Sorcerous Futures
Designed by Adam Blinkinsop, P. D. Magnus
Players 3-5
Length 1 hour
Extra Material poker chips or equivalent

An arcane commodity speculation game of bidding and bluffing.

You are sorcerous investors, speculating on the fates of various people and places. You might risk your sorcerous gravitas on the Forest and the Huntress, only to lose it all when a bad moon rises in the end. Or you might get a bargain on a Sailor and a Journey, striking it rich when your ship comes in on a favourable wave.

Note that the rules are written for a four-player game. Untested options for three or five players are given at the end.


In addition to the Decktet, the game requires some way to track resources. You can use poker chips or paper game-money. The rules below treat the basic denomination as $1, but this just means one of the lowest value chip.

Each player starts with $100, and the winner is the player who has the most at the end. The rest of the chips (or whatever) form the bank.

Shuffle the basic deck and deal four cards face down to each player. Take two of these and looks at them, without showing them to the other players. You may pay $3 to the bank in order to exchange one of your cards in hand with one of the face down cards. You may do this multiple times, as desired. Then the two cards on the table are removed from the game, and you keep the two cards in hand. They are kept secret until the end of the game.1

The cards you keep are valuations, and they will influence the value of item cards at the end of the game. You may not look at other players' valuations until the end of the game, but you may look at your own valuations at any time.

The two cards you did not keep should be set aside. Other players may not look at them, but they will not play any further role in the game.

Put the Excuse faceup in front of a randomly selected player.


Deal five cards face up in the middle of the table. This represents the market of items which are available for purchase.

The player with the Excuse selects one of the five cards from the market and starts an auction. This player has the option of either of initially passing or making an opening bid. Then the player on their left must either pass or bid. The first player to bid may call any amount, but subsequent bids must be at least $1 higher than the previous bid.

This continues, clockwise once around the table, until every player has either passed or bid. The player holding the Excuse has the final chance to pass or bid (even if they made an opening bid in the auction).

The player who bid the most pays their bid to the bank and puts the item card face up on the table in front of them. If every player passes, then the item card is discarded.

After the auction, the player with the Excuse passes it to the player on their left. Then that player selects a card from the market and starts an auction, following the same rules.

After four cards have been auctioned, there will only be one card left in the market. The player holding the Excuse must start an auction on the remaining card.

When there are no cards remaining in the market, five cards are dealt to form a new market of cards. The next player to start an auction may choose from any of these. This repeats until there have been four markets, at which point the deck will be exhausted.

Note that the first player to auction a card from a market will also be the player to auction the last card. Then the next player will auction the first and last card of the next market. Each player will get first pick from a market once per game.

Selling fortunes

Once all the cards have been auctioned, players sell all of the cards from in front of them.

Face value: Players collect money from the bank equal total ranks of number cards that they hold. No money is collected for Aces and Crowns at this time.

Example: Jeff purchased a 3, 3, 5, and 8 during the game. He collects $19 from the bank.

Suits: Players then collect money from the bank for the suits of the cards they hold.

Aces pay the value of their suit.

Number cards pay the value of both of their suits.

Crowns pay three times the value of their suit.

It is easiest to handle all players payout for one suit before moving on to the next suit.

Determining the value of each suit

All players reveal their valuation cards face up in the middle of the table.

If there are no cards of a given suit in the valuations, then that suit is worth $0 (nothing).

If there is exactly one card of a given suit in the valuations, then that suit is worth the rank of that card. For this purpose, treat Aces as 1 and Crowns as 10.

If there is more than one card of a given suit in the valuations, then that suit is worth the median of the ranks of the cards.

Here is an easy way to determine the median: Consider only the valuation cards that have the suit in question. If there are three or more, set aside the highest and lowest ranked of them. Keep doing that until you have just one or two left. If there is just one left, then the value of the suit is the rank of that remaining card. If there are two left, then the value is the average of the two ranks (add the ranks together, divide by two, and round up).


The final tally

For a short match, stop after one game.

For a longer match, players keep their bankroll and play a series of three games.

In either case, the player with the most money at the end wins.

Auction strategy

At the beginning of the game, you know about one quarter of the valuations. You can learn about the other valuations in several ways. If other players bid heavily on some suits, then perhaps they put high cards of that suit in the valuations. As more cards appear in the market, you can infer more about the valuations by process of elimination; since all purchases are face up, you can look around the table to see which cards of a given suit are still unaccounted for.

The minimum value of a card is its rank (if it is a number) or zero (if it is an Ace or Crown). The maximum value of a card is 29 (a 9 with two suits that are each worth 10).

The maximum value of a Crown is 27; since the Crown can't be a valuation if it is a market item, the suit of a Crown item is worth at most 9.

Three or five players

The rules above are written for four players. They have been playtested a bit. Here is how it would work with a different number of players.

For three players, add two random cards to valuations and set aside two random cards. Each market is four cards (rather than five).

For five players, add either the Pawns or Courts to the deck. Each market is four cards (rather than five).

The extended deck

It is possible to play with the Pawns or Courts, but these rules are totally untested.

A Pawn or Court may not be kept as a valuation card. If a player is dealt a Pawn or Court in their initial four cards, they may reveal it and draw a replacement. Cards revealed in this way are shuffled back into the deck. (Note that a player may choose not to reveal a Pawn or Court, so as to discard it at the beginning.)

As a market item, a Pawn or Court pays out for all three of its suits at the end of the game.


Original Design: Adam Blinkinsop
Development: P. D. Magnus
Design Assistance: Nate Straight
Playtesting: Andy Cole, Steve Debellis, Joe Fritz, Quentin Hudspeth, Tom Kiehl, Dave Schwenker, Jeff Warrender, John Velonis



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