Posts Tagged ‘house of cards’

The Kornelsen Deck

Designer and artist Levi Kornelsen has produced a new poker-sized Tarot deck with some very gameable features. Go check it out!


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House of Cards at Metatopia

The Metatopia event schedule is up, and I’m pleased to announce the open session on Saturday night (10pm to midnight) as well as a designer-only session Friday from 8 to 10. Anyone who wants to talk about the game, get a sneak preview, or even try it out, feel free to register now; I’m also willing to sit down with anybody who wants to set something up “off the menu” – tweet me (@houseofcardsrpg) to find me at the show.

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I like tossing in little throw-away details to illustrate ideas in House of Cards, but I’m of the mindset that too much information stifles the reader’s own imagination. To take just one example from the text, while discussing the strangely alien and capricious nature of the courts of the Comtes, I added the flourish, “In the court of the Masked Prince of Luthiers, for instance, a dismal place shrouded in gloom, a laugh causes rubies to rain from the sky – which is punishable by death.” The sentence is weirdly specific and yet leaves its context all but unsketched and full of questions.

Almost immediately, I got feedback from readers saying, “Tell me more about that!” That’s a nice thing for a writer, admittedly, but my reaction right away is to say, “No, you tell me more about it!” For me to dictate a fully fleshed-out setting with maps and distinct locations is not really in keeping with the ethos of House of Cards. Think of the creature in Alien: it’s effectively terrifying because we know only a little about it, and we instinctively fill in our own details – what’s scariest to us personally. Setting material in House of Cards is provided with a similar technique in mind: I want players to see a hook in the text and then spin it off into whatever unique thing their minds conceive, which is by nature going to be more interesting to them than whatever additional material I might put out there.

(But, yes, there will be more on the Masked Prince of Luthiers. Eventually.)

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The Three R’s of Hand Management

In House of Cards, there are three important terms that define different ways in which cards cycle: renew, replenish, and refresh.

To renew a hand is simply discard your hand and draw back up to your current hand maximum. This occurs in situations which represent a dramatic change that throws everyone off-kilter: when a Shuffle occurs, for instance, everyone has the option to renew their hand, becoming part of the plot twist that accompanies the Shuffle if they do. This is the simplest and least powerful form of hand management, if for no other reason than that it causes lots of cards to be “churned”, but it is the baseline from which the others extend.

By comparison, to replenish your hand means you keep the cards that you have and draw back up to your maximum. The advantage over renewal is that powerful cards remaining in hand aren’t discarded. It also doesn’t press quite so aggressively toward another Shuffle, in that fewer cards are being pulled from the deck. A number of Lesser and Greater Powers include replenishing one’s hand as a part of using them, almost always at the expiration of the power – a notable exception being the Dreamthief ability possessed by denizens of Beyond.

When you refresh your hand, you can selectively discard and draw, making it the most potent option, which occurs rarely. One of the Fool’s possible Greater Powers allows the Fool to refresh his or her hand instead of renewing it; a Shuffle should be a reasonably uncommon event in itself, which reins in the scope of this power, which thematically represents the Fool’s ability to keep walking the circular road of life with some sense of continuity.

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RPG.net Thread on House of Cards

For anyone who wants to talk about the game, a thread was started this morning at RPG.net. (Note: because of RPG.net’s rules regarding advertisement, this thread was NOT started by me. I will be participating in the form of answering questions, though.)

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Heartfelt thanks.

Thanks again to those who participated in demos of House of Cards at Gen Con 2011. Your feedback was as appreciated as your enthusiasm. You’ll all get due credit in the book when it’s done, I promise!

Edits continue, and we may have some exciting news concerning artists as well. Playtesting isn’t slowing down, either: those who want to get involved, please contact us via Gmail at houseofcardsrpg or parenthesispress.

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Schedule update

Today’s House of Cards demo will be at 2pm in Victoria Station, Crowne Plaza. Anyone at Gen Con intending to come play, we’ll be on the other side of the hallway from the previously scheduled Pennsylvania Station venue with Games on Demand.

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