Wednesday 25 November 2020

d100 Chess Scenarios

So like everybody in the world I'm trying to play Chess again.

I've done this every six months or so for the last decade, and the pattern generally goes like this:

  • I'm in a pub or waiting room or ferry crossing with my partner and there's a chess board. We play it and have fun. She beats me, but she used to play at school, so I'm just glad if I can make it a challenge for her.
  • "I enjoy games. Chess is like... the game. I should be all over this."
  • Play some online Chess and lose by blundering away my Queen to an attack I didn't see because I'm not great at spotting things.
  • Go and read up on principles, methods to avoid blundering.. Decide to really concentrate this time. I refuse to learn openings or memorise sequences.
  • Play some more online, or maybe even just a low-level computer this time. Maybe I win as much as I lose, but only when it feels like the other player makes a huge mistake.
  • Try some "creative" play thinking I'm a swashbuckling maverick, getting thrashed in return. 
  • Abandon the cause until the next time we're in that pub or waiting room or ferry crossing again. 
BUT this time we're in lockdown, so I naturally have a little more time to be able to sneak in a game each day. I think the regular practice really helps. 

Maybe this is the time I break the cycle... I'm still giving away stupid pieces, but it's happening later into the game, so I feel more like I've been outplayed and less like I've just thrown it away myself. 

So I'm sticking with it for a bit longer. 

Chess Variants are fun too, but I wanted to see if I could create a list of Scenarios that maintain the fundamentals of standard chess but add a single twist to the game, ideally not requiring any additional pieces or more than a single rules change. 

There are already a million chess variants out there, so full disclosure that this list is going to be stealing from them liberally and even the ideas I'm pulling out of my own head are sure to have discussed somewhere else before now. The d100 format is by design, as the intent is that you use a different scenario for each match, so that you're always exploring something new based around that existing core.

Unless noted, all existing rules of Chess apply to these scenarios, including but not limited to:
  • Put your opponent in checkmate to win.
  • You cannot end your turn with yourself in check.
  • Stalemate results in a draw. 
In terms of balance... ha! They're more a set of experiments to try out, and I suspect over half of them are fundamentally broken if you dig into them too deeply. I'd advise playing with them in a casual environment. 

This seems to be not entirely consistent, so for the purposes of these rules:
Adjacent: In a neighbouring square in any orthogonal or diagonal direction. 
Centre Four Squares: D4, D5, E4, and E5. 
Centre Line: The line between ranks D and E. 
Minor Piece: Bishops and Knights.
Major Piece: Queens and Rooks.
Piece: Any of the 6 types of piece.
Protected: A piece occupying a square threatened by one of their own pieces. 
Threatened: A piece is threatened by a piece that is in a position to capture them on their next turn. 

Roll d100
  1. Warrior Queen: Queens can also move like a Knight.
  2. Archbishops: Bishops can also move like a King.
  3. Cataphracts: Knights can also move like a Rook.
  4. Watchtowers: Rooks can also capture like a Pawn.
  5. Sentries: Pawns can also capture like a King.
  6. Excalibur: Kings can Capture as Knights.
  7. Phalanx: Pawns capture as normal but do not move from their original space.
  8. Horse Archers: Knights capture as normal but do not move from their original space.
  9. Holy Spear: Bishops capture as normal but do not move from their original space.
  10. Artillery: Rooks capture as normal but do not move from their original space.
  11. Mountain: Place all Rooks in the centre four squares of the board. They cannot move or be captured. 
  12. Fortresses: Remove all Rooks. On their first turn each player places a Rook in an empty space on their half of the board. On their second turn each player places a Rook in an empty space on the opponent's half of the board. Rooks cannot move or be captured. 
  13. Angels: Place Bishops aside. Instead of a normal move a player can move either of their Bishops from off-board to any empty space.
  14. Archangel: Place Queens aside. Instead of a normal move a player can move their Queen from off-board to any empty space.
  15. Pope: Remove Kings and one Bishop from each side. Place the remaining Bishop in the King's space. You win when you place the opposing Bishop in mate. 
  16. Trenches: Start the pawns rank 4 and 5. 
  17. Barbarians: When a pawn captures they must capture again if able, repeating as many times as possible.
  18. Slaughter: Immediately lose if you have no pawns remaining.
  19. Scouts: You can only move Knights until a piece is captured or a piece enters check.
  20. Infantry: You can only move Pawns until a piece is captured or a piece enters check.
  21. Throne: The King cannot move unless they are capturing.
  22. Cathedral: When a Rook is adjacent to a friendly Bishop either piece can choose to move in the matter of the other instead of their normal movement. 
  23. Panic: When the first piece is captured all pawns on their starting rank are captured.
  24. Skirmishers: Pawns may also move backwards as if you were playing on the other side of the board.
  25. Honour: Non-pawns cannot capture pawns.
  26. Assassin: The Queen can only capture and be captured by the King. 
  27. Elitism: Pawns cannot capture non-pawns.
  28. Sunrise: Place a barrier between both player's halves of the board so that neither player can see the other half. You can only move into spaces you can see. Lift this barrier when a piece enters a space adjacent to it. 
  29. Hill: Move your King into one of the centre four spaces to win.
  30. Betrayal: You can capture your own pieces.
  31. Ghosts: Bishops can move to any empty space on the board. They cannot capture or be captured.
  32. Torpedo: Pawns can always perform their double move as if they were on their starting space.
  33. Strikes: Win by putting your opponent in Check three times.
  34. Combined Arms: On your turn you must move a pawn if able and then must move a non-pawn if able.
  35. Princess: The Queen can only move as a King.
  36. Lancer: Knights leap three spaces in any direction instead of their normal movement.
  37. Flankers: Pawns in the A and H file begin on ranks 4 and 5.
  38. Civilians: Pawns cannot capture or be captured. 
  39. Order: No castling or en passant. Pawns can only move a single space forward, capturing only in this way too. 
  40. Coronation: Win when you promote a pawn. 
  41. Holy War: Bishops can only move a single space diagonally. Capture both enemy Bishops to win. Normal Checkmate does not apply. 
  42. Blessing: Pieces protected by a Bishop cannot be captured.
  43. Deserters: When you move into Check, capture any one opposing Pawn.
  44. Arthur: Remove both Kings from the board. When a player has one Pawn remaining, replace it with their King. 
  45. Dragoons: Rooks and Knights that begin their turn adjacent to each other may move in the manner of the other piece. 
  46. Summer: When a pawn crosses the centre line all pawns can move as Rooks for the rest of the game. 
  47. Winter: When a pawn crosses the centre line all pawns are removed from the game. 
  48. Revolt: Pawns can also move or capture one space in any direction as long as they move closer to the enemy King.
  49. Extinction: Capture all pieces of one type to win. 
  50. Scholars: A pawn can move in the manner of any friendly piece it is orthogonally adjacent to at the start of its turn. 
  51. Revenge: If your opponent captured one of your pawns their last turn your Pawns can capture as a Queen for this turn. 
  52. Warrior King: Kings can perform a second move if it results in a capture. 
  53. Vampire: Win if your Queen captures three pieces. 
  54. Chivalry: Knights can only be captured by other Knights or the King. 
  55. Turncoat: After three moves, swap sides.
  56. Shieldmaiden: Pieces orthogonally adjacent to their Queen cannot be captured. The King cannot be protected in this way. 
  57. Outgun: Instead of performing a normal move you can capture a piece that is threatened by two or more of your own pieces.
  58. Dragon: When you capture with a Knight you may move that Knight again as a King. This effect does not stack. 
  59. Isolation: Win by having your opponent end a turn with their King having no adjacent friendly pieces.
  60. Tanks: Rooks can only be captured by Rooks, but can only move as part of a capture. 
  61. Monks: Pawns can capture as Bishops.
  62. Chasm: Pieces can only cross the centre line of the board by capturing. 
  63. Squires: Pawns can capture as Knights.
  64. Arena: Pieces in the centre four squares can only be captured by pieces in another of the centre four squares.
  65. Priestess: Queens move as Bishops and cannot be taken.
  66. Bloodbath: The first player to capture 6 pieces wins.
  67. Invasion: Win if your King crosses the centre line.
  68. Spears: Pawns cannot be captured by non-adjacent pieces. 
  69. Queen of Hearts: When either Queen is captured, pawns can no longer move for the rest of the game. 
  70. Duet: After the white player's first turn, each player move two different pieces each turn. If they only their King remaining then they move the King twice. 
  71. Formation: At the end of your turn lose all pieces that are not adjacent to another friendly piece. The King ignores this rule. 
  72. Ice Queen: When either Queen captures, pawns can no longer move for the rest of the game. 
  73. Gorgon: Pieces that are threatened by the Queen cannot move. Kings are not affected by this. 
  74. Mad King: Kings can capture all pieces (of either colour) adjacent to them in place of a normal move.
  75. Knighthood: If one or more of your Knights are currently captured, when you capture with a Pawn you may replace that Pawn with the captured Knight.
  76. Snipers: Pawns that move into a position where they are not protected by another piece are captured.
  77. Blood Sacrifice: On any turn you may sacrifice one of your pawns to have a major or minor piece move as a queen. 
  78. Menagerie: Win by capturing at least one each of Pawn, Knight, Bishop, Rook, and Queen. 
  79. Border: Pieces cannot capture across the centre line of the board. 
  80. Dethrone: If you end your turn with your King not protected by another piece then you lose. Normal checkmate does not apply but Kings cannot be captured.
  81. Royal Guard: Pawns can also move like a King.
  82. Great Wall: Rooks cannot be captured if they are protected by another Rook. 
  83. Apathy: If your opponent did not capture on their last turn, your Pawns cannot capture or be captured.
  84. Fatigue: You cannot move the same piece in two simultaneous turns. Stalemate counts as a loss for the player that cannot move.
  85. Schism: Both players swap starting position of their Queen Side Knight and Bishop.
  86. Etiquette: Queens cannot be taken, but must end their move on a square of their own colour.
  87. Royal Guard: Pawns that are adjacent to the King cannot be taken. 
  88. Runners: Pawns can move as Queens but can only capture by their normal method.
  89. Politician: A Bishop cannot capture as normal, but can sacrifice itself to remove any one Pawn from the board.
  90. Plague: When you capture a pawn, immediately lose the capturing piece.
  91. Diplomatic Immunity: Pieces in the same File as their king cannot be captured. 
  92. Vizier: If the King begin their turn adjacent to their Queen they can move as a Queen.
  93. DMZ: Pieces in the centre four squares cannot be captured until at least one Queen is captured.
  94. Populism: Your King cannot be captured while you have at least four pawns on the board.
  95. Conscripts: Pawns cannot double-move and are captured if they perform a capture themselves. 
  96. Stealth: When you move a piece without capturing, that piece cannot be captured on your opponent's next turn.
  97. Werewolf: Remove both Queens. At the start of any turn a player may replace any of their pieces (except the King) with the Queen, who they must then use to capture another piece. 
  98. Duel: While both Queens are alive, Queens can only capture and be captured by the other Queen.
  99. Deployment: Start with only Kings on the board. Instead of a normal turn a player can place any of their pieces on any space on their back rank.
  100. Deathray: When two of your rooks are adjacent and occupy the same file, or your queen and bishop are adjacent and occupy the same diagonal, you capture all enemy pieces on that file or diagonal respectively.


  1. This is fun... You might enjoy Very Bad Chess by Zach Gage, which randomizes the pieces and starting positions.

  2. Oh I definitely read the title as "d100 cheese scenarios"... this is very good despite the severe lack of cheese!

  3. Didn't know I wanted this, thanks!

  4. I was thinking about doing something with fairy pieces not too long ago and this is far better than what i had planned.

  5. I feel like Tanks (60) just means that the pawns in front of the rooks will never be moved, lest they just steamroll? Huhhhh

    Squires is my favourite. I enjoy promoting pawns so much. Great list!

    1. Tanks is definitely one of the more drastic ones, so I suspect it would break down under too much thought. Looking forward to trying it out though!

  6. This really makes me want to play chess