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August 24, 2008 / jadettman

Hacking Houses (part 2)

A few thoughts that occurred to me this morning while I was thinking about my bi-weekly Houses of the Blooded game. Once again these have to do with using the Houses mechanics for other types of games, particularly Amber-ish games.

I’m still hung up on Devotions. I think they are pretty spiffy and could be put to a few uses. Specifically, I think that they could make up a big chunk of the core mechanics for an Amber/Courts of Chaos game. Here’s how it works:

Players get a number of points to put in their character’s Devotions which represent how important something is to the character. The important thing here is that a character’s Devotions can be anything: a person, a Power, a place, an ideal, anything. And, because these things are important to the character, they are treated kind of like Aspects in that they can be Invoked, Tagged, or Compelled.

Now, for those of you not familiar with Aspects from FATE, Spirit of the Century, or Houses of the Blooded, here’s how it works:

Shawn makes up this character:

Edward, Son of Random and Vialle, Prince of Amber

Pattern [2], Trump [4], Bleys [3], Random [3], Vialle [5], Amber [4], Estameeri [2], Gambling [2]

So, you can see from this that Edward has learned the powers Pattern and Trump but that he is much better at Trump than he is Pattern. He has a better relationship with his mother, Vialle, than he does with his father and he’s got some connection to his uncle Bleys (perhaps Bleys taught him some powers?). He also likes Amber and some Shadow called Estameeri, and enjoys gambling like his father.

Now, mechanically, when Edward gets into a contest that involves Pattern or Trump he can invoke his devotion to those powers to gain an additional 2 or 4 dice respectively (or just a bonus if you want to play diceless, but right now I’m just sticking to the Houses system). I’m not sure how to handle a Tag for powers but if a situation that involves Pattern or Trump crops up, Edward could be Compelled to investigate.

The relationships would work similarly but provide a better chance for Tagging. So, if a situation involved knowing something about Random or, if Random is threatened, how much Edward cares about his father then he could Invoke his devotion to his father to get 3 extra dice to roll. If Edward is in a situation where he wants to appear trustworthy but Random has a reputation of being a deceitful jerk, a character opposing Edward could Tag his relationship to Random and gain a bonus by claiming that Edward is a deceitful jerk by proximity. If Random is in danger, Edward could be Compelled to go to his aid.

Obviously, this needs a little work especially to mark out the differences between different types of devotions and how they might be used in play.

More to think about.

See also: Hacking Houses (part 1)



Leave a Comment
  1. Shawn / Aug 24 2008 11:45 am

    Nice example, although not any of the characters which I am familiar with. 😛

    Although I am not overly familiar with the system you are talking of, it seems to me that the Tag-ing mechanic could also be thought of as a format or pattern related to the subject, to which devotees to that subject could be predicted to think or act along. This causes the analogy to breakdown in the Amber translation a little, but could still work.

    For example:
    Dalt decides that he is going to stymie that on which Edward is working. He knows that in this case, it will require Edward to utilize the Pattern to reach the goal.
    So in working in opposition to Edward, Dalt has some ideas as to how utilization of the Pattern will help Edward, making him more predictable & easier to defeat.
    Now, the point in which I see this breaking down in Amber is that although everyone uses the same power source, each character tries to think of a novel way of accessing it which is a little different from everyone else.

    These may breakdown to rudimentary similarities (everyone starts by concentrating, everyone has to focus, in certain cases everyone has to move, etc. etc.) which can be predictive, but knowing whether you need to sabotage their horse or their paint-set is wildly different.

    Just a thought.

  2. J.A. Dettman / Aug 24 2008 12:43 pm

    That’s a good thought, Shawn.

    Even though each Pattern Initiate works with the power in slightly different ways, there are still commonalities.

    Of course, you could argue the other direction and say that the devotion in question can’t be Tagged until the other character sees Edward using the Pattern, getting a feel for his style.

  3. Shawn / Aug 24 2008 6:33 pm

    …Or perhaps it is a little deeper than that.

    What if Dalt, decides to use his Pattern to obstruct Edward’s Pattern usage?
    Is the negative to the dice pool both Edward’s Pattern dice & Dalt’s?
    Does Dalt’s figure in?
    Does the player automatically know when they are opposed on the basis of the number of dice that they roll?

  4. J.A. Dettman / Aug 25 2008 5:24 am

    In Houses nothing subtracts from a player’s dice pool.

    The way it works is that players do Invokes and Tags to add to their own dice pool, never to subtract from their opponents. That way bonuses equalize out.

    It was an interesting thought, though. I’ll have to think about how that might work.

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