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.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...