Nine-Holes2nd Item, That he shall not suffer any playing at Cards, Tables, Dice, Bowls, Nine-holes, or any other unlawful Game, or any Disorder, or Outrage in his House, Orchard, Garden, or Back-side, but shall keep good Order and Rule in his House.
A common drinking and betting diversion played across Tamriel. The game is especially popular among legionnaires and guardsmen. The game is played on a peg board with 3X3 holes, though a simple grid drawn on paper or wood is also used. Imperials traditionally play with red and white pieces, though it is often played with any object that comes to hand - coins, pebbles, etc.
Two players, each with three pieces enter a piece one at a time into one of the holes, during alternate turns of play. Each player is attempting to make a horizontal or vertical row before the other player does this. When all the pieces have been entered, the game continues, and during alternative turns, a player can transfer one of their pieces to any vacant hole until a row of three is made.
Dice are said to be inspired by Nordic "throwing bones", knuckles of defeated enemies (animal or human) which were used to predict to outcome of battles. The Bosmer developed a similar idea independently, although bosmer-style dice are rarely seen outside of the Elven lands. Modern dice were a Colovian development, spread across Tamriel by Legion soldiers. Most dice games require little more than two or three dice and a cup or bowl of some kind. Common dice are made of bone, though some expensive sets are fashioned from mammoth ivory, ebony, or other exotic materials. Imperial sets sometimes use Red diamond pips as decoration. A simplified design with red and white sides is a popular fetish-object in the Nibenay, functioning much like a coin toss.
A simple, yet very popular traditional Heartlands game using two dice. A dealer shakes the dice in a cup and places it overturned on the ground. Players then make bets on wether the throw will be odd or even. Players either bet against each other or against the dealer. Despite its simplicity, Tir has a notorious reputation: it is associated with the criminal cult/gang circuit of the lower City, many of whom don't even acknowledge the authority of the Thieves Guild.
A more respectable, sedate game, often played in aristocratic circles. Tesserit, especially the "Palatial" variations hailing from the time of Emperor Antiochus, is the most common dice game in respectable gambling palaces such as the Abecette in Anvil or the Gilt Tower in the Imperial City. The game is played with three dice. Two or more players establish a bet, whereupon each player must roll the dice until a recognized combination comes up. The combinations are:
- Emperor's Hand: 4-5-6, the highest possible roll and an automatic win.
- Hale Stars: three of the same number. A higher number (5-5-5) beats a lower number (3-3-3). Any Hale Star beats a Hermit.
- Hermit Point: a pair with another number establishes the single number as a hermit, i.e. 2-2-6 is a Hermit of six. Higher Hermits beat lower ones.
- False King: 1-2-3 is the lowest possible roll, an automatic loss.
Any other throw is meaningless and must be rerolled.
A popular new game of orcish origin. The story goes that the game was invented by orcish legionnaires to try and swindle their fellow troopers out of their drinks rations. The game is played with two dice and a cup. A player must throw the dice in the cup, then specify a number between 5 and 9.
- If the player throws his chosen number, they win.
- If the player throws a 2 or a 3, they lose, and the dice pass to their left.
- If the player throws an 11 or 12, the result depends on their chosen number according to a set of complicated custom rules.
- If the player throws any other number, they must throw again (up to three times).
While four-suited decks do exist in High Rock and Skyrim, most Imperials favor the Heartlands-style deck with eight suits, named after the Divines (Hours, Circles, Knots, Triangles, Lilies, Birds, Hammers, Cups). Each suit has seven cards, making a deck of 56 cards. An alternate version, known as an Imperator deck, adds the suit of Dragons: this propagandist invention from the reign of Pelagius I requires special rules to work and is somewhat controversial in gambling circles. Many gambling halls feature separate "Imperator Tables" with higher stakes, since games with the extra deck are often imbalanced and unpredictable.
More of a diversion (or scam) than an actual game, Tenet-readers can sometimes be encountered in gambling halls or taverns. These fortune-tellers claim that reading the cards gives them remote insight into the workings of the Elder Scrolls and the Hora, a Nibenese fortune-deity. Some claim the game was invented by Khajiiti merchant-thieves. Despite this, Tenet is quite popular across Cyrodiil, as the game can also be played as a solitary diversion. Many Nibenese merchants and magistrates rely on Tenet-reading to make heir decisions.
A popular card game of Colovian (disputed to be either Chorrol or Skingrad) origin. It is usually played by two players, but three or four are also possible. Players must try to outmatch each other by consecutively placing higher-value cards on a pile until one of them is played out. Custom rules define what kind of card can be played on top of another, which cards are of higher value, and the (often folkloric) significance of certain combinations.
Imperial board designs usually consist of straight and diagonal lines with pawns placed on the intersections. Commoners draw the simple pattern on wooden boards or even in the dust for an afternoon's distraction, while the wealthy can afford exquisitely decorated boards in hardwood, mother-of-pearl, and ebony. A Nibenese legend claims that the first game board was invented in the time of Emperor Gorieus. Its creator, Saint Neda, is a minor patron of misfortunes.
The original abstract strategy board game, played throughout Cyrodiil. Played on the Kirat board with a number of pawns which fill up almost every possible position on the board. Pieces can move to adjacent empty places, and can jump enemy pieces to remove them from the game. Kirat is one of the oldest games in Imperial history, and its flow and lore are often used as a metaphor in politics, trade, and love.
Also known as the Tiger Game. Traditionally played in the southern Nibenay, especially in the Mir. One player controls three or four red Tiger pawns, while the other controls a variable number of white pawns. The tigers can catch the pawns, removing them from the game, while the pawns can block in and surround the tigers, preventing them from moving. The curious imbalance and great number of custom rules and variations make it a difficult game to master. Henothan is rarely played outside of the Nibenay, and some religious authorities consider it morally unsound.
While not technically games of chance, betting on fights is commonplace entertainment in both lower-class and upper-class venues. Rat pits are a common sight in the basements of harbor dives, cheap taverns, and Thieves Guild hideouts. The rearing and sponsoring of fighting rats is a lucrative business, while corruption and sabotage is predictably common. Even more lucrative is the pit fighting circuit, a natural companion to the Imperial institution of arena fighting. Great cities such as Kvatch and the Imperial City have fully functional arenas, and many places host smaller amphitheaters and (legal or illegal) fight pits. Betting on the outcome of these fights is only natural - in fact, it is their primary income. The Empire enforces a high tax on the practice, leading many fighting pits to go underground - sometimes employing dangerous animals and unwilling participants to spice up the game.