PATIENT DEVIL— a solitaire variant where you choose your damnations

Recently, I’ve been thinking that Canfield just isn’t a complex enough solitaire game.  I’ve designed patient devil to provide you with more options that you’ll feel that you just don’t want to take.

  1. The aim of the game is to get all of the cards from the pack to the four foundations.  They will vary between (& within) games.  Continuous ranking is allowed.
  2. Take a shuffled pack without jokers and deal seven cards face down into the reserve.  Beside this, deal one card face up to form the first foundation, then four cards face up in separate piles beneath to form the tableau.  Keep the remaining cards aside as your stock.
  3. The foundations are built up by suit in ascending order (A, 2, 3, &c.)  As long as its suit is not yet represented in the foundations, at any point you may move a card to the foundation; from there, the suit is built up as usual.  There is no requirement that the value of any of the new foundations match those already present.  Be careful not to do this too soon — you don’t want to find yourself trapped later on.
  4. The cards from the reserve can be played directly to the foundation or can build down on the tableau.  One of your first goals should be to clear the cards from the reserve.
  5. The tableau is built down in descending order, regardless suit or colour (i.e. you may build any Q on any K, &c.).  Cards may be moved individually or in blocks between the four piles of the tableau.  If you have an empty space, it may be filled with any card.
  6. If you’re otherwise unable to make a move, deal the top three cards of the stock into a single waste pile.  You can play the top card of the waste pile to either the foundations or the tableau.
  7. Once the stock is exhausted, you may turn over the waste pile to produce a new stock.  Do not shuffle the cards.  You may do this as often as you please, though you may find yourself at a dead end regardless!

You’ll find the game slightly easier to win than Canfield (though I’ve yet to calculate the likelihood of winning), though it will regularly feel like you’ve made a choice that’ll upset the game later.  Either way, keep going until you fill the foundations or find that you’re unable to progress!

Let me know in the comments how you find the game — or otherwise what your favourite patience games are!

PATIENT DEVIL— a solitaire variant where you choose your damnations

What was this place, and why was it left?

Typically, most of the dungeons you’ll encounter in OSR games will no longer be being used for their original purpose.  These lists suggest what it was and why it’s no longer used for that.

What was this place?

 

  • Ace – A site of special religious importance
  • King – A site of military importance
  • Queen – A place to cultivate resources
  • Jack – A location to relax
  • Ten – A site to protect and guard value
  • Nine – An academic & research location

 

  • Eight – A space carved out from conflict
  • Seven – A tomb
  • Six – A short-cut or pass
  • Five – An animal den
  • Four – The home of some monstrous intelligence
  • Three – A natural hollow
  • Two – Draw twice & combine

 

Why was it abandoned?

 

  • Ace – Supply routes cut off
  • King – The inhabitants just left
  • Queen – They “dug too deep”
  • Jack – The original purpose was ruined
  • Ten – The original purpose was fulfilled
  • Nine – Invasion by monstrous intelligence

 

  • Eight – Superceded by nearby site
  • Seven – Inhabitants beset by plague
  • Six – Environmental encroachment
  • Five – Realisation of the location’s innate danger
  • Four – Internal disaster
  • Three – Overrun by beasts & vermin
  • Two – Draw twice & combine

 

Draw a couple of cards & see what you get.  Remember, the more often you can find contrast within the idea, the deeper you’ll be able to mine that seam of creativity.

What was this place, and why was it left?

Harbour End — a Gothic sestina

Darkness lengthens as short days end;

A painful chill that floods the veins.

But night is certain creatures’ love —

Monsters that are cloaked in shadow,

Motivations dark and gloomy.

The help of strangers turns suspicious.

 

“Don’t read my interest as suspicious:

I come to you from harbour end.

The water’s turmoil: eddies gloomy,

Rippled patterns like water’s veins.

I met a man who cast no shadow

Wailing for his drownèd love.

 

“She came to him eyes full of love

Yet glossy sheen made him suspicious.

Followed closer than his absent shadow,

He led away from harbour end

Through streets thinner than children’s veins.

Her airless gasps turned his face gloomy.

 

“Thinning clouds lifted skies from gloomy:

A mottled skin dappled the face of his love.

The tears stood proud ‘gainst flattened veins

And rippled neck he thought suspicious.

He watched her breathing draw to end.

She dropped to floor like drying shadow.”

 

Yet stranger why my steps d’you shadow,

Impress my thought with stories gloomy?

What of this woman’s tragic end?

I am but young, I know not of love,

Yet compulsion thus I find suspicious.

And why stare you such at my veins?

 

He laid a gentle palm on my veins

As I noticed that he cast no shadow.

My mind was calmed, felt not suspicious,

Despite the evening dark’ning gloomy.

His eyes locked mine and burned with love.

His teeth, my neck; a pleasant end.

 

He took veins’ contents ‘til their end.

His absent shadow I filled with love.

So listen not suspicious, though my tale be gloomy.

Harbour End — a Gothic sestina

Album review: Apple of my Eye’s “The Beast Below”

Such is the power of Apple of my Eye‘s storytelling, that the review that follows takes the form of a story.  Imagine it if you will, collaborately told about a table, its ballads sung to the clatter of falling dice.

Apple of my Eye's "The Beast Below"

“Your troupe sits lazily about a large table in the cider house, lost in fatigue and reverie from your last quest.  The air is thick with a sickly smell of cider and sweet tobacco.  A few of you are tweaking the trollgut strings of your instruments, picking stray strands from the bows.  Jo, you notice a man across the room staring at your cello.”

“What does he look like?”

“In a word, drunk.  Very drunk.”

“I’ll ready the finger positions for Delay Poison.”

“Do I have my harmonica?”

“No Dan, it’s still with the blacksmith.  He’ll have it rid of the curse in the morning.”

“Urgh, I get Break Enchantment next level.  Okay, no worries.”

“The drunk man wanders over to your table.  He places his feet carefully as he crosses the room, looking like he’s trying to avoid invisible patterns on the floor.”

Is a penguin a mammal?
Or is it a kind of fish?
Is it a kind of demon?

“I bloody hate riddles.  Why is it always a man in a tavern with a riddle?”

“Be patient, Arran.  As you listen on, it’s clear that this man is paranoid as well as drunk, but his words are frightfully funny.  At the very least, it’s proved pleasant diversion and amusement on a quiet evening.  Does anyone want to make an Insight check?”

“Yeah, I will.  Uh, add four — that’s eighteen.”

“Excellent.  Kit, you notice that there seems to be a hidden pattern to his drunken ravings.  With some subtle nudging, you’re able to get him to repeat parts of his speech.  You’re able to jot down some directions…”

Run, brother please run
To town please carry the tragedy of what’s become
For, of the four hundred men who went down
Twenty or so they came up from below

“Folks, your bardic lore means you recognise the location the drunk man was directing you to.”

“What’s his name?”

“What?”

“The drunk guy.  Surely he’s got a name.”

“It doesn’t matter.  Oh, I don’t know.  Tomwards.  He’s called Tomwards.”

“All of your drunks are called Tomwards.”

“Shut up.  Anyway, your bardic lore means you know where he’s talking about.  It’s the Barnsley Undermountains.”

“Haven’t we been looking for them for ages?”

“Yeah, but we didn’t know where they were.”

“That’s that dungeon with all the clothwork sprites, yeah?”

“That’s the one.  But to get to it, you’ll have to cross the eastern waterways.  Shall we call the scene here?  How do you want to get across the ocean?”

“I’m not taking a balloon again.  Not since the last balloon owner tried selling me into marriage.”

“We can charter a fishing boat.  I used to work as the compass on the Fruits of the Sea.”

“Cool, so you manage to make a deal with the captain of the Fruits of the Sea.  He makes a point of not asking you why you’re crossing the expanse.  The passage is calm, until … Wait, let me just check this…  Ah.”

“Ah?”

“The boatswain calls out to the rest of the crew to help haul in the net, for it’s picked up the biggest catch yet.  However, the load is so heavy, it takes everyone pitching in and using the mast as a pulley to drag the net even near the surface — the tumultous waters of which are soon broken by the thrashing of gargantuan tentacles.”

“Shit.”

“Uh, I want us to cast Greater Heroism.”

“Okay.  I want you guys to roleplay this one.”

Powder load
Fire the cannon at the Beast Below
We’ll not go down without a fight, my lads!

The album is excellent: a gorgeous collaboration between strings, mouth organs and melancholy.  It goes on sale tomorrow, Monday 19th September.  If you’re free this Weds, you can visit the beautiful St Pancras Old Church for the album release party.

Album review: Apple of my Eye’s “The Beast Below”

We press on deeper…

When your players insist that they want to delve deeper than the dungeon they have reached the bottom of, there will be one or two passages they can follow.  Here’s what they find when they descend:

Draw a card.  The value represents the nature of the section.  The suit represents the threat and obstacle.

  • A – PALLID PAMPAS-GRASS CAVERNS – the head-height grass covers the floor of the cavern; it takes effort to push through and is very difficult to do at speed without passing passive STR checks
  • K – TRYPOPHOBIC SINKHOLES – the surfaces of these caverns are split with holes of various size and depth; sometimes these sinkholes lead to lower caverns, though  often there will be something aggressive hidden within
  • Q – GARGANTUAN BADGER SETT – the walls have definitely been carved out by the claws of an enormous beast; passages turn and jut at strange angles and often end abruptly
  • J – DOLERITE SPUR NETWORK – much of these caverns are open expanses, pierced with thick trunks of igneos rock; the surfaces are smooth but not slippery, however moving between spurs unaided requires passive DEX checks to avoid falling
  • 10 – FOSSILWOOD CLADDING – the surfaces here are paved and the network appears to have been constructed; the walls are clad in wood panelling that has fossilised over time; some of the surfaces depict unknowable things
  • 9 – SKELETAL CATHEDRAL – the earth is held back by the enormous ribs of an animal that has long since rotted away; some of the bones are broken and it seems that you can follow the passage afforded by their being empty of marrow
  • 8 – DEEPWEAVE FABRIC – the walls of this area appear to be a fine weave of a fabric you cannot quite identify; if the walls are cut into, the fabric continues to significant depth
  • 7 – DESSICATED LYMPH – the veins through the rock here seem to retain traces of organic matter, but the lymph has long dried away; the passages bulge and narrow at seeming random
  • 6 – KERATIN CANYON – the sheer surfaces of the canyons here thrust high with the fibrous rigidity of nail and hair; sometimes a successful passive INT check will reveal weak-points in the growth
  • 5 – FOLDS OF LEATHER – observed from a distance, the deep valleys in this section seem to take on the appearance of cracks in leather; up close, the rough surfaces of the valley walls are difficult to classify
  • 4 – STONEPULP HONEYCOMB – the haphazard construction in this section show unmistakable signs of having been chewed and spat out, like the paper of a wasps’ nest
  • 3 – SUBMERGED SPIRALS – the interlocking shells in this section split out from each other at all angles; a third of all areas are flooded with a translucent milky fluid
  • 2 – CARDED ALLOYWOOL – the surfaces in this section are covered in fibers of metal loosely twisted together, giving to pressure but impossible to part; progressing through these floors require passive CON checks to avoid becoming fatigued

The suit of the card drawn will represent the potential threat in this area:

♠️ – hostile native fauna: perhaps of animal intelligence, perhaps monstrous humanoids

♥️ – toxic environment: perhaps poisonous gas, perhaps sharding surfaces

♣️ – physical obstruction: perhaps natural cave-ins, perhaps extreme distances

♦️ – being hunted: perhaps intelligent pursuant, perhaps natural predation

Going yet further underground its been reported that some of these section appearances can become combined.

We press on deeper…

Why delve?

  • A – You don’t know another way to make friends.  When did you realise this?
  • K – You can use this as an outlet for your rage.  How do you otherwise keep on top of it?
  • Q – You lost a relative to this search.  Why can’t that happen again?
  • J – You have to be the first to find Rico.  What do you have to give her?
  • 10 – You seek a rare material.  What do you hope to turn it into?
  • 9 – You need to prove your theory.  What piece of evidence is missing?
  • 8 – You are the strongest, the most worthy.  Who is the strongest?
  • 7 – You soon will die.  What will be your legacy?
  • 6 – You want to see the subterranean sights.  What must you see before you die?
  • 5 – You have been tricked into this.  How can you make even?
  • 4 – You want to be the most famous hero.  What do you have to prove?
  • 3 – You want to prove Rico’s “findings” a hoax.  Why won’t you let this rest?
  • 2 – You are engaged to Rico.  Where did you propose?
Why delve?

Odd Armour: Crabmail Cuirass & Red Tapeworm

Because platemail’s efficiency is boring 

CRABMAIL CUIRASS

Some enterprising soul has managed to knit together a large number of crabs of sundry heft

Don: d4 actions

Doff: drink bitterroot tea and wait an hour

Crabmail provides you with Armour 2, though any ranged attacks made against you are Enhanced.  Crabmail is loud — it is unwise to sneak whilst wearing it.

If you ever take exactly 8 points of damage from a single attack, the crabmail scatters and mobs the nearest foe for d8 damage each round until the crabs are beaten off.  You cannot reassemble the crabmail afterwards.

Cost: Exorcise my pet eel, Flaccit

RED TAPEWORM

A precise parasite and the perfect evolution of exploratory-capitalist-symbiosis

Don: takes a week to incubate

Doff: submit form 85l to the Relevant Authorities

If a weapon breaks your skin, that weapon becomes enmeshed in a silken wrap.  Further attacks from it (to all targets) are Impaired. 

Your healing is quickened if you follow the Health and Safety (Subterranean) Guidelines.

Cost: name-drop three Leading Entomologists (including the lady selling it to you)

YOUR TURN

These armours have been statted for Into The Odd.  If there’s a system you prefer, I’d love to see the numbers you settle on for those!  Alternatively, I’d love to see these illustrated by someone more skilled than me.

The best entries will receive A Mystery Prize.

Odd Armour: Crabmail Cuirass & Red Tapeworm