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Daes Dae'mar for Dummies - Lessons 1 & 2


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OOC: this is a bastardisation of Telcia/Espara original "Intro to Daes Dae'mar" class.  Information for the game of chop was taken from the second chapter of Jordan's Shadow Rising book.




Lesson 1: Intro to The Great Game


The Wheel had a cruel sense of humour.


Actually, it could have been nudging from any one of a half-dozen Aes Sedai in the Tower that gave the Mistress of Novices the insane notion of asking Estel bloody Liones to teach a class of Accepted the use of Daes Dae’mar – of course the request had been phrased in such a manner that refusal would incur the wrath of the humoured Aes Sedai.  Hell, it could just be the new Mistress of Novices, Larindhra, but thus far Estel hadn’t managed to cross paths with her; mind you, the woman was Red and it could just be the colour of her Shawl directing attention her way.  More likely though, it was someone else with a keen knowledge of this particular subject and a sarcastic wit which the blundering Blue was intimately familiar with.  Likely this class was meant as a lesson for her as much as for the pupils.


Estel watched the unfortunate Accepted straggle into the classroom in their banded dresses.  Paranoia whispered darkly in her mind, warning her that these deceptively innocent-looking girls had heard the thousand rumours coursing through every hallway of the White Tower – they were here to learn the Great Game after all and how could one play the Game without knowing every bit of possible information?  These were Accepted after all, one step away from their Shawls and the webs of manipulation spun by Aes Sedai.  On second thought, the webs had already begun.  Serena and Carise had attached threads to her while she was still in Whites.  Not that their manipulation had been malicious, as Sirayn’s had been... was; all the same, without Serena Estel might not have chosen the Blue Ajah and she and without her attachment to Carise early on, they never would have formed the, long-defunct, pact.  How many strings had already been tied to these girls?


They sat and looked to her expectantly – Estel felt like a fraud.  She towered over each of them formidably, at six feet she towered over everyone.  Her long midnight blue dress fell elegantly over her thin frame, her hair shone with oil, and pastels accentuated her face.  Physcially she was every inch the Aes Sedai but the serene mask was barely skin-deep; even now she was showing more bitterness than the most severe Aes Sedai would find appropriate.  Hardly the face of a master of Daes Dae’mar and yet here she was teaching the art to Accepted.  Well, if nothing else the girls would learn what not to do.


“I am Estel Sedai of the Blue Ajah.  This is a class about the Great Game, if you’re supposed to be elsewhere, I suggest not showing up next week.”  She paced to the back of the room and shut the door, daring an Accepted to try and leave; there was nothing she enjoyed more than a screaming match.  “While I am sure a thousand Aes Sedai have already explained Daes Dae’mar, I do not necessarily trust your intelligence and for the sake of redundancy shall explain it again.”  If any of her students found her abrasive manner offensive, they didn’t show it.  As if impatient with her own lecture, Estel continued to pace as she spoke.


“The Great Game of Houses refers to the style of politics used in every court in the known world, though the extent to which the Game is played differs from place to place: Cairhien and Tar Valon are known as capitals while the Borderlands and Andor pride themselves for their straightforward politics.  While the Game has no “set rules”, there is a set of guidelines and basic laws that define it.  At its most basic, Daes Dae’mar is the art of achieving one’s goals by whatever means necessary, whether on a social level or any other.  These goals can be as long-term and as large as bringing about the end of a full-scale war to keeping secret the nature of a relationship.


“When in public, every action may have a consequence in the Game; every show of emotion may be perceived as a threat, a challenge, or a sign of weakness.  This is why Aes Sedai refuse to show emotion in public.  There is no way to know who may plan to use the Great Game to manipulate you in some fashion or another.  As Aes Sedai, you are given a social and political station equal to the most influential nobles in every country.  Even if you have no interest in the Game, you will have developed important contacts: nobility, working class, and especially other Aes Sedai.  There isn’t an ambitious noble in any country that wouldn’t jump at an Aes Sedai’s weakness in the hopes of gaining access to her network of connections – there are Aes Sedai who will happily exploit a younger Sister’s weaknesses if she may prove useful.”  Didn’t she know it.


“Even now as Accepted you may be used in a Sister’s scheme.  It would be prudent to begin to evaluate everything around you for its potential either for or against you.  The most difficult aspect of Daes Dae’mar is avoiding becoming so paranoid of others that you misevaluate and act on in incorrect notion that you are being challenged and destroy a relationship with a friend before you realise they had no intention of using you.


“This is why the Tower insists on giving you a thorough background of the Great Game.  Like the Tower Guards who train the young men and women that come to them using the philosophy of The Flame and the Void or The Spring, the Tower teaches its initiates the philosophy of The Three Arts.”  Estel scribbled this on the chalkboard.  “You may have decided to train with the Warders to learn the use of a physical weapon, but as Aes Sedai you will be forced to use Daes Dae’mar for your own means as well as to defend yourself from being used for others’ means. 


“Depending on your location and the people you come in contact with, the stakes in the Game change.  If you “lose”, you may find yourself manipulated into helping a Lord hide an affair from his wife, the Head of the House, or maybe you will be forced to help him usurp the throne; meanwhile, if you had “won” you might have been able to tell his wife of his affair so she might disown him or else avoid a possible civil war.  Perhaps you are supporting a claimant for the throne while another Aes Sedai is supporting his opponent, using the Great Game you might be able to manipulate her into also supporting your claimant while, by the same token, you might find yourself forced to support hers.  Your reputation and even your life may be forfeit should you fall victim to a better player.


“The Three Arts are: Disguise, Misdirection, and Deception.”  She added the three words to the chalkboard.  “Next week we will begin with the Art of Misdirection.  In addition to you notebooks, I would like you to bring money or, lacking it, things of monetary value.”  With a smirk for her pupils’ confusion and curiosity, Estel dismissed the class.



Lesson 2: The Art of Misdirection


The door had barely shut behind the last pupil when Estel began the day’s lecture.  As she had the day before, the Blue Sister paced while speaking.


“As I mentioned in the previous class,  today will be focused on the Art of Misdirection.  This “art” is perhaps the most ambiguous since it can be classified as a form of deception; just as disguise can also be called a form of misdirection and, by extension, deception.  It is true that the three arts bleed into one another, but for the purposes of teaching it is easier to categorise certain aspects of deception into these three distinct categories.


“To misdirect someone is to focus your opponent’s attention on something so they are distracted from your true intentions.  There are a number of ways to accomplish this, the chief of which, used by Aes Sedai, is rumours.  Should a servant or known gossip overhear a conversation about a house’s plot to damage the political standing of a rival, the rival will immediately take action, perhaps creating a civil war where the end result is the end of a tyrant’s reign.  Maybe your intention is on a much smaller scale: the high seat of the house hears the rumour and asks the conveniently visiting Aes Sedai for her advice on the matter.  By telling him you will take care of it, he is indebted to you without the necessity of creating an actual problem.


“For a simple rumour, of little consequence and with few stakes, it is easiest to discover the most prodigious gossip in your audience’s circle of confidants.  Stereotypically, an excellent example is a lady of mediocre standing, and therefore little else to do, will use gossip as a tool to gain herself more friends and increase her standing through them.  However, with some work, the origin of the rumour can be traced back to you.  To avoid this, it is better to remove yourself from the seed of the rumour.  Servants are excellent tools for this, often they wile away their hours gossiping about their employers; it is incredibly stupid to view lower-class as inanimate objects – they often overhear more information than their lieges collect through networks of eyes-and-ears.  Eventually, the rumour will make it to the ears of your target after passing through enough people that no one will remember who began it.  Unfortunately between tellings, the rumour may be changed and thus miss its original purpose.


“It is possible to go to great lengths to make sure the correct information reaches the correct ears – in itself, this becomes an art.


“Another facet of misdirection is one constantly in use by Aes Sedai: facial expression.  Hopefully, sometime in the next few years you will be asked to complete the one hundred weaves all the while maintaining perfect calm during stressful situations.”  Estel wondered if any of the Accepted were paying enough attention to noticed the thinly-veiled bitterness in her voice.  After so long with the weight of a Blue Shawl on her shoulders and all it had taken from her, she cursed the day Sariene Kajira had given it to her.  “Facial expressions are a powerful tool, both the ability to read others’ and the ability to control your own.


“I find the best way to learn anything is through trial and error.”  Light knew if she learned at all it was only through error.  “This is why I asked you to bring money.  How many of you are familiar with the game chop?”  Estel hid a smirk.  There were Aes Sedai who would have her head for encouraging Accepted to gamble – therein lay her attraction to “hands on” teaching.  It was probably self-centered of her to care little for what the students took away from the class but she was already so jaded she didn’t care.


The Blue Sister held up four decks of cards.  “For those of you unfamiliar with the game, there are five suits: flames, cups, rods, coins, and winds.  The highest card in each suit is the ruler.  At the beginning of each round, every player is dealt three cards.  They then place a bet to “buy” their fourth card, if you feel you cannot possibly win, you can stop playing by “stacking” your cards facedown on the table; this is repeated a second time to buy your fifth card – five cards is a full hand.  The players then place bids, either meeting the bid of the player before them or raising the bid.  Betting is finished when every player has folded or met, “seen”, the bid before them.  The remaining players reveal their hands and the highest hand takes the money that was betted, called the “pot”.


“The list of hands from lowest to highest is this:” Estel picked up a chalk and wrote them on the board.


5 of a kind – 5 cards of the same number

Straight flush – five cards with consecutive numbers in the same suit

4 of a kind

Full house – 3 of a kind & a different pair

Flush – five cards of the same suit

Straight – five cards with consecutive numbers

3 of a kind

2 pair – 2 different pairs


High card


“Use misdirection to fool your opponent as to what kind of hand you have.  I expect you all to actually bet.  The hardest lesson in Daes Dae’mar is learning how much to bet and when.”  She split the class, of about twenty, into five groups and watched with a sudden craving for a glass of brandy and the smell of tabac – if not for all the white dresses, they might have been in an upscale tavern.


OOC: You each need two posts (min.250 words) for this lesson.  Decide whether or not your char will succeed in bluffing her opponents over two rounds of chop.

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Meli shuffled into class. She didn`t want to take this class, in any case. It had been one of Larindhra Sedai's "suggestions", which were always orders in a polite disguise. There were better things she could be doing, like studying in the library, not sitting in a class to learn how to make people do as you wish secretly. She had no intentions of leaving the Tower except to study things. She had no need to manipulate.


She hardly payed attention as the Blue went on about the Great Game. When she first came to the Tower, she had seen herself as a Blue. This was, of course, before she discovered ter'angreal and then her decision was quite firm. She had no other option than Brown. But, Browns do seek knowledge and anything learned was always a good thing, so this class might not be as big of a waste as she originally thought.




The next day, she came into class with a slight jingle. She didn`t have any money to bring as Estel Sedai instructed. All she had of value were her bells, so she hadn't much choice. They were special bells. Pure silver and given to her by her father on her Sixteenth birthday. A whole dozen of them. She sat down in her seat and listened as the assignment was explained. She was suddenly very nervous. She hoped they weren't playing for keeps. She was not going to give anyone her bells.


She ended up in the same group as her roommate, Jerinia. A nice girl, but a bit clumsy. Although, it was likely most said the same about herself. She sat down and was dealt her three cards....... (to be continued later)

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Jerinia sighed just before entering the classroom. It wasn't that she wasn't eager to learn more about what Aes Sedai were supposed to be like after they had recieved the shawl, but rather that she wasn't much interested in the Great Game, which boiled down to two people decieving each other as best they could. She preferred honesty herself, but in order to keep the nobles she would have to deal with every once in a while from becoming totally paranoid looking for hidden meanings where there simply were none, Larindhra Sedai had believed it for the best to have her join this class. Between it and washing dishes, this was still the better alternative.


Walking inside, she curtsied at her teacher, whom much to her surprise was the exact same height she was. Her face brightening up in a smile at this unexpected discovery, she walked over to a seat next to the window, and near her roommate, sending her a grin in greeting. Given that she would not be allowed to speak during class, she added a small wave as a way of saying hi before turning her attention to Estel again.


She tried to remember every word of Estel's speech on Daes Dae'mar, though for the love of the Light she couldn't understand why people enjoyed playing it so much. She frowned at the mention of things of value though, her jewelery was kept in Larindhra's office, and even though it had been catalogued and would be returned to her when she would either have been put out of the Tower or recieved her shawl, fact remained that she wouldn't be able to get to it. Nor would she want to, if her hunch was correct.


A week later, she had arrived in class again, holding a small purse with what could best be described as 'odds and ends'. Oh, the small pouch contained money allright, but they were copper pennies for the most part, and it had been the best thing she could do on such short notice. They didn't exactly pay Accepted wages for the work they did. Sitting down opposite to her roommate, she was dealt three cards, and waited to see what would happen next...




...Doesn't really have anything of value, come to think of it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Reactions to the unorthodox object lesson were mixed; some of the girls seemed excited while those of the more serious calibre likely would have preferred straight lectures, scattered amongst these were the few Accepted that hadn’t even realised they’d been given instructions yet.  Sixty years back, Estel probably would have found herself in the last category – life was so much more than academics.  A number of the girls were taking to the card game with fervour, though.  The White Tower considered room, board, and education fair wages for the work they forced Accepted to do, so, the girls had to become rather creative with their bets.  Her dour features cracked for a moment and allowed a smile as she heard one girl raise the betting pool by promising immunity from pranks.  The Blue watched as two girls were left betting, only a small sum of cash in the centre of the table.  “Next prank you pull, I’ll take the blame.”  Damn, if only Elyssa had thought to include this in her own Daes Dae’mar class so many years ago.


Estel had made an entire round of the tables before amusement took over.  The Aes Sedai sat down at a table and reached into her coin purse, placing a copper mark on the table.  “We’ll start small then, shall we ladies?”  They seemed nervous to have an Aes Sedai at the table, most seemed eager enough to show off their skills for the teacher though – not so with her little nemesis.  Estel took the cards and dealt three cards to each of the players.  Nine of cups, two of winds, and four of flames: altogether and incredibly useless hand.  She might pick up a pair or, with a great deal of luck, three of a kind.  Despite the odds, the Blue Sister kept her face blank and as the bid came around to her, put down a silver mark.  The Accepted looked at one another, unable to match the bet.  “Well then, what if I told you I would owe the Accepted a favour?”


OOC: It would amuse me greatly for one of you to call her bluff.  You can also have your Accepted use her favour with Estel in a later RP or even later on in the class.

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Jerinia looked surprised as Estel sat at the table with her and started cutting the deck. One worried glance at Melianna showed that there was a chance she would be losing those bells to someone that wouldn't simply give them back later that night. But fortunately for her roommate, she had made her preparations in advance. Reaching down to her lap, her hands found the smaller pouch of coins she had intended as a reserve.


Before picking up her cards she coughed in her hand, using her free hand to launch the small pouch of coppers under the table against her friend's legs, trying very hard not to look at her as she intently studied her cards. Those knowing the red haired Accepted as well as her roommate would be aware that she hardly ever studied anything that intently. Oh, she had good marks and all, but also one of the longest list of accidents -- and subsequent penances -- out of pretty much anyone in the White Tower, Aes Sedai included.


- "Hmm... I'll match that with a favor then, and raise you twelve Malkieri minted coppers."


She looked at her cards again, a pair of twos and a five. Not the best of hands, far from it, but she did not want to have Melianna risk losing those bells to Estel. Even if that meant owing an Aes Sedai a favor. Though she couldn't keep the emotion off of her face, it should be mentioned that she showed a little too much emotions, flipping through concern (for Melianna) to disappointment (over her cards) to excitement (betting against an Aes Sedai) in the blink of an eye. In itself, she ended up hiding her emotions by being unreadable in a different way, though she was completely oblivious of doing so.




Mood swings yay!

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  • 2 months later...

Estel dealt another round of cards.  The Accepted seemed nervous to play with an Aes Sedai and most had a piled of stacked cards sitting in front of the.  The Blue looked at her new card: the ruler of cups.  She suppressed a grin and added a fistful of Tar Valon silver to the pot, matching the weight of the Accepted’s Malkieri copper and raising the stakes by a single silver piece.  It wasn’t their money that interested her, it was the favour; the Blue was painfully aware of just how important those “favours” could be.


Only one Accepted matched her bet and raised the stakes again.  Estel nodded her head but refrained from smiling.  The girl had nerve and from what she’d heard, little Jerinia was setting out to beat her record of “most penances served”.


The Blue handed the woman another card and took one for herself: nine of flames, a decent pair and high card, not a terrible hand but certainly one that could be beaten.  Estel matched the Accepted’s last bet and laid her cards on the table.  “Pair of nines backed by a ruler.”  Jerinia laid out a pair of fives; here, the Aes Sedai allowed herself a grin.  “It seems you be owe me a favour.”  After scooping her winnings off the table, she stood and announced: “As soon as your games are finished, you are dismissed.  See you next week.”


ooc: next class will be up later today.  Tig, feel free to tack on your last reply when you get back from your LoA

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