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Author Topic: Rummy Based Game Mechanics?  (Read 3540 times)

Posts: 202

« on: March 12, 2006, 06:03:23 PM »

I'm working on a game in a very primal stage.  I realized that the mechanics I was kicking around were loosely similar to certain forms of rummy.

I'm aware of a number of roleplaying games that use Poker Mechanics (Deadlands, Dust Devils), but none that use Rummy.  Are there any out there that I could take a look at?

The intent of the system is to have a rather quick resolution mechanic that allows for player strategy- offering Gamist play, but without all the work that is typically associated with that.

Posts: 38

« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2006, 03:57:09 AM »

I don't know of any games that use rummy as the base mechanic. You may want to talk to knicknevin, though. He has at least one game based on non-poker card mechanics.

Once the players get the hang of it, resolution couldn't help but be fast. There are two issues I can see that you'd have to address:

1. You don't play cards on every turn. If you take one turn for each resolution, you'll wind up with a lot of 0 results (this could be a feature, though). You could set up resolution to take into account the cards played and the nuber of turns it takes to play them, but this would be slightly more complicated, and could, at times, run on a bit (this could also be used as a feature).

2. drawing from the discard pile is problematic. Generally you take a short term benefit (taking exactly the card you need) for a long term cost (increasing your hide size, if you drew deep in the pile). You might eliminate this by disallowing drawing below the top discarded card (some people play this way anyway, but it cuts down on the strategy a bit) or by having hand size somehow work against the player (this would require more rules which may, depending on how complex they are, slow things down a bit).

One reason poker is used a lot is because most people already know at least the basic rules. This (in my experience, at least) isn't the case with rummy. This shouldn't be too much of a problem for you, though, since it's such a simple game to pick up.
Graham W

Posts: 437

« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2006, 06:04:59 AM »

Hi Willow,

There was a game called Doctor Chaos, by Ron Edwards, that was discussed a while ago. It uses a rummy mechanic which, as I understand it, is aimed at a much more story-based game.

Here are the two threads. They don't go into that much mechanical detail, but the discussions might be useful:

[Doctor Chaos] Cards, bad guys
[Doctor Chaos] Next phase playtesting

Good luck with the game. I'm interested to know your mechanics, once you get that far.


Posts: 105

« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2006, 10:05:37 AM »

If you have the time to join my Yahoo! group (http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/jigsawesome/), you'll find two games in the files area that use playing cards as a game mechanic: I think The Memory Cheats is the one Jake was referring to, which uses a system of tricks & trumps.

More recently, I wrote a game called The Early Hours which uses a narrative-bidding system to gain cards, which are then built into rummy-style sequences in order to play out the end game. This isn't really a resolution mechanic, but the system I worked out for comparing rummy hands could be used as the basis for one. Feel free to take a look or just ask me more about it.

Caveman-like grunting: "James like games".

Posts: 202

« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2006, 12:47:36 PM »

I've been mentally kicking it around for about a day and a half, so here's what I've come up with so far:

"Get the MacGuffin"

Concept:  Get the MacGuffin combines trick taking and rummy mechanics for a game that hybridizes Gamist and Narrativist play.

Preparation:  Randomly deal out a number of cards from a poker deck.  One of these represents the MacGuffin.  One represents the Setting.  There might be a Situation.  There's a book that will come with the game, so you get random stuff, like "We're in an Old West town, trying to get the Spear of Longinus."
Every player gets a number of cards, that might represent personality traits or edges or stuff.  Still hazy.

From a different deck, deal out cards to the players and a discard pile.

Play happens in rounds.  During each round, a short trick taking round is played, symbolizing the struggle for the control of the MacGuffin.  Whoever wins the trick has gained control of the MacGuffin and gets to narrate the next scene.

Tricks work as follows:  They are always led by the player with the MacGuffin.  Players may play any number of cards, but they must be either a Run or a Set.  A Set is defined as any number of cards of the same value (three 8's, for example).  A Run is defined as a number of cards in ascending value (6-7-8) for example.  Note that unlike traditional Rummy, the cards in a Run need not be the same suit, and any number of cards can be played- even just one.  Also, players cannot "lay off" of other players tricks.
You must play more individual cards to continue the trick.  Whoever is able to play the longest Run or Set wins the trick.  Also, the MacGuffin and the Setting/Situation card count as two cards for scoring the trick:  a 3 card Set with the MacGuffin and the Setting will beat a 4 card Run, for example.

The winner of the trick gets the MacGuffin in his hand, and narrates the next scene.  Players somehow get cards from the discards into their hands, in what will probably not be recognizable as rummy mechanics at all.

After the scene is narrated, a new trick/scene is activated by leading with the MacGuffin (and/or other cards.)

If a player manages to play every card in their hand, including the MacGuffin OR play every card in their hand and proceed to win the trick, they have won, and narrate a final scene with their character getting control of the MacGuffin.

Posts: 150

« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2006, 09:19:31 PM »

Rummy could be a good card game for storytelling. Changing the rules for Rummy to make it work with your game makes it more difficult. One possiblity is to use the Rummy rules as it stands. As a player lays down their sets and runs, they are able to direct the action of the game. A set would let them direct the setting of the scene using the number as a key to the mood or location. A run would let them direct the action of the scene using the suit to determine the type of action: spades involves command/combat, diamonds involves mental/treasure, clubs involves persuasion/planning and hearts involves love/health. When a player discards after a draw then they must add some color to the scene based on the suit or number--nothing critical, just colorful.

When a player finishes their hand then they win and narrate the scene. The winning player takes a card from the current deck and then all cards are shuffled. This "sleeve card" can be used whenever the player wants in the next hand--it doesn't count as part of their hand. They can use it if they wish, but must return it to the deck at the end of the hand, regardless. The winner also gets 10 points towards experience.

As a hand finishes, the players have their tricks before them. For each unplayed card they must lose a trick to the pile. If they have no tricks then they get only 1 point of experience. Remaining tricks count towards experience based on the highest number card in the trick. Face cards and aces count as 11 points. The sleeve card doesn't count against the number of tricks if unplayed. So, its possible for a loser to actually gain more experience than the winner, depending upon how many cards are unplayed.

This would be fun in a super-hero or kung-fu type RPG.


Posts: 150

« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2006, 08:30:17 AM »


Thanks for the credit and good luck to you on the game. Its been a long time since I've played rummy and researched the rules and terminology. There are several variations of the game. Check them out to see what would work best for you.

Use chips to represent hit points and both players start with 10. One pile of chips is the current health. It will go up and down during the course of the game.

Use the normal rummy rules to handle the cards with regards to hand size, taking and discarding cards. Melds are sequences of cards in the same suit or a group of the same number. A player must lay down 3 or more cards to form a meld. Each meld represents an action affecting the other player or yourself:

For a head-to-head fight game, the use of melds could represent the various actions during a scene. Each suit could represent a type of action: spade for weapon attacks and parries, clubs for unarmed attacks and blocks, diamonds for special actions and hearts for health.

The diamonds represent special actions and could be chip related or meta-game active. Also, since diamond actions are special, they can not be countered except by the ace diamonds. Any time your opponent plays a diamond meld you can negate it by laying off with the ace diamond. Playing the ace diamond does not count as a turn.

Each card in the diamond suit could have a different effect. Jack diamonds could let you attack the opponent and increase your health by 1. Two diamonds lets you play another meld immediately. Queen diamonds steals your opponent's heart and he can't lay a heart meld during the next turn. 9 diamonds forces him to draw an additional card. King diamonds is a grapple and prevents your opponent from laying a meld on his next turn. Could be very interesting. Half the diamond cards should affect yourself and the other affect the opponent.

Sequence melds determine the action because it has only one suit. The action value is the highest card in the sequence. Ace can count as 1 in a low sequence and is the highest in a court sequence. The strength of the action is the number of cards in the same suit: 3 or 4.

Group melds are flexible because there are three or more suits in the group. The action (suit) is chosen by the player and placed on top of the meld. A 10 of Spades in a group of 10's is a weapon attack and placed on top. The strength of the action is only 1 because only 1 Spade is in the group.

The action value (high card) is how good the action is executed. The strength (number of cards with the same suit) is how many points the action will count when executed.

Actions can be countered in two ways: counter meld or lay off.

A counter meld is a sequence or group with the same suit and the high card is greater than the attack meld. Example: an attack Spade(8,7,6) can be parried with a Spade(J,10,9) or higher. This completely negates the opponent's action.

A lay off reduces the action strength by 1. Example: an attack sequence Spade(8,7,6) is directed against you. You can lay off with a Spade 9 or Spade 5 to reduce the attack strength by 1. Laying off with two cards reduces the action strength by 2. Laying off against a group completely negates the action, since group melds only have an action strength of 1.

Since the use of melds determines the action and the opponent can counter, it is important to move the chips out of health immediately. Al attacks Bob with a Spade(9,8,7), and 3 of Bob's chips are taken out of health. This action is in flux because the game isn't over. Bob lays off Al's attack with a Spade 10 and moves one chip back to health. Later, Bob performs a heal with Heart(7,6,5) and gains three hit points (up to 10 max).

The action works back and forth, and the battle continues until one player discards completely or hit points are reduced to 0. Reducing a player to 0 allows them the next turn to recover. If the player can't meld or lay off then he is dead.

After the hand ends, the players tally dead-wood cards. The winner adds the number of opponent's dead-wood cards and subtracts his own. If this total is greater than 0, the winner adds this to his score.

The discard pile is treated normally. If a player gets too greedy and takes a stack then he may risk having too many dead-wood cards, even if he wins

Meld on the discard pile normally has no effect. Its there if a player wants to take all of those cards. And remember: a player can only lay one meld or lay off per turn. So, if there are several melds in the discard pile then the player will hold them until he can lay down one per turn. If he's too greedy then he'll risk having a great hand but still lose.

Troy Cook

Posts: 202

« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2006, 07:15:36 PM »

Those are some interesting ideas, although not really going in the same direction I was thinking of.

But here's a quick little game I came up with:

Rummy Fight!
A Short Roleplaying Game For Two Players
By Willow Palecek

In Rummy Fight, two players take the role of opponents in an epic battle. The mechanics are simple: the two players play a game of Rummy, with their card plays dictating what effects they can describe in the battle. When the game is over, the winner has defeated their opponent.

Card Play Rules of Rummy Fight:

Each player is dealt ten cards. Reveal one card face up in the middle as a discard pile, and put the rest face down in a draw pile. As the discard pile grows, the cards should be face up and slightly spread out, so the order and contents of the pile can be seen by both players.

On your turn:
*You must draw one card from the deck, or any card from the discard pile and all cards in the discard pile on top of that card.
*You may form any number of Melds. A Meld is three of more cards of the same suit and consecutive number (a Run, also known as a straight flush), or three or more cards of the same value (a Set). Aces can be high or low for the purpose of a Run, but not both in the same run. Put them face up on the play area.
*You may Lay Off any number of cards from Melds already on the table. You may play cards from your hand into cards Melds already on the table.
For example, if a Run of the 7, 8, 9, and 10 of Hearts was in play, one could play the 6 or Jack of Hearts onto it. If there was a set of the remaining Jacks (Clubs, Diamonds, and Spades), you could play the Jack to that meld instead.
*If you drew cards from the discard pile, you must play the bottom one you took. (If you are unable to play it, drawing it is not a legal move. If you took just the top card of the discard, that’s the card you’re obligated to play.)
*At the end of your turn, you must discard any card in your hand to the top of the discard pile.

If at any time you have no cards in hand, you win!

The Narration and Story Rules of Rummy Fight:

At the start of the game, the players should establish, in general terms who they are, and why they are fighting. (Examples: We’re mobsters after a briefcase full of money. We’re the gods of the universe, staging a final battle between good and evil. We’re Wuxia flying swordsmen, and we’re fighting because that’s what we do.) After that, each player should flesh out who their character is.

Whenever you play a card or cards, you must narrate the in-game effects of this. Card plays typically represent attacking your opponent, preparing for future offensive, or defending against attacks. The rules concerning what you can narrate are:

Black Cards represent directly attacking your opponent in some way. Clubs represents brute force or crude tools (fists, clubs, raw unrefined magic.) Spades represents the use of sophisticated tools (swords, guns, complex martial arts styles, intricate but deadly spells.)

Red Cards represent indirectly attacking your opponent in some way. Diamonds represent the use of money and resources: either using them to hinder your opponent, building up your own resources, or somehow attacking your opponent’s resources. (A hostile takeover of a corporation they control, burning down an inn they own, casting a spell to cause an earthquake in their capital city, thus toppling their citadel made from solid gold.) Hearts represent the use of contacts and allies: either using your contacts to attack your enemy, or attacking or subverting their social network. (Joining forces with a mercenary army, ordering an assassination of their apprentice, magically charming their followers.)

When playing a Meld, narration is fairly simple. For a Run, all the cards are of the same suit. For a Set, you must combine the concepts of the suits used into your narration. Furthermore, for any Meld, the more cards you play, the more complex your narration must be.

When Laying Off cards onto Melds already in play, the narration must build off the narration of the previous cards. (Nothing stops players from riffing off previous narrations for new Melds to create a more complex story, but this is required when Laying Off.) If you can’t remember what narration (in general terms) accompanied a specific Meld, you can ask your opponent to remind you. If he can’t remember, you can narrate any suit-appropriate events. (Players with exceptionally bad memories may wish to mark Melds with sticky notes.)

When Laying Off onto your own Melds, narration typically represents pressing the attack further, adding more intricate details, or taking advantage of preparations or openings. Laying Off your opponent’s Melds typically represents blocks, counterattacks, responses, etc. When Laying Off a Set, the narration must use the suit of the card played, not the original suits.

You do not narrate when drawing or discarding cards.

When you play or discard your last card, you get to describe in detail defeating your opponent. The means of the victory should match the suit of the card played or discarded, and the established content of a Meld if Laying Off.

On Narrative Timing:
The various events narrated in Rummy Fight should not be understood to necessarily happen in any particular order. (The events represented Laying Off certainly follow the original Meld.) Just because one Meld was played immediately after another does not necessarily mean that those Melds happened immediately after each other. Players should be willing to be fast and loose with chronology. A strike that was made during the first turn can easily be parried during the last.
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