Each player uses one half of a traditional 52-card deck of playing cards, two complete suits. Any two suits can be used to form a playable Centennial Gothic deck. In most cases, numbered cards will take their face value, with Aces counted as one; face cards will most often count as zero when played.
The basic game mechanic plays out as something of a combination of poker and blackjack. Each Hand has a Limit initially set by the character’s abilities in a particular domain. This acts as the “21” for the Hand, the upper limit the Hand’s sum can reach before a Bust. Every card has a numeric value, and the sum of those values must always stay at or below the Limit. As the Hand progresses, Virtues will come into play that raise a character’s Limit.
Rounds of Wagers
After the Flop, players who remain in the Hand get chances to raise the stakes (and their Limits). Players and the Dealer each take one turn “playing to” each other’s Virtues, each person in turn role-playing a small piece of narrative to accompany the particular Virtue or Vice. Chips are moved to the pot in the middle; the color and amount set by the Intensity of the Virtue. Once each player has taken a turn playing to a Virtue and raising his or her Limit, another card is drawn from each deck.
The last player standing (when all other players have folded, Busted, or Misfired) is the Winner, and it is his or her declared action that takes place. Each Hand has only one Winner. All other actions were fumbled or foiled during the process of the Hand.
The Loser of the Hand can be one of two people: If the Winner’s action results in dealing damage, then the player who takes the damage is considered the Loser. If the Winner’s actions were qualitative in effect, then the last player to fall out of the Hand before the Winner is declared is the Loser.