Monday, December 20, 2010

Gamblin' Man

I just got back from another trip to Vegas. While sitting at the Blackjack table I had an idea about how to work this into a game a bit more elegantly than I've proposed before.

Right now, assume that every character has some sort of "tactics points." The default use of a tactics point is to get a bonus on a check. Classes may also have a specific bonus that they can get if they spend a tactics point; for example a wizard might spend a point to sling a spell or a warrior to land a crushing blow. In general, tactics points are a ticket for the player to do something at the table that takes a little extra time and puts them in the limelight. They should also use a special, unique, non-standard mechanic.

Rogues gain the use of a gambling technique.

  • Ante: The rogue immediately antes up a bid. Generally the bid is in tactics points. The rogue may also offer up Hit Points. HP may be especially likely to be anted when doubling down or splitting.
  • Pairs: The rogue may also put a bid on their first two cards being a pair.
  • Play Blackjack: Also known as 21. The rogue may double down or split as per the normal Blackjack rules. Dealer must hit soft 17s.
  • Payouts: If the rogue wins, they keep their bid it costs their foe. If they push (tie), the rogue keeps his bid and nothing happens. If the rogue gets a blackjack, then they win and it pays out 3:2. If the rogue gets a pair, his bid pays out 10:1. If it is a suited pair, it pays out 15:1.
What you can do with it:
  • Backstab. The Rogue lands a brutal blow. All payout comes from the adversary's hit points. For example, if a rogue anted up 2 tactics points to start and wins, then the rogue keeps his 2 tactics points and the enemy loses 2 HP of his own (although the rogue does not gain them). If the rogue loses then he is just out his tactics points.
  • Pick Pockets. The Rogue cleverly pilfers small items. Each point of payout is either 1/6 of a stone of ENC or one coin of an appropriate tier (copper/silver/gold). For example, if the rogue antes up 2 tactics points and wins, he either gets two coins from the victim or items up to 1/3 of a stone (usually chosen randomly).
  • Quicksilver: The Rogue seizes the initiative. All payout comes from the adversary's initiative score. The rogue's initiative score increases by the given amount. For example, say the Rogue antes up two points and wins; the foe's score drops by two and the rogue's increases by two.
Blackjack is a quick game, well suited for rapid resolution of tasks.

Odds: The house edge (DM's edge) for pairs is around 10% (using a fresh deck every time) or 35% (using one deck without shuffling). For Blackjack it is around 0.17%, making this about 50/50. This makes Blackjack a particularly attractive option against foes that are otherwise tough to affect. For example, if the Rogue normally has a 5% chance of affecting a foe, opting to play Blackjack just increased his chances significantly!


For more involved scenarios, Texas Klondike may be more appropriate.
  • ANTE: The Rogue and GM each bid 1 or 2 points (Rogue's choice) as a blind. The GM's points come from HP, gold/ENC (pick pockets), or initiative score (Rogue's choice depending on technique). The Rogue's points come from Tactics Points or HP.
  • PLAY: Each player secretly rolls two dice as their "hole" cards.
  • BID AGAIN: Conduct a round of bidding.
  • THE FLOP: Roll three dice in the center of the table as a community pool.
  • BID AGAIN: Conduct a round of bidding.
  • THE TURN: Add a fourth die to the center of the table.
  • BIG AGAIN: Conduct a round of bidding.
  • THE RIVER: Add a fifth die to the center of the table.
  • FINAL BIDS: One more round of bidding ensues.
  • DETERMINE WINNER: Whoever can assemble the best five-die "hand" wins. Use standard poker styled hierarchy of precedence: 5-of-a-kind, 4-of-a-kind, full house, 3-of-a-kind, two pairs, one pair. Winner takes the pot.
In Texas Klondike, the GM may wager other items if it is deemed acceptable. For example, if the game is being played to try and see if the Rogue can gain access to a den of thieves, each point the DM wagers up could be admission for another one of the Rogue's party members.


As above, however, there is only one round of bidding.
  • ANTE: The Rogue and GM each bid 1 point as above.
  • PLAY: Each player secretly rolls five dice as a hand.
  • BID: Conduct a round of bidding.
  • SHOW 'EW: Each player reveals their hand. Winner takes the pot.

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