The Game of Challenges and Changes
Also known as 'The Game of Arcana', 'The Deck of Destiny', and 'The Cards of Change', this thing of power is both an exceptionally powerful magical artifact and a very popular party favor among the reality-altering inclined.
The Game takes the form of a set of magical playing cards, theoretically infinite in number and stored inside of a special carrying case which only allows one card to be drawn at a time. These cards and their carrying case are both designed to be indestructible and tamper resistant, ensuring that any game played is done so fairly, and ensuring that the game itself remains in an undamaged and appropriate playing condition.
For the game to begin, two conditions must first be met. (1), Location, The Game may only be played within an enclosed room. (2), Population, The Game requires at least two players to begin, but no more than twelve. Once these two conditions have been met, the game will allows its first card to be drawn and for the game to officially begin.
At the drawing of the first card and the game's official beginning, the game room will become sealed from the outside world, becoming fully enclosed if it is not already. Time will not pass outside of the game room while the game is being played, and therefore from an outside perspective no time will have actually passed between the game's beginning and its conclusion. Within the game room, players will not age, and will not suffer permanent injury or death. There are no conditions under which the game will prematurely end or under which a player will be disqualified from further play. Should a player's ability to comfortably continue play come into question, the game will temporarily accommodate that player to facilitate their continued participation until the game's ultimate conclusion.
The Game is played over the course of three stages, with a total of four different cards.
1. Challenge Cards
2. Change Cards
3. Wish Cards
4. Curse Cards
The Infernal Challenge, is the first stage of The Game, beginning as the first card is drawn. At the beginning of this stage, the deck automatically dispenses a number of Curse Cards. Each player receives the same number of cards, which is a random number between 1 and 10.
During this stage of the game, players take turns drawing Challenge Cards from the deck. Each Challenge Card details a challenge to the players of the game, but particularly to the player who drew the card. These challenges may take any form but are always possible for the challenged player to complete, if not necessarily easy. While many challenges may only be undertaken and completed by the challenged player, there are many other challenges which allow or even require the participation of multiple players, either cooperatively, competitively, or through separate individual challenges.
The undertaking of a challenge may alter the game room or transport the challenged parties to a specially crafted location to undergo the challenge. Any damage a player undertakes during the course of a challenge will be undone upon its conclusion, regardless of success or failure. Non-participating players may always view the challenge in progress, even if it takes place in an alternate location.
Once drawn, a Challenge Card may always be declined. For the player who drew the card, declining the challenge incurs a penalty of (1) Change Card. For other players, challenges may be declined without penalty.
A player who successfully undertakes a challenge is granted a reward of (1) Wish Card, and the removal of (1) Curse Card from their possession. A player who fails an undertaken challenge will incur a penalty of (1) Curse Card and (1) Change Card.
Players who have no Curse Cards in their possession are under no obligation to draw Challenge Cards and may decline at no penalty. Should they choose to participate in a challenge they instead receive (2) Wish Cards should they succeed.
A Challenge Card is discarded and its drawing player's turn ended only once every player eligible to undertake it has either made an attempt or declined. Players may not undertake a challenge that they are incapable of succeeding.
Each Change Card in the game will either transform the player or otherwise alter that player's reality in some predetermined way. Each possesses its own unique name and description, both of which are written upon the card itself, always in the format of: “The bearer of the X card will ...”. The effects of a Change Card are persistent and will remain in effect upon a player until the card is no longer in their possession.
Change Cards may also be part of a set, in which case the primary card or primary cards of the set must be drawn at the same time, and secondary cards may only be drawn after the primary cards are already in play.
A single player may not draw or hold in their possession a series of Change Cards whose effect conflict with one another. There may exist more than one copy of any given card, and the total number of unique Change Cards is impossible to quantify. As previously stated, a player may not be prematurely removed from the game or prevented from playing for any reason. Should the effects of their cards prevent them from being able to comfortably participate, The Game will facilitate that player's continued participation through magic.
Change Cards, Wish Cards, and Curse Cards may not be given away or discarded. They are considered to be in a player's possession even if they are not being physically held by that player. These cards may however be freely traded between players, provided that the cards are traded at a rate of 1:1.
The Arcane Gamble is the second stage of The Game, beginning once all Curse Cards have been removed from play.
In this stage of the game a player must sacrifice (1) Wish Card in order to draw a Challenge Card, but may decline the challenge at no further cost. Should a player decline to draw a Challenge Card, they immediately exit this stage of the game and may no longer draw cards or participate in challenges, even when it should be their turn.
A player who successfully undertakes a challenge in this stage of the game is granted the reward of (1) Wish Card, with the drawing player receiving (1) additional Wish Card should they succeed for a total of (2). A player who fails an undertaken challenge instead incurs a penalty of (1) Change Card.
The Celestial Wish is the final stage of the game, occurring only once all players have finished participating in The Arcane Gamble.
In this stage of the game there are no challenges or Challenge Cards. Instead players now take turns expending their accumulated Wish Cards. During this stage, each Wish Card may be expended to either discard a Change Card in their possession or to draw a new Change Card with a desired effect.
If a wish is made but not fulfilled, the Wish Card is not expended but the cause of failure is explained, thereby allowing the player to potentially correct the mistake without penalty. For example: As the primary cards of a set must be drawn at the same time, they must also be discarded at the same time, requiring an equivalent number of Wish Cards, and before that may be attempted all secondary cards of the same set must first be discarded. Another common cause of failure is a wish being made which has too great of an effect to be fulfilled through a single Change Card, thus necessitating the sacrifice of additional Wish Cards.
Once all Wish Cards have been expended, the game immediately ends. All cards will be reshuffled into the deck and the players will no longer be capable of exchanging cards. Players will remain under the effects of whatever cards that they had been holding at the conclusion of the game.
Occasionally, a themed variant of the game emerges, in which the Challenge Cards, Change Cards, or both, are adjusted to suit the intentions of the variant. Such variations are always made known at the start of the game.
When the game begins, a disembodied narrator helpfully recites this explanation to any and all players participating in the game, and may do so again either in whole or in part in response to player questions. The narrator may also be used to recite the words upon any card drawn or in the player's possession.
In which world does this Arcane Game appear in...?