You decide that the best starting point is to clarify the things you remember.
“The system my father taught me about, er, I remember that four was important.”
“It’s important in a lot of them. The original system goes back to the days of the Aedran Empire, when there were only twelve cards for each suit. There was no Scholar; they were added after the revolution, since the scholars were so central to it. At first they wanted the Scholar to just outright replace the Emperor card, but as new kingdoms rose from Aedra’s ashes, the Monarch card gained in favor. There’s some dispute about whether there were thirteen cards to begin with and the Aedrans took one out because of their worship of the number four, or if that was just a story told to make the additional card sound more revolutionary…”
He’s getting sidetracked. Lisa warned you about this.
“Did they have the same suits back in Aedra?” you ask quickly.
“Wings used to be Shields. And they called Blades ‘Swords’, but that’s just nomenclature. Leaves and Stones were the same, at least according to the best available research. The old decks used to have the Aedran crest on the shields, the Wings were a symbol of the revolution and…”
“And what did the Four of Leaves mean?” you ask, trying to pre-empt whatever history he’s about to throw at you. You’re sure it’s interesting, but you’re also short on time.
“Well. What you need to grasp is that our modern fortune-readings, for the individual, are themselves a product of the Aedran revolution. Before that, the Emperors were said to consult the cards to understand the state of the Empire. In those readings, swords meant the Empire would advance; shields meant it was on the defensive. Leaves meant the intervention of nature, while stones meant internal matters. Now, even if you’ve merely dabbled, you’ve likely heard of the Four of Leaves as representing a natural cycle, like the seasons. On the Imperial scale, it meant that one of those natural cycles was going to be of concern to the Empire – with other cards clarifying exactly how. Naturally, they took readings of four cards at a time, due to the centrality of Four in their culture.”
You think back on Ron’s cards. They don’t map neatly to this system, as he had a Scholar of Stones and that card didn’t exist at the time.
“Has anyone ever modified that system to work with the new deck?”
“A few isolated attempts. Usually by charlatans looking to curry favor with the ruling class by claiming to know the future of their nation. The texts I read didn’t discuss them in detail, not considering them serious enough to be worth documenting.”
You feel like you’re getting further away from what you want. So you describe what you remember more specifically, about the Anteminor and the Postminor and face cards.
“That basic structure is fairly standard across schools of reading. The primary difference of Royce-Garral and Venton, the two most common ones, is that Venton considers the order of cards essential to the meaning, while Royce-Garral regards all cards at once and only adjusts minor details based on the order. Of course, if you get into the lesser-used ones that, say, draw five or six cards at a time, they apply entirely different methods. If you drew four cards, it was likely one of the main two. Do you remember how many cards it was, or any other significant details?”
What about the fours of the other suits?
Annd there was a seven…
What’s the usual meaning/order of a four-card-spread?
Some systems take into account which way the cards end up oriented when being revealed! (even our IRL cards aren’t technically rotationally symmetric!)