Run Schedule

Rules Overview

Poker Rules

"Ricardo's Union Saloon" is a live-action game, and most game actions can be resolved through interacting with other players, rather than going through a Game-Master. However, sometimes doing so would be impossible, dangerous, or inappropriate, so we have created (or borrowed) a few rules to simulate those particular game actions. Here are some examples of various types of game actions:

Casual action - Talking to other players, Walking around the saloon, Playing poker, Getting a drink - These can be resolved "live" by just doing them. Unless, for some reason, another player is trying to stop you, or you have some kind of Character Disadvantage that prevents you, you automatically succeed at these types of action.

Static Challenges - Searching for hidden locations, Recalling obscure information, Breaking down a door - These are actions taken "against the environment," since there is resistance involved, but it is not against another player. To resolve these types of challenges, you need a Game-Master, or follow the directions of an environmental instruction. An example of an environmental instruction: you might find a secret door, which we have labeled as such, with posted instructions on what you need to do, or skills/abilities your character needs to have, in order to get through the door.

Contested Challenges - Bar-room Brawling, Shoot-outs - These are actions taken against other players. We have created a simple combat resolution system for resolving these types of challenges without a Game-Master present, but you may want to find one, for peace of mind.

Simple Combat Resolution System

There are three major steps to resolving a round of combat:

Step A:  Identify the Combatants

Once a player decides to attack someone, they inform their intended target. Anybody else nearby has just a second or two to join in, otherwise they miss this round of combat. Once combat starts, there may be a brief "time freeze" while the combatants sort out what they are doing (or find a Game-Master to help them).


Step B:  Declare your Actions

Each player will be wearing a name badge. On the back of the badge, normally hidden, is a number. Each round of combat, those involved must flip over their badge and reveal their number. This number indicates what sequence your actions are declared in; lower badge numbers declare before higher badge numbers. Badge numbers are unique, so there are no ties.

The action you declare is probably going to be one of your skills or special abilities (see below), and may target another player ("I punch you"), or not ("I run away"). You do not have to declare defensive maneuvers like Dodge, since it is assumed you always try to do this.


Step C:  Resolve your actions

The badge number also indicates what sequence your actions are resolved in; higher badge numbers resolve before lower badge numbers. If a player is no longer able to carry out their action when it comes their turn to resolve (because, for example, they have gone "down"), then their action is cancelled.

To resolve your action, you hold out 0 or more Chips in your closed hand, and your target, if any, does the same. If there was no target (e.g., you ran away), then you automatically succeed. You and your target reveal your Chips at the same time, the higher number of Chips wins. Ties go to the "pacifist," so the shootee or punchee would win all ties. In other words, an attacker must exceed their target's Chip number.



GO BACK to Step A until nobody wants to (or can) fight any more!


  1. Special Abilities over-ride the normal combat rules. This means that it is always possible for somebody to show a special ability card which permits them to bend or bypass the normal flow of events. Example: Somebody could have the "Quick-draw" ability, which permits them to go first when using a gun, even if they have a low badge number. The rules of how the ability works will be written on the special ability card. See a Game-Master if an ability card is not clear.>
  2. All combat is obvious to all participants. There is no general "surprise" rule, although there is always the chance somebody has a special ability which permits them to do something like this.
  3. You can choose how many Chips you reveal. The means that you might not reveal all your Chips for any given action, in order to hide how "powerful" you are.
  4. Once you have "used" Chips for something during a combat round, you cannot re-use them later in that round. This means that chips you use to defend (Dodge) with cannot be used later in the same round to fight back. A "round" is considered to be one cycle of Steps A, B, and C above. Conversely, chips you use to attack with cannot be used later in the same round to defend. You must decide how to "allocate" your chips each turn. At the beginning of the next round, if there is one, you have access to all your chips again.
  5. If you are attempting to use a skill that you do not possess a "skill card" for, you may do so at a Chip number of Zero. This means that you can try just about anything, but will generally only succeed in things you are skilled at. This might come up quite often for three types of skills: Firearms, Brawling, and Dodge. Anybody can fire a gun, or throw a punch, or try to get out of the way. However, unless they actually have a skill card for Firearms, Brawling, or Dodge, it is at Chip number 0, and thus has a much lower chance of actually succeeding.
  6. You may declare multiple combat actions during your turn. Each action is independent of the others, and may have a separate target. However, each action requires its own Chip declaration, so there is a practical limit to how thinly most people can stretch themselves. Each action is resolved separately during that player's turn.
  7. You may not Attack and Run Away in the same round

Other Stuff You Want to Know

Skills and Special Abilities

Not every skill or special ability is combat-oriented, although the same general system is used. To use a skill or ability, you show the card to your target, or the Game-Master (if there is no target), and declare what you are trying to accomplish. The card will state how the skill or ability works, and what the target should do. Example: The "X-Ray Vision" special ability might let you see all the item cards that somebody else is currently carrying. The card would inform the target to show you all their item cards. By default, all abilities are "obvious," that is, the target knows you used this ability on them, unless the card states otherwise. If you are ever the target of a special ability that is not obvious, then please role-play as if you did not know what just happened.

Some skills or special abilities may also require the user to reveal, temporarily "use," or even permanently "spend," a number of their Chips. Chips temporarily "used" are regained according to the text written on the card, typically after the effect is over. Chips permanently spent are given to a Game-Master. Chip expenditures are on the honor system.


Most players will start the game with a certain number of Chips, which roughly represent their character's personal "power." During the course of the game, you may gain or lose Chips (mostly lose:-), but not without some sort of special ability. Sometimes you will need to temporarily "use" a Chip to activate a special ability. This represents the amount of "attention" you are focusing on that activity. Sometimes you will need to spend chips outright, giving them to a Game Master. Usually, you choose if, and how many, Chips you reveal to other players. However, as always, special abilities might exist which over-ride this rule.


By default, all characters can take four (4) wounds before going "down." Special abilities or item cards may modify this number. What happens to you when you are down depends on how you went down, and who you are with. You are mostly helpless, so you can be killed the next combat round, if your opponent wishes, and nobody intervenes. If nobody kills you outright, you may or may not recover, depending on the type of wound, and if healing is available. See a Game-Master if you go "down."

Note: Healing is rare in this environment, so please do not rely on it.


By default, all guns do four (4) points of damage. All hand-to-hand attacks do one (1) point of damage. Special abilities or item cards may modify this number.

Name Badges

Every player will wear a name badge, displaying their "given" name, one or more keywords, and an apparent age. Your given name and age are what people will perceive of you at the beginning of the game. It is possible that there is more information about you in your background, which you may choose to reveal at your own risk. The keywords are typically occupations, or other identifying handles that describe the role people think you are playing. Again, there may be more to you than meets the eye, so once the game starts, reveal secret information at your own risk.

The back of each badge contains a unique badge number, which should be revealed if you get into combat, or if somebody shows you an ability card permitting them to look at it.

Contingency Envelopes

In your character packet, you might find one or more sealed envelopes, with some sort of "opening criteria" written on the outside. Please pay attention to the conditions written on the envelope, and at the proper time, open the envelope, and respond appropriately to the contents. Examples of opening criteria: "Open at the start of the game," "Open when you meet Character X," "Open when you see the keyword 'Cold-Blooded Killer.' " Yes, you are correct if you guessed that some of the keywords on the name badges might trigger people to open their contingency envelopes.

Items and Item Card

Your character might start the game with, or acquire during the course of the game, physical items, which you are presumed to be carrying upon your person. While you might have lots of personal props in conjunction with your costume, items which have game significance may be represented by item cards, which describe the item, how it might work, and any other keywords. By default, all items are transferable, which means they can be lost, hidden, or stolen.

By default, we will provide an item card for any significant item your character might have. If you show up with a cool prop to actually represent the item (called a "phys rep" or "physical representation"), then you may or may not need to carry the item card (just leave it in your character packet, so there are not "two" of the same item floating around). However, if the item card has any codes, or keywords on it, then you should attempt to attach it to your phys rep, since those codes probably have some game significance to whomever holds the item. See a Game Master if you are not sure.


Your character should have a skill card for each language you know. When speaking in that language, you must hold up that card. Only people who can understand what you are saying (because they also speak the language, or have a special ability) may approach you.

Sample Combat

The Campbell twins, Annie and Jebediah, are terrorizing the town square again with their six-guns, and bad attitude. They taunt Miss Priscilla Sweet, the schoolmarm, all the while being watched by Sherry Chang, the local stable-hand. Fed up, Priscilla slaps Annie, who immediately declares combat.

Note: During an actual combat, any one player will probably not know the number of chips held by other players. For the purposes of this sample combat, "play along" with Sherry, who secretly has 5 chips.

  1. Identify the Combatants
  2. Annie and Priscilla are both involved by default (Annie started it, and Priscilla was her target). Jebediah immediately joins in, to back-up his sister. Sherry also joins in, to protect Miss Sweet.

  3. Declare your Actions
  4. Each player flips up their name badge, revealing the numbers. From highest to lowest, they are:

    Sherry        4196

    Annie         3522

    Priscilla      2601

    Jebediah    0299    (he's a tad slow)

    Actions are declared from lowest to highest, so Jebediah declares first, then Priscilla, then Annie, then Sherry:

    Jebediah   - declares he will try to grab Priscilla.

    Priscilla     - declares she will whack Jebediah with her ruler, and reveals a special ability card: "Don't Mess With the School-Marm - may use chips in hand-to-hand combat with a Ruler."

    Annie        - declares she will slap Priscilla, and reveals a special ability card "Brawling, may use chips in hand-to-hand combat."

    Sherry       - declares she will side-kick Annie, and reveals a special ability card "Martial Arts, +3 damage in hand-to-hand combat."

    Nobody has to declare they are Dodging, since this is assumed, even if they don't have the skill or any Chips devoted to it.

  5. Resolve your Actions
  6. The actions resolve, from highest name badge number to lowest:

    Sherry         - Sherry and her target Annie hold out, and then reveal Chips. Sherry reveals 4 Chips, and Annie reveals 3 Chips and the Dodge ability. Sherry's 4 beats Annie's 3, so Sherry successfully kicks Annie for 4 points of damage (the default hand-to-hand damage is 1, plus 3 for the Martial Arts ability). This is enough to normally knock Annie down, but Annie reveals a special ability card "Extra Tough, can take +1 wound", so she is still up, and will get her action.

    Annie           - Annie and Priscilla reveals Chips. Annie reveals 2, as does Priscilla, who also reveals the Dodge ability. Since ties go to the pacifist,  Annie misses Priscilla with the slap.

    Priscilla      - Priscilla and Jebediah reveal Chips. Priscilla reveals 1, and Jebediah reveals 0, because he does not have the Dodge ability. Priscilla whacks him on the head, inflicting 1 wound. Jebediah can take 4 wounds, so he is still up, but mighty upset.

    Jebediah   - Jebediah and Priscilla reveal Chips. Priscilla reveals 0, but she is still considered Dodging at Chip level 2 this round from her earlier slap encounter with Annie. Jebediah reveals 0 Chips, because he is a gunslinger and does not have the Brawling ability either (nor does he have any kind of special "Grab" ability). Jebediah misses Priscilla. If she wanted to, and had the chips, Priscilla could have held out more chips, and boosted her Dodge higher than 2.

Nobody is backing out yet, so the combatants go to round two:

  1. Identify the Combatants
  2. Same combatants.

  3. Declare your Actions
  4. The players declare their actions:

    Jebediah    - declares he will draw his gun and shoot Priscilla, and reveals a special ability card: "Firearms - may use chips in gun combat"

    Priscilla     - declares she will Run Away.

    Annie        - declares she will draw her gun and shoot Sherry, and reveals a Firearms special ability card.

    Sherry       - declares multiple actions: she will kick both Annie and Jebediah.

  5. Resolve your Actions
  6. The actions resolve, from highest name badge number to lowest:

    Sherry         - Sherry secretly splits up her 5 Chips against her two opponents, 4 against Annie and 1 against Jebediah, and all three (Sherry, Annie, and Jebediah) reveal Chips. Sherry reveals 4 and 1, Annie reveals 3, and Jebediah reveals 0, because he still doesn't know how to Dodge. Sherry successfully kicks both of them for 4 points of damage apiece (the +3 Martial Arts still applies). This inflicts Annie's 5th wound, and Jebediah's 4th, knocking them both down.

    Annie           - Annie was knocked down and loses her action. This is a good thing for Sherry, because Annie had one more Chip left with which to use Firearms, and Sherry had no Chips left with which to Dodge.

    Priscilla        - Priscilla starts to run away, becomes aware that she is no longer in any danger, and voluntarily aborts her action.

    Jebediah     - Jebediah was knocked down and loses his action. This is a good thing for Sherry and Priscilla, who could not have Dodged enough to beat Jebediah's 6 Chips and Firearms skill.

    Note that Annie and Jebediah are now helpless, and at the mercy of Sherry. If she does not kill them (she doesn't), they may recover with the help of others, or at the Game-Master's discretion.

Combat is over, since nobody wishes to (or is able to) continue to the next round.