Wiki Headlines
It's time for the second TV Tropes Halloween Avatar Contest, theme: cute monsters! Details and voting here.

main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Tabletop Game: Hoyles Rules Of Dragon Poker
The Most Complicated Game on This, or Any Other, World.

In 1985, Robert Aspirin invented Dragon Poker for his novel Little Myth Marker (read: Myth Adventures). Since then, fans have added to the game by filling in the blanks left in the deck, the hands and the rules. Hoyle's Rules to Dragon Poker compiles the previous work while adding the long-neglected (by the authors and fans) conditional modifiers, creating the first complete set of rules to the game.

The game is essentially a souped-up version of stud poker, where players get a set number of cards (some face up and some face down) without the ability to draw cards to improve their hands. The game is played (usually) with a regular deck (with Dragons, Unicorns, Ogres and Elves replacing Aces, Kings, Queens and Jacks respectively).

And then things get interesting.

The rules of the game change depending on outside factors. It's Tuesday? Now Unicorns are wild. It's St. George's Day? Those Dragon's you're holding are now blank. A romance novel is at the top of the New York Times Best Seller List? Now you can't play a hand that doesn't have an Ogre and a Unicorn. The rule changes stack and your opponents don't have to remind you of the active modifiers.

Saner players than you have gone mad playing this game.

Hoyle's Rules to Dragon Poker is open-source, available to everyone for use and modification. A website, along with ebook version of the manual, detailing the rules and game play can be found here.

Examples of:

  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: The rules state that anything can be gambled: money, chips, names, children, etc. The only real limitation put in place is that dependents have to be returned before the police have to get involved.
  • Ancient Astronauts: The game was brought to this world by demons, or the manual would have us believe.
  • Calvinball: The card game version. There are so many possible rules changes that you're guaranteed to never play the same game twice.
  • Direct Line to the Author: The introduction of the manual is fictional history that traces the origins of the game to the destruction of Pompeii.
  • House Rules: There are "only" around 250 conditional modifiers, but the rules provide a mechanism for players to invent more.
  • Loophole Abuse: Some modifiers are vagues to the point of meaningless, requiring players into this.
  • Lost Him in a Card Game: See the "Absurdly High-Stakes Game" entry.
  • Rules Lawyer: Some of the rules were deliberately made vague to encourage arguments over their exact meaning.
  • Mythology Gag: This isn't the first attempt outlining the rules, so after the author completed their research, they referenced earlier fan guides as part of the centuries long hunt for the rules.
  • Shout-Out: A number of them including the tag line, which is taken off of Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious Worlds.
    • The author pays tribute to earlier fan works by incorporating them into the games history.
    • A few of the conditional modifiers are shout outs to pop culture, especially the source material.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Due to the sheer insanity of, the game itself is the subject of legend in-universe. The author assures us it's all nonsense, until he doesn't.
  • The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: The point of the conditional modifiers. If it could conceivably happen, there's probably a rule change for it. Notable examples include the end of the world, UFO encounters and the Detroit Lion's winning the Super Bowl.
ThwaiteTroper WorksBlack Roses
Houses Of The BloodedTabletop GamesHulks And Horrors

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy