Penguin-Lizard-Spock and the Ten Heavenly Stems

Part One: Game Mechanics

So, sarkat was just visiting her sister this past week, and came back with descriptions of a card game she played with her 7 year old nephew. It actually sounded like a fascinating game: there are three types of cards, and each round each player plays one card, and the round is won by a rock-paper-scissors system (in this case, water-fire-snow).

But the object was not simply to win rounds, but to make sets of winning cards. When you win a round, you get to place that card in your sets area. When you get either three of a single type of card (e.g. you have won rounds with three separate fire cards), or one each of the three different types (i.e. you have won a round each with a water, a fire, and a snow).

This is fascinating because it creates a game of rock-paper-scissors with a couple extra layers of information to strategize around (the restriction that you must play something from your hand, and the goal that you are trying to win with specific kinds of cards).

Doing a little googling, it seems the game is Card-Jitsu, a mini-game from the children’s MMORPG Club Penguin (but sarkat and nephew were playing a physical version with actual cards). Unfortunately, the original is a collectible card game, which ruins integrity of the game. So I’ll have to make my own version!

I have some ideas, but I’ll have to play test them. There’s a decision to be made about how much randomness to include in the game, by how random the composition of your initial hand is.

With some luck, I may be able to make a workable version of this game which uses the Gnomish Tile Set. Using the Tiles also presents the interesting possibility of being able to “activate” either the three-shapes dimension and get rock-paper-scissors, OR the five-colors dimension and get rock-paper-scissors-spock-lizard.

Part Two: Elemental/Mystical Systems

While I was thinking about this I said to myself, “I should have some elemental associations for the suits of the Tiles”.

My first inclination was hermetic-y elements for the shapes: Triangle-Square-Circle as Fire-Earth-Water. But fire is the odd man out of the hermetic elements: it is not matter. Also stone seems the element, not dirt. So I revised this to Triangle-Square-Circle:Air-Stone-Water.

Then I went to the Ten Heavenly Stems for inspiration for the colors. The directional associations caught my eye as interesting. Looking at a map of the Iravn Badlands, I picked out:
White: South (The Edgewall Mountains)
Blue: West (The Ocean)
Green: Center (The bank of the Ghereda; also Green was already designated as Center in one Tile game)
Red: East (The deep Badlands, and hills beyond)
Black: North (mostly by default)

Given an association of the colors with cardinal directions, it occurs to me that there’s an obvious directional system for the shapes, too: Up-Level-Down (probably Air-Water-Rock; but conceivably Air-Rock-Water). This has the fun result of giving you a system to talk about 14 vectors by combining the shapes and colors (e.g. “up and north”, “level and west”, “straight down”, etc.), and leaves the third dimension of the Tiles, the numbers, left over for the magnitude of the vectors. The fifteenth combination, Green Circles, is no direction. This raises the question of what a high magnitude Green Circle means. I’m thinking “Seven Green Circles” is probably an expression of absolute stillness.

But now the shapes have a directional associative system, and an elemental one. The colors should have two systems, too, don’t you think? I considered a few systems, such as metals, but settled on energies (having excluded fire from the shapes on the basis of it being energy, not substance).

I think there are two different systems of mapping energies to the colors, a traditional, and a modern:
Colors: White-Red-Green-Blue-Black (the order from the game that already designates Green as center, as mentioned above)
Modern: Light-Heat-Life-Movement-Magnetism

The modern system has probably been formulated by the current day (760 Genu Rennalio), but might not be widespread yet, as it represents a fairly advanced Natural Philosophy.

Part Three: Synthesis

Anybody have any suggestions about the dominance cycles of Air-Water-Earth, or either the traditional or modern systems of the colors? For what X’s and Y’s do you think X beats Y?

The shape system is fairly simple, there are only two possibilities: beat things below you or above you (with wraparound); Air->Water->Stone->Air or Stone->Water->Air->Stone. I have no strong opinions one way or another.

The color system is more complex, but I have more interesting intuitions about it. My inclination is that, within the traditional system, the Positive Energies beat (drive out) their respective Negatives, the Negatives beat (kill) Life, Life beats (consumes) the Positives. Even this constraint set still leaves two possibilities

A
Light beats Darkness, Heat (loses to Life, Cold)
Heat beats Cold, Darkness (loses to Life, Light)
Life beats Heat, Light (loses to Darkness, Cold)
Cold beats Life, Light (loses to Heat, Darkness)
Darkness beats Life, Cold (loses to Light, Heat)

or

B
Light beats Darkness, Cold (loses to Life, Heat)
Heat beats Cold, Light (loses to Life, Darkness)
Life beats Light, Heat (loses to Cold, Darkness)
Cold beats Life, Darkness (loses to Heat, Light)
Darkness beats Life, Heat (loses to Light, Cold)

in A in the modern, Light beats Magnetism; Heat beats Magnetism and Movement; Movement beats Life and Light; Magnetism beats Life and Movement. None of those make tons of sense, except maybe Magnetism beating Movement.

In Modern B, Light beats Magnetism and Movement; Heat beats Movement; Movement beats Life and Magnetism; Magnetism beats Life and Heat. Nothing jumps out at me from that.

My intuition says there are ten other possible systems beyond A&B for making RPSLS out of the colors. Or maybe 22 others.

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