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A Game of War [One-Shot] [PG]

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by JFought, Mar 12, 2017.

  1. JFought

    JFought Sloooowly writing...

    Synopsis: A short story about two Pokemon gambling, with a tiny bit of world-building for another project thrown in.

    ---
    A Game of War
    ---

    “Ready? Turn.”

    “You gotta be kidding me! One off! This game’s frickin’ rigged!”

    “Trust me, it’s all luck.” The speaker, a Mr. Mime, gathered the bet gold. “Wanna go another round?”

    “Tch. As if. I ain’t playing any rigged games.” said the sore-loser Scrafty.

    “If you win, I’ll give you back what you bet.” offered the dealer.

    “Urgh…” The Scrafty winced, then succumbed. “Fine. I’ll only bet a silver this time, though.”

    It was a sleepy morning at the local pub. This Mr. Mime decided to set up a modified version of the well-known card game War. Sadly for the Scrafty, it wasn’t going too well.

    “Ready? Turn.” An Queen versus a ten. Dealer wins again.

    “Argh, I was sure I had it that time! Again!”

    Furik the Furret, adventurer extraordinaire, was stopping by for a drink at the time. Furik quickly took a spot check at the entrance to the tavern. Bag with supplies? Check. Knife for self-defense? Check. Wallet? Double check. And so, Furik walked up to the bartend, a Hitmontop, and ordered: “I’ll have a Razz blend.”

    “Sure thing. Anything else with that?”

    “No, I’m good.” As the bartender went to the back to do his work, Furik couldn’t help but overhear the anguished cries of the Scrafty.

    “Oh come on! What’s the point of the dice if you can roll em’ too!”

    “What’s going on over there?” Furik asked the bartender, pointing in the direction of the pair.

    “Oh, them?” The bartender pulled out a crate filled with Razz berries. “They’ve been at that for a while now, gambling.”

    “Gambling?” Furik had heard of it before. Furik’s mom put it on his list of ‘100 Things You Should Never Ever Do While Adventuring.’ She never told him exactly why it was supposed to be bad, though. “Is that allowed here?”

    “Well, last time I checked, there’s no law against gambling as long as you aren’t cheating. Though...” The bartender moved over and pulled out another crate filled with Pecha berries. “That Scrafty has been losing an awful lot. At this rate, he won’t be able to buy anything.”

    Furik decided he should intervene. He walked up to the table the two gamblers were sitting at and asked: “Um, what’s going on over here?”

    “Oh, we’re playing a game,” the Mr. Mime answered.

    “A rigged game!” the Scrafty added with a glare.

    The dealer shook his head. “It’s not rigged, you just have bad luck.”

    “Er, what game is it? Could I try?” Furik asked.

    “Wait your turn, bub!” the Scrafty objected quite rudely. “I gotta win my gold back!”

    “Well…” Furik tapped his paw to his chin. “What if I won it back for you?” he finally offered.

    “Wha..?” The Scrafty stared for a bit. “N-no! This is none of your business!”

    “Let him play. If you play any longer, you’ll run out of money to bet.” said the Mr. Mime.

    The Scrafty grumbled discontent. He looked to Furik. “You promise to win it back for me?”

    Furik placed a paw to his chest in pride. “Of course! Rule number five of the Adventurer code, always help those in need!” It was probably best not to mention that he made it up.

    Mr. Gambler got up from his seat, which Furik took, sealing the deal. “So... what are we playing?”

    “Have you ever heard of the card game War? Where you pit cards against each other and the higher number wins?” Furik nodded. “Well, this is similar, but a little different. We’ll be using a standard deck, and all cards, including face cards and aces, count. Face cards play for eleven, twelve, and thirteen according to rank, and aces play for fourteen. We’ll both be given a hand of three cards from the deck, and you must bet some amount in order place a card. However, here’s the catch: if you’re not confident your card will win, you can choose to roll two die to raise that card’s value. But to do so, you have to double what you bet. And keep in mind that I can do the same thing. You got all that?”

    Furik thought for a bit, and then nodded. “I think so.”

    “Good, now let me shuffle the deck real quick and…” Mr. Dealer gathered up all the cards in a flash, and before Furik knew it, he had three cards sitting in front of him. This guy must know what he’s doing! he thought to himself.

    Furik carefully picked up the cards he was given. A three, a seven, and a six. So place the seven and hope I win, I guess. Furik placed the card.

    “Don’t forget to bet something too.”

    “Oh, yeah. Erm, I’ll try two silver.” Furik reached into his wallet and placed the two coins on the table.

    “Okay then.” Mr. Dealer placed his own card, along with the silver he won in his last bout with the Scrafty. “Ready? Turn.”

    A seven versus a ten. No going back now.

    “Looks like you lost, unless you want to go another round?” Mr. Dealer gave Furik a discomforting look as he snatched the lost coins.

    “I…” Try again? Well, Furik did promise… “Yes.”

    “Okay then, draw another card and place one down.”

    Furik did as told. His new card was another three, pretty much unusable. Six it is, then. Maybe now would be the time to roll? Furik put his six down and announced: “I’m gonna roll.”

    “Okay then,” said the dealer, who was not surprised at all, as if he already knew what Furik was thinking. “What were you planning to bet?”

    “Two silver again, so I need to place four?”

    “Exactly,” Mr. Dealer grabbed the dice from his side of the table and handed them to Furik. “Here you go.”

    Furik found rolling the dice a bit difficult. He, admittedly, had never even touched one before. Furik had seen others use them in games, but they way they did it made it seem so easy. Furik picked them up and dropped them on the table. After bouncing a bit, the dice settled and… a three and a five.

    “I think I should roll too.” Mr. Dealer gathered the scattered dice and placed his card face down, then rolled.

    “Wh-what?!” Double sixes! Furik was dumbstruck. Wh-what did I get myself into to..? I don’t feel so good anymore…

    Sensing Furik’s panic, Mr. Dealer reassured. “Don’t fret, there’s still a chance of victory. Turn.”

    Furik’s six versus the dealer’s five. But with the dice rolls, it became Furik’s fourteen versus the dealer’s seventeen…

    “It seems I win again.” said Mr. Dealer.

    “I told you! It’s rigged!” Mr. Gambler glared at the dealer.

    Furik was still in shock. There has to be some kind of trick. Something… Maybe it isn’t luck based? Yeah, he’s a psychic, so of course he’d have full control over his roll, and probably mine too. Then there are the cards… I bet he knows how to give himself an advantage when shuffling.

    Mr. Dealer broke Furik’s thoughts. “Would you like to go another round?”

    Furik straightened up. “Yes, but on one condition.”

    “Condition?” The dealer suddenly grew deathly serious. “What kind of condition?”

    “I want to shuffle the cards for this round.”

    “You?” Mr. Dealer scoffed. “Do you even know how to?”

    “Well, no, but…” This is my chance… I have to. “I’ll bet everything I have if you let me.” Furik pat his bag.

    “Huh?”

    “What!? Oooh no…” Mr. Gambler put his paws to his stomach and began pacing. “What have I done, what have I done, what have I done?”

    Furik slipped his bag off and placed it on the table. “Do we have a deal?”

    The Mr. Mime was drumming his fingers on the table. Suddenly, his smile grew confident “...Sure. And I’ll bet everything you two had bet earlier.” Mr. Dealer placed his card at the top of the deck and passed it off to Furik, who put his cards back on top as well.

    Furik looked down at the deck. So… now what? He started by separating the deck into halves. And then… separated them again.

    Mr. Dealer’s patience was hanging on by a thread. Then Furik separated the four decks again. “Look, just let me do it!” He reached for one of the decks.

    “No!” Furik put out a paw to stop him. “I got this! Just give me a moment…”

    “Oh, for the love of…” Mr. Dealer wiped his hand down his face and groaned.

    Furik took two of the decks and awkwardly tried to merge them, then proceeded to do the same with the others until the deck was whole again. “Done.” Furik passed him three cards, then put another three on his side of the table, before putting the deck back in the middle.

    Mr. Dealer checked his cards, and Furik did the same. An eight, a five, and a two. The eight is better than everything else I have, so… Furik placed the eight down. Mr. Dealer quickly plucked a card from his hand and put it down. Th-that was quick. Furik shuddered a little. Why did I do this?

    “I-I’m rolling the dice.” Furik grabbed them, then realized: “Um, I don’t have to bet anymore, do I? I already bet everything…”

    “I’ll let it go this round.” Mr. Dealer answered nonchalantly.

    Furik thought for a bit, then decided. Being very careful, Furik threw both die straight up… then caught them on the way down and turned them upside down. Double sixes. I knew it!

    “Hey!" said a furious Mr. Dealer. “You can’t do that! That's cheating!” The Mr. Mime’s glare betrayed nothing that wasn’t already obvious.

    Furik returned with a deathly glare of his own. “Actually.” Furik turned the dice upside down. “If I didn’t do that, then I would have rolled double ones.”

    The Scrafty spoke up from another table across from them. “It’s called rolling snake eyes.” No one listened to him.

    “So, what’s your point?” said Mr. Dealer, who was standing now and leaning over the table.

    “Isn’t that a bit odd? I mean, earlier, you got two sixes from your roll. I guess that isn’t impossible, but just after, when I roll, I get two ones. That’s a little bit too convenient for me.” Furik stood and put his paws down on the table.

    “Are you calling me a cheater, you cheater?!” Mr. Dealer pushed closer.

    “Yeah I am! And I can get you arrested for that!” Furik pushed closer too.

    “Ha! How are you even going to prove that I cheated?” Mr. Dealer’s scowl turned into a grin.

    Furik backed off. “Oh… oh…” I didn’t think this through...

    “Exactly! You can’t!” Mr. Dealer’s smile grew wider. “And since you definitely cheated, you lose by default!”

    “No!” Furik, in his desperation, put his paw on a sheath at his belt, the one thing he didn’t bet.

    Mr. Dealer took notice immediately. “Kn… knife…”

    “You gotta be kidding me! I can’t watch this anymore!” Mr. Gambler put his paws over his eyes.

    Furik suddenly realized what he was doing. Just roll with it. “How about this: neither of us roll the dice, and we see who wins based on the card. In return, I won’t take this farther than it needs to.”

    “Y-you… wouldn’t… You wouldn’t really take it that far, knowing the consequences, would you?” Mr. Dealer wore a smirk, but the sweat trickling down his face showed how he really felt.

    “Do you want to try me?”

    Mr. Dealer stared at the knife for a few seconds then sat back down into his chair. “Fine! It’s a fifty-fifty shot anyway. I can still win! And when I do, you can bet I’ll report you!” His expression didn’t change at all.

    Furik sat back down, and tried his best to not let his relief show. Thank Arceus, he took the bluff! I don’t even know how to use that thing! Furik then thought about what the dealer just said. Fifty-fifty shot? Did he just tell me what his card was?

    It didn’t matter. This was the moment of truth. Furik and Mr. Dealer stared at each other from across the table. “Ready?” asked Mr. Dealer. The Scrafty watched anxiously from where he was sitting. The bartender set down the finished Razz blend, nearly choking on the suspension.

    “Turn.”

    An eight versus a seven.

    Mr. Dealer slammed his fist on the desk, but didn’t say a word. Furik sank back into his chair with relief. He sat back up and grabbed his bag back up off the table.

    Mr. Dealer pushed the his day’s earnings to the middle of the table. “Just take it and go,” he said.

    Furik grabbed his six silver from the top of the large stack of coins. Mr. Gambler rushed up to Furik and shook his paw vigorously. “Thank you, you really saved me!”

    Furik blushed under his fur. “I’m just glad it went well.” Or mostly well.

    Furik left the Scrafty to take back his money, and went back to the bar to pick up his drink. “Um, how much is it?”

    “About five silver.” Furik placed five of the coins he won back on the counter. “Good job, by the way.”

    “Tha-”

    “You should be more careful though.” The bartender gestured towards Furik’s knife. “Things are a bit quiet around these parts. The police are itching to catch someone in the act.”

    “Oh… s-sorry… I’ll be leaving soon anyway.”

    “Where to?” the Hitmontop inquired.

    “Prestin! I’ve heard all about that place.” Furik’s eyes shone with passion. “That’ll be my first stop.”

    “Well, wish you luck on your travels, Furret.”

    Meanwhile, the Scrafty had put all of his gold and silver back into his wallet. Before leaving, he thought back to incredibly awkward situation he had found himself in. “I need to get a new hobby…” he sighed.

    ~~~

    Long after both Furik and the Scrafty had left, Mr. Dealer was still sitting there. Waiting for something. Out of the corner of his eye, he spotted a Patrat. “Hey,” he called. The Patrat looked over. “Want to play a game of war?”

    ---

    A/N - So the modified War game is based off of a game me and some others came up with in a summer program. We were separated into groups and all had to come up with casino game that would extort the most chips out of the players, and this was my group's game. We didn't win, since our game was a little bit too luck based, but it works here because of the setting, where a psychic dealer manipulating the dice rolls to keep his opponents from winning is completely possible. This way it gives off that illusion of fairness that the original lacked, since it really is fair in real life.

    Anyway, reviews are definitely appreciated. I'm working on something a bit bigger, and I'd like some feedback on my writing style before I finally get around to releasing it.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2017
  2. Chibi Pika

    Chibi Pika Stay positive

    I actually read this at some point last week but I never commented! Time to fix that!

    So, it’s interesting that this is based on a made up card game. Ultimately it’s got the same amount of luck as the regular War, although it does add the potential for bluffing, (which got touched on briefly with the bit where the Dealer places his card so quickly and confidently that Furik is briefly intimidated--I think it would have been interesting to touch on that elsewhere in the story.)

    Though on second thought, I guess technically there’s not much of an advantage to bluffing a higher card than you really have because there’s no getting the other player to fold, unlike in poker. Playing a low card and bluffing a higher one wouldn’t actually be advantageous because you’d still lose when the cards were flipped. Although it might be possible to fool an opponent into rolling the dice on a matchup they can’t possibly win? But with two dice, the numbers line up so that even the worst card, a 2, can still potentially win. I don’t think there actually would be a way to fool the other player into doubling their bet when they shouldn’t have (again, unlike poker.)

    Maybe if the matches were 2 out of 3, and you could only roll on one or two of them...that way you had to think about which of the three cards to play at which time and whether or not to roll--as it stands, it seems like you’d almost always be better off betting low and doubling it with a roll, regardless of what the other player does.

    Ahhh, enough rambling about the game, onto the story itself! Obviously all notions of fairness go out the window when a psychic is involved. I’m actually pretty surprised Pokémon would be willing to gamble with a psychic (outside of like, an established casino, where cheating could ruin their reputation.) But at a pub with a lot of mons coming and going, it’s just asking for trouble.

    I’m also a bit surprised that the Dealer didn’t let Furik win the first round or two. You know, to lure him into a false sense of security, like you usually see with rigged gambling. Then again, he might have done that with the Scrafty...maybe that’s how he got in so deep!

    The characters were fun, from the cocky dealer to the exasperated and paranoid gambler to the naively optimistic Furik who was actually a bit clever in the end there. I liked the bits where Furik barely knew how to roll the dice or shuffle the cards (I have made... so many failed shuffles while playing the Pokemon TCG). I think you did a pretty decent job amping up the tension as the games progressed and Furik got pulled in deeper and deeper. Especially at the end--I'm amused by the fact that his first reaction to accidentally making a violent threat was to just play along and try to make it work out in his favor. xD

    In the end I'd say the dealer's downfall was probably his cockiness. Come on, making your opponent roll snake eyes on such an important roll? There's no way that's not gonna be suspicious!

    Good luck with that bigger fic that you're working on, by the way!

    ~Chibi~;249;;448;
     
  3. JFought

    JFought Sloooowly writing...

    Woah, someone replied!

    Thanks for reviewing! It's been a little while since I wrote this, so it's nice to get to look back at it again.

    Yeah, I never said it was the best designed game out there. It was still fun to play, but we found that the dealer was losing too much when it came time to put it into action. It was still a really cool learning experience though.

    That Scrafty isn't exactly the brightest, but at least he learned his lesson by the end.

    I actually didn't think of that! Though, I guess, since the dealer was betting all of the Scrafty's money at the outset, he wouldn't have wanted to just let Furik win. But looking back, I think I could have found a way to work that in.

    I'm definitely glad that the characters got to shine here. That was probably what I was agonizing over the most when writing this; I really wanted to make sure that I could get their personalities across! I'm especially glad to know that I got Furik down, though looking back again, I also feel I could have handled the descriptive sentences on the other characters a bit better.

    I definitely channeled my internal struggles with shuffling (and the agony that friends and family must have felt watching me struggle). I'm also relieved the whole knife thing went over well. That part gave me a lot of grief because I was worried it would have been too convenient or out of nowhere, hence the inventory check where it is first mentioned and the bit where the bartender scolds Furik about it.

    Definitely. The dealer thought he might be able to get away with it, as Furik couldn't really prove anything, but one of these two has a knife, and it isn't him.

    Thanks, and I'm glad you could enjoy this!
     
  4. Cutlerine

    Cutlerine Gone. Not coming back.

    This is a cool little story; sometimes it's hard to make a story about card games engaging – I remember reading a novel about people playing bridge once and thinking that it would probably only be interesting to the characters actually in the novel – but that's definitely not an accusation anyone could make here! The usual mistake with stories about games is the writer thinking that the game itself is the thing that will keep the reader interested, but you don't fall into that trap, and you use the game as a reason to showcase characters instead, which is a much better idea. Your presentation of Furik in particular is delightful. The way he keeps kinda stumbling into doing more than he means to and then just going well, okay then and committing to it is really endearing.

    One minor grammatical thing! There are a couple of times where you end a complete sentence in speech before a dialogue attribution with a period, like here:

    whereas the correct way to end these would be with a comma, like here:

    Just a little thing, but I thought I'd point it out. Otherwise, this is pretty neat. Good luck with your bigger project!
     
  5. There’s something about your prose here that makes the story a great read. Okay, maybe it’s a combination of the interesting situation your characters are in as well as how interesting your characters are themselves, but the way you write them and especially the way they talk take this one-shot a step further. I agree with Cutlerine that this is much more interesting than what it is at face value—three Pokemon playing a rigged card game—and I believe it’s because of how you’ve written your characters.

    While Furik and Mr. Dealer both fall into the usual adventurer and trickster archetypes, I think you really use those molds well. (I was this close to saying “you played your cards well” there.) He may act like what you’d expect, but he is written in such a way that you can’t help but root for him. And the same can be said for Mr. Dealer, although it gives the opposite effect.

    Not much else to say except for that ending, where you introduce something entirely new, but I understand this is because it’s part of a bigger project. That makes your bigger project very interesting, then! Great read. :)
     
  6. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine Ever-Discordant

    Gonna have to echo what was already said about this being a fun read. The banter between the whole gang—especially at the beginning—was absolutely hilarious, what with the Scrafty moaning about the game being rigged, Furik struggling to understand the game to begin with, and Mr. Dealer playing them both like fiddles. (I mean, to be fair to the Scrafty, the game is rigged, but still.)

    But of course, it's really Furik who steals the show from start to finish. At first, he seems like the innocent adventurer archetype—he doesn't even know how to gamble!—but what I like most about him is the fact that he quickly reveals himself to be anything but. I mean, just look at how quickly he worked out exactly how the game was rigged! Like, it wasn't just "okay, so the dealer's a psychic, and thus the cards can't be trusted" followed by, later, "okay, so, the dice must also be rigged." Nope, he figures out both of these at the same time. And actually, that works because by letting Furik figure all of this out at once, we get a sense of how intelligent he actually is. The fact that he manages to con Mr. Dealer right back is only really icing on the cake.

    Meanwhile, though, I did find the knife a bit odd. Like ... even though Mr. Dealer is a psychic and this is a plot point, I feel like this is one of those fics where if you replaced every character with a Pokémon, the whole shebang would still make sense. The knife only reinforces that idea because Pokémon are creatures fully capable of extraordinary feats of magic and hand-to-hand combat, but instead of threatening Mr. Dealer with a move, Furik does so with a very human weapon. The reason why this all isn't exactly good is because it just doesn't feel like a fan fic. Rather, it actually feels like original fic, and it leaves me wondering why this had to be fic, you know?

    On the other hand, maybe it would make more sense once we (or, well, I) get to see more of the larger project.

    Other than that, though, don't get me wrong. This was definitely an enjoyable read, and I love the characters and the worldbuilding you presented here. :D
     
  7. JFought

    JFought Sloooowly writing...

    Okay, now that I have the time to reply, I should probably use it!

    I feel like I've heard of that book before... But anyway, I definitely wanted to put focus on the characters, since it is about them in the end. I know I'm going to start sounding repetitive, but I'm glad you could enjoy them!

    *Suddenly realizes I've been making the same mistake for the past year or two and that I now have to go back and fix every single instance of it.*

    Thanks!

    Now I am sounding repetitive, but I'm glad you enjoyed the characters! My greatest strength in writing is dialogue, and I definitely put a focus on it here as the primary method to communicate my characters.

    Yeah, the sudden introduction to Prestin was a necessary evil, as there was no reason to introduce it before or explain it after, but I still feel I could've done something different there. Anyway, I'm glad you could enjoy!

    I'm glad you enjoyed it, I know I had fun writing it!

    For the 4th time, I'm really happy Furik was enjoyable! Of course, in order to be an adventurer who can venture anywhere beyond three steps from home, it's important to have a good head on your shoulders. Furik is naive and doesn't know a lot, but he can get by on his cleverness and wit.

    I've definitely found myself thinking this a few times too. I can't say too much about the bigger project, but yeah, you could completely remove Pokemon from the equation and it could technically still work. I even thought about doing so a couple of times. But I always found that doing so would open up a can of worms filled with things I'd have to either change, explain, or both. It doesn't have much to do with the one-shot, since this is only a small glimpse of everything, but I still felt that I should address it.

    Thank you, and thanks again to everyone who reviewed!
     

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