View Full Version : Houses of the Blooded -- initial reaction

09-14-2008, 05:34 AM
I've just been reading my copy of one of the most intriguing new RPGs that I've read in a while. It's by John Wick, the guy who was instrumental in developing 'Legend of the Five Rings' and '7th Sea'. It is a compelling read, full of interesting ideas and I could scarcely put it down. I have not read it entirely yet, but my initial reaction is wildly positive.

It's called 'Houses of the Blood' and here's where he got me:

There all kinds of roleplaying games. Horror, fantasy, science fiction. But no matter the genre, there is one literary element that is almost never employed. The element of tragedy.

Houses of the Blooded is a game about tragedy. Now, most folks think tragedy means "when something awful happens." That's not what we're talking about here. What we're talking about is when the main character makes a terrible but well-informed choice. A choice the audience can clearly see as misguided, but because of his own circumstances, the hero cannot. As far as the hero can tell, his decision is the best decision to make, but because the audience has more information, they can see his choice will lead to his own downfall.

We hope the hero will recognize the mistake in time, but we know he will not. We hope for a happy ending, and the author may even give us hints that such an ending is possible, but we know in our heart that the end is inevitable.

This can only end in tears and blood.
-- John Wick, 'Houses of the Blooded', pg. 10

You play a noble of a long vanished race -- the ven. Corrupt, powerful and wicked -- the ven rule all the world. "Houses of the Blooded" is about their fall.

I haven't played it yet. And boy do I want to. I won't have a final opinion until I actually do. Can players really embrace an RPG about tragedy? Can players really wrap their head around a game like this? Can I? Is this really playable?

But even if its not, I'm glad I own this book. My head is buzzing with ideas. Seriously. It's a buzz so loud that it's 5 am and I still can't sleep.

More later...


Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
09-14-2008, 09:38 AM
After reading your blurb and others online, i am also interesed in said game. I'm going to talk to my gamers next chance i get and see if they'd be up for a test game. Cant wait.

09-14-2008, 02:27 PM
looks like i'm in the other camp on this one. i could absolutely never enjoy, play, or even sit nearby such a game as this. on a scale of 0-10, my interest would be a negitive value. i guess that would equate active antipathy.

as to why... i think it is something about the sum of my personality, spirit, experiences, and worldview which in my case winds up being diametricly opposed to this sort of a concept. i have enough tragedy in my real life, and don't wish to bring it into relaxation activities.

at this point in my life, i cannot see me ever trying out a game like this. so, having presented an opposing opinion, i'll now get out of the way so that everyone else who enjoys this sort of thing can use this thread to discuss the interest.

09-14-2008, 07:41 PM
I'm of two thoughts on the game, though I haven't read much of it.

My initial inclination was on the negative side...not so much as, say, nijineko's sounded like, but along the same lines as my thoughts on evil campaigns: no, thank you very much, not my cup.

But, as I continued thinking about it, I considered the following possibility. What if the campaign were not so much about the PCs seeking all sorts of personal exploits, but rather about one foresightful group trying to pave the road for the future?

In other words, the Ven will fall. The PCs, all Ven, know this will happen, with a certainty that passes all doubt. They may not be the only ones who know this, but they are the only ones (or, are at least among a small group) who, knowing that the fall is coming, are determined that this event will not be the worldwide catastrophe that it appears destined to be, and that some race (or group of races) that are viewed as mere cattle by most Ven will be put in a position to survive, perhaps thrive, and hopefully (ultimately) rebuild a world without making the same mistakes as the Ven.

Such a campaign, the attempt to pluck a tiny mote of redemption from the mountain of damnation to which the Ven are so richly entitled, might be quite interesting indeed. It would certainly feature all the plotting, infighting, and backstabbing of fellow Ven that the setting implies, but with an ultimately positive motive. And while I doubt I'm half the GM that'd be needed to pull it off, in the right hands I bet it'd be one hell of a ride.

What do you think?
Revising and extending my remarks: I still don't know if the game would quite be my cup, from scanning the preview. I got a very pre-French-Revolution-era vibe, and suspect that one could have quite the swashbuckling time of it all, with all the storytelling elements, and with the right players.

09-14-2008, 08:13 PM
redemption, i can go for. ^^

09-14-2008, 09:39 PM
Lest Darkness Fall (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lest_Darkness_Fall) -- Sprauge De Camp

09-15-2008, 08:28 AM
I must say I'm very much intrigued by this game. Another aspect that is rarely explored in most RPGs is the family. Family obligations, intestine feuds and just the sheer detail of who PCs are and what is their role in their own family is really appealing to me, especially a perspective of dynastic campaign.

The pdf is priced $5 on IPR...
Yeah ! Five Friggin Bucks damnit. It's a trap... I know I'll probably have to spend the 45 for the hardcover after reading the pdf :p

09-15-2008, 11:01 AM
I love the idea of using Open Secrets! It makes the whole distasteful politic style much more intriguing.

09-15-2008, 06:20 PM
Lest Darkness Fall (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lest_Darkness_Fall) -- Sprauge De Camp

A favorite of mine, although I was suffering from a brain cramp and couldn't dredge up the name. But I was certainly thinking about it.

09-16-2008, 03:42 PM
intestine feuds

Are these also known as Sausage Sieges?

On Blood: not interested, because gdmc only told me about the theme and plot. As far as I'm concerned, that same theme and/or plot can be played in most RPGs. The complaint that RPGs never focus on tragedy is a stab at game masters, not the RPGs.

Now if there's some Tragedy Mechanic that the game uses, that somehow creates a bigger and bigger tragedy as characters do more and more good, I'd like to hear about it.

09-18-2008, 08:27 AM
I'm at the part on revenge. The ven are a fascinating. The Aspects mechanic for tagging and compelling works very well for encouraging betrayal, but the Wager mechanic adds flavor to the mix. I'm not a fan of politically centric games. However, this game feels much more like you're in the heart of a grand struggle balancing your life on razor sharp threads that could snap or cut at any moment.

Romance game mechanic. Clever, dangerous, and tagged with possibilities. I'm starting to see social encounters play out with these rolls in real life. I may have to stop reading the book for a while.

10-20-2008, 09:35 AM
Now if there's some Tragedy Mechanic that the game uses, that somehow creates a bigger and bigger tragedy as characters do more and more good, I'd like to hear about it.

Yes, the game mechanics encourage tragedy.

The fuel for the engine is Style. You get Style by acting appropriate to the genre. If you don't, you get no Style, which means you can't refresh Aspects, you can't use Blessings, you can't add details to the scene, etc.

So yes, there is a Tragedy Mechanic... as well as a Romance mechanic, a Revenge mechanic, etc.

10-21-2008, 09:58 AM
Sounds like a pretty neat concept. I think the redemption themed game would work so long as in the end they ultimately failed.

10-21-2008, 07:05 PM
sorry, but i thought the point of redemption was success. otherwise it wouldn't be redemption. just tragedy.

10-22-2008, 01:27 AM
It's tragic yes but isn't tragedy. You spend your life fighting for what is right and die fighting. You keep your integrity when those around you sell theirs for pennies. Sounds like a life well lived.

10-22-2008, 01:30 AM
ah, i see. i would not call that a failure. i would call that a success. your use of the word failure confused me there. ^^

10-22-2008, 11:44 PM
Personal redemption is fine, so long as the rest of the society is screwed. Thats what I was going for.

10-23-2008, 01:35 AM
aa, so.

10-29-2008, 09:44 AM
aa, so.
When I read that, I pictured my boss when he made the same statement. He's a tall, clean cut, red-haired, freckled, broad-shouldered white guy and he'd just come back from a business trip to Japan. In a meeting, when confronted with some piece of bad news or other, he sat back in his chair and stroked an imaginary beard going "Ah, so ..." in an wildly exaggerated impression of the japanese businessmen. Broke the tension nicely ;)

10-29-2008, 03:28 PM
huh. the odd congruences one finds in life. i have been described as clean cut, redish-haired, and freckled (lightly)... i'm only tall if the person describing is under 5'11", and i don't think i'm particularly broad-shouldered. due to my inhereted red-head skin that has no ability to resist the sun, a person cannot be much whiter than i am, unless one is an albino. ^^

when i lived in japan it was upon my lord's business, which is not quite the same thing... but i did pick up the habit of responding in that fasion from the japanese. such a simple phrase, but so many ways of delivering it. the subtle nuances are nigh endless.

what tickled my fancy about that particular phrase, was that it happens to mean the exact same thing in both english and japanese. ^^

the beard stroking thing exists in japan too, despite the fact that they very seldom grow beards (except for native japanese-the ainu-and they are hairy as a caucasian... white skinned too. ^^). they picked it up from chinese media. ^^

10-29-2008, 03:35 PM
Him, I have a beard. I'm a Nordic white boy. Broad as a house.

aa so....

10-29-2008, 03:47 PM
i'm very mixed ancestory. my ancestors were quite the friendly people. ^^ somehow i still turned out a pale kinda redhead.

10-29-2008, 03:51 PM
i'm very mixed ancestory. my ancestors were quite the friendly people. ^^ somehow i still turned out a pale kinda redhead.

Heinz 57 here as well. Typical American Mutt.

10-29-2008, 04:17 PM
I'm an average height, slightly stocky, dark-haired Anglo Saxon. Heavily mixed English/Irish/German/Dutch. Every year, a little more of my Irish roots (litterally) hijack my beard, giving me little speckles of red in my otherwise dark brown face carpet.

Combine that with the emerging streaks of gray on the sides of my head and you get an interesting picture.

I'm not the super-pale, burn-easy type though. My grandfather swore he had part Native American ancestry and as such, both his and my father's complexion are deep bronze thanks to years of working outdoors. I'm not so well tanned, but I've noticed that my skin will tend to darken rather than burn on the brief occasions that I get direct sun exposure.

10-29-2008, 06:40 PM
i have a fair amount of native american as well, alas that my skin doesn't seem to know that. ^^ i could easily pass for standard w.a.s.p. heritage, except for very minor characteristics here and there, that take a knowledgable eye to spot.

11-06-2008, 12:52 PM
This game looks intriguing, I must investigate more...

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
11-06-2008, 02:34 PM
Heinz 57 here as well. Typical American Mutt.
Another American Heinz 57 Mutt here, and proud of it. What's great about being a mutt is that we, as mutts, have sooo many cool ancestries to choose from and claim our own.

11-06-2008, 05:50 PM
Another American Heinz 57 Mutt here, and proud of it. What's great about being a mutt is that we, as mutts, have sooo many cool ancestries to choose from and claim our own.

I hadn't considered that angle, but you have a point. Let's see, which ones do I want to grab, raise up and add to my Army.....:evil:

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
11-06-2008, 09:26 PM
I hadn't considered that angle, but you have a point. Let's wee, which ones do I want to grab, raise up and add to my Army.....:evil:
You're as cool today as you were 5000 years ago, lich tesral.

Chris House
12-03-2008, 10:35 AM
WELL as for other rpg's that are tragic, thier is Vampire;TM, And all old world of darkness games, there is Elric, and and CoC!
Blood sound like it would be a blast!
in the Tragic sense!

heck get to the base root all rpg's ARE tragic, because they must end some day! :p