A poker-deck game of demon summoning for fun and profit.
For 2-4 players.
It’s anno domini 666, and you have just learned the secret of Solomon’s Seal, which binds demons to your service. This knowledge can make you unbelievably wealthy. Unfortunately, you’re not the only one possessing it. To achieve your dreams of ungodly riches, you’ll have to outpace or destroy your competitors.
- One deck of poker cards.
- Five coins or other markers per player
Beginning the Game
- Hand each player one marker. This represents a stain on that player’s soul for trafficking with demons.
- Deal six cards to each player.
- Set the remainder of the deck in the center of the table as a draw pile.
- Turn up one card from the draw pile to begin a discard pile next to it.
- Each player sacrifices a victim (plays a numbered heart card) or discards a random card. High sacrifice goes first. Continue clockwise from there.
Card Layout: Sacrifices and summoned demons are played in front of you on the table. Bound demons are moved to your right. Treasures are played to your left. Marks on your soul are kept in front, near your sacrifice space, where everyone can see.
Basic Turn Sequence
Each player performs the following sequence before the next player’s turn begins.
- Refresh your hand. If you have fewer than six cards, draw until you have six. (If the draw pile is empty, shuffle the discards to begin a new draw pile.)
- Play one card if you wish. Number cards have the following effects. (Face cards represent powerful spells and have special rules, explained later.)
Heart: Play before you as a sacrifice to prepare for summoning, or to appease a demon standing before you.
Spade: Play as a summoned demon on any player’s sacrifice.
Club: Play as a binding spell on any demon currently in front of you.
Diamond: Play as tribute into your treasury, by loosing one or more of your bound demons.
- Discard a number of cards equal to the current stain on your soul. You may discard more cards if you like. If your hand becomes empty, you’re carried away to hell and out of the game. Any demons you have bound are released to attack your choice of other players.
(Note: If confusion arises about any of the following, keep the turn sequence above in mind, and that should clear things up.)
Sacrifice: Each heart played before you adds to your sacrifice total. The higher the total, the better your chance of appeasing a summoned demon, as explained below.
Summoning: Any size demon may be played on a sacrifice. However, a small demon played on a large sacrifice is pretty much a waste of blood, while a large demon played on a small sacrifice is more difficult to appease if you cannot bind it.
Binding: When your turn begins with a demon in front of you, if you play a club card that equals or exceeds the demon’s strength, the demon is bound to your service. Set the demon to your right and discard all sacrifice cards before you, as well as the binding spell card.
Appeasing: If you cannot (or choose not to) bind a demon in front of you, you may make another sacrifice (heart card) to appease it. If the total value of your sacrifice cards equals or exceeds the demon’s strength, the demon is appeased and attacks your choice of opponents. Set the spade card before that player and discard all cards in your sacrifice. (If the sacrifice that summoned the demon is equal to or greater than the demon’s value, the demon is automatically appeased.)
Banishing: Instead of appeasing or binding a demon, you may free one of your bound demons to banish it. Discard both demons, regardless of their value. This does not count as a card play.
Soul Stain: If your turn begins with a demon before you, and you are unable to appease, bind, or banish it, the demon leaves its mark on your soul. Place a marker before you to indicate this and discard the attacking demon. The number of soul markers before you determines how many cards you must discard during the discard phase.
Treasure: To play a diamond card out of your hand, you must release one or more bound demons whose total strength equals or exceeds the treasure value. Place the diamond card in your treasury (to your left) and discard the demons.
Mobbed by Demons: When threatened by more than one demon, only the strongest actually attacks you on your turn. The others will wait in line until your next turn, and so on.
Face cards represent especially powerful spells that supersede the basic rules.
Spades—Demonic Visage: With a spade face card, you can immediately banish one or more demons—bound or unbound—anywhere in play. A Jack allows you to banish one demon, a Queen two demons, and a King three demons.
Hearts—Royal Sacrifice: With a heart face card, you may immediately summon one or more demons from your hand and play them against any players (including yourself, if you wish), splitting them as you see fit. A Jack allows you to summon one demon, a Queen two demons, and a King three demons.
Clubs—The Master’s Voice: With a club face card you can bind one or more demons of any size anywhere in play, even stealing other players’ bound demons. A Jack allows you to bind one demon, a Queen two demons, and a King three demons.
Diamonds—Treasure Scrying: With a diamond face card you can peek at another player’s hand and steal one or more numbered diamond cards from it. A Jack allows you to steal one card, a Queen two cards, and a King three cards. If that player does not have enough diamonds to fulfill your scrying spell, you may peek at a second player’s hand, and so on.
Jokers—Hell’s Maw Gapes Wide: A Joker can never be played, only discarded. Whenever a player discards a Joker, all players pitch all numbered spades from their hands into a common pile. The player who discarded the Joker then shuffles these spades and deals these demons face up as threats around the table, one per player, starting with the player to his or her left, and continuing around the table until the pile has been exhausted.
The game ends when either
- all treasures are claimed or
- only one player remains.
The richest survivor wins.
Play as normal for a three-person game, but after each of your turns, turn up two cards from the draw pile to represent the other players’ turns. If either is a demon, it comes to attack you. If either is a Joker, all demons currently in your hand attack you. Any other cards turned up are discarded.
Binding a demon in solitaire play works as normal. Appeasing a demon discards it. Treasure-Scrying cards allow you to rescue diamonds from the discard pile.
Do not reshuffle the discard pile in the solitaire game. The game ends at the end of your discard phase after the last card has been drawn from the draw pile.
You win by the solitaire game by collecting at least 20 points of treasure.
Optional Rule: Origins 2008 Deck
If you are playing with the deck designed for Origins 2008, which has an extra King—the Marcus King—that King is treated as a special Joker. Rather than draw all demons from the players’ hands, however, it draws all demons from the discard pile. The player who discarded the Marcus King card then shuffles and deals these demons face up as threats around the table, one per player, starting with the player to his or her left, and continuing around the table until the pile has been exhausted.
Logo: K8’s Graphics
Ace Playtester: Katheryn Smith
Playtesters: Timothy B. Brown, Monte Cook, Ralph Faraday, Matt Forbeck, Matthew Morris-Cook, Douglas Niles, Jennifer Smith
Copyright 2009 Lester Smith. All Rights Reserved.