Are we the betting type? Most RPG games are just a low stakes gambling match with the fate of our characters on the line. Playing the dice game of Malarkey is a gamble, and entering a high stakes tent guarded by Minotaur guards is a gamble.
Trying to sneak into a meeting with the Emerald Cabal and the Zhentarum… Well that’s a gamble too. Video first! Spoilers after!
The Out-Of-Game recap:
Gambling. The ultimate mini-game within the game. Japanese Role-playing games and decades of video game side quests have helped gambling become a pervasive part of our tabletop games. Unfortunately for most games—the encounter often falls flat. Primarily because the mechanics of gambling never seem to work out correctly, and if you do build a great game… Then you and your friends are often sitting around playing that game instead of the actual campaign.
This means that proficiency skills related to gambling rarely come up and mean much other than a way to earn some small coin with a simple D20 roll. That… isn’t very exciting. In Sirens, the gambling takes part as an entire festival, with as little or as much focus as the characters want to engage in. They play a game called Malarkey. A dice bluffing game that hinges upon 3 six-sided dice. A character rolls the dice, and if it comes up an 18, they get to yell Malarkey and hit the jackpot. Otherwise, you raise the anti by upping the bet with a gold coin (or more) and seeing who can roll higher. It’s simple, quick, and also trains your dice to roll better attributes for you.
In-game gambling can serve as a vehicle for characters to learn information that they never should have learned otherwise. If it’s plot contingent, they should naturally cross it in their adventures, but gambling can provide opportunities for players to risk a little for a larger pay off. Raising and shifting stakes over what’s at bet, is a way to help keep the encounter invested for the party. This episode of Sirens, started off with mere dice and a few gold coins as gambling, and ended with the party making a major gamble by having to negotiate and promise to collect some exotic creatures that Xaris now has to help collect.
Which leads us to our story…
The Story Thus Far:
The party left off in their glorious sequin and sparkly outfits at the Sea Maiden’s Ball when a horde of rats with pumpkin heads tried crashing the party. These sorts of shenanigans are par for the course for Liar’s Night and little trouble should be had by them…
Until the little rat-bastards race after the bag where Ghost’s mask is and beeline to their “King” who is watching the festival from his perch up high. Suspecting a conspiracy, Orisha captures one of the pumpkin rats and shakes the crap out of it until it starts talking to her… spilling the beans like…a dirty rat (I could probably make rat puns about this for weeks). The rats are nothing more than polymorphed performers who work for the owner of the ship, and their entire reason for doing this was nothing more than a Liar’s Night prank. To prevent further thievery, Fey Lore pours a bowl of punch in the bag (making everything inside gross and sticky), but at least nobody will want to steal it now!
So gambling they go… (after trying to clean out pink and sticky stuff), and into the high rollers tent. The story starts to get tense when a secret meeting is spotted between our amazing business heroes the Emerald Cabal and the reliable and honorable Zhentarum. Fey Lore, uses polymorph to become one of the pumpkin headed rats to sneak into this meeting and is spotted straight away. Picked up and chucked into a wall, she shifts into the appearance of “Elodie” to act her way through being found out. Luckily, Xaris gets her way in by promising to sell out Xanathar’s hideout and offer her monster hunting expertise!
The gamble pays off for now… There’s an shipment coming in soon with exotic creatures, and some nobles are looking to buy them. Immortality isn’t cheap. Xaris now has to help the group collect these creatures, for the very groups that they’ve foolishly tried to foil before.
It was only inevitable… (cue evil laughter)
Have the Sirens been betrayed? Will the Emerald Cabal finally get the upper hand they deserve?
The entire Sirens Playlist: Youtube
Featured Images: Level Up Dice!
Image Credit: Wizards of the Coast
Rick Heinz is the author of The Seventh Age novel series, Dread Adventures, and a storyteller with a focus on D&D for Kids, Geek & Sundry’s GM Tips, Eclipse Phase and an overdose of LARPs. You can follow the game or urban fantasy related thingies on Twitter or reach out for writing at RickHeinzWrites@gmail.com