Wherein Houses of the Blooded gets debriefed.

edited January 2010 in Story Games
To provide some context here:

I’ve GMed a 4-session arc of Houses of the Blooded.

I’ve played in a 1-session Cthulhu setting-hack of Houses of the Blooded.

An unpacking.

This isn’t a review, but rather a debrief. I’m going to recall and dump my thoughts regarding my experience with Houses here. I’ll make my best effort to organize those thoughts into a coherent piece, but I won’t be detailing how the mechanics that I mention work. I’m assuming familiarity with how Houses works on the part of the reader. With that, let’s go.

Before I started reading Houses, I’d bandied about the idea of getting a Sorcerer game together. That went out the window as soon as I started reading Houses and digging around online. The mechanics excited me, specifically the Risk & Wager mechanics and how that ties into the 3 parts of Aspects (and I’d never played FATE). I’d also bought into the setting, and to what the purported character role was in the game. I was raring to go, and I got a group together that was pretty excited to play it.

I’ll say right now that the most fun I had with the game was in that first session. There was me as GM and two players. In later games, we had four players and myself, and I preferred the tighter focus of two players, mostly because of everything that flies around in this game. About which, more later.

So I dove in with bare hands and feet. Here’s what I think now, after giving the game the fairest shot I could.

Setting, and how it’s delivered.

First, the setting. I still enjoy it in theory. The only real problem with the fiction of it is that there’s no baked-in situation. That is, there’s not much I don’t like about it as a setting. However, the place it holds as a part of the game and the text is problematic for me. You get it in a big info-dump at the beginning of the book. Now, I had great fun reading this and imagining how it would work in play. Problem is, if you want it to be present in play, everyone’s got to read it. And remember it all. And adhere to it. And the game mechanics don’t help you. It’s just gotta be brought in. The theme of the game is reinforced by the mechanics, but the setting is divorced from it. They sleep in different rooms. This is the traditional model for setting, and it just doesn’t work for me, apparently.

It’s work, not play, and leads to those of us who know the book and want to play by the “rules” of the setting correcting those of us who haven’t read the one-hundred-page dump four times, which isn’t fun for anyone. I didn’t want to believe it while I was reading, but play has borne out the truth of Judd’s statement that there is just too much setting in this book.

The free-spinning cogs of play.

Second, the mechanics. Specifically, the core mechanic of making Risks & Wagers. This is task-resolution that allows players to establish facts about the world and the here-and-now situation if their roll succeeds. Very cool, on the face. Wick totally had me sold on this one. So simple, so familiar, and yet all of a sudden the players have agency! All of a sudden the game is about them and what they want! Immediate buy-in. And you know, there was some of that in play. Players (and myself) really enjoyed making Wagers and establishing facts.

The problem is, facts seldom get reincorporated. I come up with something I think is really cool—“The killer was my father!”—and other people may or may not riff on that fact, and it may or may not become important, because everyone else has Wagers that they want to spend on their cool stuff. They don’t have to reincorporate what I just said. Some things do get reincorporated, but not nearly enough to make your facts feel meaningful. It’s not simply a matter of selfish players, either. It’s that there are too many facts getting tossed out there. Players are making Risks and gaining Wagers all the time, and in a finite story only a certain number of things can be important. This leads to a very hit-or-miss feel with wagers, and over time that’s made me less excited with how they work.

There is a nice feedback loop when players get Style for defining cool facts, thus getting to shine a little and have their fact stick out to the group. In the end, though, this isn’t enough to keep me enthusiastic about the mechanics, which I discuss more below.

Bits and bobs.

This game has a lot of them. All of which look real shiny, and most of which are fun to mess about with. But the many moving parts in Houses of the Blooded don’t feel cohesive or like they’re driving toward anything. They are fiddly knobs that have fun elements, but seem more like distractions than anything else.

Basically, players end up having a bunch of things on their sheets that just don’t come up in play. I’m a fan of rather tight, focused play, and I didn’t feel supported in that regard by Houses, though I feel I had reason to believe that I would be supported in that way (more later).

What’s the point of having Suaven & Blessings & Artifacts & Rituals & Contacts & Season Actions & Vassals when on a tiny fraction of these things actually impact play? Only so many can be a part of actual play because (obviously, perhaps) we have limited time at the table and the players are constantly throwing facts that I as GM have to riff off of (which can be incredibly fun) and I simply can’t bring in all this stuff. Nor can the players.

Furthermore, what am I supposed to bring in? What’s my job as GM, here? There’s no Burning Wheel-like advice to “push against those beliefs!” It’s all “in my prep and in the limited amount of time we have, do I threaten Player A’s Vassal? Or frame a situation involving Player B’s Suaven, since he put so many Devotion points into it? Well, Player C has 5 Beauty and an Aspect about art, so I should push the game in that direction, too," etc. It just feels bloated, and I feel lost.

Season Actions and long-term play.

Season Actions, too, while a fun mini-game, proved less-than-useful in guiding play at the macro level. I got the impression from the text that Season Actions are supposed to be grist for the mill of long-term play, but there’s no advice on how to make that happen beyond offhand comments like, “You can have the group go attempt to quell trouble in a Region that became Troubled in the last Season Action, if you want.” I would have liked to have know how Season Actions drive play. Or if in fact they do. And if they don’t drive play or impact it much, what are they doing there?

Go here, tell this story versus go anywhere, tell any story.

The text read as less-than-polished, but the game seemed on a higher level than that. After my play experiences, I’ve revised that opinion: Myself and some fellow players came to the conclusion that it feels like a beta playtest. There are many cool things in the game, but there’s a lack of unity and coherence. I know it’s not the game for me, but perhaps that’s because it’s simply not made for me, right? Well, I feel like I was promised something that the game didn’t deliver. In the text, Wick pays lip service to the “aboutness” of many indie game designs, and discusses how he designed his game around Jared Sorensen’s Big Three Questions (“what is my game about? how is it about that? what behaviors are rewarded and punished?”). However, in practice it’s much more a broad toolbox of a game than the focused experience it’s marketed as. I think in his “return to big game design,” Wick just added things to make the game big and broad, but not better.

And that's that.

Though the tone of this is less than enthusiastic, I don’t hate Houses of the Blooded. I had some great moments and even some good hours with it over the course of my play. This is the most I’ve played any single roleplaying game, and, well, I’m disappointed. I’m not even frustrated, just disappointed. I was incredibly enthusiastic about the game, but on the other side of five sessions my excitement is gone. I don’t really want to play it ever again.

Comments

  • Writing from my phone, so I'll be brief.

    -in regards to the game being "bloated": I got that same feeling while reading the text. My reaction was something along the lines of "wait, how am I supposed to break out all this info to the players and then keep track of it?"
    -on the same issue, a thought: if all those things (vassals, suaven...) don't come up in play, why not push them to the side untill they would matter? (I haven't played the game, so I don't know if this is possible or sensible) Consider Burning Wheel: whole campaigns can be played without ever breaking out Duel of Wits or one of the other modules, yet I've mostly seen this considered a feature, not a flaw. Can HotB get the same treatment of modular play?

    -finally, I don't think Wick pays lip service to "aboutness" as you say, I think he takes it too literaly. It wasn't untill I read Vincent's post about the fruitful void that I realized I wasn't supposed to make rules for what my game is about but rules that spin play towards that. It is my impression (possibly mistaken) that Wick did the "the game is about X, so we better have some rules for X" thing a bit too upfront. You have rules for all aspects of Ven life, but they don't really point anywhere, so perhaps that's why you feel it lacks focus. Thinking aloud.
  • edited January 2010
    Posted By: Teataine-on the same issue, a thought: if all those things (vassals, suaven...) don't come up in play, why not push them to the side untill they would matter? (I haven't played the game, so I don't know if this is possible or sensible) Consider Burning Wheel: whole campaigns can be played without ever breaking out Duel of Wits or one of the other modules, yet I've mostly seen this considered a feature, not a flaw. Can HotB get the same treatment of modular play?
    I don't know. In Burning Wheel, it's a matter of depth. You can resolve everything with simple tests, but when you want the game to get deeper and more granular, you bring out Duel of Wits and the like. With Houses, it's not a matter of depth, It's a matter of length (to stretch the analogy). You don't have to add anything fundamentally new to the play of BW with DoW; you simply have to deepen that play and complicate the mechanics. In Houses, I can push all that stuff to the side, but if I want to bring it in, there's still the same problem: what's most important? What do the players care about? I even asked my players this question, but it was kind of too late, which was my fault.
    Posted By: TeataineIt wasn't untill I read Vincent's post about the fruitful void that I realized I wasn't supposed to make rules for what my game is about but rules that spin play towards that. It is my impression (possibly mistaken) that Wick did the "the game is about X, so we better have some rules for X" thing a bit too upfront. You have rules for all aspects of Ven life, but they don't really point anywhere, so perhaps that's why you feel it lacks focus. Thinking aloud.
    Yes! The text says something along the lines of "since the game is about the Romance and Revenge of the ven, I have rules for Romance and Revenge". Sounds cool in theory, but doesn't really maked the game "about" Romance and Revenge. It just means you can do those things in a way that engages mechanics. I've also read VB's fruitful void stuff, and am convinced (through play) that it works.
  • edited January 2010
    I've been looking over Houses of the Blooded, trying to create a cut-down game handout I can give to players so they don't have to read the whole rulebook to get started.

    I give up.

    It's a bloated beast, and no matter how much I cut, there always seems to be a good hundred pages more that I can't get rid of. Most games have huge lists of something to pare down, but HotB fills that space with secondary (situational) mechanics instead. Cut it out and you lose part of the story, which isn't good.

    I can also see the problem of a lack of fruitful void, and here's an example: One possible goal is to gain title. Title is gained by having lands. Lands are gained, not by dueling, not by murder, not by inheritance, you're already married so you can't marry into it...what's left? War. The war rules suck in an attempt to discourage you from using them, as well as the game telling you shouldn't do it much. Imagine, though, that you started characters unmarried, then they could romance their way to power, which provides a setup for the themes of love and revenge, trying to outdo their romantic rivals along the way. It's that simple to set up a fruitful void, and the game missed it.

    Here's an oddity where I do disagree with you. I don't think it has a setting at all, I think it just has a culture. Normally these two things are pretty well intertwined, but HotB tries to do one without the other, and it just feels like it's missing chunks, like it hasn't been thought through enough. I love the game. I think there are some brilliant parts to it and I don't regret buying it, but it also drives me mad.
  • I see the problems with the game stemming quite a bit from John Wick being such an excellent storyteller. He really has created a wonderful world and it shines through in the book, I ate the book in one sitting loving every page. But that does not make a very good game, because everything is prepared for you too soon. You have the wonderful world of the Ven, but it is a world written out of the things John created in his games, which are the things you want left open for your own games to define, thus the setting becomes too much of a straightjacket no matter how inspiring it is.

    The game sits somewhere right between the simplicity of story games and conflict resolution and the delicious crunchiness of long form games, the text makes you think it is a beautiful compromise, when it is actually a disjointed mongrel. The problem seems to come from wanting to make a game with the narrative freedom of fate, but playing with gamist balances. Thus the game restricts free narration and does not provide a complete boardgame style ruleset covering all eventualities fairly. A classic schizophrenic game, that might work with a strong storyteller gamemaster as John Wick is, but falls apart without that authority.

    All the problems with the game are hidden under the shiny layer of Wick's superb writing, that grips you. But once you are out of his world and trying to make your own it starts cracking from the weak foundations.

    I wonder how much of the setting and the rules you'd have to cut away to make it repeatably playable? (Or if it is just easier to play the setting with Fate instead...)
  • Posted By: hans ottersonProblem is, if you want it to be present in play, everyone’s got to read it. And remember it all. And adhere to it. And the game mechanics don’t help you. It’s just gotta be brought in. The theme of the game is reinforced by the mechanics, but the setting is divorced from it. They sleep in different rooms. This is the traditional model for setting, and it just doesn’t work for me, apparently.

    It’s work, not play, and leads to those of us who know the book and want to play by the “rules” of the setting correcting those of us who haven’t read the one-hundred-page dump four times, which isn’t fun for anyone. I didn’t want to believe it while I was reading, but play has borne out the truth of Judd’s statement that there is just too much setting in this book.
    This is exactly the trouble I had with the book. Also, the faux-academic style didn't do anything for me. It would have helped for this material to have been presented in a straightforward manner.
  • edited January 2010
    Perhaps there's room for a $10, beginner-friendly Houses as we've had for Reign, Wild Talents, etc? Unlike RivioClavis, I value the rules over the setting - but I agree there's too many rules, and they're not interrelated enough. The $10 version could trim most of the unneeded stuff.
  • edited January 2010
    Good question about Fate, Oliver. Like I said, I've never played it (nor SotC), but after playing Houses and messing about with and liking Aspects, I'll have to give it a look.
    Posted By: SanglorianPerhaps there's room for a $10, beginner-friendlyHousesas we've had forReign, Wild Talents, etc? Unlike RivioClavis, I value the rules over the setting - but I agree there's too many rules, and they're not interrelated enough. The $10 version could trim most of the unneeded stuff.
    I don't know what that would look like, Chris. Just Virtues & Aspects? The Cthulhu setting-hack I played was pretty much pared down to this, and while the game is certainly playable in this form, it didn't make me any more excited as a player.

    Anyway, we've had some good criticism of HotB so far (it's nice to see others come out of the woodwork that feel similarly to myself but aren't just shitting). I'd like for informed criticism to continue if people still have thoughts to air, but I'd also like to hear from those who've played Houses and got a different, better experience from it. Especially if you ran it. What did you like about it? What was easy? What was hard? What engaged the players?

    And if any of the Sons of Kryos, who I know playtested the game (extensively?) want to say their piece, I'd love to hear that.
  • Interesting, Hans.

    I like Houses, and I've liked the larp when I played it. But, in every case where I've played (and I've never GMed) Houses, it was with John explaining the game & the culture. And, for the most part, his sense of *pacing* in that explanation is spot-on. (Sometimes, he'll go back and say "Oh, I forgot to say..." but that shouldn't be seen as a dig -- Houses is rich and knowing what to explain at the right time is unsimple.)

    I find Graham's notion of it being a book about "culture" more than "setting" to be really, really intriguing. It's making me think about how I have a similar reaction to SJG's Transhuman Space, which is one of my favorite settings, but also hard to really get into because of how rich, heavy, interconnected, history-intense, etc. the setting is. Like, you're given this immense mountain of awesome, but it's hard to know which bit to play with...and trying to play with too much would make for a crap game. So, games with deep culture like HotB might benefit from some starting points and suggestions one what to play with and what to set aside for the first few sessions.

    This thread has made me want to go back and re-read the book, with a different eye toward what y'all are talking about.

    - Ryan
  • Hmmm, I just happened upon this thought:

    Is Houses a Fantasy Heartbreaker?

    The inherent downfall of a fantasy heartbreaker is the deeply personal connection it has with its creator, that makes it difficult to telegraph to others. The disjointed sub-systems also seem to support this and the fact that John has written such a delightful read just makes it an even more dangerously sexy dream.

    Anyways, just thinking out loud.
  • Posted By: RivoClavisThe inherent downfall of a fantasy heartbreaker is the deeply personal connection it has with its creator, that makes it difficult to telegraph to others.
    Oliver,

    Be careful in equating "the folks posting on this thread don't get it" and "people don't get it." There is a rather serious fan community for Houses, and that has been telegraphed. I'm not saying you're wrong (really, really I'm not, nor am I agreeing per se), just giving a reminder to look outside our little box and see where it is actually getting traction.

    That said, the depth of material is indicative of play culture. John comes from (and was a driver of) a play culture around loads of supporting text, rich worlds, etc. A place where many gaps are filled in for you -- not all, but many. And the primary target audience for that frankly loves the shit out of it. It could be a simple clash of play culture and expectations here. After all, we "hippie story nerds" have grown fond of Baker-esque fruitful void, collaborative campaign & setting design sessions, etc. And it's not like we can't do that in Houses, but we have to work more than with games that are designed with our (the general "our) sensibilities in mind.

    (This isn't to dismiss Hans' criticisms. Really, I think he's got some good stuff here to think about. It would be a shame to just shove those thoughts under some simple banner like "it's Wick's heartbreaker" or the like.)

    - Ryan
  • I do need to finish that huge "how to use a super detailed setting for great story gaming" thread that I've been working on on and off for a long time....

    I have to say I found HotB's organization/editing lacking even for that particular genre of game book, which I love.
  • edited January 2010
    I have a similar love/hate relationship with Houses of the Blooded and I agree with Ryan above. I think it's a disservice to call the game a fantasy heart breaker.

    My issue with the game is that it's what I call an Asked and Answered Game Design. These games are deceptively attractive to Story Now preferenced players such as myself because on the surface they present a very grabby, engaging and exciting premise. However, when you look at the tools the game gives you, you discover that the game has a pre-programed answer and trying to address the grabby story material in an open and honest manner is going to trip over the mechanics which are designed to lead you to specific conclusion.

    On the surfaces Houses of the Blooded appears to be a game that asks the question: What does Romance and Revenge lead to? But it also flat out tells you: Tragedy. If it doesn't lead to Tragedy you're playing the game wrong. Take a look at the seven opera types. The character described are not presented in terms of their conflict with an open-ended question mark. They are instead presented in terms of the appropriate outcomes for their types. John is very fond of "character type" dictating inevitable outcome. I'm personally highly against this thinking but all my attempts to engage John about this issue have failed horribly.

    I actually really like everything up until the Poisons chapter in the book. It's AFTER that point that the enmeshing of culture, mechanics and pre-programmed theme begins to happen. If John had just presented the predator-prey dynamic for romances as a culture quirk then it would have been an open question: Does your Romance conform to the cultural standard or do you deviate? But because John encodes the cultural ritual into the mechanics then that becomes really the only viable way to form a Romance if you want to reap the mechanical benefits of that system. Following from that the mechanics aren't about struggling against the decay of the Romance, the decay is inevitable with only ONE highly specific choice pre-encoded to keep it going: sex. The mechanics lead you down a very specific encoded thematic path.

    The Revenge chapter is similar in that it thematically favors the duel (and maybe poisons) as really the only thematically appropriate form of violence. If you're the kind of person who wants to kick down doors and behead a man with your axe publicly, well the game considers that vulgar. The game ties itself in knots by laying down cultural rules and tell you that the ven break these rules all the time and so should you BUT then only provides mechanical support for conforming to those cultural rules.

    None of this is surprising since John frequently talks about Call of Cthulhu being a formative game for him. Call of Cthulhu is the proto-Asked and Answered game. Call of Cthulhu doesn't raise the questions presented in Lovecraft's fiction and empower you to come to your own answers instead it provides the tools necessary for you to revel in the answers Lovecraft came to.

    Houses of the Blooded is the same. John obviously has some pretty strong notions about Romance and Revenge and he invites you to come revel in his conclusions (at least from a pseuo-Shakespearean genre perspective). If you find the predator-prey dynamic sexy, and if you find swords and duels sexy and if you find dying over all that as an *inevitable* outcome over that sexy then I suspect Houses works just fine.

    But if you're like me who wants all of that to be open question for the people at my table to come to our own conclusions about, then the game is going to fight you ever step of the way. I don't know that Romance is always going to fade or that sex is the only way to keep it going. I'd like a game where that's something I genuinely struggle with as opposed to simply ridding the encoded roller coaster.

    Jesse

    I think I'm allowed to agree with JDCorely like 13 times before the world end. I think this is the third. However, I agree the issue isn't the detailed culture. It's the enmeshing of the mechanics directly with the culture in a 1-to-1 fashion that causes the problems.
  • That's an interesting view, Jesse. I actually agree with you (but I contain multitudes so the world is not threatened). I just happen to like games/stories where the outcome is not really in any serious doubt. The killer gets caught in mystery novels, the villain is stopped in superhero comics and superspy action movies.
  • I appreciate your analysis, Jesse.
    Posted By: Jesse
    On the surfaces Houses of the Blooded appears to be a game that asks the question: What does Romance and Revenge lead to? But it also flat out tells you: Tragedy.
    I saw it not as asking that question, but just saying "this is a game about tragedy, and it will support you in gaming such stories." But the characters didn't feel tragic. As you've said, the mechanics are ostensibly encoded to push the characters toward tragedy, but in my experience the game didn't play out that way.
  • Posted By: JDCorleyI just happen to like games/stories where the outcome is not really in any serious doubt. The killer gets caught in mystery novels, the villain is stopped in superhero comics and superspy action movies.
    I would like to point out that there is a difference between fixing an Event and fixing a Theme.

    For example,

    Dirty Secrets does this: The Crime will be solved.

    Dirty Secrets does not do this: The Crime will be solved because the investigator is noble man but his pursuit of justice will cost him his identity.

    I find that Houses of the Blooded does too much the latter.

    Jesse
  • Well, but in the underlying genre there's a cultural and political reason why the killer is going to be caught (or the story will be a subversion of the genre). Mystery novels are fundamentally conservative. The killer transgresses the status quo and the investigator restores it (sometimes at great cost to the investigator, society, or others, depending on the situation.) I see the distinction, but I don't think it's as easy to draw a line as you do. Certainly the Comics Code Authority agreed with me during its heyday! They didn't want to fix an Event just because they didn't like the bad guys - they wanted to establish a law-and-order Theme.
  • I don't have a lot of experience with story games or HOTB (I've run one game), but I'm fond of the game.

    I'm surprised that you find the cultural notes restrictive or difficult. I found keeping track of a complicated culture much easier than keeping track of a complicated world. When I ran the game, I had to explain few concepts (no armies, for example) because the ven are a mindset that's easy to adopt. I was happy to leave out the Storm, the Opera, and so on, because it hadn't come up yet. The first fifty pages was a useful storehouse of ideas, but never restrictive.

    One of HOTB's most attractive features for me is that there's a rule for everything that needs a rule and no rules for anything that doesn't need a rule. There are rules for duels and wars, but none for skirmishes because that's just not what the game is about. I think this is a common philosophy – fourth edition D&D, for example, honed right down to what makes D&D D&D and left the rest (e.g. realistic simulation of the prices of armor) out.

    I think you're overstating its restrictiveness. The basic roll-a-Virtue, add-Aspects mechanic can apply to bashing down the door and cutting someone's head off with an axe. It can apply to developing a deep and lasting friendship of mutual respect (or seducing a maid, or keeping your wife happy – all part of what I'd call lower-case romance to compare to the ven Romance which has its own rules).

    I noticed while reading this thread that HOTB seems to do for Revenge what you'd like to see for Romance. Poison, war, duels, sorcery, artifacts are all tools at your disposal for Revenge. Would you like to see a similar array of options for Romance or am I missing the point?

    I feel like I'm only answering the surface issues rather than exploring the make-up of the game itself, like Jesse is particularly. But I guess I'm trying to say I don't see the problems that you do.
  • edited January 2010
    The issue isn't that the system doesn't handle those situation. That's why I said I like everything up to the Poisons chapter. It's that it *privileges* certain very exacting character behaviors. I can't gain the mechanical advantages of Romance without engaging in the specific cultural behavior. My kick down the door and behead the guy will never be as mechanically robust as a Duel. It matters not what *I'm* personally emotionally invested in as being Romantic or Revenge-worthy because the game tells me what behaviors are worth those things.

    It's not about modeling the in fiction culture at all. It's about the real-world social dynamic between my creative input and the mechanical reward/support I reap for that input.

    Jesse

    P.S. I fully acknowledge I have not yet played a full game. I WILL rectify this if it's the last thing I do. I do not like speaking from "reading only" and will gladly eat my words should play prove me wrong. It's just time and time again people who have played the game and whose opinion I generally respect have backed up my thoughts.
  • I picked this up recently, excited to run it. But the setting/culture stuff totally defeated me.

    It seems a lot like a game based on a licensed setting, but a setting that no one knows anything about. Like playing Lord of the Rings, but no one has read the books or seen the movies, so you have to explain about hobbits and elves and Gondor. ("Ven?")

    For those of you who have run the game and like it, how did you present the setting material to the other players?
  • Not to be an ass, but has there ever been a game that has been treated kindly by being labeled a fantasy heartbreaker. Its always been a dismissive term that I've seen, thus the idea that labeling something (like HotB) a fantasy heartbreaker is not treating the game kindly, seems strange because no game is ever treated kindly by being called a fantasy heartbreaker. Does that mean we should stop using the term? Because really out of all the jargon from various places concerning indie type games, I've always found it to be one of the more useful concepts.

    Secondly, I think the Idea that John is 'Too Great a Writter' to write clearly and concisely is another example, of how hey, we all like john here, he's living the dream in many ways, he has zany videos and really has a great infectious level of enthusiasm.

    That said, more or less everything he does requires people to buy into it first and then do whatever they like with it. You have to like a 'john wick' for being john wick and he has absolutely no quams about it. It seems to form a spectrum with system matters, on one end we have system matters which tells us that the system creates and supports a certain kind of play and on the other hand we have 'john wick' matters which tells us that john wick creates and supports a certain kind of play. It always seemed pretty obvious to me from more or less anything he does, that John wick creates and supports a certain kind of play is required in order to make these things work. Its the ultimate indie in a lot of way, because it pays no attention to convention or persuasion or conversion. If someone is doing it wrong, John Wick tells them to do it right, none of this namby pampy drift thank you very much. In the absence of john, the person who is most like john may step on up and tell them to do it right. The system has no room for this (dissent on the basic presumptions (or should i say john wicks really detailed presumptions about romance and danger and castles and drama and all that).

    Its sad, I really really want to run this , and Wildernes of Mirrors and all that stuff, and it looks really good on paper, but then I realize I'm not wick and don't particularly care to be, and it all goes to hell.

    Logos

    ~I've not run Hotb but I have tried his other stuff (WoM and his instant dungeon and stuff like that) just so i don't come across as an ass who dismissed him before trying it. In other thoughts, I really want John Wick to be recognized as the 4th creative agenda. Gamism, narrativism, Simulationism, and John Wick. Lets make it happen.
  • I'm sorry if I have offended anyone with my question, I was merely trying to explore the premise of the discussion and I can see that I was wrong in my direction of exploration.
  • Posted By: JesseIt's not about modeling the in fiction culture at all.
    It's actually genre emulation. The genre in question being Ven blood opera.
  • Posted By: hans otterson
    The problem is, facts seldom get reincorporated. I come up with something I think is really cool—“The killer was my father!”—and other people may or may not riff on that fact, and it may or may not become important, because everyone else has Wagers that they want to spend ontheircool stuff. They don’t have to reincorporate what I just said.
    This is an interesting point. Makes me wonder about drifting the game so that you don't get style for introducing cool stuff, which can be its own reward. Instead, give style for expanding on other people's cool stuff...
  • Posted By: noclueIt's actually genre emulation. The genre in question being Ven blood opera.
    That would make it self-referential Right To Dream..... which is kind of wanky when think about it....

    Ew.

    Way to make my theory oriented brain feel all skeevy, James.

    Jesse
  • Jesse, could you unpack "self-referential Right To Dream"?

    I'm not sure what you mean. What is it? Why is it skeevy in context to Houses of the Blooded?
  • I think it's the Right to Dream John Wick's Dream.
  • edited January 2010
    Uh, Jesse, many independently-produced/creator-owned games out there could be considered someone's "self-referential Right To Dream."
  • edited January 2010
    Guys,

    I was mostly making a joke. I didn't mean anything particularly huge or profound.

    Jesse

    P.S. Also, that probably should have been a whisper to James, as he and I have discussed Houses at some length but it was late when I posted.
  • edited January 2010
    OK, I'll wear my heart on my sleeve.

    I Love Houses of the Blooded. Really LOVE Houses. It is my favourite RPG. I love it in the same way I love Elric and I love Corwin and I lost myself to Dune and Shakespeare and I poured over The Prince and The Art of War. It is everything I want from an RPG about Tragedy.

    All I say is with that proviso, and rather than hide it I've put it up front. I've ran one longer campaign, playing in another, I demo it at any con I attend and print off the demo book and hand it to every gamer I know, not because they will all like it, but because I want tot find others who will 'get' it. I'm trying to get Living Shanri in a state where it will really take off and be able to self-perpetuate. So, some of the points I've read and what this frothing fan thinks...


    Re: All the extra mechanics never get shown in play
    Well, that depends. Talk with your players and find out what they want to focus on. I've run some month-long games where we used nothing but the core mechanic and perhaps one rule from the toolbox. My campaign slowly introduced each of the 'tools' at roughly one every session or two, until we had at least touched on each. The focus always goes with what the group are interested in - sometimes switching as the campaign progresses. That said, if you want to leave the tools in the box then the core mechanic of Name/Virtues/Style/Aspects can cover the whole game.


    Re: What is the point of the Narrator? (and Useless Wagers)
    To lead the story, just in a different way. Name the scene and give it three truths. Add interesting Truths and play interesting NPC's as required. You also use the Style pot to ensure players aspects are Compelled at the right time, that cool play is rewarded immediately and to make sure that all the facts being played are tied back into the Story, if not this Story then later in the Campaign. It was mentioned that alot of facts were wasted... well... explain Chekovs' Gun to folks and how you would like that to change.


    Re: Setting and Delivery
    I love this. For the first couple of months of game-play I would often stop my game and, as if revealing some personal research into Ven culture, explain how the Ven treated certain things or how their language worked around a particular concept. I would work in how the rules are shaped to reflect this and then add in a new element, like the game of Insults or the Duelling mechanics. I do concede that the page referencing is poor, and if you are going to be looking for something mid-play it is a pain. The book could do with being reorganised slightly, but I enjoyed reading it and soaking up the feeling of what to do with it. A revised edition would be welcomed by myself, but there would be little change in the text, so much as the division and indexing.


    @ madunkieg's thoughts on gaining title
    I respectfully take a position completely opposed to your view here. All the ways you say you cannot gain title are all the ways my players and I have used to gain title. War. Romance. Politics. Exploration (which is the most simple and encouraged option which you miss). I've seen whole regions lost in duels and gained through marriage; usurped by Romance and destabilised by Art; held with armies of foul ork and defended with Sorcery and Ritual. I find it a shame that you seem to think this isn't implicitly handed to you in the text, because that is exactly what I read in it. (Off topic I also just hand new players the demo booklet and that works 100% as a primer and all the work is done for you).


    One last closing thought for now: I've never had an arc of HotB which hasn't ended in Tragedy.
  • Awesome, Keith, thanks for your post. I'm glad Houses has worked out for you, and your enthusiasm and advice almost make me want to give it another shot. After playing it, I'm certain I approached Houses in the wrong way (as laser-focused experience rather than toolbox game, I do fault the text for that), and perhaps with a re-adjustment of expectations I could enjoy it.

    I should say, and probably should have said in my first post, that Houses not working for me shouldn't be entirely (or perhaps at all? you be the judge) blamed on the game itself. I'm fully in agreement that I possibly don't have certain skills and/or just don't totally get how to run Houses. That said, since I've played 5 sessions of it and left feeling mostly ho-hum, I'm still skeptical that it can work out for me.
  • edited January 2010
    A huge post of mine just got eaten.

    So, for now, here are links to my AP threads.

    In short:

    If I were to introduce my players to ven culture, I would have a one-sheet with a little bit about the Sorcerer Kings, the significance of wearing different colors and the quote about revenge and love being the same word with different syllabe emphasis in the ven language.

    Were I to play HotB again, I'd make aging work faster. I really liked the generational aspect of the game but don't want to wait until a character dies or years and years of play to see it happen. I'd make suaven blessings and martial maneuvers aspects and not more mechanics.

    AP threads from ye olde blog:

    Little Thoughts

    Hound of Cthulhu

    Rock Out with your Geek Out Thursday

    Sub Systems

    Mass Murder of Orc

    The High Revenge of Sagay Steel

    Our All-Star Mid-fielder, the Senate and...

    The Suck

    Friday Night's Alright for Fighting
  • Posted By: Keith FyansYou also use the Style pot to ensure players aspects are Compelled at the right time, that cool play is rewarded immediately and to make sure that all the facts being played are tied back into the Story, if not this Story then later in the Campaign.
    Thank you for posting this. This criticism that there's too much stuff thrown out, or things are not reincorporated, has been batting around inside my head for a while. Isn't reigning things in, providing direction and making opportunities for reincorporation the very stuff that the narrator is there for? I mean a lot of the Narrator's cycle time has been off-loaded, with the players having agency in the game to create. The narrator definitely has some extra time to focus on what they're supposed to be doing. If you want things reincorporated, tell the players. Bring your NPCs into the game and make them active. Push and prod the PCs by bringing the stuff they created right back at them. The Narrator also has the power of style. Reward behaviors you like with style. Enforce tone and call bad form when tone is broken.

    Jesse and I have had some long discussions about the text and come at it from very different points of view. I haven't run HotB myself and have only played it a few times, so I've held back commenting in this thread. I'm not sure how valid my comments are, and they may evolve as I play and run the game, but I've come to consider the text to just be the result of John Wick's wagers. Rather than canon, I view it as a starting off point to be incorporated to the extant the players have been able to make it part of them. If the group comes to a place where they don't know what Ven would do, well the game has a mechanic to decide facts. Use that mechanic and move on. You really don't need to play John Wick's Ven to be playing HotB. After all, the setting is built upon an imperfect knowledge of a few archeological finds and some blood operas that have been passed down through the centuries (to go with the conceit of the book for a sec).

    And, if we really are emulating blood operas when we play, we're enacting literature, not culture. What matter if Suaven and Blessings don't feature in your story, and it focuses on duels, revenge and romance instead? Anyone whose read Irish folktales, for example, will know that no one story is going to present the whole of ancient Irish culture. No one story is going to have bards and leprechauns and the blarney stone and banshees and red caps and Arthur and the Fisher King and...

    That being said, the game is not without its flaws. John's already admitted he's not particularly happy with the combat maneuver section, which I found a bit boated. The Larp combat is much more elegant. I haven't had a chance to go through season actions, but I've heard mixed reviews of that sub-system as being "too board gamey." I'm not much of a board gamer, so that worries me.

    Anyway, YMMV.
  • Hi Hans - don't be too harsh on yrsef - the game didn't work for you, and you brought up why. That sorta thing is worth more than me frothing about the game as it makes the game better in the long run.Just because that didn't happen for me doesn't mean you were wrong.

    Heck, I agree that the text could be reordered to be nicer and I'm interested in trying out the larp combat rules to see how they work (as they may be better than the book rules that my group have had trouble with and tried a few alternates, but the game I'm in have found myself in seem to play with fine and have taught me the way to do it).

    As for Season Actions being bloated... I think the chapter could reordered (perhaps give Vassals and each sub-system a chapter of it's own) but they work quite nicely for me - and like a strategy board game, but I like that (I sit ant work and think on what season actions could be fun a year from now).
  • Posted By: Keith Fyans
    As for Season Actions being bloated... I think the chapter could reordered (perhaps give Vassals and each sub-system a chapter of it's own) but they work quite nicely for me - and like a strategy board game, but I like that (I sit ant work and think on what season actions could be fun a year from now).
    While I have qualms about it as part of the larger game, I really like the Season Actions system by itself. It's fun and cool, and I'd love to hack it into some sort of board/strategy PbEM thing, or something.
  • When narrating I find 90% of the stories are based upon undertaking the players Season Actions. Trouble in a region, training up or selecting vassals, creation of art and writing an opera, building holdings, exploring ruins or new lands, researching new rituals and preparing for parties. Oh, and all the espionage actions and the actions you ask your vassals to do can be used as well, or actions being targeted at your players by NPC's.
  • edited January 2010
    Hi Hans,

    I don't know anything about HotB but I really sympathize with reading a hot new game, being really excited and confident about it, investing a bunch of time and love in making it happen at the table, and having it crash or just fizzle out for whatever reasons. That totally sucks. In the past few years this has happened to me with 4E, Poison'd, and a number of other games, all of which I trust are potentially great products that really work for a large number of folks, but -- when I tried running them -- I couldn't quite figure out a way to make them really sing for me.

    Honestly, I think there's a fair bit of shame and disappointment that I often feel when I have these kinds of experiences. In some cases, it's taken me a while to really process those experiences and move on, both creatively and emotionally, almost like after a screaming or painful fight with a friend or something. The personal and social investment that we make when playing games with people can be really impactful, in all manner of complex ways. I gave away all my 4E books to Dev, for example, after my 4E campaign fizzled. And I haven't even READ Poison'd or In a Wicked Age since my awkward experiences with them, though I took those books from Boston to Seattle with me. Emotional baggage or something.

    Anyway, I kinda want to ask you -- if you feel comfortable sharing -- about how you're feeling, having had this experience with HotB. Since I've had similar experiences with different games, I guess I'm wondering if and how your emotional reaction is similar to or different from mine. You've already posted publicly about your issues with the game, which is like Step 2 in my coping process (Step 1 is unpacking the experience with the other players), so I'm suspecting there might be some common ground. Also, if you don't mind me saying, I sense some back-and-forth feelings, where you sometimes sound like you're "done" with HotB but then also express regrets and are thinking about trying it again "to get it right." I have SO been there, as well. And your conflicted feelings about John Wick as a designer sound like me trying to figure out how I feel about Vincent (as a designer, not a person) immediately after stumbling through a couple of his games.

    So, like, HotB, yeah cool. But I was wondering about you. Sometimes I wish we would talk about the people playing the games as much as we talk about games. If you're still a little too close to your recent experiences to feel like you can talk about your feelings, that's cool too.

    P.S. If you'd rather, I could start another thread and ask you.
  • edited February 2010
    So: good questions, Jonathan.

    How am I feeling? I'm feeling discouraged. Putting time, energy, money and excitement into a game only to have it, as you say, fizzle, is not an outcome that directly feeds my desire to play. It makes me question myself a little bit--do I really love roleplaying games, or do I only love the idea of roleplaying games (mind you, I've only been playing them for 2~3 years, and only semi-regularly in the last year)? When more than half of my roleplaying experiences have been not-super-great-kinda-fun-but-not-for-four-hours, well, it's upsetting. Right now I'm still jazzed about play, but I suspect that's because I'm still kind of fresh and can weather these disappointments. Also, when I'm mired in my post-HotB ennui, I can look back and remember that one Dogs initiation that set me on fire, or Go Play NW, and I remember that yes, I do love this play.

    This is a cantankerous hobby. I remember hearing Luke Crane on some podcast talking about how it's unbelievable what roleplaying game designers ask of players (himself incuded), in terms of internalizing and navigating among these vast, socially complex games, and how it's amazing that coherence (I mean it in the original sense) comes out of any of them. You know, this isn't Monopoly. It takes creativity, and understanding and connection to those other folks at the table with us. It takes work to cultivate those things, but I think that if they are cultivated, I can sit down at a table and have some of the most creative, fun, and rewarding times of my life.

    So I suppose, actually, I'm feeling optimistic. Hashing through my HotB experience has been really helpful and way fruitful; It's made me look at my gaming life and remember why I play. Even though the game itself was a letdown, I'm so glad I played it. I've learned a lot about gaming and what works for me and what doesn't. I'm starting up a game of Perfect with a couple of awesome people this week, and I've never been more excited to play.

    To respond to a couple of things more specifically:
    Posted By: jaywaltAnd your conflicted feelings about John Wick as a designer sound like me trying to figure out how I feel about Vincent (as a designer, not a person) immediately after stumbling through a couple of his games.
    My feelings about John Wick have been crazy. Absolutely nuts. I got excited about the premise of HotB, so I bought the $5 PDF, then I bought the book, then I bought Play Dirty, then I bought a used copy of L5R, then I started watching John's YouTube channel. After reading fully through HotB, I wavered; can I make this game good? Will it work in play? Then I read Josh Roby's positive review on RPGnet. I've never read or played any of Josh's games, but since he's a name, I felt good about my choice to buy and play HotB--Josh Roby said it's good, it must be good, right, even though who's Josh Roby to me? Isn't that out of the realm of sanity?

    So I'm so excited about John Wick, because he's kind of out of his mind, but he's intensely charismatic, and he can convince me his game will rock my body.

    Then I play it, am underwhelmed, and I think, "John Wick's charismatic and writes well, but I don't think he's a super-great designer or anything."

    And right now, I have the more reasonable opinion of "John Wick might make great games, but I can't figure out how to make 'em great. Kudos to them that can."

    It's a rollercoaster.
    Posted By: jaywaltAlso, if you don't mind me saying, I sense some back-and-forth feelings, where you sometimes sound like you're "done" with HotB but then also express regrets and are thinking about trying it again "to get it right." I have SO been there, as well.
    This is spot-on. I have loudly and vehemently (to myself) sworn off traditional games, but my anger at them has been surprising to me, and now I have this really strong desire to play one and really get it right, and have a blast. I don't know if it's possible, and I feel a little cynical about an attempt, but someday, I just know that it's gotta work.
  • edited February 2010
    Posted By: hans ottersonPutting time, energy, money and excitement into a game only to have it, as you say, fizzle, is not an outcome that directly feeds my desire to play. It makes me question myself a little bit--do I really love roleplaying games, or do I only love the idea of roleplaying games (mind you, I've only been playing them for 2~3 years, and only semi-regularly in the last year)? When more than half of my roleplaying experiences have been not-super-great-kinda-fun-but-not-for-four-hours, well, it's upsetting. Right now I'm still jazzed about play, but I suspect that's because I'm still kind of fresh and can weather these disappointments. Also, when I'm mired in my post-HotB ennui, I can look back and remember that one Dogs initiation that set me on fire, or Go Play NW, and I remember that yes, I do love this play.

    This is a cantankerous hobby. I remember hearing Luke Crane on some podcast talking about how it's unbelievable what roleplaying game designers ask of players (himself incuded), in terms of internalizing and navigating among these vast, socially complex games, and how it's amazing that coherence (I mean it in the original sense) comes out of any of them. You know, this isn't Monopoly. It takes creativity, and understanding and connection to those other folks at the table with us. It takes work to cultivate those things, but I think that if they are cultivated, I can sit down at a table and have some of the most creative, fun, and rewarding times of my life.
    This is, exactly, the conflict I've been having for the past two or three years, and I've been into roleplaying games for two decades. Lately, I've been struggling to find a solution that's not just giving up on the medium, because I've had some genuine good times and sincerely believe that roleplaying games have a lot to offer the people who play them. But, man, it's hard to get to that worthwhile stuff.
  • edited February 2010
    Posted By: hans otterson It makes me question myself a little bit--do Ireallylove roleplaying games, or do I only love theideaof roleplaying games?
    Yes indeed. I would be very surprised if many folks on this forum haven't asked themselves this question multiple times, especially have really mediocre sessions. Ben likes to say that I always complain about roleplaying or design or the community or whatever when I haven't recently played a game that flat-out rocked socks. Honestly, I think that's probably true for a lot of people. That's why Dreamation or GenCon or GoPlay NW tends to spawn little bubbles of excitement and group solidarity on SG, pulling us out of whatever other crap is going on. The play and sense of community there reinvigorates our dedication to this hobby and to each other.

    I think the folks that I know with the healthiest relationship with the hobby have used moments such as these, like you say, to refine their focus... to decide what aspects of the very broad and diverse hobby they want to personally focus on or get involved in. They basically figure out what kinds of play experience will give them the most consistent returns on their emotional investment, to look at things in a utilitarian fashion. John said one time that he's highly skeptical of games with more than 4 players, for example, because they don't have the same focused relationship dynamics that he enjoys.
    I remember hearing Luke Crane on some podcast talking about how it's unbelievable what roleplaying game designers ask of players (himself incuded), in terms of internalizing and navigating among these vast, socially complex games, and how it's amazing that coherence (I mean it in the original sense) comes out of any of them.
    Yeah, and the other thing about it is, because all experiences are ultimately personal and happen in these small groups, it's difficult sometimes to really empathize with people who have mediocre experiences even if you sympathize with them. You can't really know what the experience was like and there are some sessions in which some players have a great time and some players have a lousy time. And that can make processing negative (or even positive) experiences hard going.
    So I suppose, actually, I'm feeling optimistic. Hashing through my HotB experience has been really helpful and way fruitful; It's made me look at my gaming life and remember why I play.
    Negative experiences can definitely teach us a lot more, certainly, but I'm glad it hasn't gotten you discouraged. I will say that sometimes I find it useful to step back for a few weeks or even a couple months, not playing anything and focusing on the other fun things in my life. I find that it helps me feel balanced and enables me to gain some perspective about roleplaying and what I want and need from the hobby.
    I have loudly and vehemently (to myself) sworn off traditional games, but my anger at them has been surprising to me, and now I have this really strong desire to play one and really get it right, and have a blast. I don't know if it's possible, and I feel a little cynical about an attempt, but someday, I justknowthat it's gotta work.
    I would encourage this, actually. Honestly, as many indie games or alternative culture "converts" have discovered, I think the hate which gets poured on other people's fun is often a somewhat immature reaction to finding something new that you like and divorcing yourself from the person or hobbies you used to identify with. I mean, I've even had little petulant fits about "older" indie games (from like 2003) compared to newer ones. But, as you've now discovered, it's not always the games themselves that are the problem and it's not as if having a new, exciting set of rules will always guarantee you a good time.

    More and more, I find that its more about how people approach games that is at the heart of the matter. Vincent has said that Dogs in the Vineyard in many ways teaches you how to GM and I think those shifts in perspective are much MORE important than simply exploring new rules guidelines or mechanics. If you learn about new approaches and perspectives, in many ways, those new things travel with you when you go back and play D&D or whatever else. I mean, even if HotB didn't work that well for you, through trying to play it and becoming (for however long) a John Wick fanboy, you've encounter different perspectives on roleplaying that will probably continue to influence you.

    Thanks for sharing, though. It's really interesting to hear about your internal struggle and experiences.
  • Posted By: jaywaltused moments such as these, like you say, to refine their focus... to decide what aspects of the very broad and diverse hobby they want to personally focus on or get involved in. They basically figure out what kinds of play experience will give them the most consistent returns on their emotional investment, to look at things in a utilitarian fashion
    The unexamined game is not worth playing.

    Or, if I can stop being a wanker for five little seconds, let me just say... yes.

    I've had some really shit games in my life, and a lot of just so so games. And sometimes it has made me stop and ask if I really love the hobby or just love what I dream the hobby could be.

    In the end, I've decided the first, and so tried to learn from my copious mistakes.

    So Hans, my man, I feel you. Also, I agree with you almost exactly point by point about Houses, save that I didn't enjoy the writing. Drove me fucking nuts it did.
  • I also had a game of HotB fall flat on its face. This thread has inspired me to try it again.

    This time, I am going to throw out all of the extra rules. I'll have the PCs do Virtues, two Aspects, and their family information. Nothing else. I'll report how it goes, if I get a game going.
  • Definitely, Brand, and I think in my less annoyed moments that I believe the struggle and inconsistency of roleplaying is part of why it is so fascinating and ultimately rewarding. It is a fundamentally human activity full of human mistakes and, hopefully, human insights. And it teaches me more about myself and how to be a human being, which mostly involves how to deal with completely fucking things up.

    The key, I think, is figuring out how to get out of poisonous dynamics, where there's some set of interactions with people or games or ideas or whatever that is negative but also isn't teaching you (or anyone else) anything. I imagine even you have been in some of those places, yeah? :) I don't think there's much harm in negative experiences that are educational or otherwise valuable, but you definitely want to avoid dynamics that are just (mutually) abusive or where the benefits are increasingly smaller than the suffering.

    And basically, it sounds like that's maybe the point that Hans has gotten to with HotB (yeah, Hans?), that he's so frustrated with trying to get it to work for him that it's time to walk away for a bit, because maybe it's stopped being educational or the benefits have stopped outweighing the pain. Maybe you come back to it later or maybe you don't, but right now it's not worth it anymore. You have to find some way of changing the existing dynamics before you can approach it again; maybe new players or a new approach or just, to quote Gillian Welch, letting time be the revelator.
  • Hans,

    I'm as battle scarred as you are with regard to "traditional" games. I'm going to make a rather bold claim that might worth its own thread. The primary thing that the whole "indie" movement was a reaction to, is largely dead. We "won". But not in the way I think some of us (including myself) thought we would.

    The discussions on The Forge back in the day were never about Ability + Skill + Die > TN is bad. It was about something much, much larger. I ask that you go pick up a 1st Edition of any White Wolf book if you can and read very, very carefully the section that tells you how to run the game. For me, that book was Wraith. It's extremely frightening. It's basically a How To manual on constructing a cult of personality around the Storyteller.

    It tells you, you should tell your players what their character's motivation is.

    It tells you, you should construct an ally NPC and place him in the middle of the players to lead by example.

    It tells you to use a variety of "Carrot" and "Stick" procedures to "train" the players.

    Now go look at Trail of Cthulthu. Someone like you or me might roll our eyes and call that "trad". Except it isn't. It's about something in the way that a lot of 90s games weren't. Trail of Cthulhu very clearly tells you what to do, how to do it, why that's fun and in a (mostly) non-socially abusive manner how to get at that fun.

    Compare the crazy confused mess of D&D 2nd Edition with the lean mean focus machine of D&D4th Ed or even 3rd Ed for that matter. D&D went back to its "challenging the players with kick-ass encounters" roots.

    These games know what they're about and tell you how to go get that thing if you want it too. Unlike the 90s battle cry of, "Well, it's ANYTHING you want it to be". Those games lacked real design and then handed the GM a bunch of socially manipulative tools and told him to keep the group in line and make sure everyone has fun NO MATTER WHAT. He had to because, after all, there was no coherent buy in.

    If someone says, "Want to play Vampire?" I have no idea what that means. It could mean anything. If someone says, "Want to play Trail of Cthulhu?" I know exactly what that means and whether or not I want to buy into that and play.

    That's what the "indie" movement was about. And from 4th Ed to Trail of Cthulhu to Pathfinder. We won.

    My jury is still out on Houses of the Blooded. Frankly, I think the LARP rules are much more focused on what John really wants the game to be. And I'm saddened by them because I really thought John was someone other than who he really turns out to be.

    Jesse
  • edited February 2010
    Posted By: jaywaltAnd basically, it sounds like that's maybe the point that Hans has gotten to with HotB (yeah, Hans?), that he's so frustrated with trying to get it to work for him that it's time to walk away for a bit, because maybe it's stopped being educational or the benefits have stopped outweighing the pain. Maybe you come back to it later or maybe you don't, but right now it's not worth it anymore. You have to find some way of changing the existing dynamics before you can approach it again; maybe new players or a new approach or just, to quote Gillian Welch, letting time be the revelator.
    Well, part of it is that we wrapped up the arc before the holidays, and talked about getting together in the new year to start up another HotB game. That is, the energy and excitement required to start up a new game is greater than that needed to continue a game, so if the game hadn't gotten cut because of the holidays, I probably could have kept going, though not for long if all things had stayed the same.

    Otherwise, yeah, I do feel that right now it's not worth it. Of course there's a chance that I'll play Houses in the future; I don't think it's a good chance what with all the games I own and am excited about, but it's a chance nonetheless. Thing is, I'm perfectly happy with the thought that I'll never play it again in my life. Same isn't true for Burning Wheel, or My Life with Master, or Lacuna, etc.

    Jesse: fascinating post. And so right. Maybe it's not impossible. I'm going off topic here, but I'm learning, more and more, that the quality of a game (session/campaign) has so much to do with who you play with. This isn't a new idea, but I'm saying to myself now, before a game, "do I want to hang out with these people outside of a game context?" And if the answer is yes, then I will go play games with them.
    Posted By: JesseFrankly, I think the LARP rules are much more focused on what John really wants the game to be. And I'm saddened by them because I really thought John was someone other than who he really turns out to be.
    Will you elaborate on this dangling tidbit? Even if it's somewhere else?I assume you mean John-as-designer and not John-as-person.
  • Of course there's a chance that I'll play Houses in the future; I don't think it's a good chance what with all the games I own and am excited about, but it's a chance nonetheless.
    I'll head over and run you a game one day... ;-)
  • Posted By: Keith FyansOf course there's a chance that I'll play Houses in the future; I don't think it's a good chance what with all the games I own and am excited about, but it's a chance nonetheless.
    I'll head over and run you a game one day... ;-)

    With how it sounds like you run the game, Keith, I would gladly play.
  • Posted By: JesseIt tells you, you should tell your players what their character's motivation is.
    Ummm....no. You are misremembering, or maybe projecting, or something, 'cause it really didn't.
    Posted By: JesseThese games know what they're about and tell you how to go get that thing if you want it too. Unlike the 90s battle cry of, "Well, it's ANYTHING you want it to be". Those games lacked real design and then handed the GM a bunch of socially manipulative tools and told him to keep the group in line and make sure everyone has fun NO MATTER WHAT. He had to because, after all, there was no coherent buy in.
    Yes, and this is a strength and not a weakness. It helped people create their own thing rather than do what a designer thought they should.
  • Very interesting read, thanks all!
  • edited October 2012
    I summon this thread from the death it had. And yes, it was my own thread, I ain't ashamed. It was a fucking good thread, and everyone who participated made me think and taught me something. Good times. I do love RPGs, am still thankful for this experience, and am more thankful that I processed it in public and had a great conversation about it that remains recorded.

    I feel like threads like this is Story-Games at its best. No one got heated, people expressed various opinions, and we learned more about specific games and specific play experiences and preferences. Perfect.
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