Ordeal Cards

Posted on Sunday, January 15th, 2017 at 15:09

In general you may play a single card from your Ordeal Pool, when making a Half (or Full) Action with a Skill, although you may play multiple cards from Talents, Powers, Super-skills and Descendants like them…

Each card represents part of the Narrative of the Ordeal. Cards can be played as Trumps for certain activities which means they are particularly suited for the purpose. You can see some examples for Combat below. When multiple cards are played together or an action is prepared the lower cards are used to pay any pip costs for Range, multiple targets, RT reductions, etc. first.


When playing multiple cards from a Talent, Power or Super-Skill Annex if the Player can match the suits of all the cards being played simultaneously (including any prepared cards) then every card will increase it’s Wound Level by one. So if you prepare a 2 of Diamonds and a 3 of Diamonds then play a Jack of Diamonds and a Ten of Diamonds to finally attack, that would play as Two Flesh Wounds and Two Mortal Wounds. Flushes only count if all cards in play are the same suit.


When playing multiple cards from a Talent, Power or Super-Skill Annex ANY straights (or Runs) where the cards include a numerical sequence (regardless of Suit), behave in a slightly different manner. All Cards that are part of the Straight count as though they were duplicates of the highest card in the Straight.
For example, if a Player over a number of rounds of preparation and play manages to play, 2 ♦, 3 ♥, 4 ♦, 5 ♠, 6 ♠, 7 ♣, 8 ♦ then that would count as having played 7 8s (7xMaims) at the same time.

Ordeal Pool Limit

When a Character is drawing cards they may go over their Ordeal Pool Limit(especially with all the pulled and played cards that Nimbed effects can add), however at the end of their action they must Discard any cards over their Ordeal Pool Limit. A character has an Ordeal Pool Limit of their current Number of Handicaps plus their current Scale (To a minimum of 1).
This limits a Grunt to 1-6 cards, a Mercari to 3-14 cards and a Solo to between 6-24 cards depending upon their Scale.

Examples of Ordeal card uses

  1. Play any single card to attack, creating a wound of a type and level determined by the card (and the Stakes). Spades can be used to create any type of attack (of the normal wound type for those Pips) i.e. During High Stakes combat the Jack of Diamonds can be used to create a Crippling Lecture Wound, as can a Jack of Spades.
  2. Play a card to prepare. Allowing you to stack cards to create larger effects. This represents moving closer, aiming etc. Diamonds can be used to prepare any type of actions and allows the player to put a card aside and include it in the next attack as a secondary wound or second parrying card. You can prepare with any card, but Diamonds assume the suit of the card played with them, so they can be used to prepare any action. It is normal to place a card of preparation sideways (crossed) until it is used.
  3. Attempt to actively defend. If you can play a same suit (or a Club ♣) with a card of the same Pips or Higher then the original wound card is discarded. It has been dodged, parried or ignored. If you cannot match the suit (or have no Clubs) but can play another suit with a higher Face Value then you will reduce the Wound one Class.
  4. Attempt to passively defend. If using an Armour Descendant, Passive Annex (or Descendant), or Rook Channelling Annex then you may use this to defend by playing cards from your pool or drawing and playing cards as described. Passive defences are limited with a Max Soak and may absorb attack Pips or attack cards depending upon Soak mode.
  5. Play a card to heal. you may heal by playing the correct suit or a Heart. All wounds of a lower Class(and appropriate suit, if not a Heart) are reduced one Class.
  6. Play a card as a movement action or stunt. The aim is to beat the difficulty of the Stage set by the Referee. E.g. If the Ref sets a 5 as the diff then it must be at least equalled with a two and three or a single 5. Diamonds are usually the Trumps for such actions, but do vary by Ordeal type, so check with your Ref.

Ordeal Cards and Wounds

In T13 each Ordeal card represents an ordeal action, a Class, a Yarn Equivalent, and a wound. The face-value (or Pips of the card) of the card governs the Wound Class while the suit governs the type. The Wounds are defined at the Highest Stake as follows.

Card Class Yarn Equivalent Low Stakes Medium Stakes High Stakes High Stakes Definition
2, 3, 4 0 1 Distract Lowers the next card the Distracted character plays one class, or increases the next card played upon the Distracted character one class, then the Distract Wound is discarded. Out of Ordeal a distract penalises a roll by a success level and is then discarded.
5, 6, 7 1 2 Flesh The Flesh wounded character must discard an Ordeal card, or aggravate a wound they already have one class and then the Flesh wound is discarded. Out of Ordeals a Flesh wound stops you from attempting a single roll and is then discarded.
8, 9 2 3 Distract Maim Lose one Proficiency Slot until healed. The Proficiency in the slot is consumed, but may be repurchased for 1 Chi once healed. If all Proficiency Slots are Maimed then lose a Proficiency from an Annex (Nimbeds by preference, then Umbrals – potentially reducing a Power to a Talent or Talent to a Skill).
10,J (11) 3 3 Flesh Cripple Causes loss of an Annex slot until healed. The Annex and all Proficiencies in the slot are unavailable until the wound is healed. Once healed Proficiencies may be repurchased for 1 Chi each. Then the Annex will regenerate at Phoenix Boon Reduced Boons per Day unless it is repurchased in full.
Q (12),K (13) 4 4 Distract Maim Mortal / Injurious Can create or increase the Boon of a non-Daemonic Handicap by Miasma Boon Reduced each round (or outside of an Ordeal +1 Boon per Miasma Boon as Yarn limit duration) until healed; can alter the wounded character’s Personality, or Core Facet choice (Ref’s choice); or reduce an appropriate Facet (Incarna usually) by a Boon equal to the Wounded Character’s Miasma Boon Reduced. I-Ching, Personality, Proficiency slots and Annexes affected should be recalculated.
A (14),Joker (15) 5 4 Flesh Cripple Carnage Can create or increase the Boon of a Daemonic Handicap by Miasma Boon Reduced each round (or 1 Boon per Miasma Boon treated as a limited duration outside of Ordeals) until healed, or can alter the target’s Incarna Facet choice (turning to stone etc)

Suit Facets and attack types Trump
Spades ♠ Gossamer (Rip: Maim/Cripple x2), Inertia (Slash: Flesh x3), Key (Jab: Target Nature Incarna or Mortal x2), Miasma (Toxin: Automatically Stack), Trial (Hack: Target Quiet, Nature, Orthodox, or Craft Incarna x2), Yonder (Yank: Target moving x3) Attack Trump: Spades can be used to create any type of wound.
Clubs ♣ Burden (Pound: Maim x3), Dominion (Explode: x Total Wound Class +1 on additional targets), Fury (Bedlam: Target Key, liberty, Heresy Incarna or Distract x2), Rook (Quash: Target Descendant x2), Sin (Curse: Target Wyrd, Jeer, Inertia x3), Wyrd (Snare: Creates a Trap that lingers) Defence Trump: Clubs can be used to defend any type of wound.
Diamonds ♦ Awe (Duck: Distract/Flesh x2), Craft (Crash: Target Technology or Vehicle x3), Orthodox (Lecture: Distract x3), Quiet (Erode: Target Burden, Trial, Craft Incarna x2), Virtue (Conversion: Carnage x3), Zeal (Kick: Draws and Plays another card once affected) Action Trump: Diamonds can be used to prepare any action, played face-up in front of the player. They can be added to a later card to enhance a defence, an attack or healing. Often used to negate range costs. Diamonds are also trumps at any motion, jumping, climbing, running, driving etc.
Hearts ♥ Enigma (Ambush: Distract/Flesh x2), Heresy (Malign: Distract x3), Jeer (Freeze: Distract/Flesh x2), Liberty (Overload: Distract x2 Targets senses), Nature (Gouge: Mortal/Carnage x2), Phoenix (Fry: Target Quiet or Nature Incarna x2) Healing Trump: Hearts can be used to perform healing on any type of wound.


In T13 there are number of ways that you can defend yourself.

Active Defences

When defending actively you may cancel or reduce an incoming attack before the Wound is accepted.
Active defence works to cancel the total Pips of an attack. Add up all the Pips of the Attack (including any additional Pips of Penetration).
The Defence then calculates it’s total Pips (including any additional Pips Nimbeds may add).
If the Defence is higher than the Attack then the Defence is at least partially successful and will reduce all the Wounds 1 Level.
Then individual cards are compared. Any Attacking card that is beaten by a Defending card that matches suit (or is a Club) is completely cancelled.

Passive Defences

When attacked You might find you are languishing in a GRT and can’t actively defend (or despite your best efforts to defend, some damage still gets through). When this happens you will be relying on Passive soak.

Generally, with passive defences you start at the outside and work your way in (so if you are wearing a cloak over your armour, start the soak with the cloak). This could be a passive or defence Descendant, or a passive (or Rook Channeling) Annex.
The final passive defence is simply the Character’s Rook. Working out the order that defences should be used in, follows the pattern of Dodging, Force Fields, Shields, Armour, Toughness, Rook… but as usual the Referee has final arbitration.

Maximum Soak

Passive defences (such as a suit of armour) have a Pip limit that they can stop (we call this it’s Maximum Soak). This Max Soak is equal to half the defence’s maximum roll. So to stop a Joker (15 Pips — which might be a Flesh, Cripple or Carnage depending on the stakes) a Passive defence must be able to roll a maximum of 30 (Which is a Boon 96 Defence!).

Some Nimbeds and Umbrals affect the Penetration value of a card. Penetration adds directly to the Pips of the Ordeal Card for the purposes of Maximum Soak. A 5 ♦ Flesh Wound with a +5 Penetration is as hard to defend against as a 10 ♦ Crippling wound with no Penetration.

It should be noted that multiple cards together do not add Pips for calculating Max Soak Penetration. It is only individual cards that may Penetrate in this way.

Soak Modes

So if the defence can affect the attack then it has two possible modes it can operate in.

  1. Pip absorbing

    A Passive Annex reduces the Pips of an incoming attack automatically. Each Pip has a diff of 2 to absorb, so every two points of rolled Score will reduce the Pips of the Attack by one. If all the Pips of the attack are absorbed the attack is negated. Any unabsorbed Pips will still get through and affect the next layer of defence, or the Character.

  2. Card absorbing

    Card absorbing mode allows a defence to draw extra cards and play a number of cards from the Character’s Ordeal Pool. The defencemay draw the Passive Score Reduced cards and add them to the Ordeal Pool. The defence may then play the same number of cards (+ any granted by the Passive Nimbed) to try and defend.
    Only one card may be played to defend each attacking card.
    If the defending card has more Pips than the Attacking Ordeal card, then it has failed to defend.
    If the defending card is lower than the Wound then the defence stops the attack (taking the Wound on the Descendant where applicable) but some damage (equal to the defence card played) passes into the next closest layer of passive defence (or effects the character). So if attacked with an Ace (Carnage) and you defend with any 5, the Ace is absorbed by the defence and the 5 replaces it in the attack.
    If the defending card matches the attacking suit (or is Clubs ♣) then both the Wound absorbed by the defence and the Wound that goes on is Reduced 1 Level.
    This makes a 2,3, or 4 of Clubs the most powerful Passive Defence cards.

Soaked Wounds

When Wounds are stopped by a Passive Defence it is said to have been Soaked. Depending on what did the soaking depends what happens next.
In the case of Descendants that are acting as a defence, such as Derek’s Chain Mail the Soaked Wounds are taken on the Descendant.
In the case of Character Annexes (or the most basic Rook Defence) the Soaked Wound is discarded. However the Character should immediately receive a GRT of 1. Particularly mean Referees, who are looking for greater realism, may insist that every Wound Soaked adds an additional point of GRT.

You should consult the Descendants page to see how much damage any given Descendant can take.

Success Levels and Cards

The Success Level of the Card is normally equivalent to the Card’s Class (5 for a Joker or Ace). These Success levels can be held over through Ordeals. Once an Ordeal has passed the Diff of a Stage any extra Successes can then be used as in Dice Tests.

When playing Ordeal cards Success Levels may modify the Level of Wounds, or the number of cards. Umbrals, Nimbeds, Tones and Wyrd Tarot cards can radically adjust the number of success levels available.

A +1 Success Level may allow an Annex to Draw an additional Ordeal Card (for example, if the Tone is Combative then every Annex may draw an additional card) OR it may increase the Wound Levels of all cards being played by 1 Level. If you used your Success Levels on extra cards you don’t get to add to the Wound Levels of the card. A Carnage Wound increased one Level will pull and play an additional card (this card is never taken from the Character’s pool, but these bonus cards never count towards Flushes or Straights).

A -1 Success Level will either cause an Annex to draw one less card than normal OR will Reduce the Wound Level of every card played 1 Level (again not both). Losing a success level from a Distract completely negates that card.

So in a High Stakes Combative Tone (+1 Level) a with crossed Gun card (-2 Levels) played on yourself would cause all Wounds played on the you to actually be 1 Level Lower than the Face.