Dragon's Hoard

Oh? Fancy a game, do you? Pull up a chair, put down your Crests, and if we find you cheating they'll find your tongue on the east gate and your liver on the west road. But if you walk away now, nobody will think any less of you.
— Patrons of the Black Road Tavern
  Perhaps one of the more infamous tavern games, 'Dragon's Hoard' is deceptively simple and yet more people lose money at it than the more complex games. It is played throughout taverns of Erisdaire, largely to pass the time while drinks and laughs are had. With the usual buy-in not being too high, most anyone is encouraged to try playing. However, winning at it takes more luck than skill, as the dice are more the arbiter of whether one wins or loses. It is also quite popular among adventuring groups, though the buy-in is usually much higher (or different). It's not uncommon for groups less serious about their fortune use this game to divide up spoils which include a great deal of coins.  

Rules of Play

Each player seated at the table contributes a set value to a central pot ("the Hoard"), usually agreed upon before the game begins. One of the more common choices inside the Imperium is for each player to put in a hundred Crests1. Once all players have put in their money, they remove one-fifth of what they originally put into the Hoard. (This becomes "the Stash"). A first player is decided, and then play begins as they take the dice.

The active player bets a value of their Stash, and declares they will roll over or under a certain number. ("I wager five coins I will roll over a six.") After they roll the dice, if they did succeed they take a number of coins equal to their wager from the Hoard. They may roll again, choosing higher or lower than the number they had just rolled, or pass the dice to their left and keep what they "stole" from the Hoard. If at any time the player fails, anything they bet or stole from the Hoard is pushed back into the Hoard before they pass the dice.

The game ends when the Hoard is empty, or only one player remains. If the Hoard has been all taken, then the players keep what they successfully took. If only one player remains, they can either choose to leave the table or start another game. When starting another game, they do not return their winnings to the Hoard; the old Stash is used in place of a new one, however.

History

According to word of mouth, the game started as a variant of a game popular inside the Imperial Legion during their days of actively campaigning to expand the Imperium's borders. It is said the common soldiers would play this with their wages, sometimes to the disastrous end expected of such gambling. The truth is hard to pin down, since the Legion very much disapproves of this sort of behavior (most commanders will agree, however, it is nigh impossible to avoid it happening in a large enough gathering, so they turn blind eyes unless it gets out of hand).

Components and tools

Each player of the game needs to bring their own initial bet, and at least one set of dice will be needed. During play, the dice are passed from person to persons; this is to make it more difficult for someone to use loaded dice.

1: The value of the stakes is wildly variable depending on which table you sit at, and for friendly games the coins may be redistributed with only a portion being kept by the winner. For a reference, one hundred Crests is roughly 10% of the average soldier's weekly wages, while the expense may vary for others. Most craftsfolk can find this amount of money to spend roughly twice a month, while commoners might have to ration the money for a month for one game. This, of course, assumes it is spent and gone instead of some portion being kept as winnings. All things considered, it is usually indeed lost along with the cost of ale and food during the game.

Comments

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Master PBE
William Belley
24 Jul, 2019 18:40

The passing dices is a clever way to avoid loading indeed.   Out of curiosity, what is 100 crests worth in average ? 10% a guard's weekly pay ? a commoner's day salary ? Just to have an idea of starting cost.   Happy SummerCamp !

24 Jul, 2019 19:48

100 Crests is, in D&D game terms, 100 copper pieces. In my head, I rather see it as an expense mostly for commoners who aren't skilled labor - roughly a once-a-month type thing. (Unless, of course, they win back what they put in.)   As for guards/soldiers, I'd expect 10% is about right.