Blackleg or handicapper, punter, card-sharp or dicer, all far from flattering titles to be sure. Titles said to be born of avarice or desperation, addiction or recklessness. Many of those saddled with such colorful, yet shady depictions, might call them unfair or inaccurate. But to make one’s living by speculation, confidences, or games of chance is rarely considered an “honorable profession” in any culture. Even the astronomically few who do manage to achieve and retain some measure of status and success are viewed with suspicion, never truly trusted or fully accepted as honest members of mainstream society.
Was your case different? Are you the vagabond heir of a deposed noble, forced to use your few, court-learned skills to fund a coup and retake an ancestral title? Are you a gentleman gambler, frequenting only high-society events and the gaming parlors of the rich and powerful? Or did fate cast your lot lower, forcing you to perfect the gamblers’ craft as a survival tool? Did card hustles on street corners evolve into running numbers rackets or illegal gambling halls for local crime lords? Perhaps it was simply that timeless siren song of thrill, risk, and gold, which kept (keeps?) you haunting back-alley dice games and seeking out secret card rooms or basement casinos amid the anonymity of disreputable inns and dangerous, dockside taverns.
Skill Proficiencies: Insight and choose one from Deception, Perception, or Sleight of hand
Tool Proficiencies: Choose any two gaming sets
Equipment: One gaming set, a set of traveler’s clothes, a leather belt-pouch containing 10 gp and one “rigged” gaming set (see sidebar) of your choice.
Feature: Have Game, Will Travel
It’s better to be lucky than good, and you make your own luck. When you pay for a lifestyle during downtime, you can spend at least half of your days of that time gambling. If you do, you receive the benefits of the next most expensive lifestyle. This isn’t without risk, however, as someone on a hot streak—or one who manufactures their own streak with marked cards and loaded dice—tends to make enemies. When you use this feature to increase your lifestyle, the GM can opt to create a complication for you in the near future that stems from your gambling.
Additionally, you know how to secure an invite even to the most hush-hush of private games. You can leverage your contacts and savvy to get yourself invited to back-room and even upper-crust gambling events. Depending on how secret or exclusive the game, it might take you some time to find the right “in.”
Whether they thrill to the thought of risking it all or are driven by lust to win it all, those who have walked the gamblers’ road can be a rough lot.
It is well known that many among the idle rich and genteel privileged classes also court Lady Luck for sport, passion, or “profession.” Few, though, if any (high-born or low), can relate more than lip-biting stories of tension and doubt, suspense and raw nerves. Anxious memories of feast or famine that recall adrenaline-charged win-streaks, ruinous losses and the ever present threat (win or lose) of potential violence. Perhaps, though, therein lay the attractions.
d8 Personality Trait
- I admit to being an inherent gambler, willing to wager and even give odds on almost any luck- or skill-based contest.
- My flair for risk taking isn’t limited to card tables and dicing stalls. I am often first to step up to volunteer or accept a dare.
- I am frequently haunted by hunches and nagging notions that the end of the latest losing-streak (or start of the next big win-streak) is at hand.
- I rarely if ever have a back-up plan. I let the chips fall where they may, and I play the hand I’m dealt.
- I am unflappable. My game face is an iron mask, my nerves are steel, and ice water runs in my veins.
- Trust is not my strong suit; I am constantly looking for “tells,” slip-ups, and pantomimes that reveal a person’s true motives or intentions.
- I am highly competitive and driven. Defeating an opponent often takes precedent over all else.
- My mind is constantly calculating odds and risk factors, pay-outs and percentages, and I eagerly share this data regularly.
- Having spent my life in sin and misery, I now strive only for the betterment of myself and others. (Good)
- Gambling is an easy, entertaining route to wealth, which is an easy, entertaining route to power over others. (Evil)
- The universe is ruled by mad, capricious gods and the aimless laws of chance. I simply revel alongside the joyful insanity. (Chaotic)
- I always play by the rules and adhere to the codes of fair play when possible.(Lawful)
- My mind remains clear, emotionless, organized, and attentive. Always noting, counting, recording, I am always at the top of my mental game. (Any)
- Whatever I do, I do right. I am a studious researcher, practitioner, and perfectionist in every undertaking. (Any)
- I need coin and fast. A series of gambling debts is past-due and enforcers may already be on my trail to collect.
- One day, I intend to find and repay the individuals who beat and robbed me during a card game gone wrong.
- I have sworn to rebuild the family name and fortune that I have recently all but squandered away.
- I am determined to have revenge upon the noble that publicly humiliated and scammed me for a fortune through an elaborate cheat.
- Having lost family, home, and honest life to the ills of gambling, I have sworn away from all games of chance and tend to dissuade those who have not.
- I must accumulate wealth as fast as I can to free a loved one from bondage.
- I take my games very seriously. I am neither a good winner nor a good loser.
- I always raise the stakes, practical or not. I am always “all in.”
- Keeping me from the gaming tables and card rooms is bothersome at best, a full time job at worst.
- I am impulsive and live only in the moment, especially at the tables.
- Money, like everything in life—it’s all about the money.
- It’s not cheating if you don’t get caught.
New Equipment: Rigged Gaming Set
A rigged gaming set resembles a standard set and uses the same proficiency but costs 50 gp more. If you are proficient with the rigged gaming set, you can use it as normal, or you can choose to try and cheat the game toward an outcome you desire. If you decide to cheat, you have advantage on any rolls made to play the game, and you must make a Dexterity (Sleight of Hand) check opposed by the Wisdom (Perception) of any observers. If you win the contest, no one notices your manipulation of the game, and your chosen result occurs. Anyone who examines your gaming set can discover its dishonest nature with a successful DC 13 Intelligence (Investigation) check.