A few words on the history of Diamondback and the social implications of the different variations.

Karet, or Dealer's Diamondback was the variation preferred in the Upper City of Iest, Lower Feldia and other major population centers around the time of Cerebus. It was essentially a lower middle class game. Having evolved from being the hub of the Estaricon continent for a thousand years during the Black Tower Empire to the center of commerce and theology that it is in CEREBUS, the city's taverns were a gathering place for upwardly mobile merchants, traders and businessmen.

Cerebus' musings in Swords #1 and the equating of success at cards with masculinity applies as much to Iest as it does to upper feldia. In Iest, Diamondback is viewed as a test of investment and manipulation skills by the business community. Playing diamondback with a potential client or investor propelled many a cardsharp into the heady world of high finance. An "upper class" decorative-style Diamondback deck was a tool of trade.

The game begins with a draw for high card. It was considered " good breeding" for an obvious inferior (employee, younger relative, lower ranking officer, etc.) to allow an obvious superior (employer, older relative, ranking officer, etc.) to deal first,



no matter who drew the high card. Between equals, allowing the other to deal first was an insult of the highest order. It paid to know your status relative to your opponent before the game began.

Step one involved an ante of varying size. For the common foot soldier it was most often "quarbet" – or a quarter of a copper bit wager. In the taverns of Lower Feldia, however, the minimum stake would usually be "tebet" – or a ten copper bit wager. As this would constitute a week's wages for the average foot-soldier, it becomes clear how "tebet" came to be known as the "Rich Man's Folly".

The act of doubling the initial wager was also a peculiarity of the emerging urban centres, reflecting the concentration of currency in the densley-populated capitals of the southern city states. The more money available in a city, the more frenzied the betting in its lower and upper-middle class taverns. In Swords #1, Cerebus is not betting copper bits, but gold pieces!

Dealer's Diamondback gets its name from the Iestan preoccupation with control, influence and power (doubtless a manifestation of the struggle between religion and business that is the very essence of the Iestan society). The dealer very much controls the tempo and intensity of the game with a minimum of effort.

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