Inner Circle

Yes-man your way to the top in a blackjack-driven dark comedy of ridiculous proposals, self-serving antics, and just… one… more… card.

A ”beer and pretzels” style RPG of hilarious backstabbing, for any number of players, lasting 30-60 minutes.

Imagine wicked members of the inner circle

Every leader has them. An inner circle of the most trusted lieutenants who provide suggestions and plans. All of them vying to become the despot’s right-hand-man (or woman, or furry creature - depending upon your setting)

In this game you get to play the members of that inner circle in a black comedy push-your-luck game, where you have to make increasingly complex and ridiculous plans to keep ahead of your rivals.

How to play

Nobody plays the despot, they remain off screen. You may address the despot with your plans, but there is never a reply. Everyone starts with 5 credibility (less for a shorter game).

  • You are each secretly dealt a pair of cards. Look at the suits of those cards and use those to narrate a plan - one that promises some combination of affection, wealth, victory and subterfuge to massage the ego of your boss.
  • Taking it in turns, each of you can request additional cards in order to try to get closer to 21; with each new card there is a new suit which has to be added to your plan which might become increasingly baroque.
  • When you have all decided to stick and not add to your plan, the cards are revealed. The person who is closest to 21 is the victor. They retain credibility while the credibility of their competition drains away. Anyone who has bust by getting a score of over 21 loses two credibility.
  • When you have lost all credibility, you are out. You leave the game in a suitably horrible manner which you narrate. Play continues until only one survives.

Settings included


  • Squabbling orcs on a mission for their wizard from The Lord of the Rings
  • Nervous admirals working under a dark lord in Star Wars
  • Bloodthirsty family members in Game of Thrones
  • Aspiring henchmen of a Gotham City Supervillain


  • the senators surrounding emporer Nero
  • the politburo of Joseph Stalin
  • the courtiers of Queen Ravanalova of Madagascar


  • the cabinet of Boris Johnson
  • the white house of Donald Trump
  • the oligarchs supporting Vladimir Putin

Big Business

  • Smarmy “old money” boardmembers in Big Pharma
  • Oily tycoons on the board of Big Energy
  • Slick tech bros on the board of Big Tech

Low Stakes High Drama

  • Haughty professors trying to one-up each other in Academia
  • Spiteful teenagers in High School Cliques
  • Petty wage slaves in Office Politics


  • Ants working to keep their colony alive
  • Ghosts trying to maintain their grip on reality in a haunted house
  • Contestants on a Hell’s Kitchen TV Show

Where can I buy it?