Bones

Written by RiverFang

The gentle rocking of the prow as it crests the waves along one of the areas known as the Teeth of the North does not deter the shaggy forms of four Minotaurs as they gather around the barrel they use as a table. With precision, the bones are neatly stacked, ready for their nightly game and the determination of who will spend the night in the crow's nest as the ocean spray seeps into their coats. After weeks of practice, the oldest of the group arranges the precarious stack, taking into account the small movements of the ship. Nothing will stop them from this game, a reminder of a culture lost to the Eldritch War. This tribal game was their reprieve, no matter the weather, no matter the winner.   Bones is a game of the Minotaur Culture, one they see as more of an art of honor than just a simple gambling game. The outcomes are so deeply ingrained in their sense of honor that losing or leaving a game can bring great shame in those that thrive on the stories of the warriors of the past. It once was a game of gambling and strategy, but now it is a game of revival, a reminder of a people and a homeland decimated, but one that lives on in the lost ones and the stories they tell.   While most often a game played by sailors and bounty hunters, it is one of the few solid remnants of the Minotaurs and the warrior culture they built in the Mystic Jungle. The items used to play the game are evidence of that, bones of whatever poor creature one could find, bird, wolf, even larger ones if they were readily available.  

How to Play

Rules

This game is played with seven uniquely marked bones, each bearing a symbol that is easily recognizable on the very upper portion of the bone. Everyone must play with the same types of coins to play this game whether it be gold, silver, or copper.   The game is played by arranging the bones in a pyramid-like formation in the center of a table. The defining marks will all be on the upper portion of the bones and turned in towards the center. Every player can know what bone is placed in what position; the “dealer” arranges this (dealer rotates every turn).   Everyone then stacks money in front of them that they intend to bet with, the bag. When the game is ready to be played each player will take turns pushing their bet under the pyramid, the fire. If anyone knocks it over, they lose their bet and are exempt from all outcomes this round.   Once the pyramid is stable and bets are set, each player makes a fist and hits the table at the same time in front of where they are sitting to knock the pyramid over. Based on the arrangement and position of specific bones a different thing will happen with the money on the table.   The effect takes place, payouts are issued and a new round begins. Play is done in rounds of three, during which players cannot leave or take any of the money they have decided to play with off the table, the bag. Players can add to that money at any time, the bag.   If you decided to leave on an off-round (not after the third) then you forfeit all money in the bag to be spread around the table starting with the player to the left as equally as possible.   This is considered a game of bravery. Those that try to back out of a game early or refuse to bet are mocked. For this reason, you must always have money in your bag to continue playing and you must place a bet each round in order to continue playing.        

Arrangements

Mark of Luck
If the mark of luck points at you then starting with the player to your left, each person must give up one coin to your bag until your bag has doubled. If the other bags run out of money this process will stop.
Mark of Death
If the mark of death points at you then you lose all the money currently in your bag, it will go into the fire for the next game. The mark of death cannot be negated.
Mark of Rage
If the mark of rage points at you then you will choose a player and point a bone at them, but it cannot point to you.
Mark of Warrior
If the mark of the warrior points at you then you may choose a bone that points at you and point it at another player, but they cannot be sitting next to you unless there are no other players.
Mark of Saint
If the mark of the saint points at you then you may take your bet back from the fire and must choose to give someone else their bet back from the fire.
Mark of Thief
If the mark of the thief points at you then you can choose a player and take money from their bag until it equals the money that you bet.
Mark of King
If the mark of the king points at you then all other marks are negated, and nothing can happen to you. You win all money in the fire and put it into your bag.
Crossed Bones
If any bone is crossed with any other bone then the effects that it has are nullified. If three or more bones are crossed, then any money in the pot that falls under them will be excluded from all winnings and be in the pot for the next round. If four or more bones are crossed are crossed, then all money is returned, and the game is set up again.
Type
Gambling
Number of Players
3+
Common Players
Sailors, Bounty Hunters
Related Ethnicities
Cheating
Cheating at this game is difficult but anyone caught doing it would have been expected to fight against all other players at the table to prove their bravery and earn their honor back or else never play the game again among those that know you are a cheater.

List of Bones

Luck
Marked by a Banana
Death
Marked by a Spider
Rage
Marked by a Minotaur head pointing left
Warrior
Marked by a Shield
Saint
Marked by a Minotaur head pointing right
Thief
Marked by a Dagger
King
Marked by a Crown


Cover image: Races & Cultures Cover by Landscape via Artbreeder, created by RiverFang

Comments

Please Login in order to comment!
29 Dec, 2020 08:33

Hey RiverFang A really awesome and detailed game. Love the symbolism and its cultural background. What happens with cheaters is a nice little detail which adds depth to the idea.   In the rules section, you end several sentences with the bag, which I don't think is necessary as it is quickly clear what it means. Maybe add the bag & the fire to the sidebar with a short explanation of the terms?

Grandmaster Teyvill
Andrew Belenkiy
29 Dec, 2020 08:58

Can I say, as a partial Game Designer myself, this is an interesting design, it's seemingly not based on tactics at all, but on one's faith in the outcome. Can't be sure about if that's possible in the current conditions, but I'd like to try and recreate that IRL at some point if you're not against it ;)

Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
29 Dec, 2020 17:37

I love that the meaning of the game has changed, so now it's an important part of the Minotaurs' culture and they take it very seriously. It seems like it would be a fun game to play!

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea!
6 Jan, 2021 19:13

I really love the elements of culture you included in the rules of the game, this is a really interesting answer! Loved reading through it, makes me want to try it out myself (though maybe not a good idea, I don't think my fists would last long)

Powered by World Anvil