Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Great Dalmuti



Its on occasion when a GM can't make it for some reason that people pull out various weird and wonderful board and card games. A couple of weeks ago for example we played Zombie Fluxx and Love letter. Zombie Fluxx is a wonderful chaos where there are so many cards in play its madness just trying to work out what is going on and, just when you think you are about to win, they are all collected in and reset. I would suppose panic and chaos are essential ingredients in any Zombies apocalypse. Good fun but I won my first game without even realising it; like a lot of rule sets its a matter of getting to know the cards. Love letter, however, is a much faster paced game of deduction whilst trying to discard all of your cards - much more amenable to a round of drinks.
 
Nevertheless, my favourite by far is The Great Dalmuti, more so as you can actually roleplay if you have able bodied people who are prepared to be shouted at and scorned for being plebs. Basically its a game of social standing and everyone is arranged in a circle, playing a particular ranking character. We have a Great Dalmuti, a Lesser Dalmuti, various Merchants/middle men, a Greater Peon and, the lowest of the low, the Lesser Peon. The lesser Peon is responsible for collecting in the cards, re-dealing and general tidying up in as miserable a way as possible.
 
I prefer to add some spice and arrange the room appropriately. The nicest chair, usually a comfortable  office swivel one with arm rests is for the Great Dalmuti, the lesser Dalmuti gets perhaps a fixed chair without armrests, but very comfortable nonetheless, the merchants can have nice big pillows to sit on or optional bean bag if available, the Greater Peon, perhaps a folded bath towel and finally the Lesser Peon, nothing at all - or maybe a flannel if its Christmas. I also like to give the Great Dalmuti a seal of office such as an umbrella and/or hat; something to poke people with is fine.  Just like the Stanford Prison Experiment, given the right tools, its wonderful to watch the game roll.
 
The game is a bit like gin rummy, and there is a race to lose your cards each round to retain your standing. The first to lose their cards becomes the Great Dalmuti, the second the Lesser Dalmuti and so on. Unfortunately for the Peons, the deck is always a bit stacked against them as the Dalmutis tax them a couple of their best cards at the beginning of each round but there is sometimes the option of Revolution when the kings swap places with the beggars.
 
During play idle chat is fine, provided it goes through the proper channels. Everyone should be polite and reverential to the Dalmutis, though they should always ask permission from the Lesser Dalmuti before addressing the Greater Dalmuti directly, laugh at their Jokes and generally tell them how wonderful they are. Merchants can generally be agreeable and self affirming whilst people should talk down to the Peons and make sure that they are getting on with things. The Lesser Peon should always go through the Greater Peon before addressing anyone or be beaten/poked with an umbrella.
 
One for the family at Christmas if you don't mind not talking to them for a week....


1 comment:

  1. I saw Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone at Dragonmeet last weekend and they picked this as one of their favourite games of all time. What a coincidence to see it mentioned here!

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