Codex Seraphininanus Playing Cards


Categories: Projects Tags: Tabletop Games


I recently discovered the Codex Seraphininanous, an art project that looks like a surreal alien encyclopedia. The creator has been candid in the fact that the codex has no inherent meaning beyond what we apply to it ourselves, nonetheless many have attempted to decypher the language. I don’t think they can, because there is nothing to decipher. I take the creator at his word.

Codex Seraphininanus Card Retheme

I became fascinated with the botany entries and decided to retheme a card game based on those illustrations. There are 3 special cards that need to be numbered, 1 to 3. I had trouble figuring out how to handle this while maintaining the spirit of the codex since the number glyphs, as discussed in the link below, do not correspond in an obvious visual way to our Arabic numbers. I think I will just include a player aid card.

My first prototype sheet was a big learning experience. All that white space has to go. I originally thought it was in the spirit of the codex to have the text right-aligned, but fanning the cards that way feels too unnatural, so everything needs to be shifted to the left side like traditional cards. This is double-sided 110 lb cardstock, laminated, and I’m not sold on lamination yet, but it’s more than fine for prototyping or basic games you just want to try out.

Codex retheme version 1

Strange aside, I discovered a possible majuscule error in the codex? A purple lantern flower and a yellow banana-peel style flower both appear to have the same name, or a name that is so stylistically similar I cannot tell them apart.

Codex Seraphininanus Playing Card Suites

The Codex has illustrations of what appear to be playing card suites and I would love to create a deck with them. The pdf copy of codex that I have access to only has 3 of these, I know there is at least one more suite design in the newer deluxe version of the book but I only found 2 photos of it, no scans. Each suite has 12 cards, 4 of which appear to be face cards. I would definitely build templates if I could find a good scan of the last suite (rainbow colors).