"Founding Fathers"

by Sandy Antunes

The RPG of 1776 America.

You are all the signers of the Declaration of Independence, about to carve out a new republic as you debate over wine at the house of a revolutionary. We recommend you drink while playing this game in order to get in kinship with your character. Purely for roleplaying purposes.

Materials Needed

  1. 3 different colors of cards: red, white, and blue. Players will write on them.
  2. Wine (optional but recommended) and wineglasses (doubly so).


For those who, like this author, don't happen to know the signers, they are, by state (thanks to http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/signers/):

Delaware: George Read, Caesar Rodney, Thomas McKean

Pennsylvania: George Clymer, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Morris, John Morton, Benjamin Rush, George Ross, James Smith, James Wilson, George Taylor

Massachusetts: John Adams, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

New Hampshire: Joshiah Bartlett, Wiliam Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

New York: Lewis Morris, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, William Floyd

Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Virginia: Richard Henry Lee, Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Jefferson, George Wythe, Thomas Nelson, Jr.

North Carolina: William Hooper, John Penn, Joseph Hewes

South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, Thomas Lynch, Jr., Thomas Heyward, Jr.

New Jersey: Abraham Clark, John Hart, Francis Hopkinson, Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon

Connecticut: Samuel Huntington, Roger Sherman, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

Maryland: Charles Carroll, Samuel Chase, Thomas Stone, William Paca

Basic Setup

We use a card system for resolution: red, white, and blue cards. Everyone gets 1 card for each letter in their state's name. You get to choose which color mix you want. Any history buff is welcome to suggest a fixed list according to temperament. Write your character's name on their cards so you can find them when they get mixed up later.

The game consists of a series of actions, initiated at whim by anyone, during which you attempt to secure land, power, peace, prosperity, or a good horse.


All actions require that you Accuse someone of something-- anything you wish to think of-- and state what you expect as a result. This is purely verbal. For example:

       "You are spineless and thus I should have your wife"


       "I should be President"

or even the dreaded

       "It's your turn to buy the wine!"


Your opponent then replies with a card in front of themselves describing their response to your accusation:

       Red = blood, they wish to duel or fight!

       White = peace, they wish to apologize, unite rather than divide, for the good of the revolution.

       Blue = argument, they wish to fiercely debate you on this in public.

This has set the stage.


Now, you both take turns enlisting the opinions of your companions (the other players present). Said companions toss their own card in front of you personally, the choice of which is their opinion on what action you should take, any of the 3 colors. So you're slowly building a 'mini deck' of support and opinion.

You get to choose whether to do what they say (by adding one of the same color cards yourself to your growing stack), or do what your opponent responded with (again adding a card of the appropriate color, and thus ending the debate portion.)

So, each of you, in turn, must designate someone as your trusted companion, and _they_ respond with a card of their choice as being what _you_ must do. You then have to either play:
       a) the same color as your companion, indicating you agree, or
       b) the same color as your opponent, indicating you agree.

If you and your opponent's card's finally match, you now resolve the action... but if they don't match, now _they_ ask a companion for an opinion and choose, then you do, and so on, until eventually you both match (or neither has any playable cards left).


Eventually, either the Accuser and Opponent will throw down matching cards, or run out of playable cards. If there's a match, they RESOLVE. If one has run out of playable cards (either having no cards, or being unable to match either their companion's or their opponent's choice for that round), they PASS OUT from drinking and must discard one of their cards permanently out of shame.

To Resolve, both Accuser and Opponent (remembering what color is currently agreed upon as the field of conflict) gather the cards in front of them. So each has a stack consisting of all earlier advice by their companions plus their own earlier choices. Each shuffles their little mini-deck.

Now, the Opponent and Accuser both turn over the top card of your deck. The result is:       

Both cards match the color of the conflict: Everyone in the group agrees it was a most bold display of spirit, fire, and wisdom, the sort of thing that will make America great! The accusation is forgotten and no one loses face. In fact, both sides may now add a new card of the same color as the duel resolution and add it to their personal stack. You may never have more cards that the number of letters in your full name (spaces included), though.       

Accuser matches but Opponent does not: The accuser gets what they wanted, and the group overtly supports this.       

Opponent matches but Accuser does not: The accuser loses face and must discard one of their own cards permanently.       

Neither card matches: No winner, then the issue is ignored by the group, who have grown bored with this matter and wish to move on. No one gains or loses anything.

If either participant passed out prior to resolution, the group moves on without the accuser gaining what they wanted (but, of course, the one who passed out lost a card permanently due to poor handling of their drink).

Everyone who played cards now gets to collect their cards back (with the exception, of course, of any card permanently lost by the accuser or opponent). The drinking and debate continues.

Summary of Mechanics

The turn sequence is:

  1. Initiator (The Accuser) states an Accusation to their compatriot (now the Opponent) with desired result.
  2. The accused Opponent throws a card stating their response (blood, argue, or peace) The Accuser now asks a _companion_ to throw a card for their opinion, and then choose to either match the companion's choice, or the opponent's choice. In either case, they now have two cards added to their mini-deck here.
  3. The Accuser then asks a _companion_ to throw a card for their opinion, and can either match that card, or what you threw. Again, they gain two cards for their mini-deck.
  4. This continues back and forth until Your and the Accuser's thrown cards match, whereupon you Resolve.
  5. Resolving means each side gathers their mini-deck of played cards, then shuffles and turns over the top one. Either both win, no one wins, the accuser wins and gets what they want, or the opponent wins and the accuser loses face (and 1 card).

Advanced Rules

For those ready to step up to the more hardcore advanced version of this game, here goes. After the debate, you cannot gain a card even if you 'tied' in the Resolution phase if (and only if) the person you were facing is from the same state as you. It's just not proper to bicker 'in family'. State unity and all that.

How to Win

This is an RPG! It's about open-ended freedom, choosing your own destiny, figuring out your own goals! We are beyond such simplistic concepts as simply 'winning' or 'losing'! Just be glad you get to experience a truly pivotal point in history, as if you were there.