With so many people sheltering in place, teleconferencing apps such as Zoom and Discord have become nearly ubiquitous. And, of course, gamers have gotten in on the action.
We took a look at playing The Red Dragon Inn via teleconference, and it turns out that it works pretty well! The rules and guidelines are below. These instructions assume that you already know how to set up a teleconference – we’ll just be talking about the game itself. So if you want to play some RDI, and you want the physical experience of shuffling cards rather than playing on Tabletop Simulator, read on!
Want to see us take a crack at playing this variant? We’ve archived our 4/30 livestream on YouTube; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tNosNzWOS3A
The players in the game are assumed to be across several locations, connected virtually. Multiple players could potentially be playing in a single location.
Each location must have the following:
- A microphone and camera to connect to the video conference
- An RDI character deck (with applicable side decks and components), player mat and Fortitude and Alcohol Content markers for each player at that location
- Gold pieces
One location (and only one) must have a Drink Deck to be managed by the Boozemeister (explained below).
Play Order: It’s hard to take turns clockwise around the table when there’s no table! At the start of the game, figure out a sensible turn order, then make sure that everyone knows that turn order – perhaps by posting the order in the chat or having each player rename themselves by adding a number to their name (if the platform you’re using has a “rename” command). After you figure out turn order, determine a starting player at random like normal.
Playing Cards: Each player will have a hand of cards from their deck, as usual. When a player plays a card, they should read its title and what it does. Bonus points if you hold the card up to your camera as you read the title for dramatic effect!
Fortitude and Alcohol Content: Each player will track their own Fortitude and Alcohol Content like normal. We recommend that players verbally announce both their Fortitude and Alcohol Content totals every time either one of them changes.
Gold: Each player keeps their own gold stash, as usual. Each location should also have its own “Inn” – a pile of extra gold off to the side. If a player must pay gold to the Inn or take gold from the Inn, they simply pay to or take from their location’s Inn. If a player must pay gold to another player, the paying player should give gold to their location’s Inn and the receiving player should take the same amount of gold from their own location’s Inn. (Pretend that it magically teleports!) We recommend that players verbally announce how much gold they have whenever that amount changes.
Gambling: Each location will have its own pot during a Round of Gambling. When a player antes, the gold goes into the pot for that player’s location. When a player wins the Round, that player takes their location’s pot. Then, each other location reports the size of their location’s pot. The winner takes that much gold from their location’s Inn, and the remote location adds their location’s pot to their location’s Inn. (Again, just imagine that each location’s Inn is a magical coin teleportation device!) If any location runs out of gold, just use some other markers as a substitute.
Example: Fiona, Zot and Gerki are playing a game at different locations. During a round of Gambling, each of them has anted 2 gold, but Gerki stole one gold back with his card “Grab a coin while no one’s lookin’”. Fiona wins the round. She takes the 2 gold in her location’s pot. Zot announces that his location’s pot has 2 gold and puts that gold into his location’s Inn. Fiona takes 2 gold from her location’s Inn. Then Gerki announces that his location’s pot has 1 gold and puts that gold into his location’s Inn. Fiona takes 1 gold from her location’s Inn.
Drinks: At the start of the game, choose one player to be the Boozemeister. Only that player will physically interact with all of the drink cards in the game. The Boozemeister should have a drink deck and some way of creating and handling every player’s Drink Me! Pile. We recommend something simple like a post-it note on the table for each player that isn’t at the same location as the Boozemeister. The Drink Deck and each player’s Drink Me! Pile work exactly the same as they do in a normal game of RDI. The only exception is that they all live in a single location and are physically handled by the Boozemeister.
Example: Zot is the Boozemeister. During Fiona’s Order a Drink Phase, she announces that she is ordering a Drink for Deirdre. Zot takes the top card of the Drink Deck and puts it face-down on Deirdre’s Drink Me! Pile. Fiona then announces that she is proceeding to her Drink Phase. Zot reveals the top card of Fiona’s Drink Me! Pile and shows everyone that it is Dark Ale with a Chaser. He reveals the next card in Fiona’s Drink Me! Pile. It’s a Wine. Fiona has no response, so she gains 3 Alcohol Content, and Zot puts both of Fiona’s drink cards into the Drink Deck discard pile.
Example: Zot is the Boozemeister. During his own Drink Phase, he reveals a Drinking Contest. In turn order, he reveals and announces drinks from the Drink Deck for each player. After all the drinks have been revealed each player has a chance to respond, then the drinks resolve. Zot wins the Drinking Contest, so he receives a gold from each other player – they each pay one gold to their location’s Inn, and Zot takes the corresponding amount from his own Inn. (In other words, this works just like a regular Drinking Contest, except that only one person touches the drink cards, and the gold “magically” teleports.)
Public information: It is important to remember that, in a game of The Red Dragon Inn, nearly all game information is public. The only pieces of private information are the identities of cards in a player’s hand or in a deck or Drink Me! Pile. Everything else is public, including:
- Any player’s Fortitude, Alcohol Content or Gold
- Any face-up cards or tokens in front of a player
- The number of cards in any player’s hand, any player’s Drink Me! Pile, or any deck
- The complete contents of any discard pile
Playing RDI remotely is impossible unless each player is open and honest about all public information! Any player should feel free to ask any other player about any public information at any time. (Remember Wheaton’s Law!)
Tricky characters: Some characters can give out game components to other players. These include Phrenk, Remy, Amundyr, Warthorn, Natyli, Keet and Evil Pooky. If you are playing one of these characters, you will need to keep track of each player’s components via post-its or something similar, just like the Boozemeister does with drinks. When playing a character that gives away game objects, it is your responsibility to keep all other players informed of the objects that they have!
A few characters deserve special mention here:
Spyke and Flower: If Spyke and Flower are playing in different locations, they should choose one of the players to control the treasure deck and keep track of both players’ treasure in front of them. (Although, to be honest, if each player just uses their own treasure deck, it won’t change the game all that much.)
The Wench: If The Wench is in the game, she must be chosen as the Boozemeister. In addition to being thematically delightful, this ensures that there will be no confusion over whether or not a certain player’s Drink Me! Pile has Special Reserve Drinks on top of it.
Murgath: Unfortunately, Murgath doesn’t quite work as intended in this version of RDI. The problem is that Murgath must give out private information to other players in the form of Blessing Cards that only one player is allowed to see. If a player wishes to play Murgath, the best option is for Blessing Cards drawn by any player to be face up. They still count as part of that player’s hand. Murgath himself should track each player’s Blessing Cards with post-its as described above for the other tricky characters.