There are two pieces of equipment that have a very similar description but different uses. The Harrow deck and the fortune teller's deck.

Harrow Deck: Price 100 gp; Weight —

This is a traditional fortune-telling deck of cards used by soothsayers and seers. Some harrow decks are elaborately illustrated, but most are parchment or paper cards with hand-painted images. Harrow decks are often handed down through generations and treated with utmost care by their users as a result.

The Harrow Deck description even states that it is a kind of fortune teller's deck. Bolding is mine.

Fortune-Teller's Deck: Price common 1gp, quality 25gp, masterwork 50gp;

This deck of illustrated cards is used by those in tune with the spirit world to predict the future—and by charlatans to take money from gullible or desperate people. A common deck only has simple drawings on parchment scraps or simple wooden plaques. A quality fortune-teller's deck is usually of quality wooden plaques with painted color images; it is suitable as a focus for the augury spell, and provides a +1 circumstance bonus on Profession (fortune-teller), Profession (medium), and similar Profession checks. A masterwork fortune-teller's deck may be wood, ivory, or even metal, with painted or carved images and often highlighted with gold inlays or tiny gems; it has all the benefits of a quality deck, except it provides a +2 circumstance bonus on the listed skill checks.

If we assume that a deck of harrow cards IS a fortune teller's deck, would it provide a bonus on skills as a quality or masterwork fortune teller's deck? It's cost is double that of a masterwork one.

Or would you, when playing a varisian harrower or con artist need both, a harrow deck and a masterwork fortune teller's deck to gain the benefits and stay true to your ancestors?


2 Answers 2


An important factor to take into consideration is that these two items come from different books (Advanced Player Guide for the fortune-teller deck and Ultimate Equipment for the harrow deck). It means that when the fortune-teller deck was published the harrow deck didn't exist yet.

As it is clearly stated that harrow deck is indeed a fortune-telling one there is no reason to make people unable to use them for fortune-telling stuff.

Considering the bonus it gives there are three possible interpretations of the rules:

  • As there is no explicit reference to the ruletext of the fortune-teller deck, you don't get any bonus. Personally I don't like this interpretation but on a RAW point of view it makes sense.

  • As the item is stated to be a fortune-telling deck you get a +1, but not a +2 since it is never stated that it is masterwork. You could get a masterwork harrow deck which would be more expensive and this one could give a +2.

  • The item should be masterwork even if it is not stated and thus give a +2. This interpretation is the less supported by the RAW but seems fair.


Given its description, it is a kind of Fortune-Teller's Deck indeed, and, while not stated directly, it also is of excellent quality or history. So using it as fortune telling deck when no call for specific deck is made is allowed. I would also* give it masterwork benefits, because even if it's not elaborately painted, the work that matters in magical tools is far beyond looks. Plus, it makes sense given the prices.

I wouldn't give* any bonuses above masterwork Fortune-Teller's Deck, because I don't know if other rules would work with it properly, and there is only so much you should be able to get without actual magic items, features etc.

* These are my interpretations. No actual rules says you get any quality bonus at all. This is up to your GM.


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