History of the Game
Kemetic Unorthodox Rat Screw is based on the popular card game 'Egyptian Rat Fuck' (or Rat Screw, depending on the age and temperament of the players). ERF, in turn, is loosely based on the game of 'War'.
Object of the Game
The object of each of these games, which may be played by as few as two and as many as can fit around the table or game space, is for one player to collect all of the cards into their hand. Once this occurs and all special effects and decrees have been resolved, the game is over.
Traditional ERF Rules
ERF is played by dealing all the cards to the players; it is not necessary that each player start with an exactly equal number of cards in their hand. Players may not look at their hands at any time! In addition, cards are played by flipping them outward from your hand, instead of toward you, so that you do not see the card being played significantly before anyone else (it is recommended that you flip it as quickly as possible to minimize the difference).
Play begins by the player to the left of the dealer laying their top card down, face-up, in the center of the table to start the stack. If this card is a number card (2-10), then play passes to the next player, as long as only number cards are laid down. Once a face card is played, the next player has a challenge before them. A challenge presents that player with a fixed number of chances to lay down another face card, depending on what face card was played:
- Jack: 1 chance
- Queen: 2 chances
- King: 3 chances
- Ace: 4 chances
The challenged player lays down one card at a time, face-up, on the stack until they either 1) lay down a face card or 2) run out of chances. If they succeed in playing a face card, then the Challenge extends to the next player in line, with the new face card determining how many chances they get. If at any time a player runs out of chances (or cards) without playing a face card, the player who last played a face card gets the entire stack. They should turn these cards face-down and place them at the bottom of their hand without shuffling, and then flip the top card from their hand into the center to start a new stack. Play continues to the left as usual.
Rat fucking: Whenever two cards of the same value are played on top of each other (two 8's for example, or two Kings), any player may try to slap the stack. The player who reaches the stack first gets to claim the entire stack; they have just rat-fucked whatever was already in play, whether it was a challenge or just the regular cycle of play. They then continue play as if they had taken the stack from a challenge, and lay the next card down. (Note: Because of the enthusiasm generated by this part of the game, it is strongly recommended that sharp and/or protruding rings and fingernails be treated with care. Rings can be removed, or another hand used; if you draw blood during a rat-fuck, you will automatically be unsuccessful!)
If a player runs out of cards during play, but before one player has collected the entire deck, they no longer get turns in the usual cycle of play, and are not subject to challenges. However, they may slap in at any time and, if successful in rat-fucking the other players, become an active participant again; this may even result in them staging a comeback and winning the game!
K.U.R.S. adds to the complexity, and hopefully the fun, of ERF by using a 78-card Tarot deck instead of the usual 52-card deck. Each of the cards in the Major Arcana has a special effect which will be detailed below. Note: Because Tarot decks vary in description and card text, feel free to use the Roman numeral system to decide what a card means, or devise an alternate effect for non-standard cards.
The only other equipment needed is a flat surface to place the stack on, and at least one appendage for rat-fucking with (hands are most common).
(Different) Rules of the Game
K.U.R.S. requires at least three players to be played effectively; otherwise the Death card, for example, will have the effect of ending the game suddenly. Alternatively it may be removed from play before a two-player game.
Because Tarot decks have different 'face cards' than a standard deck, the chances to match each face card are different:
- Page: 1 chance
- Knight: 2 chances
- Queen: 3 chances
- King: 4 chances
Note: Aces are 'number' cards in this game, unlike traditional ERF.
Play begins with the player to the dealer's left, though this may change at some point of the game due
to cards being played. Number cards (Ace-Ten) are played exactly the same as in ERF; face cards also result in the same type of challenge being issued, with the above-noted differences.
Major Arcana cards do not count as face cards for the purpose of either issuing or meeting a challenge, unless the card's action specifically states otherwise. Each card has a special action as described below, although alternate actions may be substituted if these do not match the deck you are playing with:
- The Fool: Lift up the top 5 cards of your hand2 and look at them. Without changing the order, return them to the top of your hand.
- The Magician: All male players must give you a card1, 2.
- The High Priestess: All female players must give you a card1, 2.
- The Empress: Give each player two cards.1
- The Emperor: Make a decree. For the rest of the game, you may fine 1, 2 someone a card if they do not follow your decree. Examples include 'You must refer to me as 'Your Highness', or 'When you win a stack, you must thank the person by name.' Be careful to avoid decrees that can result in game loops or impossible winning conditions, or give you an unfair game advantage when followed. Each time this card is played a new decree must be instituted; one decree may however supercede another. It is your decision whether to collect a fine on someone (including yourself) when you become aware of them breaking a decree, but you must do so in a timely manner.
- The Heirophant: Tithe each player for two cards1, 2.
- The Lovers: Steal a kiss (and a card1, 2) from the player of your choice. If they refuse, they must give a card1, 2 to everyone.
- Strength: If you lay this card down during a challenge4, you automatically win the entire stack and the challenge ends.
- The Chariot: You may choose to trade hands with a player of your choice.
- The Hermit: Each player must give you the top three cards from their hand2. You may look at these cards, in order to decide how many and which cards each player should get, and in which order. You may not keep any for yourself, and the other players should return any cards received to the top of their hand.
- Justice: If three or more are playing4, you must rule from the bench that two other players switch hands.
- The Hanged Man: Pass out one card to each player3; then take the stack (if any) as if you had won a challenge.
- Death: Deal out your entire hand to the other players1; your turn is over. Remove this card from play after use.
- Temperance: Deal out a card to each player3; then each player gives you a card from their hand1.
- The Devil: You must tell of an 'original sin' that you have committed. Each player who has not committed that same sin (or will not admit to it) must give you a
card1, 2. Each time this card is played by any player, a different sin must be revealed.
- Wheel of Fortune: Change the direction of play. This takes effect when your turn is done, but does not affect the person who benefits from a failed challenge. For example, if play was moving to the right and you fail a challenge after playing this card, the player to your left still takes the stack, and then play moves to their left.
- The Tower: Take the top half of your hand, approximately, and flip it over on top of the stack3. The card shown is now to be considered the card you played; this does not take up an additional chance in a challenge.
- The Star: Sing a song that has the word 'star' in it. If you cannot think of any or are unwilling, you must give two cards to each player1. Each time this card is played by any player, a different song must be sung.
- The Moon: Briefly expose a covered body part of your choice to your fellow players. If you are unwilling, give each player a card1. Each time this card is played by the same player, a different part must be uncovered. Be careful of ages and observers!
- The Sun: If playing between sunrise and sunset, you must bestow one card on each player1, 2; otherwise you get a card from each player1, 2.
- Judgement: Remove this card from play after use; Take up all hands and the stack (but not Death) and deal them out evenly to all players.
- The World: Each player gives their hand to the player to their left2.
- Unless otherwise specified, a card received from another player comes off of the top of their hand and is placed on the bottom of your hand.
- Players without cards are not required to find/steal/draw one if it is required of them, although if they receive a card during that action and are then asked to give one up, they must do so as normal.
- Conversely, if a card requires the player to give up cards to gain a secondary effect, but they do not have a sufficient number in their hand, then they cannot continue and their turn is over. The exception here is Temperance; they receive cards back from players that they shared with.
- Cards that have conditions but no alternative have no effect if the conditions are not met.
Optional Rules & Suggestions
- If a decree and a Major Arcana action are in conflict (i.e. a decree says you must thank the player you win the stack from, and you play The Hanged Man), the decree shall be superceded.
- While K.U.R.S. may be played by as many people as can reach the playing surface, games seem to last much longer in groups of 6 or more. While this does not detract in any way from the enjoyment of the game, it may lead you to try using two decks with two smaller groups. Players who are cardless in one game may even be permitted to try to slap their way into the other!
- It may be necessary before each game to decide upon a penalty for attempted rat-fucking, (i.e. slapping in when there is no set of doubled cards). Penalties can range from missing a turn, to pointing and laughing, to a slap on the wrist or other appropriate body part. Be sensible and tailor your penalties to the ages, temperaments, and playfulness of your group.
- Games will occasionally end with one player holding all the cards without actually winning a challenge. You may want to institute a rule that they continue to play cards onto a stack until they play a face card (thereby proving that no one else can challenge them). This leads to the possibility of them drawing a wild card such as Death or The Empress and continuing play.
Finally, remember to have fun, and if you don't like a rule, change it! (If you feel strongly about it, you may want to let us know why you changed it, so that we can incorporate it into future revisions). For any comments, questions, or criticisms, you may contact us here.