The Great Dalmuti is a card game, published by Wizards of the Coast, for anywhere from 4 to 10 or more people. Requiring very little serious strategy, it is ideal for parties or any other situation where a group of people wishes to pass the time having fun.

The deck:

The game is played on a special deck of 80 cards. 78 are marked with one of the numbers 1-12, such that for each number, there are that many cards of that number. The other 2 are jesters, which function much as wild cards, with some restrictions.

The play:

Players play sets of cards, all with the same number. If there are no cards in play, he may play any such set; otherwise, he must play the same number of cards, all with a lower number. He may always choose to pass rather than play, in which case, the next player may play.

The Jester may be played with any number of numbered cards, in which case it is treated as a card with that number. However, if played alone (or with the other Jester), it is considered to have the number 13, and is beaten by any other card.

The game:

The object is to get rid of your cards as fast as possible. For each hand, the players are ranked based on what order they finished in the previous hand. The first and second to go out are called the Greater and Lesser Dalmuti, respectively, and the last and second-to-last are called the Greater and Lesser Peon. All of the others are simply Merchants. They change seating to make this order the new order of play. Whoever is then the Greater Dalmuti then plays the first cards.

Before play starts, the Greater Peon gives the Greater Dalmuti his two best (lowest-numbered) cards, and the Greater Dalmuti gives the Greater Peon any two cards. The Lesser Dalmuti and Lesser Peon similarly exchange 1 card. This is called taxation, and may be cancelled by a revolution. A Revolution may be called by anybody who was dealt both Jesters, and cancels taxation for that hand. If it is called by the Greater Peon, it is a Greater Revolution, causing everybody to switch positions with their opposite (the Dalmutis with the Peons, and the Merchants similarly).

The spirit:

As a social game based upon rank, the players are encouraged to act out their position as if it were their station in life, bossing around and showing deference to the others as appropriate. Officially, the only assigned tasks are that the Greater Peon shuffles and deals and clears the cards from the table; unofficially, anything goes.

The game has no official end; people play until they tire of it, sometimes adding or dropping players from the game. There isn't a true winner, either; fortunes can change in a single hand and just because somebody is the Greater Dalmuti one round doesn't mean that they'll be Greater Peon the next. It's a game that has to be played for the sake of the game and the people playing.

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