Referee designs adventure. Challenges defined in terms of the number of success needed to overcome them. Players get 10 cards. 5 Action Cards: Success with complication Complete success Failure with benefit Complete failure Standoff And 5 blank Character Cards. They define their Character by writing 5 things on them. Referee gets 5 cards: Referee claims card Player retains card Card goes to another Player Card discarded Player vote Referee describes the setting. Players state actions. When Characters face a challenge, player draws random Action Card. Results interpreted by Referee. Failure may cause wound - turn a Character Card over. Successes/benefits may heal wounds. Referee draws a random Referee Card to determine what happens to the player's Action Card. The Referee can take no proactive actions until they have gained at least one action card. They then have two piles of cards. Player and the Referee shuffle their card piles. Action moves to next Player. If a Player has no Action Cards and their Character has a wound, they are dead. Play continues until the adventure is over or all Action Cards are discarded.
This is just a system agnostic game engine designed for use when you’ve got pen and paper but no dice. Try it before you dismiss it! It can produce some interesting adventures.
The thing that most stuck out about Five Cards to me was a subtle risk/reward mechanic that I’d probably like to see explored further. The game uses “action cards” drawn at random to determine player success on what is essentially a five point scale with complete success at one end, complete failure at the other, and a few outcomes in between. The GM also draws from a similar set of five cards and this is where it gets interesting and where the risk/reward mechanic comes into play. Depending on the GM card, the player’s action card can go to the player, be passed onto another player, go to the GM’s pile for their use, or its outcome is determined by a player vote. While at first glance it would seem to the player’s benefit to discard action cards with negative results and hold onto action cards with positive results, player also need to hold onto action cards as a form of HP. Lose all your action cards while wounded and you die. This leads to situations where players feel compelled to hold onto bad cards simply to have cards in their hand and keep their characters alive, knowing that they may randomly draw these bad cards while performing their actions. It’s a simple mechanic, but one I really enjoyed, and as stated previously, I’d love to see further developed. - Armand Kossayan