I am searching for a combat system based on standard playing cards (aka the French 52-card deck) instead of dice. The system should include melee combat and modern firearms, so that it can be used for a post-apocalyptic scenario.

To be more precise, this system should use standard playing cards for these game features:

  • Using firearms
  • Using melee weapons
  • Unarmed combat
  • Performing Maneuvers, in the event a PC possesses knowledge of particular fighting style
  • Determining the hit location and the damage suffered

The game should also include:

  • A range of firearms, from simple pistols to sniper rifles
  • Modifiers that increase or decrease the chance to hit:

    • based on the PC's skill with the weapon
    • environmental conditions
    • the physical condition of the attacker (injury, hunger, radiation poisoning, etc.)
  • Injury should have significant effects on those who suffer them

The system need not include all of these features, but must be able to handle at least the fighting with firearms.


A Playing Card Based RPG

The No Dice system uses playing cards as it's core randomiser. To be specific, it uses a standard 52-card deck with one added joker.

The core system is a 'universal' one, meaning that it can easily handle most of the bullet-points you mention, however you would have to come up with the specifics for the crunchier of your items.

To be Specific:

  • Fire arms and close combat options; trivial to implement with base rules
  • Fighting styles; simple-to-moderate, you'll have to invent them, though the core rule book has some interesting examples that may help (page 164)
  • Combat modifiers; trivial with base rules
  • Significant damage; simple to implement, you may want to come up with wounding/crippling rules that work with the combat modifiers and hit locations (below)
  • Hit locations; simple; the system introduces using different card suits to create extra flavor for draw results that should fit (page 79).

    Here's a hit location example off the top of my head:

    Set each suit to represent a body location, such as: Spades — Head, Hearts & Diamonds — Torso, Clubs — Limbs. For regular attacks these can be used to determine where the attack hits on a success. Called shots would require the player to draw the correct suit. If it's right the player does extra damage or other special effect, if it isn't the attack simply missed. Queens could mean hitting a vital area in the location (heart/eyes) or crippling a limb. Salt to taste.

The core rules are free and can be found on the No Dice RPG website (very hard to find with Google). It's a quick read, but in particular check out page 79 on randomisers to see if you like it.

Thanks for asking something I can answer! :]

  • \$\begingroup\$ @Yaniv I hope it works out for you, message me if you'd like any help! I love coming up with game tweeks. \$\endgroup\$ – HighlandRat Dec 23 '14 at 21:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ I hope so Highland. Now I'm reading it, I will let you know if it is useful soon. \$\endgroup\$ – Yaniv Dec 26 '14 at 18:43

Cards and Quests is a standard 52 playing card based table top RPG. No dice needed!

C&Q is a fantasy setting. Magic and melee combat is detailed out. While there are no firearms in the ruleset, you could easily substitute in the firearms you would like to add using the same rules for bow/crossbow/ranged magic blasts. (you can either use the typical ranges or adjust them for sniper rifle vs handgun).

C&Q does have "fighting styles" based on a character's class based on one of 8 "elements" in the game. Each of the elements are assigned one of the 4 suits (Spades, hearts, clubs, or diamonds) and each of the cards of the assigned suit has a special combat action associated with it.

It does not have specific damage zones (like arm damage or torso damage) but it does have a few status type attacks that make a PC discard cards from their hand or their deck. This is important because each PC has their own deck and if a PC runs out of cards in their deck, the PC passes out from exhaustion. By tying the deck of cards to a PC's "energy level", a GM can impose hunger or weakness by making the PC discard cards in their hand or deck to simulate an arduous climb or long journey through poison swamp, etc.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! Please take a moment to check out the tour and the help center. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Jun 11 '15 at 23:13

Castle Falkenstein is a classic card-based game.

I seem to recall that some versions of other games use both cards and dice, but Castle Falkenstein is a purely card-based game.

Each player starts with four or five cards. Each suit corresponds to a characteristic, and you can use a card to improve your chance of success in any endeavour using that element: a 2 won't help much, a 10 or picture is very useful. The cards don't automatically refresh, though, so the cards represent an "Edge" mechanic rather than an RNG.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Please edit your answer to explain why/how this game fits the querent's requirements beyond simply using cards as its randomisation tool. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Dec 25 '14 at 13:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree with BESW. How exactly does the system works? \$\endgroup\$ – Yaniv Dec 26 '14 at 11:20

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