Gambler Schticks

By Masen Ma and Dave Weinstein.

Masen Ma writes:

I kind of have a soft spot for the Gambler archetype (just love God of Gamblers and God of Gamblers' Return), but I'm less than enthusiastic about their unique schtick. I imagine judging the difficulty of upcoming tasks might be useful, but I find that:

  1. things never slow down long enough in FS games to observe the situation that you wish to figure odds for.
  2. in a daring "what the hell" kind of game like FS, I don't really care about the odds, I'll just try anyway.
  3. when I GM I don't know the difficulty half the time and just look at what the player rolls and hope they roll extra high/low ("yeah, that's good enough").
  4. it's really kind of a dull schtick.

So here's a pair of alternative schticks for Gamblers that you might like to try out. Debt of Gamblers is cooler, but Gambling Fu (while it might be better done via stunts) may appeal to some.

Debt of Gamblers

Gamblers ride a roller coaster of luck - sometimes you're playing craps on the street trying to win enough to buy dinner, other times you're playing poker with Triad bosses in a high-rise hotel which has just been thrown in the pot. You've gambled with all types and over many different stakes, not just money. Maybe someone important owes you a favour, or maybe you owe them something you hold dear.

Once per session you may spend two fortune dice upon meeting a new character to the story, and declare some kind of gambling history with them. Make a closed roll, with you rolling the positive die and the GM the negative.


+/- 5
Yikes. This is one serious bet, no wonder the loser ran out on this debt. The stake may be the loser's eye or hand, his life, his firstborn son, or a favour that is both very illegal and very suicidal.
+/- 4
Another debt to run from. Usually involves more money than the loser is likely to have, a rare treasure that the loser doesn't have, or the kind of favour that will will endanger one's job/status/life.
+/- 3
A large debt. Payment of this debt will probably cause serious financial inconvenience, or having to part with something important like a family heirloom. Any favours involved will possibly be illegal or morally questionable.
+/- 2
A moderate debt. Payment will cause only temporary financial inconvenience or humiliation. Favours may be difficult/time consuming/embarrassing but do not put the loser in any kind of risk.
+/- 1
A token bet. The kind of bet you make with friends and workmates. Pocket change, dinner, tickets to a concert/ game, or some amusingly embarrassing dare. It probably just slipped the loser's mind rather than there being any unwillingness to pay up.
Oooops. You mistook the guy for someone else. No other result than possible embarrassment.

Positive results indicate you won the bet while negative results indicate you lost. The above are just guidelines and the GM should feel free to modify or ignore usage of this schtick as necessary. Remember the above only indicates that a gambling debt exists, whether or not anyone is willing or able to pay up, or to what extremes one will go to collect on the debt is a different story.

Gambling Fu

Gambling often involves losing, and there are a lot of sore losers out there, so inevitably things get nasty and you don't always have a decent weapon handy. You've mastered the art of improvised combat with the tools of your trade -- cards, poker chips, mahjong tiles, roulette balls. In combat you may use your Gambling skill as your AV if using any of the above or similar improvised weapons, but you still use your Gun/Martial Arts skill for dodge purposes. Damage from the above is probably too feeble for injuring Named Characters, but the schtick is still good for nifty stunts like disarming/ distracting/momentary blinding. Mooks may be taken out though, as per usual (Chow Yun Fat rifled a deck into a mook's heart!). Little roulette balls to the eyes, death of a thousand paper cuts, etc.

I suppose weighted, razor edged cards would have similar stats to shuriken (damage 5). Maybe the outcome to take out mooks needs to be increased to 6 for the above. I don't want to turn Gamblers into combat monsters, I just want to represent some of their unique fighting options - especially as seen in God of Gamblers' Return, or the card throwing guy in Once a Thief, oh yeah, the Gambler in City Hunter too. Maybe a special Fu path for Gamblers needs to be constructed using their Fortune as chi points...

Dave Weinstein added:

Luck Be A Lady Tonight

Once per session that Gambler may reverse the positive and negative values of any roll that affects her (that is, any roll in which she is the actor or is in any way directly acted upon). This may be done after rerolling any sixes.

Last modified: March 25, 1997; please send comments to