Sunday, February 22, 2015

Game Crafting and Toledo Rules (Crawlspace)

Just finished BASHCon 2015, as great a time as ever. Friday night during the Crawlspace session, "The Swamp Troll",  because of a slough of deaths, some rules tweaking came about. As everyone knows, when a Character dies they get an "All-In Hand" which are the five Damage that he has taken up to that point. If the cards can be arranged into a poker hand, the pairs or straights that happen are removed as Damage for the sake of drama. Well, I didn't specify if there were any sort of limitations on the All-In Hand conventions. My figuring at the time was that there was about a 40% that any random deal of playing cards were "High Hands" (crap-hands or "Bluff Crowns"). Thanks to the this play session, I began to realize that my math was wrong.

Officially, somewhat, it only occurs 4.1% of the time. Hey my decimal point was off. I think Beckett, who was there, already knew this. He was at the session and we discussed "High Hands," which I was calling "Trash Hands" before the session was in full swing.

Luckily during the course of play, only three Characters out of the eight playing, constituted the slough that I spoke of earlier. So despite a bunch of great lethal scenes, when I expected one out of the three fatalities to be fatal the arithmetic started clicking. This is not really that big of a problem.

Death and dying doesn't have to be too easy in  Crawlspace and ultimately it is up to the GM.  In my mind, if an event moves the story into tying up a yarn into a larger knit for a complete fill, the GM needs to let it happen. Before then though, some poetic license should be allowed during these fatal "moments" that the cards can rewrite. Heck a GM, as the director, can call the "Made For TV" clause, and send everybody on a potty break, and during that commercial break, he can rearrange the All-In Hand that is about to read. I am mostly kidding here, but I hope that you, dear reader, get the point.

But without being conniving or arbitrary, I don't like to be either when GMing, quicker death for PCs can be helpful. I, of course, threw my design dilemma to the crowd, JerryTel mentioned a couple solutions. One of them included the number Damage before the All-In Hand was required reducing at each death.

So here's my recommendation, which could very well be finalized, in something called (working title) St. Dubious University: Crawlspace Schoolhouse Schlock. A Character's first death is after five Damage. His second is after three. The third death and those thereafter, is after two Damage cards are obtained.


  1. What if the all in hand needs to beat an increasingly better "dealer's" hand? So the first death is just has to beat a high card, then the second death within the group (this is collective pain) requires a pair, increasing through straight flush? It builds tension and body counts?

    1. It is a convention that I have used on-line and in play-by-posts, still good thinking. It works great in very specific styles of sessions. I am going to discuss this means as well later.