Sunday, December 25, 2022

The Christmas Tree Effect


Royal Treasures is a tactical card game of fantasy combat and adventure for one player.

To play Royal Treasures, you will need some method of note taking, a standard deck of 52 playing cards, some table-top space and this document. 

To introduce you to Royal Treasures, I want to talk about something called, "the Christmas tree effect." The Christmas tree effect was the perception, from the earliest days of table-top role-playing games, that characters were defined by the accumulation of magic items. Such shiny glowing treasures (amulets, rings, weapons, armors, etc.) were said to dangle from characters like lights and ornaments from a Christmas tree. 

Over the years the Christmas tree effect came to be recognized as a weakness in game design. Later editions of the world's most famous role-playing game worked to eliminate the Christmas tree effect. Emphasis shifted to class, skills, abilities and powers, elements considered easier to balance and regulate. 

Royal Treasures is a game built around the pretense that the Christmas tree effect, and the disproportionate emphasis that it places on the accumulation of treasure, is actually what made early RPGs so much fun!

Your character starts out as an average, everyday, unremarkable person living in a fantasy world. Your character owns nothing of any special worth, and they have no experience. As your character finds items of equipment that they can wear or carry, they will grow in power and utility. In Royal Treasures such valuable items are called Royalties, and for every Royalty that your character has equipped the value of their Reputation (shortened to "Repute" in these rules) goes up.

The quality of the Royalties that your character will be able to find improves based on the value of their Repute. So, the more treasures you collect, the better treasures you will find, but beware! The more Repute you have, the more appealing a target you become, and the more powerful monsters you attract!

You will battle monsters using cards, and then gather your royal treasure! Your abilities in combat are not defined by such arbitrary things as character levels or experience points. All that matters is the gear that you have equipped. In Royal Treasures, "Clothes maketh the hero!"

You will enjoy Royal Treasures, if you enjoy ... 

  • Tactical skirmish combat using playing cards.
  • Collecting treasure after every battle.
  • Watching your character evolve in unexpected ways.

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