Firstly, I was somewhat surprised, but very happy, to know that some people read the last entry I posted Thankyou.
So, for anyone who isn't aware, Shelldry is a game in the world of the mistborn series. It is mentioned a couple of times at most, but from when it is mentioned we can gather that it is some form of gambling card game. Partly to play with my MAG groups and partly just for the fun of it I decided to create a version of shelldry. It isn't complete yet so everything here is subject to change. The rules have gone through several iterations and the card backs have been designed so some significant progress has been made on it. I currently hope to complete it within the next fortnight.
I wanted the game to be heavily set in the mistborn world, as a result it is based around the 10 allomantic metals that were known in the time of the final empire and their relative value and connections to eachother.
I know that both skaa and nobles play Shelldry and many skaa wouldn't know about allomancy. However I decided for this that it was perfectly possible that the nobility created the game and that the skaa adopted it even though most don't understand the significance of the metals and sets.
How to Play
The game is played with a set of 34 cards, 4 copies of each of the physical and mental metals, 1 gold and 1 atium. The game is, in basics, vaguely similar to Texas Hold'em poker. As such the best sets are of 4 and the different values of hands are based on metal pairs.
The hands, in increasing value:
-2 of a kind (eg, 2 iron)
-metal/alloy pair (eg. iron and steel)
-2 * 2 of a kind. (eg 2 iron and 2 brass)
-metal/alloy pair and a 2 of a kind (eg. iron, steel, and 2 brass)
-3 of a kind
-2 of the same metal/alloy pair (eg, 2 iron, 2 steel)
-4 of a kind
-2 pairs, one from mental, one from physical (eg, iron, steel, zinc, brass)
-full set, physical or mental (aka, iron, steel, tin, pewter OR zinc, brass, copper, bronze)
-gold and atium pair. (Special case)
Atium and gold act differently to the others. A gold/atium pair wins the pot (explained later) and ends the game, but neither gold nor atium is involved in any other set. Instead, atium and gold act as tiebreakers. If you and another opponent both have the same value set, for example if you both have a metal/alloy pair, and you have atium, you win the tie. On the flipside if you have gold, you lose the tie. This reflects atium and gold's allomantic values (Or at least how valuable they are considered by most mistborn, to all you gold lovers out there.)
In Shelldry there are two distinct pools of clips/boxings. There is the current betting pool which contains all the bets from the current round and there is the pot. The pot gradually increases in size throughout the game and nothing is taken out of it till the end.
How each round works:
-Each player is dealt 2 cards, then, starting with the player to the left of the dealer, each player has to choose to stick with their cards, or to pay the minimum bet (lets say 1 clip for now) into the pot to discard them face-down and draw 2 replacement cards.
-Each player is dealt a third card.
-Each player (in turn) chooses an amount to bet of at least the minimum bet, they do not have to match previous bets. These bets stay in front of the player and are collectively called the "betting pool".
-A final card is flipped face up in the centre of the table. Each player can make sets from the cards in their hand and this card.
-Each player (in turn) chooses one of 3 options:
1. Fold, and take back half their bet rounded down. The remainder stays in the betting pool.
2. Stand. (No changes to their bet.)
3. Double Down. Provided the player has enough clips/boxings remaining they can double their bet, increasing the betting pool.
-All players who didn't fold reveal their hands and the player with the best set wins the round. They take back their bet and an equal amount from the betting pool. If there is not enough in the betting pool to match their bet they take however much there is. They do not take from the pot to make the difference.
-Any remaining clips/boxings in the betting pool are added to the pot.
-The cards are shuffled, the player to the left of the dealer becomes the new dealer and a new round begins.
In the case of a tie, if one of the players has atium, they win the tie. If one has gold, they lose it. If that doesn't resolve a tie a player who formed their set completely from their hand wins the tie.
If that still doesn't determine a victor the round is a tie and the players who are tied take back their bets and then split the remainder of the betting pool evenly between them, with the caveat that each player, like normal, cannot receive more than they bet. Any clips/boxings that they would otherwise receive from the split are added to the pot as is any extra that cannot be evenly split between the tied players.
-The game ends when a player reveals a gold/atium pair during scoring (including the case where they have one of them in hand and the other is the centre card), that player wins the round and takes the pot.
Rounds in Shelldry should go a little faster than normal poker rounds while still allowing for some bluffing and psychological play.
Gold and atium make for an interesting risk-taking dynamic. If you get gold on the initial draw do you hold on to it in the hopes that atium will come up, sacrificing your chance to get a set of 4, reducing your chance of a decent set AND causing you to lose ties? Very risky. Atium is a safer, though still risky, choice as while it makes you win ties, it still prevents you from getting a set of 4 and reduces your chance of gaining a good set. A player who starts with one in their hand has to decide if the potential reward is worth the risk
An option for resolving things if the game has to end before an atium/gold pair surfaces is to deal a final round with no betting. The winner of that round takes the pot, split the pot if there is a tie.
The most recent modifications to these rules are yet to be tested so changes may well still occur.
The easiest way to play is simply to take a standard deck of cards, take out all of the cards for the numbers 1 through 8, 1 jack card and 1 king card. Then:
1/ace = iron
2 = steel
3 = tin
4 = pewter
5 = zinc
6 = brass
7 = copper
8 = bronze
Jack = gold
King = atium
This is what I have been using during testing, however while this is functional it would be much nicer to have proper cards, so I have been working on designing them.
I figured it would be cool to have a table of the 10 then known allomantic metals on the back of the cards, both for visual use and as an easy reference chart. Partly due to this the cards I have designed thus far will be round, however as I know that round cards are much harder to print properly and cut out I also plan to put the table on to the back of more regular sized cards for those who prefer them. Circular cards are cooler for this, but normal cards are far more practical
I then ran into a problem in that there isn't any table for just the 10 metals known during the final empire. This is where a friend of mine, nard, (he has an account on steel ministry but not here) helped me out. He took the table from "The Hero of ages"
He then used photoshop to cut off the bottom part, then took the top part and copied it down to make a full circle. He then covered over all the unwanted symbols and most of the inner lines to create something looking like this:
At the time he then just roughly sketched in the remaining symbols. Coming back to working on the card-back now I decided that the sketched in symbols really wouldn't do the trick. Instead I traced out the gold and atium symbols from the full allomantic chart, shrunk them to the size I wanted and used them. Atium initially gave me a bit of trouble as it was too dark a grey and kept blending in with the background. I ended up adjusting the contrast and brightness to make it a much whiter colour that stands out better on the card (and is actually closer to how I always imagined atium anyway ).
That left the internal metal symbols. I could take them from the initial chart but they would be white and would look strange and asymmetrical on this new chart. I considered doing as I had with gold and atium and taking them from the full allomantic chart. However, I rather liked how the existing symbols fit with the background and how they contrasted with the new atium and gold symbols. In the end I took the symbols from the Hero of ages chart and simply inverted the colours on them then adjusted the brightness/contrast as necessary and stuck them in. I am quite pleased with the final result.
Creating shelldry has been a lot of fun. I will hopefully finalize the rules and create the cards in the next two weeks before I go back to Uni. When I do I'll share it in the Creator's corner and upload the files for the cards so anyone who wishes to can print them off. I worry that the gameplay may be slightly suboptimal due to my desire to base it so much on the allomantic metals but I think I managed a decent balance in the end. I don't actually gamble real money with this and I wouldn't recommend anyone doing so , it is just for fun The most I do is sometimes I play it with my MAG players where they are using their ingame (regenerating) resources to try to temporarily get more or to gain secrets from the "informant" they are gambling with
As an aside.
I will be starting another campaign of the MAG over on steelministry.com hopefully in the next 2 weeks. It will be a multiple crew "cops and robbers" type campaign where there is a skaa crew (or perhaps 2 separate crews depending on the number of players I get) who are trying to pull a certain job, and a ministry crew trying to hunt them down. I have enough players to run it already, but I am looking for a couple more, so if you are interested just toss me a pm or create an account on steelministry and chime in to say you are interested.
Thankyou for reading, and if you have any thoughts, comments, criticisms or ideas please feel free to comment and let me know