Ludovician deck

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Ludovician deck
Designer Quietly Confident
Date 25/07/2007
Players 3+
This deck has not been categorised.
To play Dvorak: Draw five cards each and leave the rest as a draw pile. On your turn, draw a card from the draw pile and play one Thing and/or one Action. (See the full rules.)
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This deck is locked. Further cards should not be added - leave feedback on the talk page.

This is a deck based on the book "The Raw Shark Texts"[1] by Steven Hall, and featuring book's creepy Ludovician Memory Shark. The special feature of this deck are the Conceptual Fish, especially the Ludovician, which are things that operate by their own rules and can either be a boon or huge problem, depending on the rules currently in play. It contains some things that are elements from the novel but should not be considered spoilers. You don't need to have read the book before playing the game, and if it helps, rename the Ludovician to a Snark or a Beast or something to make it easier to conceptualize.

At first glance, there seems to be a lot of rules. Most of these are just to govern the fish behavior, the game is really quite simple, far more simple than the Timecube deck. For the safest possible gaming, please put one dictaphone at each corner of the playing surface.

Playing the Game

First things first, stay calm.


This game uses three decks, the Standard deck down below with the black Disorder cards seperated, and an additional Blank Card deck, which can also be just strips of notebook paper, pages of a legal pad, or whatever you choose. The Standard deck covers the basic rules of the game. The Blank Card deck governs Concepts, which are the reality-altering stuff responsible for Conceptual Sharks in the first place.

Concept Deck

Like normal Creative Dvorak games, these cards can be anything, and are written mid-play. Within Ludovician, these are called Concepts, and are different from real Things and Actions. They are Conceptual Things and Conceptual Actions. Aside from a few special rules pertaining to Concepts, they play the same way, and add extra flavor to the game. That's all!

The only other thing you need to know is how to make the Ludovician behave. Like any angry monster, it wants to eat someone, and it doesn't care who. It does have a pattern though, and the rules below detail how to model that behavior. No Concepts can alter the Ludovician's behavior though. Aside from that, knock yourself out. And stay out of the water.

Winning the Game

The normal way to win is by collecting Five Memories or Five Fragments. You can also play a "The Great Dream Fish" and win the next time the Ludovician attacks you. You can also win Nomically.

Memories are easy to collect, but also easy to destroy, and having the most makes you a target for many special cards.

Fragments are difficult to collect, but much easier to protect from destruction.

If you find "The Great Dream Fish" and play it, be careful of other players attempting to destroy it before you can force the Ludovician to enter play on you.

Cryptozoology of Purely Conceptual Sharks

The following Special Cards, such as Conceputal Fish, Ludovician and Dead Space cards, have their own behaviors which are subject to the rules in play.

The Ludovician

The Ludovician is a Conceptual Shark that tracks prey through the streams of Human thought and feeds upon Human memories, causing mental illness and death. It is always played at the beginning of the game, but begins Face Down in the center of the table and is considered inert. There are several cards that directly effect the Ludovician's behavior, and Concepts can be used to change the rules of the game in such a manner that it turns on your foes.

The Ludovician is a predator, and while it is active, it aggressively seeks out humans to devour memories from. When a card dictates the Ludovician take an Action or be played onto a Memory, it becomes active, and follows the Feeding Habits as detailed below. When the Ludovician leaves play, return it to the center and turn it face down again.

Feeding Habits of a Conceptual Shark

A short set of basic behaviors define the way the Ludovician behaves once it has entered play. The Owner is the player in whose hand or Things pile the Ludovician currently resides. The Ludovician's action takes place at the end of the Owner's turn, giving them some time to attempt to shake it loose. When you are finished, or pass, the Ludovician performs one of these actions, listed from first to last in order of priority.

1: IF Owner has a Thing in play, THEN discard one Thing of your choice. Or,

2: IF Owner has a Memory in play, THEN discard one Memory of your choice. Or,

3: IF Owner has a Disassocative Disorder in play, THEN pass Ludovician card Clockwise to next player. Or,

4: IF Owner has no Memories in play, THEN draw a Disassociative Disorder. Or,

5: IF Ludovician can take no action THEN it leaves play and goes inert.

Thought Streams

As mentioned earlier, cards have numbers on them showing their total 'Thought' rating, or the degree to which playing such a card opens a stream of thought for it to attack you through. The higher the total number of Thought for that turn, the more attractive a target you become. A card must be in play for it to count towards your total. Thought generated from Actions fade after one turn, but not before the Ludovician can take notice. Some actions, such as playing a Conceptual Fish card, cause no Thought increase.

Some cards have a Negative Thought listed, which masks your current Thought rating equal to that number. A Negative or Zero Thought rating does not make you immune to the Ludovician's predation if your foes coax it, but it will make you far less likely to be naturally attacked.

Disassociative Disorders

The symptoms of a Ludovician feeding survivor are clinical mental illness relating to memory loss and trauma known as Disassociative Disorders. They are represented as Cards that consume a space of your hand and provide no value whatsoever. If you are fed upon many times, your hand will fill with Dead Spaces and other Disorders and you will be eliminated. Playing a Disorder card will remove it, but only if you satisfy the specific situations and pay the heavy cost. This is intended to replace an artificial hitpoint value and allow for strategic play.

Fish, Disorders, Things, Memories, and Actions

There's quite a few card types. For reference, everything besides the Disorder cards in black go into the Standard Deck pile. The Concept deck is just blank cards, or any other paper. The Disorder Deck pile is full of copies of the Disorder cards, and nothing but. You may need to make several copies of them to have enough, though it is generally advisable not to make it a habit of playing while highly Disordered.

Card List

Conceptual Shark
Force a player to discard two Memory cards from play. Draw Disorder cards equal to any shortfall.
...the Cognicharius family, a species of predatory, purely conceptual fish. It eats memories and is the biggest and most aggressive of the conceptual animals.
Conceptual Fish
Play onto a Thing - Stop the owning player's next Action. After, it enters that player's hand. a primitive conceptual fish. It lives inside humans and feeds on their ability to think quickly; parasite of a kind that ensures its host is quiet and well-behaved. Causes nausea.
Conceptual Fish
Action - Remove one Conceptual Thing.
...dangerous in large schools, deconstructive pihrana attack human ideas, and chip away at meanings and definitions. A once obvious truth can become confused, stripped of all relevence or objectivity.
Conceptual Fish
Remove one conceptual fish. Discard both cards.
...small conceptual sharks known as 'Shoal Queens,' they are powerful of conceptual predators, and prey nearly exclusively on other conceptual fish.
Conceptual Fish
Play onto a Thing - Increase visibility of Thing by two. Unaffected by all but specific Fry removal cards.
...are little thought fishes that like to pick at commas and more old-fashioned letters. Aren’t big fans of the note Middle C.
Dissociative Disorder
Action - If Amnesia is discarded, discard all your Memories and Concepts.
...formerly Psychogenic Amnesia, is a pervasive loss of significant personal information. This disorder is characterized by a blocking out of critical personal information. Dissociative amnesia does not result from other medical trauma, such as a blow to the head....
Dissociative Disorder
Thing - If Fugue is Discarded, discard all Memories and Concepts. When Fugue enters play, discard all your Things. Allows for Un-Space Sanctuary to be played. a rare disorder. An individual with dissociative fugue suddenly and unexpectedly takes physical leave of his surroundings and sets off on a journey of some kind...
Dissociative Disorder
Memory - If Identity is Discarded, discard all Concepts. When Identity enters play, discard all your Memories.
...a mental condition whereby a single individual evidences two or more distinct identities or personalities, each with its own pattern of perceiving...
Dissociative Disorder
Rule - If Depersonalization is Discarded, the Ludovician attacks player. While Depersonalization is in play, you cannot create or maintain Concepts and other's cannot effect you.
...periods of detachment from self or surrounding which may be experienced as unreal, while retaining awareness that this is only a feeling and not a reality....
Un-Space Sanctuary
Play onto a Thing - You may only play Un-Space onto Fugue.
Un-Space is the greatest refuge from conceptual life. It is the empty abandoned area of the world. The corridors behind the shops in malls, storeroomes, dark tunnels, passageways, fire escapes, stairwells, elevators, old boarded up houses.
Dictaphone Loop
Discard at any time to block Ludovician for one turn. You may only have one Dictaphone Loop running at any time.
The most effective conceptual camouflage is the non-divergent conceptual loop, played back through four dicataphones.
Circular Pile of Books
Play one Thing onto Circular Pile of Books to reduce both visibilities to zero.
Fiction or Non-Fiction work equally as well. Be sure not to open any live texts outside of a Circular Pile of Books.
Other People's Post
Can be discarded into another player's Things.
Letters from people you don't know, ideally addressed to other people you don't know, and left unopened. A light masking defense, inadequate at close range.
Alternate Identity
Discard to reduce one Action's visibility to zero.
Mimicing another person's thoughts, responses, jokes and prejudices allows you to hide yourself in the mind of another person. While only of temporary good, it is wise to have several alternate identities.
Letter Bomb
Discard at any time to remove or block the playing of Luxophage, Serrasalmerrida or Panophageus. Discard both cards.
A literal weapon as well as conceptual camouflage, a letter bomb is an explosive wrapped in iron typeface and old newsprint.
Increase your total hand size by one.
"I wanted to say, 'No really,' and explain how Ian really wasn't a getting-to-know-you type of cat or even a casual-hello type of cat, more a sort of whirlwind made out of blades."
The Lightbulb Fragment
Any player with five different Fragments wins the game.
The Dust Fragment
Any player with five different Fragments wins the game.
The Aquarium Fragment
Any player with five different Fragments wins the game.
The Envelope Fragment
Any player with five different Fragments wins the game.
The Shadow Fragment
Any player with five different Fragments wins the game.
Book of Unusual Fishes
When the Book of Unusual Fishes enters play, discard the Great Dream Fish.
The Great Dream Fish
Any player to be eliminated by the Ludovician wins the game.
Myth: Ancient Native Americans believed the Ludovician to be a great dream fish, and that all of the dreams, memories, events and identities of the people consumed would live on forever as part of it.
Middle C
Remove all Fry from play.


One of the cleverest things to do is convert the ruleset to something your friends might know better. Cthulhu, for example, works well. Change the Ludovician to an Elder Horror, memories to Dark Knowledge, and try to avoid encountering evil enough times to go insane and lose the game. Any sort of Survival Horror game works, even a Zombie Horde game. Use the Things I've provided, but rename them to Flaming Barricades or Moats and try to hold out against the Zombie hordes while steering your cross-town rivals into them.

You can also play this, or any Conversion of the game teamplay if you want. Use your cards to save friends from evil, and work together to deflect the horrors back at your opponents. Change Memories into 'Survivors' or 'Soldiers' or even 'Bullets' if you want.