Friday, June 14, 2013

EAD Entry - Queen's Ransom

Here's an entry from Dan B. 

            A few years ago while running Earthdawn and having my merry band of adventurers killing time in a riverboat crew en route to Parlainth I ad-libbed a game the riverboat crew were playing in their downtime.  For the players it involved rolling five d12 dice and hastily a set of rules were made up.  They had fun and we killed enough time playing the dice game we didn't hastily return to the role-playing.
            So once again, I submit to you the in-game game of “Queen’s Ransom” that all riverboat crew in my Barsaive are familiar with.  The game for Earthdawn players is primarily played with dice and is easy enough to grasp.  The rules are laid out as if it were a card game and one can purchase a game of cards called “Five Crowns” by SET Enterprises to adapt for use in this rule set.  Both dice rules and card rules are included. 
            -Thank you for your consideration in this matter. Enjoy.
            -Dan B

Queen’s Ransom Card Game Rules

The Deck

            Suits: There are five suits, though they play no role in this game. The dwarven suits are standard playing cards and the t’skrang suits are new.

T’Skrang style           color              Dwarven style
Tail                    green               Earth                       
Claw                  blue                 Water                    
Fin                  red                   Fire                          
Egg              yellow              Air                            
Kaissa    ßpurple / brownà      Wood                                 

            Ranks: There are 12 cards per suit—eleven cards numbered 1 through 11, plus one “flood” card, which counts for 12+ points but has a special property in Queen’s Ransom.


            Each player is dealt 5 cards face down. Players then look at their hands. Flood cards must be laid face up immediately, and another card is dealt face down on each flood. If any of those are floods they must be turned over and each must have another card dealt on it, until a non-flood card is received. All cards dealt onto a flood must stay with it, as if they were all one card. Players then place bets into the kitty, with the dealer going first.
            Players take turns redrawing cards (up to all five) and then make a second bet (previous round’s winner first).
            “Queen’s Ransom” is announced by the previous round’s winner, signaling that all players should reveal their cards and announce their individual totals.
            Cards revealed are in this order, Leg, Leg, Arm, Arm, and the 5th card turned over is the Tail Card (the Queen’s Ransom from the legend). {No idea what this means or how it affects play.}

            The object of the game is to get the highest number with his cards. But each player must either total his odd-numbered cards and subtract the evens or total his even-numbered cards and subtract the odds. A hand is written with the odds first and evens second, with a slash between them. The ranks on each side are listed in descending order with plus signs between them. For example: a hand with 2, 3, 5, 7, & 10 is written 7+5+3/10+2.

            In the event of a tie, the player going odds minus evens wins. Example: two players eventually reach a total of 16. One player has 1+1/10+4+4. The second player has 7+5+5+3/4. The second player wins the tie because he went odds minus evens, while the first player went evens minus odds.
Example hand with 3 players

            Player 1 is dealt: 11+3+3/8+4. He is better off with odds minus evens to get 17 – 12 = 5. Player 2 is dealt: 7+3+3/10+8. He is better off with evens minus odds to get 18 – 13 = 5. Player 3 is dealt: 9+7+1/6+6. He is better off with odds minus evens to get 17 – 12 = 5.
            Initial bets are placed.
Player 1 discards his two even cards, and is dealt: 10, 11. He now has 11+11+3+3/10. His new total is 18.
            Player 2 discards his two highest odd cards (7 & 3) and keeps his other 3. He is dealt: 5, 4. He now has 5+3/10+8+4. His new total is 14.
            Player 3 discards his 1 and two 6s, hoping to draw high odd cards and low even cards. He is dealt: 7, 5, 3. He now has 9+7+7+5+3/. His new total is 31.
            Final bets are placed, and “Queen’s Ransom” is called. The players lay their cards down face-up.
Player 3 wins the money in the pot and is required to place the first bet in both betting phases of the next hand dealt.

Example of a “flooded” hand

            Player is dealt: 5/12+10+8+4. His total is 29 points so far; however, his 12 “breaks the banks of the river” and “floods”. He must be dealt a card to add to the flood card. He gets a 3, which, since it is odd, also flips the 12 (now 15) to the other side of the slash. He now has 15+5/10+8+4. His new total is a lowly 2. His strategy now may be to trade in his high evens or to trade in his flood, which must take the 3 with it when it goes.


            For Earth Dawn characters to play this, simply have each Earthdawn player roll 5d12 and re-roll any bonus dice if an initial roll of 12 is reached, in order to simulate the flood cards.  Yes this dice-based version can allow for more than a single Flood card per hand and significantly more than the 5 “Flood” cards based in each ‘deck’.

To play this game with actual cards, you can purchase the card game “Five Crowns” from SET Enterprises and since the numbered cards in the game are 3-10, change the value of the Jack and King cards to 1 and 2 respectively.  Leaving the Queen card as 12 (the Flood card).  Since T’Skrang are a matriarchal society the Queen should be the highest valued card.

Each aropagoi has a tale (since T’Skrang prize stories above most else) about a lahala being held captive, ransomed, imprisoned ; and the tale unfolds about a jik’harra T’skrang coming to her aid and being thwarted in any attempt to save her.  Once the T’skrang floods the river by bursting a damn, calling upon the passions, or summoning a water elemental; and uses the deluge of river water in the attempt, the T’Skrang is successful at having flooded the surrounding area and using the river’s help to free the lahala.

Other name givers, having difficulty in understanding the importance of a lahala in T’skrang society, devised their own interpretation for which the closest approximation is “Queen”, hence the re-named Queen’s Ransom in the dwarven language.  Lahala’s Ransom is how the T’skrang refer to their game.