Gaming in the ‘Verse: The Gambler

“I do believe, Mr. Barrett, that a Royal Flush beats your two pair. Now if you would kindly hand over the deed to that little asteroid mine of yours, I’ll be on my way.”
-Jack Leland, high stakes gambler

The Gambler enjoys living life on the edge. Everything in life is a game to the gambler, from lovin’ to livin’. Living a life on the boundaries, it is no wonder that the Gambler makes his way to the rim, playing the games that can only be found on the border worlds, and outside of Alliance control. Money buys freedom, and there’s not enough of either to go around.

The Gambler has no need of religiosity, believing instead that lady luck determines his fate. This is not to say that a Gambler doesn’t have his own moral code. The Gambler plays by the game with the cards he is dealt. Those who cheat will soon find themselves looking down the barrel of a gun.

Though cheating carries a heavy penalty, there is nothing wrong with bluffing. The Gambler can know the move their opponent will make by reading peoples’ faces. Everyone has a “tell” – those little fidgets, twitches, and expressions that gives away their inner thoughts and feelings. This can come in handy not only in a game of cards, but also when your crew is on a job.

Players, you will want to focus on skills relating to bluffing or fast-talking, intimidation, sensing the motives of others, and, of course, gambling. Gamblers are not very strong physically, but they have strong personalities. Charisma-based ability scores will be your focus, as well as those dealing with wisdom or perception (based on your game system).

Gamblers should start out with a fair amount of coin and generally appear well-to-do. Appearances can mean a lot, though one can turn this around and surprise others by not looking the part.

Many Gamblers like to show off a bit, so it is no surprise that they often own a ship. Oftentimes, the ship was won in a game of cards. The Gambler typically will pick a crew for his boat based on who he feels he can trust, though a betting man might very well thrill to see the outcome if someone untrustworthy is aboard as well. Game Masters can utilize the Gambler as an NPC in this fashion, gathering together a crew so that the party has a reason to fly together, and throwing in an untrustworthy sort to add some tension.

Gamblers know their lives are on the line, being the target of those who harbor a grudge after unceremoniously losing a game of poker, or the Alliance in their sting operations to shut down illegal gambling establishments. A Gambler may hire on a bodyguard to protect him from harm in such a situation. Since Gamblers appreciate the company of the other gender, it is no wonder that most bodyguards are of the opposite sex.

In the Serenity RPG, Jack Leland is the owner of the Aces and Eights. That’s a dead man’s hand, in case you’re wondering. Leland travels from world to world participating in high stakes card games with his bodyguard Hwa Ling.

Once the Gambler has a crew together, he can fly from world to world playing high stakes games of chance. Game Masters should look not only into poker, but other games as well. Tracy and Laura Hickman’s adventure, Out in the Black, gives rules and background for playing Faro, a game played by many in the old west in the 1800’s on Earth-That-Was. Game Masters and players who learn this can add a hint of realism to the game table, though be sure that it doesn’t distract from the game itself. A game of Faro can also be a fun thing to do in order to set the mood just before your role-playing game starts.

As you play your Gambler, remember to take chances. Never play it safe. Life is a game, and you intend to play it to the hilt. Stay shiny, and sleep with one eye open.

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  1. Loved your work and posted it at for others to check out your work. I’ve been working on a gambler with minor reader capabilities. How about that for an Ace up the sleave. :) Thanks again for your ideas.

  2. Cool, thanks Kevin. I’ve tried to keep those articles generic, and that was before the official RPG. They had some air time on the Signal, but it’s good to see them get more exposure.

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