Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Flaming Chess

In the last session in the city of Wetham, the party wanted to do some gambling or gaming, and found themselves at The Cup & Beaver - a gambling den where high-born nobles play Flaming Chess. Looking for money and information they agreed to play a game of doubles Flaming Chess with Tyrnus Von Vrogle and Nena Bleeve. At stake: the party's traitorous magic sword and Tyrnus' jewelled chainmail.

"But Nathan," I hear you say, "How does one play Flaming Chess?"

I'm so glad you asked...

(Flaming Chess was a random result from the Bars and Games table in Vornheim by Zak; I don't know if anyone else has alternate rules out there?)

In Wetham, Flaming Chess is played with large wooden pieces on a big gaming board. The squares are five feet to a side, and the pieces are pretty big. Pawns can be moved by one person comfortably, but the back row of pieces are quite cumbersome and heavy for the average person to shift. Hence why the game is often played in pairs.

At the start of the game, horribly burn-scarred orphans run between the rows of pieces lighting delay-fuses. The fuses reach and ignite the pawns first, and ignite the back row a few minutes later. If a piece is burned to ashes then it is out. Flaming Chess is ugly, confused and quick, with players weighing up advantages on the board against the possibility of third degree burns.

For reasons lost to time, in Wetham the rooks have giant carved scorpion tails on top of the castle ramparts...

Playing Flaming Chess (or how we played it last night)
Decide stakes! Money and treasure are good. Nobles sometimes put up cash stakes against "body debts" for poorer opponents. This can be anything from servitude to mutilation.
Opposed Rolls! Flaming Chess is played out over a maximum of ten rounds. Players make opposed d20 rolls with the highest INT modifier of a pair helping.
Cumulative Bonuses and Penalties! Each round, players roll. The high roll gets a point and an ongoing +1 bonus for future rounds. Natural 20s get an extra point. Tied rounds lead to both parties getting a point.
Six Points = Checkmate! When you reach six points you've done it - the other guys are losers. If both parties get six points at the same time (through a tied round) then the match is a draw.
It Burns! There are ten rounds. After three rounds the pawns catch fire. After six rounds the back row catch fire. After seven rounds the pawns have all burned to ash. After ten rounds the back row are all burned to ash. If the end of the tenth is reached without a clear winner then the party with the greatest number of points wins.
It Really Burns! After the third round, when the pawns are alight, the losing party must make a save versus breath weapon (if playing doubles, then only one of the party). If they fail they have a choice: either take a hit point of damage from fire or take a -1 penalty to their cumulative bonus total - the choice between getting into a stable position and taking a burn, or avoiding the flames but sacrificing a piece. And if you roll a 1? Make *another* breath weapon save.
Oh The Humanity! If the back row ignites then both winning and losing parties in a round must make breath weapon saves. Things are getting serious!
Forfeit Is For Wimps! But if any time you're thinking "Why am I taking so many points of damage for a game?! Why couldn't we just gamble on the outcome?!" then you can forfeit. But you won't do that, right?

Note 1: Rules for Flaming Chess were made up on the spot during the session; I think I've remembered what was agreed, but if Patrick or David want to correct me on anything, chime in and I'll update.
Note 2: This was a lot of fun at the table for such a simple mini-game!


  1. Yikes! I think I will like boring non-burning chess watch and not play.

    1. Ah, come on, where's the fun in that? ;)

  2. Watching other people take damage is way better than taking damage. As an Archmage, I have people for that. :D