"The Arcana is the means by which all is revealed..."
The Arcana are divided into the Major Arcana (22 unique cards) and the Minor Arcana (four suits of 14 cards each, not unlike those of traditional playing cards). The Minor Arcana appear in rare events in the Persona 2 duology, only in Shuffle Time in Persona 3 and Persona 4 Golden, and not at all in Megami Ibunroku Persona, Persona 4 and Persona 5.
"Arcana" is properly the plural form, the singular being "Arcanum," but in the Persona series "Arcana" is used for both singular and plural.
In the Persona series, the Personas' Arcana are functionally equivalent to demon races. According to the Persona World guide, each Arcana in Megami Ibunroku Persona equals a specific race. These racial equivalences were partially kept in Persona 2 and abandoned in Persona 3 onwards. In Persona 3 and later games, each Arcana has a Social Link or Confidant related to it, usually with a "story arc" that represents the Arcana its related to. Each Persona user usually has an Arcana they are related to as well, usually defined by their first Persona.
While most Arcana in the Persona series follows the tradtional 22-card deck, Arcana can be used from other nontraditional decks. Nontraditional decks used in the Persona series include Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot deck (Jester, Priest, Hunger, Aeon, Universe), El Gran Tarot Esoterico (Councillor), and the Visconti-Sforza deck (Hope, Faith).
- 1 In Persona 3 Portable, female route only.
- 2 In Persona and Persona 2, Strength and Justice Arcana are VIII and XI respectively, this is swapped in Persona 3 and subsequent installments.
- 3 In Persona 4 Golden only. Initially called Jester Arcana (numbered 0), then becomes Hunger (numbered XI) unless you do not tell the rest of the Investigation Teams of your suspicions of Tohru Adachi.
- 4 In Persona 3 FES and Persona 3 Portable only.
- 5 In Persona 4 Golden only.
- 6 Only mentioned in Persona 3, Persona 3 FES and Persona 3 Portable, with no gameplay effect.
- 7 In Persona 5 Royal only.
- 8 In Persona 5 Scramble: The Phantom Strikers only.
- 9 The Visconti-Sforza deck (where the Faith and Hope Arcana originate from) uses no numbers.
Personas from the minor Arcana are featured in these games via mutation only. These Personas cannot be summoned normally in the Velvet Room nor their tarot cards ever exist. See List of Persona 2: Innocent Sin Personas#Minor Arcana and List of Persona 2: Eternal Punishment Personas#Minor Arcana.
The Minor Arcana cards appear during Shuffle Time and grant the player various effects depending on which card is chosen:
- Cups - Restores the protagonist's or party's health if drawn (amount depends on number)
- Wands or Staves - Grants bonus experience or stats if drawn (amount depends on number)
- Pentacles or Coins - Grants bonus Yen if drawn (amount depends on number)
- Swords - Grants the player a random weapon (power depends on number, and FES: The answer gives the player one random equipment)
Persona 4 GoldenEdit
The Minor Arcana cards are featured in the remake of Persona 4 for the PlayStation Vita. The Minor Arcana cards have the same effects as in Persona 3, except for the Swords Cards, which give the player Skill Cards instead of weapons, and the Cup Cards, which restore SP along with HP.
Arcana is only applied to Main Personas and Sub-personas that player characters can use; Shadows do not have an Arcana in this series, even though the bulk of enemies are generic Arcana Shadows.
In the Persona 2 games, due to the way the contact system is built, all enemies are classified under an Arcana. However, some of those aren't present in the tarot deck, being more akin to races. However, the game does acknowledge them as such and refers to them by "Arcana". They are:
- Reich (Nazis in the PlayStation release)
- Zombie (misspelled as Zonbie in Eternal Punishment)
- Persona 3 features thirteen main Persona users. Each represents one of the first 13 major Arcana, with the exception of Elizabeth:
- 0. Fool: The protagonist
- 1. Magician: Junpei Iori
- 2. Priestess: Fuuka Yamagishi
- 3. Empress: Mitsuru Kirijo
- 4. Emperor: Akihiko Sanada
- 5. Hierophant: Shinjiro Aragaki
- 6. Lovers: Yukari Takeba
- 7. Chariot: Aigis
- 8. Justice: Ken Amada
- 9. Hermit: Jin Shirato
- 10. Fortune: Takaya Sakaki
- 11. Strength: Koromaru
- 12. Hanged Man: Chidori Yoshino
- As of Persona 5 Scramble: The Phantom Strikers, the Temperance and Tower Arcana are the only major arcana to have never been represented by any playable character.
- Temperance is the only major arcana to have never been represented by any Persona user at all. The Tower Arcana is represented by Takahisa Kandori from Megami Ibunroku Persona and Anna Yoshizaka from Persona 2: Innocent Sin (via the playable version of their Personas, Nyarlathotep and Aeshma respectively, being identified as such).
- Persona 5 Royal was the first persona game to introduce a new Tarot that was not in another number as a tarot in the traditional European decks, with the Faith Arcana.