ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This is the freebie for the October [community profile] crowdfunding Creative Jam. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] chanter_greenie. It also fills the "sportsmanship" square in my 10-4-16 card for the Games and Sports Bingo fest.


"Ratscrew"


Kraken had evolved from
an odd wartime truce between
rival crews, and that left a mark,
even now that they become
a supervillain organization.

You could see it in the games,
and most of all, in the fact that
supervillain sportsmanship regarded
cheating as an art form.

They played ratscrew and
slapped each other's hands
and swore over the hidden rules.

They introduced baksheesh
into the game and made rude jokes
about corruption in the Egyptian government.

Another version escaped into the wild
as Mao, which made fun of China instead.

The Krakenguard liked other games
that encouraged cheating, too.

They played Pirate Dice and
and Bullshit and Mogel Motte,
practiced lying and detection
and sleight of hand.

They cheated in games
because it was fun and
everyone laughed over it.

They cheated in games
because it's part of their nature,
with a smirk and a cheery, "Pirate!"

They cheated in games
because it let them practice
skills they needed as supervillains.

But they didn't think of it like others did.

It wasn't just cheating to them,
it was creative play.

It taught them to think ahead,
to challenge assumptions,
to see around corners,
to make changes.

It was how they learned
to win at life in a world with
every deck stacked against them.

So when superheroes would try
to steal back the stolen goods,
the Krakenguard would just
slap a hand over the loot,
yell, "Ratscrew!" and run.

It's been decades,
and the superheroes still
haven't figured out the rules.

* * *

Notes:

Egyptian Ratscrew is a game based on fast grabbing of cards. It has many names and variations. Like Mao, it can incorporate cheating and obscure rules.

Baksheesh can mean tip or bribe.

Some games actually encourage cheating, and some people enjoy thinking of ways to cheat. If there's a penalty for getting caught, even if it's in the rules, it's still cheating. If everyone is still having fun, though, it's okay.

Pirate Dice is a version of Liar's Dice, which also has multiple variations. Here's a video about it. In Terramagne, pirates are hugely popular and make up a lot of the comic books, since they don't have the same domination of superheroes in that medium, and thus Pirate Dice is the preferred name.

Bullshit is a bluffing game.

Mogel Motte requires discreetly disposing of cards without getting caught.

Some people are willing to play with cheaters, others aren't. Cheating can be viewed as a game variant or as creative play. It's also closely connected with creativity and perseverence. Supervillains tend to see it as a virtue -- but they also prize discretion, looking down on cheaters who get caught. Far more than in most superhero settings, Terramagne supervillains really have their own subculture, and most superheroes just do not "get it." But it's real, and it has its own customs; they're just offset from everyone else's.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-16 06:08 pm (UTC)
thnidu: edited from img383.imageshack.us/img383/3066/ss35450qf7.jpg (smiley)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
In one of Lawrence M. Schoen's stories about the Amazing Conroy there's a card game called "Matter" in which ANY kind of cheating is allowed, such as remotely causing a bookshelf to collapse and switching cards while your opponent is distracted.

Re: *laugh*

Date: 2016-10-16 07:09 pm (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu

Hee hee

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-17 01:37 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
I enjoy games with interesting meta-rules. This includes both "cheating is allowed" and "cheating is strictly disallowed, in fact you should report YOURSELF if you make a mistake in your favor" - as long as I know which is which.

My birth-family house rules for Scrabble are super-relaxed on dictionary use; I play Boggle with a handicap because otherwise nobody wants to play with me; the house rules for cards are strict ... but I keep trying to convince people that it would be much more fun if WRITTEN card-counting was allowed (because I have good logic and a bad memory). I play Magic: The Gathering, and Fluxx and other geek games. I like tabletop RPGs and LARPing too, and enjoy hanging out *in character*, which brings up rules such as "tell the GM/DM/ST or it didn't happen" and "if it makes the game better, talk it out instead of rolling dice."

Gaming culture conflicts are definitely a thing. Meta-rules for games are actually an important social skill that I enjoy teaching - generally something that can involve some discovery, modeling, and support for kids problem-solving for themselves more than direct instruction, although dropping a description of good etiquette while modeling or observing it is also helpful. Things like, "take turns," "ask the ref", "give everyone a chance to participate even if that involves modifying the rules", "ask about which set of house rules are in use and agree before you start playing," "follow the important rules or it isn't a game - but don't be a rule-lawyer about minor corner-cutting at an amateur level", "if you aren't having fun, go play another game"; "if *several* people aren't having fun, or if there's a persistent pattern unfair to you or anyone, get help if needed, stop play, and fix the problem," "you can't arbitrarily exclude all of [insert group here], or the one person in your social group you don't enjoy playing with, but you CAN refuse to tolerate bad behavior", "if you can't figure out what just happened, re-set and re-play usually works," "apologize if you make an error", "cheer for your team", "cheer for EVERYONE and for exciting play", "a plan can help achieve success", "if everyone is having fun who cares if it's organized"... the list is really endless.
Edited (details) Date: 2016-10-17 01:52 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-17 02:34 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Would Alicia play? I don't know if we've seen her have relaxation time in this fashion yet? Watching your Terramagne villains play Calvinball cards would be fun, from a safe distance. -kellyc

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-17 03:32 am (UTC)
chanter_greenie: Commander Seth Goddard of Space Cases fame (SC: Goddard - do the best they can)
From: [personal profile] chanter_greenie
Ooooh. Interesting! Also heh, to game rules and games themselves escaping into the wild. Fun! :)

Ohmygosh somebody brought up Fizbin! *giggling* I'm now remembering the circumstances surrounding that one, and... *snort* nice one. Playing Bullshit/BS/Whatever, name dependent on company, is a blast.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-17 04:19 pm (UTC)
redsixwing: Red-winged angel staring at a distant star. (Default)
From: [personal profile] redsixwing
Heeeee! I learned Mao in high school. It was delightful to play, and also delightful that the school security guard got his shorts in a wad over it.

In retrospect, a constantly-changing group of students playing a fast and furious card game in total silence* every day was probably a little bit alarming for the poor guy. :D

*because someone always invoked the No Talking rule, natch

(no subject)

Date: 2016-10-18 07:23 pm (UTC)
society_of_antisocialites: (Default)
From: [personal profile] society_of_antisocialites
Amazing poem :) And I'd love to find some people to play those games with.

I wasn't there for it, but body-wise we have memories of Mao back in highschool. It was as fun to play as it was to watch newbies trying to figure out how the game worked, since outright telling anyone the rules wasn't allowed.

- Stuart

(no subject)

Date: 2016-11-01 12:52 pm (UTC)
meridian_rose: pen on letter background  with text  saying 'writer' (Default)
From: [personal profile] meridian_rose
I'd not heard of ratscrew so I've learnt something today! LOL I love the idea of supervillains having such a complex set of rules that make no sense to superheroes :)

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