Friday, October 29, 2010

HotBlooded: Tapestry Preview

One of our experienced LARP assistants, Ellis, wanted to paint little tapestries for each Houses' coat of arms.  Here's a preview of the first three:

Monday, October 18, 2010

HotBlooded: Release Day

I've heard nothing from my editors, meaning that there's no disaster in my material, and that means: Release day. I have a few things to work out, but I'll be editing this post with constant updates.  Because I know you guys are totally watching this blog breathlessly.  Look, I'm excited, awright?  Awright.


Release day!

EDIT: Character sheets separated, and PDFed.  Cover Sheets complete.  Waiting on word about release.

EDIT: They want to have a meeting first.  Ok.  But that means we won't see release until sometime after 5:00 pm :(

EDIT: They've decided they want to send all the sheets themselves, so I went to bed.  Got to zip them all up now.  It'll be a bit.  Hopefully today, though.

EDIT: It should be out!  Enjoy!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

HotBlooded: Update

I finished the last of my second drafts today.  If I had to, I could send all the characters out right now.  I'm going to leave them for awhile, let my editors look it over (if they have time, it's looking like they don't), put together a rules summary, and then send.

I think it's safe to predict that you guys should have your characters by Monday.  Then it's just a matter of squaring away the servants, and then I'm done woohoo!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

HotBlooded: But it's all wrong!

The LARP rapidly reaches completion.  I've sent the first draft of the Elk out to be edited, and I'm finishing up the first draft of the Fox as we speak, so I wanted to take some time out to tell you how the game really works, because I'm doing it all wrong.

This is the first impression many of you will have about Houses of the Blooded, and you might get the idea that this LARP is a normal representation of the game.  Rali Steele, for example, doesn't have a Spy Network, while No Yvarai lacks Personal Guards or Roadmen.  All of the Fox have a set of resources they can bring and nothing else.  We have the Great Game, special rules for Espionage and so on.  None of this is in Houses of the Blooded.  All of it's wrong.  John Wick designed HotBlooded for the long haul.  He meant you to play it over many, many sessions, building your land, gathering your strategems, watching your character grow old, put together a family, and die.  Obviously, we don't have time for that in a one-shot LARP!  And so, I made concessions and design decisions that I thought would give my players a flash of insight into how HotBlooded works, without actually playing out all the excruciating details.


In the LARP, your "land" is represented by what resources you can bring.  All Foxes, for example, can bring a Luxury or an Industry (which represents things like bolts of cloth, pottery, or other manufactured goods), and that's it.  In the actual game, you have a highly detailed domain, filled with forests and villages and mountains, each producing their own resources, each with their own unique little buildings that benefit your character.  If you wanted to play Houses of the Blooded like a game of Civilization, you could!  And that would kind of be the point.

The problem is, of course, that you don't have sessions and sessions to build up this land.  I don't have time to explain and reveal the nuance of your domain to you.  In the real game, we'd expect that certain Houses might focus on certain elements (the Fox might focus on Luxuries and lack for Lumber, for example) and they might use up some of their resources and suffer the need for others (Can't build that new building without some Lumber!) and thus, trading would come into the picture.  As Desiree's character worried about how she would put together her new Opera House, she might borrow some of Raoul's Lumber to do so, in exchange for some spare Luxuries she has floating around that she isn't using.

In a one-shot LARP, there's now way to make that work, so I just cut to the chase.  Every House has certain resources that it specializes in, and certain resources it needs.  This facilitates trading, but you can see that you're missing out on lots of nuance and detail in the process.


In the LARP, everyone has a couple of Vassals, usually a few bands, and some NPCs that they can bring, if they can find a player to play that character.  Duke Torr Adrente, for example, has military might, so he might have some Personal Guards and some Roadmen.  In the actual game, you have hosts of Vassals.  You can have one vassal band "per domain," so Torr Adrente, as a Duke, might have ten domains, and in each domain, he might have a band of Personal Guards.  That's 30 points worth of Personal Guards!  But you'd expect nothing less from a Duke of the Wolf!  Likewise, you'd expect that even if Spy Networks were not his focus, he's have at least a few, if only to protect his lands from espionage.  He'd have maids, seneschals, artisans, apothecaries, an entire swarm of servants.

This is impractical in the LARP for several reasons.  As stated above, we're not detailing out all of Torr's land, so it's hard to show you just how much power he has.  Rather than give him everything, we show what his specializations are and limit his options.  Presumably, even if Torr had 30 personal guards spread over 10 domains, he couldn't bring them all to the party, so he'd just bring one... but having so many soldiers, he could certainly afford to do so!

The game doesn't actually require that you represent all of your Vassals with physical players.  There's a maid, as a vassal (a stat on your sheet) and a maid as an NPC (a person, with ideas and a story and stats!).  Only the latter needs to be represented with an actual person, of course.  However, I wanted to show you what it's like to be Ven, actually have that sense of power, and that  means having someone to order around.  With so many people willing to assist in the LARP, I thought it would be nice to actually represent some of the maids and swordsmen and spy masters with actual people.

The Great Game

In the actual LARP rules, the Great Game is just a cute thing you can play "for points."  It doesn't really have the sweeping, political implications that I suggest in my LARP.  In reality, one would expect the sort of machinations represented in Banquet's Great Game to take place over months.  In between LARP sessions, players would use "season actions" to do things like move soldiers onto a rival's terrain, spy on an opponent, or build up his lands.  You'd see the evolution of politics session by session, like watching a game of chess in slow motion.  We don't have seasons, so I've tried to summarize what would surely be an entire year worth of political intrigue into a single session.  Doubtless, it'll be explosive, but you have to understand that it doesn't normally work like that.


These aren't the only minor tweaks I've made.  Quite a bit of the game relies on long term play.  Obviously, normally, players would make their own characters.  They would pick out their own enemies.  Their relationships would naturally evolve.  You wouldn't need me to conjure up all of this material, as most of you would be doing it for one another.

But that's not the nature of a one-shot.  In a one-shot, you have a single day to sort of "take in all the sights" of a particular system.  You can look at the LARP I've created as sort of a whirlwind tour of what Houses of the Blooded has to offer.  If you like it, dig in.  The real thing is a little different, a lot richer, and beautifully complex.

Monday, October 11, 2010

LARP Update

I finally have the rough draft on all (Ven) characters done!  I'll spend some time editing them and rebalancing them, but hopefully, I'll have a copy of them sent out to my editors before the end of the week, and then get them out to you guys next week.

Having the preview out already really lightens my work load!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Banquet of Tears Preview is up

I finished it in a rush and sent it out.  If you're in the LARP, you should have it by tomorrow sometime, if not pester your usual representatives until you do.

It contains all the core setting information, and a list of who is playing as what.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Back from the Dead (Again)

I think I mentioned that I was fighting computer troubles before.  They finally metastasized into a full-blown crash (helped by human hands when a well-meaning Bee did exactly the same thing that lead to the crash I created the last time. Now we both know that's a bad idea).

Fortunately, I learned a lot from the first crash, and since it had been flailing for a week, I had everything prepped and prepared, and so when it finally collapsed, I had it up and running again after a single night of work.  Better than I expected!  And no real loss of data (though I seem to have lost a CD I bought from iTunes, as it seems they don't "keep" them the way pdf sites or Steam does.  Might think about that the next time I buy from them...).  Anyway, it's good to be back.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Beauty of LARPs

For the life of me, I cannot find the scene, but I believe it can be found in Amadeus, where Mozart extols the virtues of Opera.  If I remember correctly, he said something to the effect of "In a play, you can only have one actor speaking at a time.  More than that, and you lose what everyone is saying.  It stops making sense. But in an Opera, every can 'speak' at once, all singing in harmony with one another, and what they say matters less than the music that they make."

As I'm putting together my LARP, I find that this metaphor works very nicely.  When I reveal portions of my LARP to others, some comment that it seems "awfully complex for a one-shot" and that "I don't need to worry about so much."  This might be true (I lack the perspective to know for sure), but, in my view, a LARP works very differently from a table-top game.  In a table-top game, you need to pick your focus and stick to it, as ultimately, you can only explore one thread at a time, preferably with everyone together at once so nobody feels left out.  You cannot have the Princess exploring her undying love with her champion at the same time that the Knight tries to uncover the mystery of his father's death, even though these two elements might be tied together.  In a LARP, not only can you, you must.  You cannot stop the LARP and explore the princess's elements and then shift to the Knight.  Instead, you'll have the Princess doing her thing, and the Knight doing his, everyone amusing one another without interfering with each other's "attention bandwidth."  Everything is going on at once in this grand, harmonious cacophony, and only at the end can you stop and start to see the big picture.

So why am I making everything so rich and complex?  If you actually boil down my grand stories, you only find, roughly, 4-7 threads: One per House, and then a couple that mingle characters from the various houses (for example, there's a thread surrounding the Scallywags, as well as a thread that, for example, will occupy the Elk).  Every player has a part to play in several of these threads: A player might be a hero in this thread, and a villain in that thread, as different characters see him from different perspectives.  Because I cannot know what elements will speak to a player and which will not, we add to the complexity by giving them a lot to choose from, knowing that they'll pick a direction, a role, and go with it.  This means that not every player will be fulfilling every "threads" role, but every thread has more than enough players in it that they can likely keep it going.  For example, the Princess of the House of the Bear wants a strong, romantic thread for her character, but she's not aggressive, and thus I must bring players to her.  I could pick a single player as her love interest, but what if he's more interested in other things?  In such case, I've directed several characters in her direction for different reasons.  Thus, if only one out of those three is actually interested, she still gets her story, while the others have a sense of choice and direction.

The result, I hope, will take advantage of the inherit chaos of a LARP.  Instead of forcing players into parts, I'm directing movements and creating possibilities and paths, designed robustly enough (hence the "complexity," which really isn't complexity at all, but redundancy) that even if one element should fail, the general movement of the plot should continue and, hopefully, contain enough surprises that everyone enjoys themselves thoroughly.

How fitting, to describe a Houses of the Blooded LARP as an Opera...
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