September 19th, 2008

Houses of the Blooded

I pre-ordered a role-playing game back in July which has finally arrived! 

Houses of the Blooded, by John Wick (of Legend of the Five Rings fame), is a role-playing game centered on the Ven, a mythical race of people, and the intrigues that take place between (and within) their noble houses. The ven are a passionate people. Their words for love and revenge are both slight variations of the word for obsession. The ven are obsessed with etiquette, art, tragedy, honor, and dualities. The game itself is meant to be an "Anti-D&D game" in that it emphasizes elements that D&D puts to the side. Politics, intrigue, family, romance, the passage of time. There is still magic. There are still monsters: the ven use the word "ork" - monster - for any being that isn't a ven. There is still treasure, ancient relics left behind by the long-dead sorcerer-kings. But the game has a very different feel. The mechanics are sleek and simple, and they reward players for playing the game with good "style." These are the ven, after all.

Duels. Love. Poison. Honor. Hatred. Magic. Revenge. Art.

I desperately want to play this game! Anyone else heard about it, or played it?

(x-posted to my own journal)
Londo Mollari 3

Fond RPG Memories

Remember the days when RPGs came in boxed sets and you could find them on grocery store shelves next to the board games?

Remember when a complete RPG boxed set cost only ten Amurikan dolla'?

Remember when you could read, understand, and play an RPG out of the box when you were ten years old?

Because, damn, the RPGs I'm seeing for sale currently, no way could those be considered easily comprehensible or playable by a ten year old.

Sad, really.

(No wonder tabletop RPG fandom seems to be steadily shrinking ...)
Voodoo Dolly
  • tashiro

Upending D&D

The 'anti-D&D' thing mentioned with Houses of the Blooded got me thinking about some things from a few years back. I was having a discussion with someone about D&D, and this ended in an argument about what you're allowed to be in a D&D campaign. Essentially, it went like this: Why can't a beginning character be of noble blood? Why can't it be the son of a Baron, or a Count? Heck, why can't it be a Baron or Count? The other person said that it is impossible for this, because everyone in D&D has to start as street-level nobodies.

I disagreed. My argument that I added was, 'let's take the king. He has a son who just hit sixteen, and the king dies. The son is now king, and isn't some high-level character'.
The other guy responded, 'then the man-at-arms kills him, and takes over, because he's not going to defend a low-level nobody'.

I was all, what?!

But the thing is, I've seen that mentality a lot -- that the PCs have to be nobodies in the setting until they've gotten levels, and that everybody in a position of power must have high levels to back it up. I'd like to see this expectation upended more often in RPGs, and there's a few that do it: Legend of the Five Rings (you're of the samurai caste), Seventh Sea (you're most likely nobility), and Houses of the Blooded (you're noble). The other thing I like is the political game, playing with power, having vassals and minions to do work for you.

So, in D&D, how do you do it? How do you start off as nobility, and how do you get your minions and vassals? The short answer is 'you don't', but I don't like that answer. Personally, in a fantasy setting, any caste, any level of society, any degree of influence should be available for the character if it makes sense to the setting itself, rather than to the 'expectations' of what 'should' be done.

But the mentality that 'if they're weak, they'll be killed off by someone of higher level so they can have the throne', to me, is just B.S. It isn't like the man at arms suddenly turns evil!! and somehow instinctively knows the boy-king's Hit Dice. :p However, it does seem that D&D sort of supports it in how they handle NPCs, strangely enough.

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