Made of clay, but ready for ADVENTURE!

I’m running low on quality material for my 1d12 days of Christmas, so I’d like to wrap up the series with one last holiday-related post, in which I take a time-honored holiday tradition and turn it into a mechanic for a roleplaying game!

The dreidel is a small top, usually made of wood, that is used in a game played during Hanukkah. It has four sides that are marked with the Hebrew characters נ (Nun), ג (Gimel), ה (Hey), and ש (Shin), and is usually played with foil-covered chocolate coins or other tokens.

Players start with a collection of the coins and take turns spinning the dreidel, following the direction of the Hebrew symbol that ends up on top:

Nun – nischt – “nothing” – the next player spins
Gimel – gantz – “all” – the player takes the entire pot
Hey – halb – “half” – the player takes half of the pot, rounding up if there is an odd number
Shin – shtel – “put in” – the player puts one or two in the pot

The last player with coins or tokens in their collection is the winner of the game.

Of course, when you or I look at something like a dreidel, we don’t see a top. We see a four-sided die.  And when we think of dice, we think of other ways we can use them for games… don’t we?

So here it is, my quick-and-dirty dreidel-based roleplaying game. Bring your own genre and theme – I’m just giving you the system. This is my first ever RPG design, ever. It’s terribly derivative. Don’t hate me for that. I’m not that good at game design. Improvements, suggestions, house rules, and constructive criticisms are very welcome… but please be polite.

EQUIPMENT: A dreidel or 4-sided die (three of either would be even better), a large quantity of chocolate coins (or tokens, glass beads, etc.) You can make your own paper dreidel here, if you’d like to keep it real.

TO PLAY: All players make a character by writing some sentences down about the character, and giving each of these qualities a rating from 1 to 3. Your total ratings cannot be higher than 12.

For example:

BRADLEY STRAT
Bradley is a very good guitar player (3)
Bradley likes to play soccer (2)
Bradley knows a lot about inventing things (3)
Bradley can run long distances (2)
Bradley likes to debate about things (1)
Bradley is lucky (1)

The GM and some players get together to tell a story (holiday or Hanukkah themed stories would be best, but do as you wish). Each participant (including the GM) take a pool of nine coins for themselves, and leave an open space within reach of all players for the story pool. When a player wants to perform an action in the story, they tell the GM what they want to do, which of their qualities they would like to use to do it, and how many dreidels they would like to spin – they can spin as many as their quality rating, but the more they spin, the more of their coins they risk.

The player then spins that amount of dreidels (or rolls d4s), and chooses the best result from the spins (or rolls) from the following table:

Shin (Put) / 1 – Total failure – GM has full control over the story, and describes some kind of penalty that the character now suffers. The player must put coins in the pot equal to the amount of times they spun the dreidel.

Nun (Nothing) / 2 – Marginal failure. GM has control over the story, and describes a moderate failure for the character.

Hey (Half) / 3 – Moderate success – Player has limited control over the story, and describes how their action succeeds. Player takes half of the coins in the pool (rounding up) and adds them to their pool.

Gimel (All) / 4 – Total success – Player has full control over the story, and describes how their action succeeds, along with a bonus result. All coins in the pool go to player’s pool, and the player may choose to give some of the coins to other players (limit 2 per player) without having to pay the GM (see below).

 A player who is out of coins is out of the story somehow – unconscious, incapacitated, imprisoned, or suchlike (the GM decides). Other players can bring them back into the story, but they must donate coins to their pool to do so, at the cost of 1 coin to the GM’s pool. (So if a player wanted to donate 2 coins to an unconscious character to bring them back into the story, they would have to pay 2 coins to the GM as well, for a total of 4 coins paid).

And there it is – a dreidel-based RPG rule system! Special thanks to my buddy Stormbringer for inspiration, and to Jared Sorensen, S. John Ross, and any other RPG designers that I have stolen ideas from.  If you try this out and enjoy it, please let me know!

L’Chaim!

wjw

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