Houses of the Blooded _ Cutthroat
Yvbintni was a gambling game of wagers, excess, courage, and wits designed by Blooded ven for Blooded ven. It was a game for 5-6 players, but there are accounts in some pillowbooks of ven playing with fewer or more players. All that was needed to play were ten pentagonal deltohedrons numbered 0-9 and some method of keeping score.
The player with the most points each round won the pot for the round, but a running total of points from all rounds won the buy-in. Players announced what their buy-in was before the host announced who would be going first for the first round. Buy-ins could be anything: resources, season actions, favors, lands, vassals, vassalage, et cetera. Ven often tried to out-do each other in the buy-in phase of the game, as it was a sign of extravagance, wealth, power, and prestige. Players also used this as a form of psychological warfare, using the buy-in to set expectations (realistic or not) for what would be bid during the game.
Once the buy-in had concluded, the host announced who would be first for the first round. Unlike the buy-in phase where players could put up anything, each round the first player chose what category of item(s) was(were) being bid for that round. However, the quantity and/or quality of the items bid was up to the individual player. For instance, if the first player bid two rank three forests, the second player may have bid one rank three mountain, the third player may have bid one rank one village, the fourth player may have bid four rank two hills (one of which had a road), et cetera. By bidding lands, the first player had limited all subsequent players that round to bidding lands as well. A player could decline to bid, but in doing so did not get a chance to roll the pentagonal deltohedrons.
Once a player had added their bid to the round’s pot they rolled their pentagonal deltohedron(s) once. Pentagonal deltohedrons showing 0 were worth zero. Pentagonal deltohedrons showing 1-4 were worth -1, -2, -3, and -4 respectively. Pentagonal deltohedrons showing 5-9 were worth +5, +6, +7, +8, and +9 respectively. A player could only keep up to half of the pentagonal deltohedrons they were given, rounded up. They then passed the other pentagonal deltohedrons to the player to their left. Thus, the first player could keep zero to five pentagonal deltohedrons of their choice, passing the others to the second player.
If one or more pentagonal deltohedrons made their way around the table a second time, players could choose to add a second bid to the pot for the chance to roll them again. However, players could not keep more pentagonal deltohedrons than the maximum number of pentagonal deltohedrons they were allowed to keep the first time around. There was an oft-forgotten rule that stated that a player could replace any of the pentagonal deltohedrons previously kept with one or more of those rolled on the second pass. So, if the first player had only kept four pentagonal deltohedrons on the first pass and two pentagonal deltohedrons had come to them for the second pass, they could have kept one and choose to use the second pentagonal deltohedron to replace one of the four previously kept.
Any remaining pentagonal deltohedrons which made it to the first player a third time were forfeit from the round. The winner of the round won the pot for that round. Then all ten pentagonal deltohedrons were passed to the player to the left of the first player. That player became the first player for the new round. The new first player set the tone for their round by bidding in a different or the same category as the previous round. Which player was the first player for the round moved clockwise around the table until everyone had been the first player for one round. Tradition held that the last player to be the first player of a round would bid favors, and in most games that was the only round to do so. However, there is one tale of a game where every round was for favors, and that the barons who did so all became earls later in life.
Once the last round was completed, the point total from all rounds was revealed. Tradition held that points were announced for each player, starting with the lowest score and ending with the highest. The player with the highest score would then claim the buy-in.
In most stories there were side bets, both by the players and by the onlookers, and even secret lower-stakes bets by the veth passing in and out from the kitchens. But woe to the veth whose owner discovered they had bet against them!