Ace of Hearts Preview

Here’s just a quick intro and a few bits of example text from my forthcoming GMless story game, Ace of Hearts.

Ace of Hearts
In the latter half of the 19th Century in the Old West the town of Jezebel has been passed over in the Gold Rush. Until very recently an important town the mines have run dry and the people have begun to move on. What was once a place of rich pickings is now not so wealthy as all that. Those who remain have their reasons to stay and there’s just enough business to keep the place ticking over for the time being, it may even have – yet another – change in its fortunes.

Jezebel is, perhaps, most famous amongst travellers for the presence of Rose’s House, a den of ill-repute, home to some of the finest whores to be found this side of the United States. Now that business has moved on, so have a lot of the girls but those that remain have good reason to stick around. Rose isn’t well, she’s got a terrible case of consumption and while she tries to put on a brave face everybody knows she doesn’t have much time left and with no family and no children she’s looking for an ‘heir’.

Scuttlebutt around the girls is that Rose also has a small fortune set aside, gold and other finery given to her in her prime by the prospectors and miners that used to make Jezebel so profitable. If a girl wants a piece of the fortune and to inherit Rose’s House – and everything that goes along with it – she’s going to have to prove herself capable of taking over from Rose in the time she has left.

It’s never dull in a town like Jezebel and there’s plenty of ways for a girl to prove that she’s got the sand to run a bordello. She’s just got to exploit her opportunities as they come along and work just as hard to make the other girls look bad.

The Aim of the Game
Each player takes the part of one of the girls competing to become Rose’s heir. Dealing with problems as they come up each girl exploits her strengths and the other girl’s weaknesses in a game of social one-upmanship until a clear winner emerges and the game ends. It’s competitive, but the main thrust of the game is to create an interesting story of bitchy politics, gossip, cruelty and double-crossing.

The Town of Jezebel
Story goes Jezebel was founded where two herds of cattle met to ‘take a shit’ and it seemed as good a place as any for cattle traders to swap stories, found a trading post and – eventually – a little town. When gold was struck in the hills Jezebel became the centre of a flutter of activity and rapid growth but when the mines – rapidly – ran dry, that was pretty much it. The only permanent fixtures now are the old folk, those too stubborn to leave and the whores.

The White Horse Saloon
Ol’ Zeke runs The White Horse saloon and he’s been here a dog’s age handing out whiskey to ranchers, miners and anyone else who pitches up to drown their sorrows. He’s an ornery old cuss and while he lets people get away with a lot on his propery if he sets his jaw and gets his hog-leg out, you know you’ve overstepped the mark. A veteran with a bloody past he’s as keen on his own drink as anyone is.

Pastor Salmond of the Chapel
The Pastor is a real fire-and-brimstone bible thumper, desperate to get his message of salvation from terrible damnation to the people. This is as much to convince himself as anyone else as the Pastor has many of his own demons to deal with. The good Pastor is a prevert, though he struggles against it, a man of a fierce temper – especially when he’s got a skin-full – with a set of perverse and nasty desires that he pretends he doesn’t have. He hates himself and takes that out on everyone else, rather than blame himself.