Ninestones and Sevenstones Tradition / Ritual in The World of Cartyrion | World Anvil

Ninestones and Sevenstones

The Casinos in the Free Cities offer many ways for patrons to find out where they stand with their particular deities of luck, but there is one game that actually permits some skill to come into play as well. The game has great appeal for those that can calculate odds rapidly in their heads, but the greatest success goes to the player that can combine that ability with the ability to control their "game faces", and sometimes with their ability to manipulate those game faces to portray false impressions about the strength of their play. The game is called Nine Stones.


Game play is relatively simple. Each player at the table has nine special stones before them. These stones are icosahedral in shape, with 12 identical pentagonal faces. Each face is marked with a symbol representing one of the twelve races recognized as the Folk of Cartyrion. During the course of play, nine stones will be "rolled": four by each player, and five more by the designated "roller" for the game round being played. Each round, a different roller is designated, progressing around the gaming table.

At the beginning of the round, each player rolls two stones, with the results concealed from other players. Then the designated roller rolls five more stones into the center of the table where all can see them; these are called the "table stones". A round of betting takes place; players must either match bets or drop out of the round. Once all betting is done, the players each roll two more stones, also concealed from the other players. A final round of betting is done, concealed stones of those still in play are revealed, and a winner is declared.

The winner is the person who can make the best five stone result out of the combination of four concealed stones and five "table stones". Results are ranked as follows, from highest to lowest:
  • Five of a kind
  • Four of a kind
  • Three of a kind plus a different pair
  • Three of a kind
  • Two different pairs
  • One pair
If two or more players have the same "best hand", they split the betting pool.

Casino Play

In order to reduce the opportunity for cheating by manipulating the concealed dice after they have been rolled, the larger casinos make use of special tables where the game is played. These tables are designed with "wells" into which concealed dice can be rolled. The wells are designed so they are visible by only the player sitting before them. Some tables even employ covers that are placed over the wells once dice are rolled.

Variants and House Rules

The most common variant is to assign each of the twelve "race" faces a relative ranking to cut down on the number of shared wins. When this variant is used, the player with the higher ranking face values wins the hand. The biggest problem with this variant is that it requires assignment of ranks of importance to the various races, and depending on where the game is being played, that ranking system may vary. In Endmere, for example, Human is the highest rank; Ratfolk is the lowest. In the Chittiki city of ??, their own race is the highest rank, and Amurrun (Catfolk) is the lowest. Confusion often leads to arguments - and armed confrontations - things the larger casinos wish to avoid.

Some more cosmopolitan cities attempt to avoid arguments about "race preference" by using the universally accepted order in which the races where Awakened on Cartyrion. According to this approach, Elf is the highest rank, followed by Orc, Dwarf, Gnome, Goblin, Amurrun, Iruxi (Lizardfolk), Human, Halfling, Chittiki (Ratfolk), Awkwana (Birdfolk), and finally Kobold. The larger casinos in the city of Four Rivers, nestled in the foothills of the Iron Mountains just north of the Feywood, all use this ranking system.

In games where the races are ranked, another form of "best hand" is added: Five in a Line. This hand consists of five different symbols, but of consecutive values. This hand is better than ?, but not as good as ?.


In smaller taverns, and especially in the frontier towns where the cost of a high-end Ninestones table is prohibitive, a much simpler variant of the game called seven stones is played. While the gameplay is faster, this variant also removes any element of skill from the play, reducing it to purely a "luck of the roll" endeavor.

In Seven-Stones, the designated roller rolls the five table stones in the center as before, but there are no concealed stones rolled at this time. The players place bets based on how they think the game will turn out - at this point, every player has the same five stones before them and none others. After the betting round, each player rolls two stones of their own and determines what their "best result" is. As before, the best result uses five of the seven possible stones. There is no second betting round; the winner is declared immediatelya fter rolling the two stones.

One other recognized advantage to this form of the game is that, unless a player has a particularly long string of good or bad luck - and barring single rounds with exhorbitant betting - players all have a pretty good chance of leaving the game with about the same amount of money as when they entered. Games tend to stay friendly. Furthermore, the fact that there are no concealed stones eliminates the ability to cheat by manipulating rolled stones.

Stone sets

The only mandatory equipment is a set of stones. These can be made of any material from carved and painted wood to gold filigreed amethyst crystals. It is not necessary that all stones be exactly the same size, but it is highly desirable that they all be as close to "perfect" icosahedron shapes as possible. Misshapen dice are often disallowed at tables because they do not "roll true" - they do not offer equal chance for all twelve faces to show up.

There are many players who collect sets of stones - a hobby that can get quite expensive. Following are some example prices of Ninestone sets, though this list is by no means exhaustive:
  • Carved common wood - 1 to 5 gold pieces, depending on artwork,
  • Polished granite - 5 to 10 gold pieces, matched-size sets are more expensive
  • Polished carnelian - 20 to 30 gold pieces
  • Polished clear quartz or obsidian - 75 gold pieces and up
  • Single-crystal Amethyst - 1000gp and up, depending on size.
Symbols can be painted, or they may be carved into the faces. The latter adds to the price. Etched/carved stones may have silver or gold filigree insets; this raises the price even more. Stones are always sold in full sets of nine - even in regions where Sevenstones is the more popular game.


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