Monday, September 6, 2010

d20 Poker

The adventure I have planned for my Dungeons and Dragons group this coming Sunday hinges, in part, on a sort of poker game-- that would be the Old West part of my proposed genre trio High Fantasy, Old West, and Steampunk reasserting itself. The problem, of course, is that I don't actually know how to play poker, and that I'm not sure if my players do either, and, hey, we came here to play D&D anyway so what's with this poker, what's next, are we suddenly going to find ourselves playing a high-stakes game of Acquire against a bugbear so you can finally stop yammering on about you can't find anyone to play it with-- and, geez, I guess that's three or four problems, after all. So, um, problematic, that.

But I don't really want my PCs to play poker, but rather, "poker"-- that is, the art of lying to your opponent, of knowing when to bluff and when to call. That part seems to be a lot more fun than remembering what card trumps what, and that's the part that actually gives them something to roleplay. Which is kind of the point.

So, what I'm going to present them with on Sunday is what I'd call d20 poker. The characters in the game are playing some variation of a card game, but the players will just roll their d20, with the highest number winning. Once they've rolled the die, they can up the ante, match that ante or fold, bluff their opponent(s) into folding, and call it when the ante isn't being upped.

I won't know until Sunday how well it works, but it seems, from a purely mechanic standpoint, to be a fun, accessible and fast-moving way to simulate that sort of conflict in a role-playing context. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes after we've given it a try...

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