Dwarf on Back
Liar’s Dice is a game of chance that involves rolling, betting, and bluffing. It has many variations and possible house rules, with the below variant being popular among the Seven Eels patrons. Many other taverns likely play the game in a similar fashion, albeit with their own house rules. This version is a drinking game, with the object of being the last conscious player.
The game is played in rounds. At the beginning of each round, all players roll their dice but keep them hidden from the other players. The opening player then makes a bid, which is essentially an educated guess regarding the numbers rolled among every player’s dice. Each subsequent player either challenges the last bid as being wrong, or makes a higher bid. Any player who loses a challenge takes a drink, and a new round starts.
At least 5d6 per player, and some way for each player to hide their dice from the other players (cups work well, though they cause a lot of noise while rolling).
Based on the real game of Liar’s Dice:
Each player rolls 2d6 to determine opens the first round. All players then roll their dice, keeping them hidden from other players (this is your hand). The first player makes a bid, which includes a number and rank of dice.
Example: A player could bid “Seven fives”. The player is betting that, including every die rolled, at least seven of them are fives.
The second player then has the option of either bidding higher, or challenging the last player’s bid. Bids are ranked first by the number of dice, then by the rank. Players can bid more than the minimum, and can jump in bids as far as they’re willing to risk.
Example: The minimum bid increase from “seven fives” is “seven sixes”, and the minimum increase from there is “eight ones”.
If the challenge goes through (see House Rules), all dice are revealed and counted. If the amount of the bid rank of dice is as many or more than the bid, the bidder wins the round, and the challenger loses. If there are less dice than bid, the bidder loses the round, and the challenger wins.
Example: If the challenged bid was “seven fives”, all fives are counted. If there are seven or more fives on the table, the challenger loses the round. If there were less than seven fives rolled, the bidder loses the round.
The loser of the round takes a drink, all players re-roll their dice, and a new round begins with the winner of the last round opening the bidding.
Whenever a player takes a drink, they roll an endurance check against a set DC (this should be between a medium and hard DC for the players’ level). If they succeed, the drink doesn’t affect them at all. If they fail the check, they add two points to their “drunk tally”. Each point reduces all future skill checks (active and passive) by one.
A player is out of the game when they reach a certain drunk tally (see Length of Game). An out player no longer rolls, bids, or participates in game skill checks. The last player in the game wins!
Challenging out of turn — Players can challenge at any time, but if they lose an out-of-turn challenge, they take two drinks (the bidder still only risks one drink). If more than one person challenges at the same time, the first challenge in turn order takes priority.
“Doubling down” — Bluffing is common. Whenever a challenge is made, the person being challenged can “up their bet", offering to drink two drinks if they’re wrong, and giving the other person a chance to back down. When this happens, the bidder makes a bluff check against the challenger’s insight. If the check succeeds, the challenger is forced to back down and play proceeds as if no challenge had been made (no other challenges can be made against that bid). If the check fails, the challenge proceeds as normal, except that the bidder must drink two drinks if they lose.
“Fudging the dice” — Cheating is expected! Whenever the dice are revealed, anyone can make a thievery check against the passive perception of the conscious players directly to their left and right. A success lets them change one of their dice before revealing. If they fail, the die is not changed, everyone has a good laugh, and the attempting thief must take a drink.
“Reading a player” — Cajolery and goading are standard fare. On each player’s turn before bidding or challenging, they can begin bantering with another player, and make an insight check against that player’s bluff check. If they succeed, they get to see that player’s hand. If they fail, the other player can attempt to turn it against them by making a counter insight vs bluff check.
Length of Game
More players generally means a longer game, so you may want to adjust some variables if you have more or less players. The easiest way to adjust the length of the game is to adjust how many drunk points get added per drink (“Wow, this is some strong stuff!”), or adjust how many points a player accrues before passing out. You can also adjust the drink endurance DC, but it’s best not to move this number too high or low, since this skews the game for or against heavy-weight characters with no dexterity/social skills.
Long game: 1-2 drunk points per drink. 10-12 points to pass out.
Medium game: 2 drunk points per drink. 8-10 points to pass out.
Short game: 2-3 drunk points per drink. 6-8 points to pass out.