Danse de Cartes

A Story Game Played with Cards

Also a work in progress, to be completed as the mood strikes me. Thus if this comment is still at the top of the page, the contents below are still formative.

"Danse de Cartes" is French for "Dance of Cards". It's also the working title of this story-game, at least until inevitably someone who actually speaks French explains to me politely why I should call it something else.

It's genesis is nothing profound, just a desire to build a workable system in tune with my preferred style of of role-playing around a standard deck of playing cards. I rather like the elegant idea of being able to run a satisfying series of adventures for several players with any regular store-bought deck, rather then a set of specialty dice. Cards also offer aspects of symbolism and color that dice lack and, I feel, have great potential to enhance the mood of play.

As of now, this game is not tied to a particular setting or type of story. Though it does easily accept the high medieval flavor engendered by the cards, and also skews heavily towards narration and drama over strategy and tactics; It most certainly doesn't have the heavy combat focus of most traditional role-playing games, though I hope it can carry off a thrilling fight adequately.

Structure of Play
Series Pitch
Group creation
making Lead Characters

Defining a Lead Character

Lead Characters are defined by Suits, Talents, Passions and Banes.

Each Character has four Suits, corresponding to the four suits of a deck. Each Suit represents the characters inherent potential within a broad category of activity. Each of a character's Suits is rated by a number, from 1 to 10. The higher the number, the more competent the character is in activities of that kind.

Spades: strength, fortitude, stamina, resistance.
Clubs: dexterity, grace, balance, speed.
Diamonds: intelligence, awareness, knowledge, cunning.
Hearts: spirit, charisma, intuition, presence.

Each character has several areas of specific ability, representing either native knacks or trained techniques. Each Talent is attached to the specific Suit which fits it most appropriately. Thus, a character with the Talent "Corsican Swordplay" would list that under their Spades Suit, while "Song of the Desert Winds" would go under Hearts. A list of suggested Talents is provided for each Suit, though they are not intended to be definitive and players are encouraged to make up their own. Also, exactly which Suit a Talent should go under is open to interpretation. That "Corsican Swordplay" Talent mentioned earlier, for instance, would just as reasonably fit under Clubs.

Every character has several motivations that drive them to pursue adventures, strong desires that grant them the determination to face great risks. These Drives are called Passions, and it is entirely up to the player to describe them, though some examples are provided. A Passion is described by a short phrase.

No character is complete without a nemesis. A Bane is some terrible thing that hounds the character, be it a recurring enemy, a bad reputation, a struggle with alcoholism or some other foul curse.

Example of a Lead Character

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Sketching a Lead Character

To make a character, take the following steps.

1. Based upon the nature of the game your group has decided to play, visualize an interesting character concept. Describe it to the rest of the group via a quick description, a half-dozen words or so, like "an old wayward lady-chasing minstrel" or "a young idealistic soldier eager to prove his worth."

2. Produce a visual depiction of the character. This can be some existing suitable artwork you found somewhere, or even a sketch you made yourself. Show the picture to everyone else, and ask for comments about what it says about your character. Take note of any good ideas anyone comes up with.

3. Divide 20 points between the four Suits in a way that makes sense for the character. No Suit may be given more than 10 or less than 1 point.

4. Choose one Suit to get 3 Talents, a second to get 2, and one to get 1. The last Suit receives no Talents. Now describe each of the six Talents.

5. Describe 3 Passions for the character.

6. Describe the character's Bane.

Resolving a Scene

Character Enhancement
I personally don't care too much about boosting character abilities, but many other people I know enjoy the game much more if they can look forward to "leveling up" their character.

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