[Lady Hackbird] Card based resolution

edited July 2009 in Game Design Help
In the interest of making Lady Blackbird more accessible to non-gamers, the following addresses the possibility of folks who may want to play the game not having a pile of d6s.

Standard rules:

Use a standard poker deck, jokers removed.
Instead of rolling dice, draw an equal number of cards.
Red cards (Hearts and Diamonds) count as hits.
After the challenge, place drawn cards into a discard pile.
When half or more of the cards have been discarded, reshuffle discards back into the deck.
Also the gm may reshuffle cards at any time she needs something to do with her hands.

Option 1: Aces High

Whenever the drawn cards show one or more aces, exciting elements are added to the challenge:

Ace of Spades = Danger! An additional element of danger is added to the scene.
Ace of Hearts = Romance! A romantic element is added to the scene.
Ace of Diamonds = Discovery! The player makes a discovery of knowledge or treasure.
Ace of Clubs = Triumph! Challenge is automatically won, and players get back any "pool" cards they used.

Anytime an ace is discarded, reshuffle all the cards.

Option 2: Gradual reveal

Instead of showing all the cards drawn at once, reveal them one at at a time. Narrate a minor positive or negative detail as each red or black card is revealed. Good for high tension scenes like defusing bombs and such...

Whatcha think?


  • Sounds good. How would the pool work?
  • Use tokens for the pool, but otherwise same as the dice.
  • John, can you confirm that the dice are entirely binary? They are always 1-3 bad, 4-6 good?

    Because if so, you could also use coins, which is a little awkward in play but solves the pool problem neatly.
  • I'm looking over the doc, and it's binary.
  • Flipping ten coins is a pain in the ass, and probably no less dorky than rolling ten dice. Just slower. I like the card idea for portability and friendliness, but it seems like you'd need to shuffle two decks together to handle multiple conflicts without reshuffling all the time.
  • Or prep by just having a few card decks pre-shuffled. I mean, at that point it's as dorky as dice when you're dealing with multiple card deck prep, but still...
  • edited July 2009
    I'm finding it difficult to reply to this and I'm afraid I'll sound a little grumpy.

    I do think the central mechanic needs additional thinking. But I'm wary of the added elements. They're interesting on paper, but I'm unsure they'd work in play: they'd be a pain in the arse to narrate in.

  • edited July 2009
    Graham - you have obviously never played DANGER PATROL! Practically every damn roll in that game requires details to be added... a real creative workout!

    But yeah, I'm worried that aces will be coming up too often. I should be able to playtest this with my wife and kids over the weekend. I'll let everyone know how it goes.

    I also thought of drawing Scrabble tiles out of a bag. face up = hit (remove the blanks). Obviously the dork factor hadn't occurred to me. ;)
    I was just approaching this from the idea that LB is really easy for folks to play, but if they aren't gamers, they are not likely to have enough dice laying around, but almost everyone has a deck of cards.
  • Cards aren't too bad to use. Keep one deck for quick drawing while a second deck is being shuffled between scenes.
  • edited July 2009
    If you're using cards as random number generators, then you're much better off using dice. Use cards if you want one or more of the following (just partial list, it's been a while since I've done my cards vs. dice rant):

    - semi-random/semi-predictable results that can become more predictable with each play
    - multiple types of results from each card (face/number/suit/ace/joker/etc.)
    - the ability to keep numbers hidden, and make revealing or bluffing part of the game
    - the ability to create subsets (only use some cards, or hands of cards)
    - avoiding ties (assign each person to a card, shuffle, then draw cards one at a time)
    - processes that don't involve randomness (just because you can shuffle cards doesn't mean you have to)
    - cards are also very good for doing things that don't resolve right away, because a card laid down doesn't change value (e.g. a stack of cards can act as a timer by drawing 1 per turn)
    - cards can be rotated (e.g. tapped in Magic the Gathering) or flipped
    - cards can be easily passed between people
    - cards are less nerdy to pull out in many public places
    - cards don't require a rolling surface (but may require a playing surface depending on how you use them)

    Finally (for cards):
    When using cards, don't just say "reshuffle when necessary," make reshuffling part of the gameplay.

    - better random number generators
    - you can use a lot of them at once fairly easily
    - work in many IRC setups
    - can vary their number range (d4s, d6s, d8s, etc.)
    - make that really cool rattling sound
    - often have simpler probability mathematics

    What you're trying to achieve seems better oriented to dice than cards.
  • Posted By: madunkiegWhat you're trying to achieve seems better oriented to dice than cards.
    Only if you're looking at the math. John's trying to solve a potential social issue.
  • Posted By: Ryan MacklinOnly if you're looking at the math. John's trying to solve a potential social issue.
    Which is the second-last point I mention, but trying to use cards as randomizers means constantly fighting against how cards work. Better to use the strengths of cards than fight against their weaknesses, or seek another tool that can function as a randomizer.
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