Damage[1] is a fictional card game described in the science fiction novel Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks. Like Poker, the game is simple and involves psychology and bluff, but it also has added dimensions.

Each player must bring Lives to the table, these being individuals who are willing to be used as tokens in the game. Each time a player loses a showdown, one of his or her Lives is killed. When all Lives are gone, the player is out of the game.

The most bizarre feature is that all the players are linked into a machine which allows each to project emotions at the others. The object is to make other players under- or overestimate their chances of winning, to make reckless decisions or even induce them to commit suicide. Spectators can tune in to the players' inner turmoil and thoughts, activity which can be addictive and hazardous to sanity.

The game is illegal on almost all civilized worlds. However it attracts players and aficionados, who delight in organizing games in places on the verge of destruction. It also attracts a subculture of people that relish in the emotional effects, similar to a drug culture. In the novel, that place is an unaligned Orbital called Vavatch, which is marked for destruction as part of the ongoing Idiran-Culture War, and is the setting for the 'On the Eve of Destruction' tournament. The venue features equally bizarre, cruel and disturbing sideshows.

Notes and references[]

  1. All information is taken from Banks, Iain M. (1987). Consider Phlebas. Macmillan.