Heart's Blood - Dracula goes by jeep

edited September 2012 in Story Games
Hi there.
Last saturday I organized in Italy, Reggio Emilia (during the yearly GnoccoCon), a game of "Heart's Blood", a neat story game by Nathan Hook.
I desperately tried to find *anything* about this game but it seems that no one has ever heard of it. So, maybe... I'll start with this thread. :)

First things first, the book. You can find it on Lulu.

The description from the author says:
This book contains a role-play scenario inspired by Bram Stoker's classic novel Dracula. Players play out the main characters from the story, exploring the themes of lust & temptation, immigration & colonialism, sexuality and the role of women in Victorian culture, and in particular the theme of agency. The scenario explores agency - in the sense of free will - against a narrative that begins fixed and linear and becomes open and free as the characters struggle against the will of Dracula. The scenario uses a wide range of meta-techniques and approaches that are explained inside. The book is complete within itself. The scenario is for 2-8 players, ideally 4-6 players and 1 Organiser. Typical play time is 4 hours.

Our game had 4 female and 2 male players, plus me as the director-organizer. It lasted *exactly* four hours.

The game is a "jeepform", meaning that it is a sort of an impro story that all the participants play together, acting scene after scene.
There are 8 main characters; playing in less than 8 players means that some of them has more than one character.
The game is divided into 5 acts. Each act is made of different scenes. In the first act every scene is fixed. I say to the players: "this is our first scene; we'll have Dracula and Jonathan Harker. It's that famous scene where Harker arrives in Transilvania during a storm and Dracula welcomes him. It will end with an invitation to dinner". In act 2 the outcome of the scene will be chosen by the players during the scene itself: it's Lucy Westenra that will tell Mina which of her three suitors will be her husband. In act 3 and 4 there is a more open outcome. Act 5 is completely free: nothing is fixed (there are some suggestions) and the players decide together which scenes they want/need to set.

The game makes use of a wide array of "meta-techniques" to underline some themes: in the first act we have monologues, when a character can temporarily "step aside" from his public mask and offer to the "audience" a glimpse of his/her inner feelings. One of the most funny was the use of "black men" to represent the powers of Dracula (something that to all of us reminded of the Matrix PingPong).
As the director, I frequently asked questions to the players, usually at the beginning or at the end of a scene. How are you dressed? What's the thing that creeps you most in Dracula?

The thing that I found most interesting was the way the author adapted a famous novel to a new format. The players were very excited and found it perfectly fit to start from pre-planned scenes, then gradually finding freedom to separate their story from the original novel and create new, unexpected events: in our installment, Lucy married dr. Seward and then he decided to stay with her in a vampiric afterlife, becoming the new heir of Castle Dracula, while Van Helsing was a much more uncertain fighter of the evil, and in a very moving scene he had to confront his dickensian ghosts of "past, present and future vampires".

All in all a very satisfying experience. After the game, we were all wondering what could it be another novel to adapt into a jeep format.

Has anyone else played (or read) this game? I'm curious. :)



  • edited September 2012
    I had not heard of it before, but your account made me extremely curious. Thanks for pointing the game out!
  • I had not heard of it before, but your account made me extremely curious. Thanks for pointing the game out!
    Likewise! This sounds really neat, I wish it was available electronically though.
Sign In or Register to comment.