Author Topic: Hou do YOU play shelldry  (Read 5382 times)


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Hou do YOU play shelldry
« on: November 17, 2012, 09:02:10 PM »
I have a non-allomantic character that is making a living as a gambler after being cut off by his father.  He owns a boot shop and a pastry shop to survive (he won them in a game of shelldry) and gambles at the Shelldry tables at the balls to make a better living.  He also sells information on the side, after all, you hear a lot of things at the tables.  The thing I'm not sure of from the game is what kind of a game Shelldry is.  I can't really tell from the books.

Loosely put, there are three main generalities I see: Poker, Bridge and Mah-Jongg.  I divide these by general mechanics, partner or individual play and hand or set play.  I think of it like Bridge, or more archaically, Whist.  This being a more social game rather than a competitive game, which would suit the setting.  It is possible to make a living at this, if you play skillfully.  Also, with skillful play, you are more likely to be invited as a partner, since your partner wins too.

Any thoughts?


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Re: Hou do YOU play shelldry
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2013, 10:57:49 PM »
This finally came up in our game, so I thought I should post what we came up with here.

The game of shelldry is an ancient game of kings and mathematicians. The deck is 104 cards in five suits. Four suits with cards from negative 5 to 15, including zero; Coins, Canes, Capes, and Cups. Then thee is the suit of faces which runs from 1 to 20 all negative.
Each hand, players are dealt 13 cards and a single cart is placed face down. A round of bidding ensues to determine who will play first and set the trump suit for that hand. At the end of the bidding the face down card is revealed. The card's number is the number that each pair of players must get closest to to win the trick. The pair that wins the most tricks win the hand. The second hand of each round is dealt from the cards that were not used in the first hand.

In game terms, each hand roll wits + half spirit rounded down to win. or wits minus half spirit to loose. The outcome of both partners are added together and compared to the combined outcome of the other pair. The highest outcome wins.

lord Claincy Ffnord

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Re: Hou do YOU play shelldry
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2013, 06:03:43 AM »

I have my own version, kinda loosely like poker (very loosely). Currently I use playing cards when we play it (yes we have actually played it more than once and improved on the rules each time) but we have under works actual cards for it based off an alomantic table of the 10 metals commonly known during the final empire. One of my players designed an awesome back for the cards and we are just working on making the fronts of the cards: then printing the things, it'll be a lot cooler than using standard playing cards.

A couple of sessions back one of my crews had had a quite succesfull session, but they were heading into territory that I needed to doa  little prep for cos of plot, and beyond that they had run out of resources/influence gathering info on a bunch of different things and were struggling to find information about a specific thing to actually get started on it. I *could* have given them another breather but they had just had a long breather, then blown resources/influence on info gathering. So instead I said hey, there's an informant gambler, you can win information off him at shelldry.

We were using poker chips, and each player got a number of chips (lets call them boxings) = 10 * their raw resource score. I played as the gambler and every now and then would add a  black chip to my bet, representing a piece of information. (whoever had info at the end would get a piece of free info from me, could be related to the crew as a whole or to their char specifically). At the end they counted up their chips, divided by 10 and rounded and made that their temporary available resources. Meant that in the next session most of them were flat broke except for one guy who had 11 to burn before the next long breather. Managed to work it in, allowing him to make good use of them without breaking the game, but still allowing him to feel awesome as he settled deals/aquired stuff/got info by striding in and plonking large sacks of money on the table. =D

Anyway, here's the rules I play with (I will eventually fix up a second set for alloy of law period, using all the metals, I know mostly how, just haven't gotten around to writing it up yet)

Game rules for Shelldry, final empire era (ideal probably around 4 players)
cards: each card has an allomantic symbol in the centre and the name of the metal at the top/bottom
4 cards each for tin/pewter/iron/steel/zinc/brass/copper/bronze (or 6 or 8?)
1 card each for atium/gold
34 cards total

There are 2 distinct pools of money, the pot, and the current bet pool. Until the end of the game money will only be added to the pot, not taken away.

-Each player is dealt 2 cards, they each have to choose to stick with their cards, or to pay the minimum bet (lets say 1 clip for now)
into the pot to discard them face-down and draw 2 replacement cards.

-Each player is dealt a third card.

-Each player secretly selects an amount to bet on this hand.

-Each player reveals the amount they are betting and leaves it in front of them, the combined bets is the betting pool.

-A final card is flipped in the centre of the table, each player then uses what they have + the centre card to determine their hand.

-Each player makes a secret choice and reveals like betting
   -double down (appropriate chips in hand)
   -stand (empty hand)
   -fold (takes back half of their bet, rounded down) (reveals a die in their hand, there's always gonna be dice around at a mistborn game =)  )

-The winner takes back their bet and an equal amount from the betting pool.

-Any remaining clips/boxings are added to the pot.

-If there is not enough in the betting pool to meet the winning players bet the player gets all that is in the pool but no more

-In the case of a tie, the entire betting pool is added to the pot.

-the deck is shuffled and a new hand is dealt.

-play continues until someone takes the pot by having both the atium and the gold card.

-If play has to end early house rules apply to the pot, one method is simply to give each player a standard hand without betting and the winner takes the pot.

Different hands:

Including the centre card each player will have a hand of 4 cards.

-high card, for high card, a hand with the gold card will always lose, a hand with the atium card will always win and all other metals are equal
-two of a kind, two cards of the same metal, presence of gold/atium can be used to break ties in the same way
-matched pair, a metal and it's alloy (should vzeotmaybe be swapped with 3 of a kind)
-three of a kind, 3 cards of the same metal, presence of gold/atium can be used to break ties in the same way
-2 pairs of the same metal/alloy
-4 of a kind
-2 pairs of metal/alloy from different sets (1 mental pair, 1 physical pair)
-all of a set, physical or mental
--gold and atium (wins the pot)

cards in hand beat card on table,
In a tie split winnnings evenly

holding on to gold at the first hand is dangerous because it is likely to make you lose, but gives you the chance for taking the pot
holding on to atium at the first is less risky as you will win ties, but it means you cannot get one fo teh 4-card sets
+have a lower chance of getting a 3 card set

(sorry for rather long post)


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Re: Hou do YOU play shelldry
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2014, 05:37:48 PM »
Thank you, lord Claincy.

Session report, for any interested:
Spoiler: show

We did a session with your rules. One of our players is the only surviving member of his noble house, but the rival house thinks he was killed in the attack, so he has to lay low. He was an unimportant (and thus unrecognisable) third son (second if you ignore the second son who became an obligator, he wasn't killed but can't legally inherit anyway) and is impersonating the representative of a visiting house from near the Remote dominance. Fortunately, if a bit of flawed thinking on my part (I thought the remote dominance was in the north. Oh well.), they are in Uretau, on the opposite side of the world, an his new house was as fictitious as his membership in it.

Obvious thing to do when another house comes scouting? Throw a huge ball and try to impress. The lordling character ended up getting invited to a "friendly, low stakes" game of shelldry. The talk was interesting, and we learned (or rather, made up) more than I thought we would. Like, what the fictitious House Khan actually did (which was hunting large animals in the Remote dominance for fur/leather/whatever. They were trying to break into the Uretau fashion scene before moving on to Luthadel.

One of the other things we learned was that apparently the lord I was acting as was a rioter. At least, the players thought so after I went from 50 to ~120 boxings in half an hour.

The joys of gambling.

One of my players disputed your probabilities, but eventually calculated them out and found that one has the same chance of getting a pair and an alloy.

Spoiler: show

Probabilities are out of 8960 possible hands

Four of a kind (1111): 8
Double metal, double alloy (1122): 24
Set of mental or physical (1234, 5678):48
1 alloy with atium and gold (12ag): 96
1 metal with atium and gold (11ag): 96
Double alloy (1256): 96
Double metal, no alloy (1133): 144
Three of a kind (1112): 288
1 metal AND 1 alloy (1134): 288
Atium and gold (13ag): 576
1 metal or 1 alloy (1125): 768
1 alloy (1235): 2304
1 metal (1135): 2304
Trash (1357): 1920

Atium and Gold have a relatively high chance, the only reason to give them a place any higher than 1 metal pair and 1 alloy pair is the dangers in keeping either atium or gold. And yes, I found that atium occasionally took up more space than it was worth.

lord Claincy Ffnord

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Re: Hou do YOU play shelldry
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2014, 07:36:09 AM »
You played my version of Shelldry! *Grins happily*

Sorry I didn't reply to this sooner, I had a couple of major assignments due and then was away over Easter. Now that I am back...

I'm glad you had some fun with it, I am aware that the probabilities don't match up perfectly with the order of value and this was mostly caused by the conflict between trying to make it fit well canonically and trying to make it balanced. Trying to get that right was perhaps the hardest part of making it. Gold and Atium seem to be functioning as intended, in some ways it isn't ideal that they are more likely than the higher combinations but the disadvantages of holding on to either balance this out to some degree and, more importantly, as the gold/atium pair ends the game it was important for this to happen at a reasonable probability so that the average game didn't go for several hours or on the flipside only 10 minutes or so. I think the probability of getting the pair currently is about right in terms of how long the game goes for.

I have actually updated and changed the rules since I posted them here but never got around to updating it here. The thread was a couple of pages back into the board and I half forgot about it....oops, sorry. Anyway, the current rules along with a blog post talking about the design process and some thoughts on strategy is available here:

I think the changes there improve the weaker areas of the game, especially in regards to bluffing mechanics. This project got delayed far too many times (due in part to Uni and Health issues) as I started working on it over a year ago now  :-[ But hopefully I will get the final design of the cards done shortly and get a print and play version available.

Thanks for the feedback :)


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Re: Hou do YOU play shelldry
« Reply #5 on: April 24, 2014, 04:04:25 PM »
Sorry I didn't reply to this sooner, I had a couple of major assignments due and then was away over Easter. Now that I am back...

It's OK, Most of my posts were from when I got bored over spring break and couldn't get anything else done. Darned wisdom teeth.
Thanks for the rules update! Will use at first available chance.


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Re: Hou do YOU play shelldry
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2015, 02:18:51 PM »
Any updates for an AoL version of Shelldry?
More metals would influence probabilities, and Atium is now a myth.

An unrelated (and slightly heretical) idea I've had is play normal games but have the four suits be spears, rings, shards, and stars, for the known religions. No idea how having religious icons would influence the games people play, but they may get used in fortune telling more.