Playing Cards Universal

“Blood-soaked spears bring glory to the Redhand Conspiracy. Dried spears bring the daunting glares of superior officers. Carry a flask of boar’s lifeblood to make it seem as though the kills never stop.”

Spotted on the Free Kriegsspiel Revival Discord:

When a player does something, draw cards from a deck: 1 card if unskilled, 2 cards if skilled, 3 cards if expert. Keep the highest. Draw for the difficulty: 1 card if easy, 2 cards if medium, 3 cards if hard. Keep the highest. Higher card wins.

Aces high, suit order as you choose. (Personally: clubs, spades, hearts, diamonds, ala Sheepshead).

What’s nice?

  • Everyone has a deck of playing cards.
  • Plenty of customize options (Star Wars playing cards, Cyberpunk playing cards, etc)
  • They’re more mobile than dice (play in the car, on a walk, etc).
  • No chance of ties.
  • Scales really well.

That last point, has me convinced that this would work well with a supers game. “Power Rank: 7” means draw seven cards. You could fight villains that draw 20 cards. You always have a chance, which you might not with standard “dice + modifier” systems.

Could also do simple large-scale battles to: “Army with a power of 11 versus and army with a power of 16.” Draw that many cards. Done.

Cards will ALWAYS make me think Westerns, so there’s that.

Could do some fun things with the suit as well: “If you win a contest with a spade, then X effect happens.” Maybe players can choose which card, turning it more into a push-your-luck. “I drew an 8 of spades and a 10 of clubs. If I choose the spade and win, I’ll get a cool effect but it is riskier…”

I may use this in Blades in the Dark going forward, which doesn’t have *great* rules for conflict between players or between factions. Just have them draw cards equal to their rating. If they win with a red suit, treat it as a 4 or 5, the “yes, but” option.

Simple resolution so you can focus on the WORLD, not the RULES.

8 thoughts on “Playing Cards Universal

  1. If you use this for a combat with 4 PCs and 5 monsters.

    When do you shuffle?
    After every combat round or every PC and/or monster attack?

    1. I shuffle constantly. When I use playing decks in other systems like Blades in the Dark, I’m shuffle the deck as a fun habit. Some players find it calming, others unnerving.

  2. Dice pools work in a similar way, too. You have Power Rank 5. You roll 5 six-sided dice. Each 5 or 6 rolled scores one success. GM or resisiting player does the same. Who got more successes, wins. Ties might be (1) rerolled, (2) solved up to GM’s judgement or (3) agressor side (if any) wins ties.

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