
- Their earlier song Hot Rails To Hell is variably about a card game resulting in murder and mayhem, or else Cards Of Power dragging a gambler down to Hell.
- Dungeons & Dragons.
- The Deck of Many Things. Beneficial cards in the deck could grant the person drawing them great wealth, magic items, high social position or even Wishes. A baneful card could strip away wealth, cause a powerful demon or devil to hate the character or even cause the person who drew it to be instantly and irrevocably killed.
- Deck of Illusions: throwing down a card will create an illusionary monster, with a different monster for each card.
- Deck of Fortune Telling from the Ravenloft setting. When someone pulls a card out of the deck it will tell that person's future.
- Quarter Deck: When a card is drawn and shown to an opponent, the opponent may surrender.
- Sun Deck: Any card drawn from the deck will give off a bright light.
- Tarot Deck of Many Things: Like the regular Deck of Many Things but with a Tarot motif. The cards have beneficial or negative effects depending on whether they're right side up or upside down when drawn.
- Module X2 Castle Amber. In one room, the PCs can turn over special cards from a Tarot deck. Each card has a specific magical effect on the person who turns it over, such as The Moon (going insane), Death (make a Saving Throw or die), or The Fool (Feeblemind spell cast on character).
- Deadlands: Hucksters are The Weird West equivalent of mages; their 'spells' are based around poker hands, in keeping with the significance of poker cards and hands throughout the game rules.
- North Pole Publications' The Serpent Islands (a generic RPG adventure) had Ardol's Gateway Deck. These enchanted tarot-like plaques depicted various people or places. Intently gazing at the picture of a place would teleport the gazer to that place. Gazing at the picture of a person would open a Gate between the user and that person. Passage through the Gate was possible only with the permission of the person depicted.
- Magnus from the Baten Kaitos series are cards that are used to store the essence of objects within them. This allows characters to carry otherwise impractically heavy or cumbersome things and occasionally even intangible objects like "good times" or "chronic fatigue." These cards also form the basis of the game's battle system.
- The early Persona games had monsters summoned from cards... though Persona 3 seems to favor pseudo-suicide as a method of demon-summon. For some reason Tarot-cards and related motifs are still hanging around in the more recent games, and influence what monsters you can create through fusion, among other things, but there's no indication that those cards are actual physical objects, rather than just a fanciful way of showing your progress with the various Links...
- Persona 4 they are back to using cards, which the characters attack to summon their Personas. Yuu/MC crushes it in his hand, Chie kicks the card, etc.
- Triple Triad cards from Final Fantasy VIII can be magically turned into magic items and spells. Monsters drop them, and you can polymorph a critter to a card bearing its likeness. The most common use for these miraculous cards, however, is playing the collectible card game of the same name.
- Dungeon Crawl plays this straight: One item type is magical card decks with different themes such as destruction or escape.
- Super Paper Mario has Catch Cards, one of several categories of collectibles for 100% Completion. These can be collected either by finding them in certain shops or as treasure, or by throwing a blank card at an enemy and hoping it transforms into that enemy's likeness. The more copies of a particular enemy's card you own, the more damage you'll do against it.
- Twisted Fate in League of Legends fights with magical cards. And talks like a Southern poker player.
- Touhou makes use of Ofuda as per Japanese tradition, but the premise of the games fits more with this general trope. In Gensokyo, humans and youkai have agreed to settle disputes with non-lethal duels, using Spell Cards to create dazzling displays of danmaku for their opponent to deal with. Thus everyone maintains a healthy antagonism without anyone dying, youkai get a fair fight without having to worry about killing the Miko necessary for Gensokyo's continued existence, and spectators get one hell of a show.
- Homestuck. The Midnight Crew's have playing cards that become weapons (and vice versa).
- Jackie Chan Adventures used Japanese Hanafuda as scrying tools in its last season.