#RPG – Five Fingers Card Game (Four Captains)

Rooftop-ChaseI came up with a quick and dirty card game for use in the gambling houses of Five Fingers and thought I’d share it.

The game is called ‘Four Captains’ and uses a normal set of cards with Ace’s low and Kings high.

A = ‘Scrub’
1-10 = ‘Crew’
J = ‘Mate’
Q = ‘Wench’
K = ‘Captain’

The aim is to get as many of the same card as you can in your hand with value of the card breaking ties.

Four Captains (if you play a four captains – called a New Captain), the other players must all pay you the ante-value from their stash).


Draw cards to determine who is dealer, after this play passes to the left each round. The dealer has advantage.

  1. The ante (typically 1, 2 or 10 gold crowns is placed in the pot. The dealer must pay double the ante).
  2. Dealer deals out four cards face down to each player.
  3. Players may fold at this point, forfeiting their ante. Their cards are placed on the bottom of the deck.
  4. Players determine which cards they are going to discard and all are discarded face up near the pot in the centre of the table.
  5. Starting with the dealer, each player may draw from the face-up cards (seen) or the deck (unseen) to try and better their hand.
  6. Starting with the dealer again, each player may choose to up the ante by its initial value, going around the table, until it cycles back to the dealer again. They may also choose to fold, on their turn, if they do they no longer have to ante up (they do if anyone before them antes up) and their cards are placed on the bottom of the deck.
  7. The hands are revealed and the winner takes the pot.
  8. The cards are put together, shuffled and the dealership passes to the left.

EG: Abelard, Bogrot, Calista and Delbot are playing Four Captains.

Abelard wings the dealer position on a draw and all toss their ante into the pot (1GC with Abelard having to pay an extra coin). The pot now stands at 5GC.

Each tosses cards face up into the middle, ready to redraw.

Abelard tosses a 6, 7 and 8 from his hand, leaving him with a Jack. He knows he’ll get to draw first so there’s not a lot of point him being sneaky, he could take these cards back if he needed them.

After the others toss their cards the pile contains…

4, 5, 6, 6, 7, 7, 8, 9

Abelard gets to draw back first. If he takes the two 8s that gives him the highest visible pair, so he goes for it and takes both. That’s enough to win based on what he knows is out there, so for his last missing card he draws from the stack – and draws a King. He now knows he has a pair of eights, the highest visible cards, and that the most Kings anyone could have is three.

Bogrot draws two cards blind.

So does Calista

Delbot takes both the sevens.

Abelard knows that there wouldn’t be any point drawing the sevens – as his eights beat them – unless Delbot had one already. So he could be facing three sevens, or it could be a bluff…

Abelard doesn’t up the ante, but he doesn’t fold.

Bogrot folds, showing his hand, best he had was a King.

Calista folds, all she had was an 8.

Abelard’s heart sinks as Delbot ups the ante, forcing both of them to put a coin into the pot, raising it to 7 GC.

They both reveal their hands.

Abelard has a pair of 8s, a Jack and a King.

Delbot has three 7s and an eight.

Delbot wins ans scrapes in the pot.

Dealership passes to Bogrot.

The game is partly satirical, making fun of the machinations and paranoia of the four High Captains, the shifting alliances and advantage and disadvantage.

As the game has spread beyond Four Fingers it has changed its name to ‘Four Kingdoms’, referring to Cygnar, Khador, Ord and Cryx, though which Kingdoms are named varies wildly from nation to nation.

(More information on gambling is in No Quarter issue 7, and it says the decks – at least in The Galleon are blades, wheels, anchors and skulls).

Review: Iron Kingdoms – Kings, Nations & Gods

IKRPG Book 2 CoverKings, Nations and Gods is the first full-scope companion volume for the new version of the Iron Kingdoms RPG, a minis focussed (but not essential) RPG set in Privateer Press’ wargame world of Warmachine and Hordes.

Kings, Nations and Gods presents the updated history and geography of the world of Immoren along with the demography, politics etc of the game world and new career and equipment options.

As someone who played the old d20 version, but never liked the system, I was blown away by the level of game detail in the older books. KNaG is a worthy successor but doesn’t go into quite the same level of detail as the old d20 version. In a way this is good, leaving more gaps for players and Games Masters to put in their own ideas and thoughts but as praised as the older version was, it seems odd to have shifted away from that, but it’s not entirely unwelcome.

That’s not to say that this isn’t a weighty book, hardback and nearly 400 pages it is jam packed with information and since it also includes full-on game information it is dually useful, not only as a lore sauce but as one that greatly expands the personalisation of characters and the scope of equipment for the game.

As with the previous version it’s divided into sections, by region with the history and current events/situation leading up and into the game information.

For me, the product shines in its sheer level of presentation and content, primarily as an equipment/character book and secondarily, since I already have the original world books but don’t follow the wargame, catching me up on the state of the world. Reading through the product, the history and current events cause ideas for games to leap out – whatever sort of concept your gaming group runs on.

There’s some flies in the ointment though…

1. Distributing the character.equipment/warjack information throughout the book makes quick reference of it difficult. I’d have rather separated the actual ‘engineering’ (the stats) out into an appendix for quicker and easier reference.

2. My copy has blurred printing on a handful of pages through the book rendering those pages virtually unreadable. Fixable by finding a pirated PDF but I’d rather not have had to do that. It’s a let down in a book that otherwise is very well presented. I have no idea if this is a problem just with my copy or whether it’s afflicted others.

3. I feel really, really sad for Llael.

4. There’s nothing to speak of on Cryx, Ios, Rhul, the Skorne etc. I imagine this’ll be coming in another book. Rather than Kings, Nations and Gods this could have been called ‘Hoomins’.

Style: 4
Substance: 4
Overall: 4

Iron Kingdoms RPG – Necromancer

Just a quick, rough, usable (ish) sketch for a character class and magic.

Career: Necromancer
Archetype: Gifted†
Starting Career: Yes.

Starting Abilities/Connections/Skills & Spells:
Ability: Anatomical Precision.
Spells: Dark Mist, Dead Flesh, Necrotic Strike.
Military Skills: Choose One: Hand Weapon, Thrown Weapon, Crossbow.
Occupational Skills: Necrotech 1, Intimidation 1
Starting Assets: 75gc.

Necromancer Abilities: Backstab, Blood Spiller, Camouflage, Dodger, Immunity Corrsion
Necromancer Connections:
Necromancer Military Skills: Archery 3, Crossbow 3, Hand Weapon 3, Thrown Weapon 2, Unarmed Combat 2
Necromancer Occupational Skills: General Skills 4, Sneak 3, Necrotech 3
Necromancer Spells: From Necromancy list.

Necromancy Spells
Cost 1
Dark Mist: As Blizzard
Darkness: Cost 1, Range Self, AOE Ctrl, gain cover of darkness, you are not affected by it.
Dead Flesh: Cost 1, Range 6, target gains +1 ARM
Necrotic Strike: Cost 1, Range 8, Power 8.
Plague: Cost 1, Range 6, Target suffers -3 to resist poison, disease or infection.
Protection from Corrosion: See book.
Raise: Raise a basic Thrall from a corpse for a day.

Cost 2
Bleed: Cost 2, Range 8, Power 10 – Killing a target heals d3 damage.
Caustic Mist: Cost 2, Range CTRL, AOE 3, Models moving into or ending movement in area take 1 damage.
Iron Blight: Cost 2, Range 8, Warjacks/Machines take d6 damage.
Malediction: Cost 2, Range 6, Enemies within melee range of target suffer -2 Arm and Def.
Necrophage: Cost 2, Range 8, Power 8. If it kills the target it explodes in AOE 3 with Power 8.
Scything Touch: Cost 2, Range 6, Target gains +2 STR
Venom: Cost 2, Range Spray, Power 10. Corrosion to those hit.
Resurrect: Raise a warrior thrall from a corpse for a day.

Cost 3
Blood Rain: Cost 3, Range 8, AOE 3, Power 12. Corrosion.
Breath of Corruption: Cost 3, Range 8, AOE 3, Power 12 – All moving in or ending in area takes 1 damage.
Consumption: Cost 3, Range 10 – Warjack/machine takes d6 damage, roll additional die for each 1-2 rolled.
Crippling Grasp: Cost 3, Range 8, Target suffers -2 move, Strength, Def, Arm.
Ghost Walk: Cost 3, Range 6, Target can move through walls/terrain/obstacles ignoring penalties/attacks.
Hellfire: Cost 3, Range 10, Power 14, causes fear.
Parasite: Cost 3, Range 8. Target reduces ARM by -3, caster increases ARM by +1 and heals 1 damage each turn.
Shadow Wings: Cost 3, Range Self, Move up to 10” ignoring all penalties and attacks.
Return: Raise a basic thrall permanently. You may only maintain double your ARC in thralls.

Cost 4
Cloak of Shadows: Cost 4, Range Caster – Cannot be charged, slammed or targeted/attacked one turn.
Dark Seduction: Cost 4, Range 6, take control of target.
Death Knell: Cost 4, Range 8, SOE 4, Pow 10, +1 Pow for each target (past the first) in the AOE.
Imprison: Cost 4, Range Caster, AOE 5. Nobody may enter or leave this area. It is treate a having ARM 20 and is dissipated if it takes damage.
Scourge: Cost 4, Range 8, AOE 3, Power 13 – All targets hit are knocked down.
Lazarus: Raise a warrior thrall permanently. You may only maintain double your ARC in thralls.

Necrotech Skill (Int)
Can be used as Medicine to repair undead/necrotech creatures and devices.
Constructing Necrotech creatures requires ingredients, time and rolls. Organic parts are destroyed in the making other parts can be recovered.

Necrotech Lab: 500 gc +2 to Necrotech rolls to repair/manufacture necrotech.
Necrotech Field Kit: 50 gc Necessary to work Necrotech in the field.
Human Corpse: 30 gc (black market)
Necrotic Capacitor: 10 gc, enough to animate a creature for a month.
Necrotic Turbine: 500gc, enough to animate a creature indefinitely.
Necrotic Accumulator: 50 gc, enough to animate a creature for a year.
Reanimation Plate: 150 gc.

Review: Iron Kingdoms RPG

Like a lot of people I was more than a little disappointed when Privateer Press released their Iron Kingdoms RPG for d20. Creating their own system and re-releasing the RPG has been long-awaited development with a lot of expectation zeroed in on it.

The main selling point of Iron Kingdoms has always been its background, a background solid and interesting enough to sell it under any system. The appeal of the setting has been obvious for a long time as multiple conversions have turned up online for everything from Savage Worlds to Silhouette.

Now we have a background and a system out of the same stable which should only improve the synergy. Expectations are high, especially since Privateer have managed to kick Games Workshop’s butt in the miniatures field.

The Iron Kingdoms is a ‘steampunk’ (actually more of a magi-punk) setting. This is a semi-typical fantasy world that has been transformed by the advent of steam power, gunpowder and the fusion of both with magic. The game has a much more industrial feel than typical fantasy settings but it does have wild places and plenty of room for wilderness adventure as well as delving into the espionage, proxy wars and so on going on between the various Iron Kingdoms.

The background is deep and detailed. Far too much to into in a review but that, itself, is a selling point as far as I’m concerned. The human-led kingdoms consist of Cygnar (liberal, advanced, lightning oriented), Khador (pseudo-Russian, despotic, militaristic), Ord (fishermen and pirates) and the Protectorate of Menoth (religious fanatics). These groups are locked in a perpetual cold war with each other and often operate through mercenary companies, which can become rich and powerful.

Beyond their borders lie Cryx (corrupted necrotechnicians), Ios (mysterious land of the elves) and Rhul (land of the dwarves). Other races, ogrun and trollkin, eke out a living in and around the human kingdoms.

Iron Kingdoms has a system that is the bastard offspring of 4e D&D, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and first edition Warhammer 40,000. It’s very much a miniatures oriented game – not surprising since Privateer Press make minis – though it’s probably more amenable to playing without minis than 4e D&D was. If I was going to compare it to anything it would probably be Cadwallon.

Characters are full-on RPG characters but the degree of customisation and individuality when it comes to actual statistics is pretty limited. Characters advance in tiers (Starting/Hero/Veteran/Epic) which are reminiscent of 40k’s old troop/champion/minor hero/major hero. Your starting stats are determined by race and, given the attention in the d20 version to different human nationalities and races its a little disappointing that they become more generically ‘human’ in this.

Customisation and characterisation comes through the application of various templates and choices that channel the character into various directions. This is most similar to WHFRP’s careers and skill picks but has more layers to it.

You pick an archetype (Gifted, intellectual, mighty, skilled).

You pick two careers from a list including things like alchemist, bounty hunter, cut-throat, duellist or pirate, to come up with a combo that best describes your character concept.

Careers give access to abilities, connections and skills which is where the character individualism finally, really comes in.

The system itself is a rather simple 2d6+modifiers Vs target number one. That gives you a more gritty bell curve of probability with more typical outcomes which – with the compensation of Feat points for when you want to do something more heroic.

Combat is a big focus and where the skirmish-game shows through the most. While the game can be played without minis and a board everything is expressed in these terms and there’s some combat options that are missing due to lacking a degree of combat granularity. It’s fixable enough with improvisation, but it would have been nice to have more options.

Characters are tough bastards with three sets of health in a spiral, representing different effects of different wounds. When defeated, unless explicitly finished off, they instead develop permanent wounds but with magi-tech prosthetics and healing magic that need not be as awful as you might think.

Magic is more free-flowing and less constricted than in the d20 version, much closer to the wargame. Magicians either have fatigue or focus, which is used up to run effects, boost powers and control warjacks – if those abilities are open to you. Spells end to be a bit more combat focussed, but there are plenty of utility spells as well and a creative player with a good Games Master can get around the constrictions.

Somehow this edition doesn’t have the same atmosphere as the previous edition despite having higher production values. It just seems a little too ‘clean’ for the world that it describes. The previous edition also had two books of this size to delve into the background and history of the world and as a single book there’s less space for that in this one. It does the job, but when compared to the previous edition falls short. Of course, the previous edition was outstanding so this one had a lot to live up to.

This edition is full colour and while it re-uses a lot of old artwork it is lavishly illustrated and well laid out. The cover is a little busy perhaps, but the production values are incredibly high throughout. Perhaps controversially I think it might have been better done if it were… in… black and white? The old books almost felt like an artefact of the game world, even if the pages were a bit grey. This version doesn’t have the same feel to it.

An interesting version of the game with wedded background and mechanics. It’s a shame – but not surprising – that it is focussed on skirmish style play but it takes less work to remove that aspect and play in the theatre of the mind than some other games. The relative lack of difference between characters statistically may irritate some players but all things considered it should work fine.

The game needs an example adventure/campaign and an expanded bestiary ASAP but those familiar with the wargame or the d20 version should be able to muddle through.

It would be well worth getting the d20 books on PDF or on ebay, just for the more in depth treatment of the background.

Style: 4
Substance: 4
Overall: 4

UPDATE: Extended bestiary and character sheets etc can be downloaded HERE