The stuff I ordered from Sunset Games has apparently been shipped, via EMS. That means that although the shipping charge was about 2600 yen, the package should come in a few days. I will of course post more about them when they’ve arrived and I’ve gotten a chance to read through them some.
Anyway, I think I have (the next iteration of) Raspberry Heaven basically figured out, at least enough for playtesting. The replies to the thread I started on Story Games helped immensely, and gave me more insight into how cards can be used in games in general.
The way the cards are used wound up being closer to Uno (which is in turn very much derived from Crazy Eights and its relatives) than poker. (And I’ve wound up playing Uno on Xbox 360 a decent amount of late). There’s a rotating “tutor” role, whose job is to deal cards and supervise the scene’s pacing. They set out four cards for the scene phases face down, and flip them over as they feel appropriate to the pacing of the scene, and move the played cards to the discard pile when it’s time for it to end. When a phase starts, the players then play cards, trying to match suit or rank, until no one wants to play any more cards, and the player with the top card gets narration rights.
Each Quirk gives your character a Special Move, which lets you play cards differently, but also introduces something which may or may not be flattering to your character, regardless of whether or not you win narration rights for the scene. I thought about giving characters two or more things per Quirk (and I really liked Filip’s idea of having an Aspect for each suit), but that gets to be too many different things to do with cards per character.
One of the major things that needs playtesting is the overall economy of cards. As I have it written now, players get 4 cards in the first scene, and one card at the start of each scene thereafter. I think that might not be enough, but of course it partly depends on the players’ behavior. I might try having the game run through the deck more aggressively, giving players more new cards per scene and having them discard down at the end. That way the desired length of an episode could be measured in terms of how many times you shuffle the deck.
Regardless, I’m going to aim for a playtest next weekend (the 19th for those keeping track). I’ll probably do the thing I was planning on, having the players make representations of their characters using Pinky St. dolls, though at some point I’d like to do an Azumanga Daioh game, and have each player take a plushie of one of the characters (since, weirdo that I am, I have the Azumanga cast twice over in plush form…). If only I could afford these Azumanga Daioh playing cards (the only one currently on eBay is for $70 plus shipping, though it is for six decks). OTOH I do see a Lucky Star deck for $4.75, even if it does look bootleg.
(Add a custom deck of cards with different pictures of Raspberry Heaven’s signature characters to the list of things I’d like to do but probably can’t any time soon).