Web of Intrigue
Rules v0.1

download sample turn

1 Introduction

Web of Intrigue is a game for 12 players. Each player represents a different behind-the-scenes group, scheming to manipulate the world at large and gain power and influence, in competition with the other players: the 12 groups are known by the names of the Houses of the Zodiac, and each has different strengths and weaknesses. At the beginning of the game each player is randomly assigned to one of the 12 Houses, but the information of who is playing which House is kept secret from all but the player him- or herself. So you will be told that you are playing House Capricorn, for example, but you will not initially know which of the other players is playing House Pisces. You will have to work it out.

The playing area is made up of a set of 100 tiles, arranged in a 10 x 10 grid. It wraps around in both directions. This area, the Web of Intrigue itself, is an attempt at spatial representation of the links and correspondences that exist between the various institutions of the game world. It is rearranged randomly for each new game, and different games may also use completely or partially different sets of tiles to play on.

2 Tiles

Most of the tiles are 'objects', ie. things the players can control to score victory points and win the game, although some of them are 'specials' instead, which players can activate to strategic or tactical effect. The players know all the details of what objects and specials are in the game, but not where each of them is in the Web.

At the outset all the tiles are unknown to all players. The 12 players are dropped onto the map at (fairly) random. From that point on, each of the players is in general able to see the identities of a diamond of 25 tiles, centred around their personal position at the end of each turn. The Web's geography will change slightly form turn to turn in response to player actions, so your map outside your current diamond is likely to start getting out of date. In general you can only operate upon tiles that are within your current diamond.

3 The turn

Each turn is divided into the following 8 phases, during each of which all 12 players may act:

More detail later on what these entail, but basically the Activate special phases each allow each player to activate one special tile; the Bid phases allow each player to bid for one object; the Guess phase allows each player to guess another player's House identity; and the Move phase allows each player to move to a new location on the Web.

3.1 Action points

Each turn you have 20 Action Points. You must divide these between your three bids and three specials - note that you do not have to use all three of either, but if you do you must allocate at least 1 AP to it - and each of these phases is then enacted in order of most action points first. If two players have spent exactly the same number of action points they are enacted randomly. This is an important consideration because the results of other people's bids and / or actions may affect your own, as eg. the target may now be controlled by someone else, or it may have been swapped.

4 Bidding for objects

Bidding is attempting to take control of an object. You have a target number, which is determined by (a) the object's stats, (b) your House modifiers, and (c) the distance you are from it (plus (d) any bonuses you currently have because of specials etc). You then have a d6 roll to beat this number and succeed in taking control of the object. The modifiers are all known to you, so you should be able to guarantee success if you have chosen your target and deployed your specials carefully. There is a very wide range of object stats, so that you should always have a chance of success at a few of them. Also, difficulty increases rapidly with distance.

At all times all players will know what each other controls, but will not know their guessing bonuses (see below) or House modifiers.

The bidding penalties for distance are 0 for distance 0, -1 for distance 1, -3 for distance 2, -5 for distance 3. Distances are counted orthogonally, ie. diagonals are 2.

Bidding for another House's object carries a penalty of -3.

4.1 Sample objects

PersonsVPDifficulty Bonuses / penalties
Queen Victoria108Great Britain = +6
Germany = +2
Russia = +1
France = -5
Giuseppe Garibaldi56Florence = -2
Karl Marx75Russia = +2
Any other country = +1
The Crimson Tulip47Wilhelmsland = +5
Karl von Stuck310Entities = -3
Napoleon III86France = +4
Great Britain = -3
Mad Prince Otto11Bavaria = +2
Rick Blacken25Tock-Runners = +5
'Mustard'42USA = +1
Cardinal del Piero64Catholic Church = +4
Tzar Alexander II53Russia = +3
Henrik Ibsen31
Great Britain1510Queen Victoria = +2
France = -2
France97Napoleon III = +2
Britain = -1
Prussia = -1
Liechtenstein13Any organization = +1
Bavaria45Karl von Stuck = +2
Prussia88Russia = -1
Bavaria = +1
Russia64Cawrdav = +3
Tzar Alexander II = +3
Hungary26Any entity = +1
Florence34Catholic Church = +2
Iceland25Sigurd = +3
The USA812'Mustard' = +1
Spain43Catholic Church = +4
Wilhelmsland32Crimson Tulip = +2
Sigurd83Iceland = +4
Russia = +1
Henrik Ibsen = -5
Mephistopheles44Any person = +1
The Thaumivore77Any entity = -1
Celebrax912Any person = -2
The Kraken35della Serenissimma Orphanages = +2
The Watchers22Any person = +1
Nobbin Imp21
Cawrdav77Russia = +2
Iceland = -4
Cucernunnos44SHAKA-ZULU = +3
Any other discovery = +1
(the little ones that live on protons)1 10Any discovery = +2
(the scorpion god one)68Hungary = +2
Child of Melusine32Any country = +1
The Aerial Velocipede21
The Clockwork Seaport32Great Britain = +1
The Proton66Any discovery = +1
Substance D53Any country = +1
The M5 Factory94Any discovery = +1
SHAKA-ZULU89Any organization = +1
Eau de Rita12
The Channel Bridge37Great Britain = +2
France = +2
The Steam-Powered Orange14
The Vodka Tree22Russia = +3
The Temporal Window1212Any object at all = +1
The Inter-Planetary Conveyance108 'Mustard' = +5
The Symplastique Party210Great Britain = +3
Any organization = -1
The della Serenissimma Orphanages25 Florence = +2
The Roman Catholic Church97Spain = +3
Florence = +2
France = +2
Iceland = -1
Cawrdav = -2
Cardinal del Piero = +4
The Mafia44USA = +3
'Technology: The Gubbins' players31
House Ophiuchus612M5 Factory = +3
Any other discovery = +1
The Asatru106Sigurd = +2
Iceland = +5
Russia = +1
The Levitican Army75Karl von Stuck = +3
Cardinal del Piero = +1
Any entity = -1
The Tock-runners43Rick Blacken = +2
The Grand Order of Druids31
The National Lobottery11The Symplastique Party = -4
The Lost55Any country = +1

(Note: these are mostly things that came up in the previous version of Inferno, so they'll do for the playtest. I'll replace them with elements from the current Inferno game when we come to the commercial launch of Web of Intrigue.)

Here the bonus / penalty is what control of the object in the row gives you when bidding to control the object cited. So if you control Queen Victoria, you get +6 for control of Great Britain. This is true on any and every phase at the beginning of which you control Queen Victoria. Note that the bonuses / penalties do not make retaining control of an object any easier or more difficult - only gaining or regaining control of it.

5 Enacting Specials

Enacting a special always automatically succeeds, and there's no restriction on the number of players that can enact a particular special in a phase. But each player can enact a particular special only once in a turn, ie. they can't just enact the same one three times.

You can only enact specials which you can see on your current diamond, and also the subjects of the specials (if they take subjects) must be tiles you can see on your current diamond - eg you cannot use a special to swap tiles which are beyond your ken.

5.1 Sample specials

Telegraph tapIncrease view radius by 1Tapping into Europe's communication systems grants you more information than your rivals
Malleus MaleficarumHave a free random guess of somebody's House You consul the ancient text for clues to your rival's identity
Book of RevelationsHave a free random guess of somebody's House You consul the ancient text for clues to your rival's identity
The ZoharHave a free random guess of somebody's House You consul the ancient text for clues to your rival's identity
Covert agentsReveal tile at a location of your choice Your spies send in a report
Besotted admirerReveal tile at a location of your choice Your seductee sends in a report
BlackmailReveal tile at a location of your choice Your victim sends in a report
RhabdomancyReveal location of a player of your choice You use diving rods to locate your rival
CartomancyReveal location of a player of your choice You use Tarot cards to locate your rival
MusomancyReveal location of a player of your choice You use the scamperings of mice to locate your rival
Inflation+1 to control all CountriesA flood of currency gives you a death-grip on national economies
Pyramid+1 to control all EntitiesA carefully-crafted magical device helps you trap spiritual entities
Bribery+1 to control all PersonsEven the most upright of people has their price
Bureaucracy+1 to control all Organizations Mastery of red tape gains you access to their inner councils
Patent Office+1 to control all Discoveries Inventors come to you first with their new toys
Mass media+2 to control all Countries unless you control any Entities Down-to-earth plain speaking sways national opinion
Star-metal+2 to control all Entities unless you control any Persons The alien substance traps spiritual entities, but is inimical to humans
Empathy+2 to control all Persons unless you control any Discoveries You gain sympathy by appealing to the human side
Lone inventors+2 to control all Discoveries unless you control any Organizations Cranks maybe, but their ideas are unique
Internationalism+2 to control all Organizations unless you control any Countries The fellowship that transcends national boundaries
Peace movement+3 to bid if target is controlled by a Fire house You play on fears of war to sway opinion away from your Fire rivals
Anarchists+3 to bid if target is controlled by a Air house You play on hatred of politics to sway opinion away from your Air rivals
Luddites+3 to bid if target is controlled by a Earth house You play on fears of technology to sway opinion away from your Earth rivals
Witchfinders+3 to bid if target is controlled by a Water house You play on fears of magic to sway opinion away from your Water rivals
Secret tunnel+1 to bid if target is adjacent to this special Proximity gains you a secret advantage
Spyhole+1 to bid if target is adjacent to this special Proximity gains you a secret advantage
Hearing-tube+1 to bid if target is adjacent to this special Proximity gains you a secret advantage
Aetheric resonanceIgnore distance penalties for the rest of this turn This new technology allows you to transcend distance
MischiefExchange the tiles at two locations of your choice Mischievous forces rearrange the Web at your behest
ChaosExchange the tiles at two locations of your choice Forces of chaos rearrange the Web at your behest
DisruptionExchange the tiles at two locations of your choice Forces disrupt the Web at your behest
Redistribution of wealthTake 10 VPs from a player at random and give to another Economic fluctuations harm some and benefit others
Square aspectMove all tiles in a row of your choice leftwards one place A favourable conjunction of stars affects relationships of power
Trine aspectMove all tiles in a row of your choice rightwards one place A favourable conjunction of stars affects relationships of power
OppositionMove all tiles in a column of your choice upwards one place A favourable conjunction of stars affects relationships of power
Sextile aspectMove all tiles in a column of your choice downwards one place A favourable conjunction of stars affects relationships of power
New recruitsHave 4 extra Action Points next turn Your forces are swollen by keen new servants
BlightMake a player of your choice have 2 fewer Action Points next turn Your rival's forces are laid low by spiritual blight
Fog of warObscure a tile of your choice Conflict disrupts communications
Astral shroudObscure a tile of your choice The veil is cloudy, and relationships are difficult to discern

A player can't enact the same special more than once on a turn, but they can enact multiple specials that have the same effect as each other - so they could guess three random houses if they were in range of all three specials that have that effect (and they didn't have anything better to do).

A couple of notes about some of the effects:

The effects of specials are either instantaneous (in the case of moving tiles, showing them, etc) or instant and last to the end of the turn (in the case of bonuses etc). Bonuses etc gained from objects which you control are also instant, and last for as long as you control that object. So if eg. you first of all enact a +1 bonus, then successfully bid for Queen Victoria who has +6 versus Great Britain, then enact a +2 versus countries bonus, then you'd have +9 to bid for Great Britain if you wished to. If someone bids Queen Victoria off you later in the turn, your bonus versus Great Britain would instantly fall back to +3.

The idea is that the skill of writing a turn is making sure that you get your enactments of specials and your bids in the right order to maximize your gain. In this example if you'd bid for Great Britain first, then enacted the + 2 versus countries, then bid for Queen Victoria, you wouldn't be getting the maximum benefit from your orders.

And of course your orders can be thrown by what other players do in the earlier part of the turn. For a start, if another player takes control of an object, you're immediately at -3 compared with if it was uncontrolled. And if they start shuffling the tiles about, you may find the thing you're bidding for is further away than you thought, so that would cause a penalty as well.

6 Examples of bidding

(starting with simple, going up to more complicated)

  1. Player A (House Capricorn) is at square d5 and wants to bid for Rick Blacken, which is the tile on which he is standing at d5. His target number is just Blacken's difficulty of 5, so he needs to roll a 5 or 6 on the die to succeed in the bid.
  2. As 1., only Player A is House Taurus rather than Capricorn. House Taurus has a permanent +3 bonus on the roll to control Persons, of which Blacken is one. Therefore in this situation his roll will have +3 added to it, so he needs to roll 5 - 3 = 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 on the die to succeed.
  3. As 2., only Blacken is on the adjoining square, e5. This is 1 square distant, so there is a penalty of -1 on the roll for distance. Therefore in this situation his roll will have +3 - 1 = +2 added to it, so he needs to roll 5 - 2 = 3 or better to succeed.
  4. As 3., only Blacken is already controlled by another House. This means a penalty of -3 to the roll. So now the player's roll will be adjusted by + 3 - 1 - 3 = -1 added to it, so he needs to roll 5 + 1 = 6 to succeed (rather unlikely on a six-sided die).
  5. As 4., only before the bid takes place, the player enacts the special at e6, which reads '+1 when bidding for a tile adjacent to this special'. So now the player's roll will be adjusted by + 3 - 1 - 3 + 1 = 0 added to it, so he needs to roll 5 + 0 = 5 to succeed.
  6. Assume that the events described in 5. took place in the first bid phase, and that the player succeeded in gaining control of Blacken. In the next special phase the player enacts a row-shuffling special, which brings the Tock-Runners tile into position c6. The Tock-Runners difficulty is 3. House Taurus has a penalty of -3 when bidding for Organizations. It's now two squares away so the distance penalty is -3. His already-activated special is no use, because c6 is not adjacent to e6. But because he now controls Blacken the player has a bonus of +5 for bidding for the Tock-Runners. Total adjustment to roll is -3 - 3 + 5 = -1 so the player needs to roll a 3 + 1 = 4 or better to succeed in this bid.
  7. As in 6. only Player A didn't spend very many Action Points on this bid phase and is acting last. Player B, who spent more Action Points, bids successfully for the Tock-Runners, and Player C bids successfully for Rick Blacken - so Player A instantly loses him. Now Player A is at -3 for being House Taurus versus an Organization, -3 for distance, -3 because the Tock-Runners are now controlled by another player, and is no longer getting the +5 for Blacken, so a total -9; and so he must roll a 3 + 9 = 12 on the die to succeed (rather unlikely on a six-sided die). What looked like a pretty reasonable chance when he wrote his orders has turned into an impossibility, because he didn't allocate enough Action Points to this bid.

7 Guessing other players' Houses

At the start of the game you know which House you are playing, but you do not know which of the other 11 Houses are being played by which of the other 11 players. If you can guess or work out this information, though, you will gain a bonus which may help you towards victory, so it's worth putting in some effort studying your rivals' actions to try and determine their House identity.

Each turn you are allowed to make one guess of a player's House identity, along the lines of "I guess that Player 8 is House Capricorn." There is no penalty for guessing wrong, but if you guess right then you get, each turn, a bonus equal to 25% of that player's current VPs - unless they have also successfully guessed your House (or until they do so), in which case neither of you get any bonus.

What basis do you have for guessing another player's House? You have to go on (a) what sort of objects they seem to be collecting (b) what sort of die roll modifiers they seem to be getting (each House's modifiers are public knowledge). You are never told exactly where a player is on the map, but, as they can only practically bid for objects that are close by, if you can work out by analysing their bids that they must be in a certain area of it, (or by analysing their use of specials) then they must be 1 or 2 squares away from that thing they bid for, in which case they'd get -5 for distance, in which case if they were successful with the roll they made then they must have had at least +3 for their House, in which case they must be one of the Water signs... sort of thing.

Of course, there's nothing to stop players telling each other the results of their guesses, although there is little to be gained by doing so as you'll just be helping someone to win.

7.1 The 12 Houses

Each of the 12 Houses has its own strengths and weaknesses, as shown on the table below:










































This shows the bonuses or penalties that each House has when bidding for each category of object. So, for example, House Scorpio has +5 when bidding for any Entity, +3 when bidding for any Discovery, but -3 when bidding for any Organization.

8 Orders

This is what a player gets to do each turn:

A, B, C, D, E and F should be the identifier of the special or object which you wish to activate or to bid for, which must be one that you can currently see ie. one of the diamond of 25 squares around you. J, K, L, M, N and O are the number of action points you wish to spend on that particular bid or activation, and they should in general add up to 20.

G should be one of the other players' numbers.

H should be the name of a House, which you're guessing that player G is.

I is the location to which you want to move, which must be one that you can currently see.

9 Victory

At the end of each turn your Victory Point total is calculated. This is a simple sum of the VPs of the objects that you control, plus possible bonuses thanks to having guessed other players. If at the end of any turn one of the players has surpassed the VP victory target, he or she wins the game. The victory target will not be known to any player: it is the average of the suggested targets that the eight players have written on their start forms, which must be no less than 200 and no greater than 400.

Undying King Games, 57 London Road, IPSWICH, IP1 2HF, United Kingdom



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