The system of Skullduggery relies on a normal, unaltered deck of fifty two cards, minus the instruction cards and any of the other nonsense cards that come in the deck box. Each card has an assigned value and adds to the stack for action throughout gameplay.
Each card has an assigned value, based on its numerical value. Cards two through ten have the same value as their face value. The jack is worth eleven, and the queen is worth twelve. The king of each suite is worth thirteen, and in the highest numerical value card.
Skullduggery is represented by the aces of each suite. Drawing Skullduggery is an automatic failure of whatever action was being attempted. It also usually is not pretty when it occurs.
Several item types have their own rules for how Skullduggery occurs. Please look in those assigned sections for those. However, for other actions, such as resisting a poison, climbing a wall, or telling a raunchy joke in the pub, the suite of the next card draw affects the outcome of the actions.
If a spade is drawn, the action results in its worst conclusion. This is pretty much free reign for the GM to mess with a player. If your character is getting poisoned, they may also suffer from gas or the trots as well. They may fall off the wall into a box of nails and take extra damage. The joke may fall flat and start a huge fight because your character accidentally insulted somebodies mother. In other words your character will take extra damage and have some horrible fate as well.
If a club is drawn, the action results in additional damage or other such upgraded consequence from the action. If your character is shooting a gun it backfires on them with a misfire. They trip on something and crack a rib. The actions results in a random card draw worth of damage.
If a diamond is drawn, the action results in only a mild penalty. Your character fails the action and then suffers a minus two penalty for the rest of the scene.
If hearts are drawn the action simply fails. Your character suffers no other ill effects, other than the action failed.
If Skullduggery is drawn for damage, it simply acts as a one.
Benjo is a critical hit in Skullduggery, meaning it is an automatic success if drawn for an action. Benjo occurs when a joker is drawn. If this occurs during an attack action the damage for the attack is altered. Bashing damage attacks can result in a crippling blow and lethal card draw damage is doubled. If Benjo is drawn on the damage draw, it functions as a fifteen. The staff would also like to suggest yelling “Benjo” loudly whenever it is drawn.
The key to all actions in Skullduggery is the stacking of attributes, skills, the draw, and any bonuses. In all truth it is simply the math of game play for Skullduggery. Stacking follows a simple equation to be used for almost every single action.
First, a character will pick which attribute applies to the action being completed. Then it is added to a skill. This is your character’s base natural abilities for an action. Any bonuses are added to this number. These bonuses come from gadgets, Elixirs, or artifacts that may alter an attribute or a skill’s total. Once your character’s natural aptitudes and bonuses are combined, there is the addition of chance. The option of luck or chance is represented by the card draw.
- Attribute + skill + bonuses + draw
All actions must follow the simple equations. The bonus section is expandable due to gadgets, Elixirs, and artifacts adding to the amount a player may have. Each of which can grant a single bonus.
Each stack for an action may only have one of any select item. In other words your character may only add one of each type of item. So your character can not add two gadgets, Elixirs or artifacts to a stack for an attack. Below is an example of an attack stack
- · 3 agility + 4 fire arms + 2 sight (gadget) + 3 steady + 3 blessing of agility + draw
While this can add to a high amount, especially for more experienced players, this may always be countered by another character or a difficulty setting for different actions.
The difficulty setting is the innate and unchanging, for the most part, baseline for how hard it is for your character to complete an action. The GM sets the difficulty for any actions using their own better judgment, as well as a suggestion list in the GM section of the handbook. Below is a sample list general difficulty levels.
- < 10: Low
- 11 TO 15: Average
- 15 < High