Dinner with the Despot
Monday, June 30, 2008 - 10:02 AM
Being the sort of fellow I am, I'd long since decided to have an in-game dinner party. Due to various difficulties in wrangling NPCs, schedules and other incidents where life kicks one in the shins, this party kept getting delayed. But a weekend ago, pressed for time, I pushed it, and things came together at last.
I didn't get much rest that weekend, but the result was well worth it. The original menu was very bizarre, but I simply didn't have time to do the food fabrication I would have preferred, and instead adhered to a menu with the theme of 'things hidden'. It went for five courses, dinner was all in-character, and people had a fantastic time.
We had four PCs and five NPCs at the table, not including myself. NPCs had 13 points of Favor that they could allocate to anyone else, and they were to keep track of these things. Favor could be given only up to 2 points at a time, but any amount could be taken away at a time. This had little in-game impact, primarily counting for future interactions between the PCs and NPCs, but people were to tell me if they gave someone 6 or more Favor.
Sometimes the Prince didn't care for some of the Favor being thrown around, and it is dangerous to offend him.
On that note, everyone started with points in the Prince's Regard. Everyone also started with three cards, essentially, denoting their ability to resist, influence or otherwise juggle the Prince's Regard. Unfortunately, I was not horribly clear on explaining how to use these cards, so they did not get used as much as I'd hoped... but a few did, and that was quite fine. Each card could only be played once, and of course, the Prince could give or take Regard at his whim. As a result, nobody really knew what their Regard score was by the end of the game... unless it had reached zero, at which point the Prince was not happy with that person, and it was generally fairly obvious.
Even without cards, the politics were fierce at the table, and there was plenty of chicanery going on. I was quite pleased with the result. I'll close this entry off with the rules for Bowling the Devious Heads, which I based off of bocce, and which my players intensely enjoyed (we used a softball for the Dead King, and croquet balls for the Dukes).
Enjoy an ancient Redhand tradition in this simple court game of competition and accuracy, in which individual players divide into Factions in order to win the Throne.
The game is played thus:
One ball is the Dead King.
All other balls are Dukes.
Player order for the first turn is chosen randomly.
I: The host stands at the line and tosses or rolls the Dead King underhanded, to whatever distance desired.
II: The players then take up the Dukes, and each in turn stands at the line, wherever they like, and attempts to land their Duke closest to the Dead King. This continues until all players have made a toss.
III: Players are divided now into Factions. The two closest to the Dead King are one Faction, the two next closest are the second Faction, and so on until all players are in Factions. Factions remain as teams until conclusion of the game.
IV: The player who has landed their Duke closest to the ball is the Regent. He takes up the Dead King and tosses underhanded, just as the host did. If one player is left over after division into Factions, that player tosses the Dead King instead, and is named the Pretender.
V: Players again toss their Dukes in an attempt to be as close to the Dead King as possible, starting with the Regent's Faction partner. Turns follow in Faction order. The Regent throws last of all. If the Pretender lands the Dead King, then he throws second to last, prior to the Regent.
VI: In throwing, it is acceptable to knock the Dead King from his position (this is called Creating an Heir). It is also legal to deliberately knock another Duke away from the Dead King with your Duke (Usurping a Duke), though if the Duke is knocked out of the field, the player gets a new throw.
VII: If a Duke lands or rolls outside of the bounds of the Court, he must be retrieved and thrown again.
VIII Factions accumulate points after the completion of each round. Dukes are scored by the number of Factions which rest entirely outside their distance to the Dead King.
Thus, if a Duke lands closer to the Dead King than 2 other Factions, he scores 2 points. It does not matter whether both Dukes of an opposing Faction are outside, so long as one of them is.
Turns change according to who has the highest points in that round. Thus, a new Regent is appointed. Factions remain the same, and if a Pretender is present, he is always the Pretender.
The game is played until one Faction earns 23 points, though it can be played for longer.
IX In a game with a Pretender, the Pretender cannot win the Throne by himself. His points are calculated normally, but after all other points are calculated, and they are then added to the Faction with the lowest score of THAT round, not the Faction with the lowest score overall. The Pretender can only win with a Faction who scores 23 in the same round they take his point.