The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default In-world Gambling

    Recently, it kinda occurred to me that while there is a lot of small details that help flesh out a game world, one thing I've rarely seen is in-universe gambling. I know it happens in these worlds, anything from bets on pit fighters to games of cards in taverns, to races at festivals, gambling is a common form of entertainment in any setting. This kinda begs the question of why PCs are so rarely involved in it.
    Between the seedy dealings of the underworld, to sporting events hosted by nobility, to entering combat tournaments, to grand casinos populated by the wealthy, there is a plethora of story hooks that can take place around this. And yet, I rarely see anyone use this as a backdrop for adventure. More than that, I'm not even sure how those kinds of events would run.
    Anyone know of why this is such a rare theme in settings, and anyone know of how one would actually simulate common forms of gambling, such as roulet tables or card games, without the need for extra props?

    I'm mostly asking because I've recently wanted to build a kingdom that has a hierarchy established by wealth, and gambling would play a big part in some of the adventures and local politics.

    Minor addendum:
    While gambling for money is the first thing that comes to mind, that is by no means the only limitation.
    For example, imagine there is a race where the first prize is a holy relic that is needed for a ritual. Obviously the team could just steal it from the winner, or from storage, or they could try and buy it off the victor, but what if the ranger entered his wolf in the race gambling on the chance to win the relic without a fight?
    Or if players placed had to bet on a pit fighter to win information? Would you let one of the PCs play a competitor, or just leave it up to a roll of the dice? And what if the big bad has a fondness for gambling with peoples lives and set up a game of skill with high stakes?
    I'm sorry I didn't make this clear before this edit.
    Last edited by ZeroGear; 2019-08-20 at 08:30 PM.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Anxe's Avatar

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    Default Re: In-world Gambling

    Depends on the game.
    Roulette and slots are just random number generators. Substitute with dice or whatever as you please.
    Blackjack seems like it'd be a skill game with a set DC based on what the house hits on. Use your character's skill and add to 3d6 (d20 is too variable for most card games with skill involved). Your difference from the DC is how much your money increased or decreased by in factors of 10%. (I bet 100gp and beat DC by 2. I walk away with my 100gp and 20gp). That could represent an hour of work or whatever unit of time seems right to you.
    Poker is a complicated game. Luck based, sure. But also lying and probability tracking. Whatever seems closest to those in your system. Competitive rolls with the other players, probably with a similar payout to Blackjack listed above.
    Obviously there's tons more games, but as far as your simulation is concerned they're all just variations on these concepts.
    Didn't touch on cheating or magic abilities. I'd have them give a bonus to the roll in some way on a success. A bad failure has obvious implications.
    Last edited by Anxe; 2019-08-21 at 01:40 AM.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Bohandas's Avatar

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    Default Re: In-world Gambling

    Quote Originally Posted by Anxe View Post
    Didn't touch on cheating or magic abilities. I'd have them give a bonus to the roll in some way on a success. A bad failure has obvious implications.
    Magic abilities are the first thing my mind went to. I'm not sure how to work them in other than the thought from a narrativist perspective that the luck domain's granted power ought to be able to flip the outcome of more than a single game because it seems kimd of weak if that's all it can do (even though the most straightforward way of handling things, one roll per game, would suggest that that's all it could flip)

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Anxe's Avatar

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    Default Re: In-world Gambling

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    Magic abilities are the first thing my mind went to. I'm not sure how to work them in other than the thought from a narrativist perspective that the luck domain's granted power ought to be able to flip the outcome of more than a single game because it seems kimd of weak if that's all it can do (even though the most straightforward way of handling things, one roll per game, would suggest that that's all it could flip)
    I feel like I'd have more to say on magic if there was a specific system this applied to, but its too broad as is. Prestidigitation could do X if we're in 3.5, but if we're playing 4e could it do the same thing? What if we're playing Mouse Guard?

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: In-world Gambling

    Rare? I feel like every time I break into a guard room in the dungeon, the five orcs are gathered around a table playing poker.

    I think its a fine idea for a campaign scenario, but as other's have pointed out, when you get to the characters participating in games you end up having to figure out how to simulate the game within your game.

    Most casino games are simple random chance generators with a slight edge to the house. For example, in roulette, you may think that betting on red or black is a straight 50/50 chance to win, but there are 1-3 slots on the wheel that are green. Those slots represent the house's edge and lower your odds correspondingly.

    Some, like blackjack, are partially controllable through skill and effort.

    Depending on your game system, you'll end up with some kind of skill or effort roll where the character's can, presumably, improve their odds through applying build points.

    Either way, it gets boring as a player after a while because its a simplified version of a game that was only mildly interesting in its non-simplified form. Fun for a few encounters, but not for an entire session.

    I'm more interested in exploring the world building aspects of a culture so steeped in gambling that its in the bones. Want that pothole fixed in front of your shop? Find a street-repairman and flip a coin for it. Buying a bag of flour? How about we double or nothing that bag of flour.

    I imagine magical cheating is both rampant and heavily outlawed. You get caught cheating you face a year in prison. You get caught cheating with MAGIC, you get hanged on the commons.

    Clerics of the luck deity are outright banned. Unless they are running the tables because the casino is the temple to the luck deity.
    Last edited by Gallowglass; 2019-08-21 at 01:13 PM.
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  6. - Top - End - #6
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Imbalance's Avatar

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    Default Re: In-world Gambling

    Gambling featured pretty heavily when my fighter was an addict. "Easy come, easy go," he'd say after getting fired from his guard post for betting while on duty, when taking possession of a sailing ship in a high stakes wager, and just before losing his shirt trying to gain information from a demure she elf.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: In-world Gambling

    I must say I've never found gambling rare in any of the games I've been in. From playing 'Raid' with the Hobgoblin Horde In WHFRP, to betting on the Pit Fights in DnD to an old fashioned game of poker int he saloon in Serenity (and yes it did end in a gunfight) I've never been in a game where gambling wasn't a thing in one way or another
    All Comicshorse's posts come with the advisor : This is just my opinion any difficulties arising from implementing my ideas are your own problem

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: In-world Gambling

    Quote Originally Posted by comicshorse View Post
    I must say I've never found gambling rare in any of the games I've been in. From playing 'Raid' with the Hobgoblin Horde In WHFRP, to betting on the Pit Fights in DnD to an old fashioned game of poker int he saloon in Serenity (and yes it did end in a gunfight) I've never been in a game where gambling wasn't a thing in one way or another
    I can understand where youíre coming from, and I agree that it is used as a backdrop. That being said, Iíve rarely seen it as more than just a byline activity to make extra cash.
    Imagine No Game No Life where every dispute is settled through a game, or Kakegurui where rank is determined through gambling. Or even Gamble Fish or Kengan Ashura where massive sums of money, business deals, or positions of power are at stake. Or, for that matter, as a progression system like the casino level in P5.
    Iíve rarely seen gambling used as an integral part of the world at large, or even just a single kingdom.
    If there is anything I learned from D&D, it is to never bull rush a Gelatenous Cube.

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  9. - Top - End - #9
    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: In-world Gambling

    Scott Lynch's 'Red Sea's Under Red Skies' has an intregal part of its plot the city of Tal Verar and the multi level casino there known as the Sinspire. With the amounts gambled, and the luxury of the casino's, growing steadily more ridiculous as you ascend the levels. Any amounts can be gambled in the Sinspire (including the gamblers life if he is desperate enough).
    The owner has translated the huge sums that pour into his coffers, and the social influence, into power and is a major player in the politics of the city. Powerful enough to set the rule that ANYONE, no matter who, caught cheating or trying to steal from the Sinspire dies. A major consideration as the protagonists of the book are there to rob it.
    You might give it a go as it sounds like the kind of thing you're mulling over and is ,IMHO, a good novel as well
    All Comicshorse's posts come with the advisor : This is just my opinion any difficulties arising from implementing my ideas are your own problem

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Troll in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: In-world Gambling

    Technhically blackjack is really luck. There is an optimal strategy that should be followed, and once you've learned that, you're doing the best you can (about a 98% return rate, IIRC). Playing other than that reduces your return rate, so even if you play the best you can, you still lose (over time).

    (Yeah, there's card counting, but that's a bigger discussion).

    If you're trying to be "realistic" any casino game should have a negative expectation. The only game that makes sense to actually be 'winnable' with skill is something like poker, where you're really taking money from another player, and the house just collects a percentage.
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  11. - Top - End - #11
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Mordar's Avatar

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    Default Re: In-world Gambling

    As I recall the original AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide had an appendix on gambling...anyone have an easy way to verify? That may help the OP.

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