In a Splinters game, the players, which could be anything from two upwards, attempted to collect the best sets of splinters. The splinters themselves floated in the center of the playing table, with players sitting round it. A pool of winnings often lay beneath the splinters, with contestants paying to enter the game and sometimes betting on it. The winner took everything on the table.
The game started with everyone drawing ten splinters. A player then took a splinter from the middle, then discarded one. The play then passed to the next player. At any time in the game, a player could call "Scuttle", ending the game. All players showed their hands and counted up their points. The player with the highest scoring hand won.
Different hands of splinters had all different point values. On their own, the "Professor" splinters weren't worth much, but together, the "Professor of Darkness" and the "Professor of Light" splinters beat almost every other splinter hand there was. The "Hatching Caterbird" was almost useless without a "Lullabee Grove" to go with it, but together, those cards formed the most powerful hand in the entire game.
Another powerful combination was the "Cloud" hand, which included splinters like "Grey Cloud", "White Cloud", "Flat Anvil", "Ice Storm", "Black Cloud", or some other combination of the twenty different types of "Cloud" cards. There was also the "Sanctaphrax" hand, built by "Academic" splinters like "Raintaster" or "Apprentice Fogtaster".