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July 8, 2008 / jadettman

Houses of the Blooded

Houses of the Blooded is the new roleplaying game by John Wick. I had hoped to buy it at Origins but it wasn’t available.

Following the usual argument (I don’t need new RPGs. I’ve got plenty), I had decided a while ago that despite the cool looking previews that I’d seen for the game I just wasn’t going to buy it without looking at it first. This has saved me several times in the last few years from buying a game that just didn’t suit my tastes, so it’s a policy that I try to follow.

Then I watched the design videos that Mr. Wick put up on YouTube and one of them reached out and grabbed me. I don’t even remember what it was that did it, but I preordered the game within minutes.

So, the benefit of the preorder is that I got a PDF of the game in my email inbox when the book went to print. This is a good feature. Now I’ve been reading the PDF while I wait (somewhat more patiently) for my book, which will arrive in about two weeks.

I’m about 70 pages into the game, I’m really enjoying the setting material, and I haven’t even made it to the mechanical sections yet. This is unusual for me. I have a tendency to read the mechanical bits of a game first and then read the rest of it if I find the mechanics interesting. I’ve been trying to break myself of that habit lately.

In addition to being pretty damn cool, HotB has also reminded me what a total fanboy I am. Reading over the setting makes me want to run the following games: an Amber game, a game set in the Courts of Chaos, a game set in the One Hundred Years After period of Stephen Brust’s Dragaera world, and there were others but I didn’t get them written down before I forgot them.

The interesting thing is, though, that I haven’t even gotten to the rules yet! I want to run these games based entirely on setting similarities, so I’m kinda hoping that the mechanics really work for me, because I’m getting a group together to play this thing.

I’ll tell you how it goes.



Leave a Comment
  1. Britt / Jul 9 2008 1:51 pm

    I’m getting excited about playing, too. I think the setting is awesome; and of course in the world of RPGs, for me, “awesome” means “like Amber.” 😉

    I’ve read some of the mechanics, and I think I’m not going to hate them.

    I’m most intrigued by the epic scale of the game. The default starting PC is a powerful young noble with lands and retainers, and you play the lifetime of the character, not just an episode or a series of adventures.

    Now, on the other hand, the whole land-and-follower management & growth system seems a little bit like Settlers of Catan… not that that’s a bad thing, but, I dunno, I wonder if it will end up being a bad combination of over-simplified and at the same time altogether too fiddly… I mean, it’s a RPG, not an economics simulation. I worry that I’ll have the Puerto Rico problem, where I am certain there is an optimal strategy which I have not a snowball’s chance in hell of actually figuring out. However, I will try to give it a fair shot.

    The resolution system seems admirably straightforward and flexible. I like that you handle almost everything the same way, i.e. there are no “skills” or “feats” with finicky little rules to memorize.

    I’m very interested in the effect of players dictating the results of successful rolls, and I (tentatively) think I like the “wagers” mechanic, though I wonder if I won’t just turn into a gigantic coward in play and refuse to use them. “Yes, I know I have seven dice! I know that the odds of failure are practically nil. NO I am not going to wager a die! That will increase my chance of failure!” (God, I hate dice.) (I take that back. I love dice. I am a huge fan of regular polygons, and Crystal Caste et al. do a lovely job producing intriguing colors and patterns. I hate dice-based games.)

  2. J.A. Dettman / Jul 10 2008 5:04 am

    Well, I haven’t read the Season mechanics yet but, from what the author has said, they aren’t intended to be a resource management sub-system so much as a way to create interesting plotlines between adventures.

    To my mind, then, that means that there is no optimal strategy. It’s not a boardgame after all, it’s a way to create interesting situations.


  3. John Wick / Jul 20 2008 5:50 pm

    Hi there!

    I got pointed over here by someone and I’m glad you’re enjoying the game. Be sure to let me know how your session went!

    Forums for the (newly-designed) HotB website will be up soon and I’m looking forward to hearing everybody’s new Aspects, Suaven, etc.

    Take care,


  4. J.A. Dettman / Jul 20 2008 8:43 pm

    Mr. Wick,

    Thank you for stopping by and dropping a comment!

    I am enjoying reading Houses of the Blood quite a bit, though it’s slow going on the computer screen. Keep any eye out. I’ll be posting about the game as it happens.

    I’m also looking forward to the new forums! Is the site redesign why the website id currently down?

  5. Dan / Jul 27 2008 12:48 pm

    I am intrigued by this, I would have to admit. And I fundamentally disagree with Britt about dice, of course 🙂

    I would have to hear more about it before I make a final judgment, but one concern I can potentially see coming up is that it turns into less of a roleplaying game and more of a strategy game, in some sense. I have had this issue with Amber in the past, where it becomes much more a game of planning and doing than a game of being. Maybe that is an inherent issue of things operating on a more epic scale?

  6. J.A. Dettman / Jul 28 2008 6:13 am

    So tell me, Dan: What is it that you want out of a game of being if it is neither planning nor doing?

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