Conflict Resolution, Part 3: Blackjack

Let’s revisit the parts of our system.

  1. First, we set the initiative – the order of play (if it can’t be determined purely by storytelling).
  2. Next, we resolve the action – determining the outcome and judging if there’s any modifier at play from character based skill or another player helping (or hindering). Ideally the player can mitigate luck with strategy, while the DM’s play is fairly straightforward.
  3. Last, we determine the impact. The player may be successful, fail, or be somewhere in between. A player may have a limited ability to improve their results after the fact. I won’t define the effects here – they come from the part of the actions and world, and should vary widely enough to provide sufficient options for most situations.

Modified Blackjack

We’ll borrow the core mechanics and rules from Blackjack (face cards are worth 10, aces are worth 1 or 11, dealer stands on soft 17), and remove some of the higher risk features such as double-down, splits, and insurance. In a casino, you’re generally playing with multiple decks – at least 4, from what I’ve seen. While that’s an option here, these rules should work with one standard 52 card deck.


Normally, one player is acting against the GM (representing the environment or the recipient of the action) at a time. However, if multiple players are attempting to act simultaneously (but independently) against the same ‘target,’ each player will be dealt 2 cards face-down. Each player will select one card, and flip it simultaneously. The highest card will go first. If the players tie, a new card will be dealt to each player. This will repeat until one player has a higher value card. If the order of actions does not matter (such as every player examines their surrounds, play can proceed clockwise, counterclockwise, or whatever consistent, uniform direction the GM prefers.

When the order of action is resolved, each player will flip their remaining card face up. The dealer will receive 1 card, face up. All players will receive another card, face up, and the GM will receive a card face down.

Instead of taking an action, one player may assist (or hinder) another player by stating their intention to do so before any cards are dealt. This player will go after the player they’re assisting, without bidding for initiative. They will also receive 2 cards face up. Only 1 player may assist at a time.


At this point, each player should have 2 cards, face-up.

Any player with a natural 21 from their first two cards (blackjack) will have an automatic full success, regardless and assistance or hindrance from other players.

If the GM has a natural 21, any players without a blackjack automatically fail.

If both the player(s) and the GM have a natural 21, the outcome is a mixed success.

In the case where neither the player nor the GM have a natural 21, play continues similar to blackjack. The player may hit (take additional cards, one at a time) until they choose to stop. If they exceed a total of 21, they bust, and will fail. Each player follows in initiative order.

Players may have skill modifiers as a part of their character that allow them to add or subtract 1 or 2 from their card total. This will not give them a blackjack, but will allow them to reach a higher total, or prevent a bust and lowering their total hand (or, if one player is attempting to hinder another, lower their total, or make them bust.

A player who is assisting or hindering another player adds or subtracts a modifier in the case of success (1 if a partial success, 2 if a full success) from the acting player’s total.

Once ALL players are done, the DM will reveal their cards, drawing until they meet or exceed a 17 (the GM should stand on a soft 17, or ace + 6). If the dealer busts, it is an automatic full success for all players who did not bust.


So, while the actual impact to the characters would change based on the final word and game systems, we can break it down into 3 sections.

Full success

  • Player gets what they want, and then some
  • The player gets a blackjack, and the GM does not
  • The player wins with 20 or 21
  • The dealer busts

Partial success

  • Player what they want, with some drawback
  • Both the player and GM get a blackjack
  • The player wins with less than 20


  • The player MAY CHOOSE to get what they want, but must give up something in return.
  • The player and GM tie (other than both receive a blackjack)


  • Player MAY get what they want (GM discretion – for the easiest of tasks) but will suffer an unexpected consequence.
  • Player loses to the GM
  • Player busts

After a full cycle of play is complete, all cards are discarded and reshuffled (for a single deck). Multiple decks can go until the cards run out.