A Rook's Edge Card Game
Rook's Edge design by Tony Pi and David Dalgleish © 1999
Milieu based on Dave Van Domelen's Academy of Super-Heroes world
Warden created by Matt Rossi III, S.T.R.A.F.E. created by Marc Singer,
Conclave of Super-Villains created by Tony Pi.
Web version of the game edited by Dave Van Domelen

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   January, 2024. Twenty-six years ago, half the world population was decimated by heathen gods, their Ragnarok stopped only by the brave self-sacrifice of all paranormal talents on Earth. The world is slowly recovering from the ashes of this conflagration as a new generation of heroes and villains come into their own.

   But New York City today is a shadow of its former glory. Paranormal gangs - Paragangs - overrun Manhattan, drawn to the ghost city by the promise of excitement. They war constantly over turf, making it impossible to revitalize the metropolis. Many new factions also covet the naked city.

   All that stands in the way of total anarchy is one, lone vigilante: the Warden, an eyeless martial artist who commands the senses of others. The Paragangs live in constant fear of him.

   But you have your own plans for Manhattan. It is only a matter of time before the slow burn ends and tempers flare into a bonfire that will consume the your utopia can rise like a phoenix from the flames.

   Slow Burn is a fast-paced 2-deck card game based on the Rook's Edge card game system. Players take the roles of Masterminds trying to gain dominance in a dystopian Manhattan, 2024, amid super-powered Paragang warfare. All that stands between you and total control may be a lone vigilante named Warden.... Advanced Rules (called Bonfire) are included at the end.


2.1 Number of Players:   2-4

2.2 Equipment

2.3 Playing Time:   5-20 minutes.

2.4 Mastermind

   Players begin by choosing a different Mastermind, each. The Mastermind is associated with a specific Suit. Each intends to manipulate the factions into an alliance that benefits their own plans.


Spades    Rex Umbrae, Khadamite genetic superman. Intends to turn New York City into a haven of crime and port-of-call for unscrupulous alien traders.
Hearts    Colonel Richard Hendrick, co-leader of S.T.R.A.F.E. Intends to establish peace in NYC for the N.A.C. government.
Diamonds    The Eye of Horus, a.k.a. Devlin Marx, head of a secret bounty hunter group. Intends to contain the rampant paranormal populace.
Clubs    Mr. Strings, psychic puppeteer with a vendetta against Paragangs. He/she intends to establish peace by any means necessary.

2.5 Paras and Warden

   Each Player receives 3 Paras initially. Paras are recruited and sacrificed as pawns in the Paragang war. During Game Set-Up, no one controls Warden.

2.6 'Hoods

   Each Player receives two initial 'Hoods, dealt randomly. Place 'Hoods in your Turf face-up. A Player may have five 'Hoods at most; others are discarded. Discarded 'Hoods always go to the bottom of the 'Hoods Deck.

Card 'Hood Faction
Central Park
West Side
Little Italy
World Trade Center
Lower East Side
West Village
5th Avenue
East Village
The Cloisters
Business District
Upper East Side
Conclave of Super-Villains, first supervillains of the era
Snow Leopards, Bathory's lycanthropic paragang
Cyber-Nostra, Sister Christian's cybernetic Mafiosi
Boys of Pain, Harlem paragang
MetaPsych, government psionics agency
New York Macoute, Dr. Jacky's voodoo posse
Cyanide Blues, Cockatrice's paragang
Fifth Ave. Snakeaters, Mountain's paragang
S.T.R.A.F.E., secret government agency
The Onyx Eye Brotherhood, Chinese tong
Peregryn of the Academy of Super-Heroes, mage
N.Y.P.D., to serve and protect
Anchors, bounty hunters that suppress paranormal powers
Burnout, fire-loving femme fatale with a vendetta

2.7 Factions

    Players receive one Faction to start. Players may hold at most 4 Factions in their Hand. While Factions are kept secret, the number of Factions in a Hand is not. Extra Factions are discarded into The Tombs (incarceration). Always keep the last Faction played as top card of The Tombs.

2.8 Victory Conditions

    The first Player with a Flush or Straight in his Turf at the end of his Turn wins, symbolizing that he has created an invincible alliance that leads to Truce, his way. A Straight Flush or Royal Flush also wins. No other combinations constitute a win. For longer games, choose Straight Flush as victory conditions. A Hierarchy of poker hands is given below.

Royal Flush (best)
Straight Flush
4 of a Kind
Full House
3 of a Kind
Two Pairs
One Pair
High Card (weakest)


A Round consists of:
  1. Warden Phase
  2. Initiatives
  3. Turns
    • a. Covert Action
    • b. Overt Action
3.1 Warden Phase

   Each Player receives a Para during this Phase.

    The Warden now goes to the Player with the highest current Paras total. If there is a tie, Warden remains with the Player who last owned it. Warden allows the Player to Spy or Shuffle at any time, even interrupting other Player's Turns, by sacrificing one Para per Action taken.

    Any Players with Guarded 'Hoods must turn at least one back into Unguarded.

3.2 Initiatives

    Turfs are used to determine the order that Players take their Rounds, with highest poker hand showing going first. In case of ties, use the following hierarchy:

Turfs > Paras > Warden > Cut High Card (Faction Deck)

3.3 Turns

    Players takes Turns according to the Initiatives calculated, until all Players have gone.

3.4 Gang War

    The top card of the Faction Deck determines the outcome of Gang War.

    The Defender may choose to sacrifice one Para to Shuffle the Faction Deck before the top card is turned over.

    Turn over the top card of the Faction Deck. This is the Decider. Match the card Rank with Unguarded 'Hoods in both Attacker and Defender Turfs. After War, return the Decider to the bottom of the Fortune Deck.


    Instead of standard Overt Actions, the Player may activate (play) as many Factions as he desires. Sacrifice a Para to activate each Faction, unless the Suit is your Mastermind's (i.e., free). A Mastermind's free control over their Suit represents a Player having found an irresistible bait....
    Activated Factions go into the Tombs.

4.1 Annex

    To Annex, pick a suit or a rank then deal face-up from the 'Hoods Deck, until a Joker appears (One hood is Lost, as per Expand above), or the named Suit or Rank. If no Joker appears, the Player adds the named 'Hood to his Turf. Shuffle the 'Hoods Deck. So, for example, if given the choice of Annex by suit, you could pick Spades, then deal until you get either a Joker or a Spade. If your Mastermind is Spades, then you can do this for free as your action.

4.2 Special Cards

    Anchors (2s) and Burnout (Jokers) are immune to other Factions (esp. 10,5,4,2), and are the only Factions playable at any time, with no Para cost. 2s cannot negate another 2 or Jokers.

4.3 Faction Powers

    If a power depends on the number of 'Hoods you control, it will refer to that number as H. If a faction mentions N in it, then you have to spend N Paras in addition to the one spent to activate the card in order to get the effect. So, if a faction lets you Guard N 'Hoods, you want to Guard 3 'Hoods and the suit doesn't match your Mastermind, then it costs you 4 Paras.

A CSV Annex a 'Hood by Suit. "The CSV tends to force their way into a 'Hood by sheer force."
K Snow Leopards Choose Suit. Factions of that Suit are free until end of Turn. "Lycanthropy spreads to members of other Factions."
Q Cyber-Nostra Add H Paras. "Posergangs like the Rust Brothers are always eager to serve the Machine."
J Boys of Pain Annex a 'Hood by Rank. "Brute force take-over of a 'Hood. Less raw power than the CSV, but more warm bodies."
10 MetaPsych Place a Faction from The Tombs on top of the Faction Deck. "They know what you're going to do before you do."
9 New York Macoute Take all Factions from foe; return an equal number of Factions (always returning 2s), not necessarily the same ones. "Technoloas let the Macoute make others work for them."
8 Cyanide Blues Demand H Paras total from any combination of foes. "Extortion is Cockatrice's second best weapon - her gaze turns flesh to ice."
7 5th Ave Snakeaters Draw H new Factions. If this brings you over 4 Factions, discard until you have 4. "No matter how often Warden beats them down, there's always more."
6 S.T.R.A.F.E. Guard N 'Hoods (yours) or Unguard N 'Hoods (foes'). "Trained in all manners of defense and espionage, S.T.R.A.F.E. stands for Superhuman Tactical Resources and Affiliated-Field Experts."
5 Onyx Eye Place any Faction from The Tombs into Hand. "The Onyx Eye Tong can 'vanish' people, even from the Tombs."
4 Peregryn Duplicate the effect of the last Faction played, paying any costs yourself (likewise, H now is your value). "His magic, though mostly elemental, can bend all Five Laws of Reality."
3 N.Y.P.D. Summon Warden. You now control Warden. "The NYPD signals Warden with a high-frequency alarm."
2 Anchors Nullify a Faction power (except 2s and Jokers) that has been just been played. Free, may be used at any time, not just on your action. "Anchor bounty hunters nullify any Paranormal power. Eyes of Horus."
Joker Burnout Shuffle The Tombs into Faction Deck, any time. Free. "Sometimes, Burnout kills all the scum in the Tombs."


    Questions and comments? Email Tony Pi (, or David Dalgleish ( Many thanks to Dave Van Domelen, Matt Rossi III, and Marc Singer.

A Rook's Edge Milieu Variant based on Dave Van Domelen's Academy of Super-Heroes world
design by Tony Pi & David Dalgleish © 1999

Advanced Rules: Warden's Nemesis/Ally

    During the Warden Phase, the Player who controls Warden must choose a Nemesis/Ally by placing Warden on an Unguarded 'Hood in his Turf, on the 'Hoods Deck, the Faction Deck, or The Tombs. The Nemesis or Ally activated (powers below) affects all Players as long as it is in effect. A Nemesis/Ally is immediately deactivated (and not restored until the next Warden Phase), if you:

  • Raid the 'Hood with Warden on it and win. Take Warden off your new 'Hood and return him to the center; he helps you raid the 'Hood.
  • Guard or Lose the 'Hood with Warden on it. Return Warden to the center.
  • A new Player summons Warden, either by having the most Paras or by using the NYPD Faction. Note, summoning Warden is the only way to remove him from the Tombs or any of the decks.
    When placed on a Deck or The Tombs, the Player may still access the powers of Warden. Regardless of where Warden is placed, however, the chosen power lasts for the entire tenure of Warden, and cannot be switched by the Player. If the deactivation of a Nemesis/Ally leaves you with too many cards of a specific type, immediately discard until you are at the correct maximum.

A Labyrinthe (CSV) May hold a maximum of six 'Hoods. "The rogue mage who bends time and space."
K Bathory (Snow Leopards) You may play Factions of the same color as your Mastermind for free. "Feline, feral beauty who creates other lycanthropes."
Q Sister Christian (Cyber-Nostra) Gain an extra Para in the Warden Phase. "All hail the Machine! She has many fools for followers."
J Dr. Jacky (Boys of Pain/Macoute) Take an extra Expand at the end of your Overt Action. "The witch doctor is wise and wicked in his ways."
10 Andrea Roguelin (MetaPsych) Take an extra Spy at the end of your Covert Action. "Telepath; head of MetaPsych's Manhattan branch."
9 Saturday (New York Macoute) Take an extra Shuffle at the end of your Covert Action. "A member of the Guede, an assassin whose mere presence makes men tremble."
8 Cockatrice (Cyanide Blues) Take an extra Recruit at the end of your Overt Action. "She of the cold, killing stare...unwise to refuse her anything."
7 Mountain (5th Ave Snakeaters) Take an extra Draw at the end of your Covert Action. "He draws his strength from the very power of the earth in the rock of Manhattan."
6 Dan "Grind" Tracey (S.T.R.A.F.E.) Make an extra Raid at the end of your Overt Action. "The Leader of STRAFE, and unerring. His power is to be perfect."
5 Varru'Ke (Onyx Eye) You must discard a Faction during the Warden Phase. "Her quiet assassins remove enemies at her command."
4 Caryatid (CSV) Attacker turns over two cards as Deciders and then picks one. "Twin sister to Labyrinthe, she is a spirit mage with great potential, but unrefined power."
3 Captain Wu (N.Y.P.D.) You may hold a Maximum of five Factions. "He has learned to cooperate with Warden, albeit grudgingly."
2 Rebus (CSV) No Factions may be played. "A brilliant psychotic puzzlemaker, he is also a powerful Anchor and skilled martial artist."
'Hoods Deck Wergild (Revenant Golem) No Expand actions are allowed. "A spirit sent to destroy Warden, it now animates objects to punish all who kill."
Factions Deck General Kasca (Santari) You may not Draw Factions. "An alien nobleman who is recruiting agents for his own vendetta."
The Tombs Scry (Eye of Horus) No Factions may leave the Tombs. "A mercenary telepath working for the Eye of Horus, she was once a paraganger who incurred Cockatrice's wrath."

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