Trumps in Skulduggery

I wonder if everyone here is convinced that trumps are really worth it.

So far, while playing Skulduggery, my group has not found the trumps mechanics helpful or entertaining. They are a complication, they are something that has to be told to and understood by new players, they are often irrelevant, they can be difficult to role play to, they can limit a PC's options a bit, it can be unfair who gets the advantage from them, they are poorly explained in the rule book, and for all these costs they add... what exactly? My instinct is to ditch them entirely. I'm sure the game will run fine without them.

I am noting down the rules. For a supposedly simple system, I have an awful lot of notes. I'm hoping to streamline the system considerably. If I can't get all the rules on one side of A4, I think they are too much, and at the moment I've got two side of very dense A4 and I'm still going.

If people do use trumps, then I would strongly recommend something that my first Skulduggery GM Andy did: draw three circles to illustrate how they relate. One circle, for example, shows that Glib trumps Pure Hearted, which in turn trumps Intimidating, which trumps Obtuse, which trumps Glib. the four words are written in a curcle with arrows going round showing how each out-does the next.


  • I've used trumps but, as you indicate, it's hit or miss if a particular trump will come into play in a conflict. One benefit of trumps is, perhaps, to encourage roleplaying. In that regard, it occurs to me that it might be interesting to not assign a particular style to a PC but instead allow the PC to gain an advantage of a particular style if the player 'role-plays' that style (and is facing an NPC for whom the style trumps). In this manner, the PC becomes a particularly crafty individual, adjusting his or her mannerisms to take advantage of the characteristics of a particular NPC.
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