HotB Demo Outline.

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HotB Demo Outline.

Postby Snag » Thu Nov 06, 2008 11:13 am

For those that want to try and lure a group of players into playing the game, but they want to try it first, the following demo can be run in 15 or 20 minutes.

I actually wrote this for purposes of running a chat-environment game so that all the players aren't waiting on me to type out all the explainations, but it's ripped directly from watching John run 4,257,398 demos at RinCon. So anywhere you see something involving a chat site function, just apply the actual tabletop procedure. (Such as dice rolls.)

John, Duchess, let me know if I missed anything!


HotB Demo

Houses of the Blooded is a fantasy role-playing game about an antideluvian race called the ven. Thousands of years ago they were created by the Sorcerer-Kings and used as slaves until the Sorcerer-Kings destroyed themselves in a colossal magical war. This game is designed to address the things that one doesn't always find in other fantasy games. We won't mention any names, but the initials are D n' D.

In D&D, you play an itenerant adventurer, a sell-sword that roams the land killing things that look different than you, and take their stuff. In Houses of the Blooded, you're a landed noble, a ven. You have Holdings and Vassals and courtly intrigue. Romance and Revenge and secret deals. And every function of the game has a game mechanic to govern it, so that the Narrator isn't required to invent something on the fly, (with rare, occasional exceptions.)

HotB is all about Tragedy. It's understood from the outset that your character is going to fail, often spectacularly. We'll get into how the game system permits you to do that later.

A few facts about the ven -

War and armies are illegal, but Murder isn't. You just have to get permission.
You own what you can keep - if someone takes it away from you, it's not yours anymore.
Black is the color of Shame - only disgraced nobles wear it, with very occasional exception.
Only the Blooded may carry swords. It's the only instrument worthy of gracing a noble hand. All other weaponry are considered Tools.
Having an affair on your spouse is socially acceptable. However, adultery is not. There shall be no creating of illigetimate heirs. Beyond that, anything goes.

Each character is from one of six noble houses. Bear, Elk, Falcon, Serpent, Fox, and Wolf. Each of these animals represents a Virtue, your six base stats.

Bear - Strength (Physical prowess.)
Elk - Cunning (Learning and noticing)
Falcon - Courage (Intestinal Fortitude)
Serpent - Wisdom (Knowledge and Lore)
Fox - Beauty (Creativity and persuasion)
Wolf - Prowess (Killin'.)

First, pick which house you want your character to be from, based on the type of activity you'd like them to excel at.
Now, you have stats to distribute. In the six attributes, arrange the following numbers, assigning each one to a Virtue.


Arrange the stats as you see fit. Add one to the stat that resembles your house. And when you place the W, that stands for Weakness. It means that no matter what you do, you will never, ever be any good at anything that's centered around that stat.

Next is your name. Everyone has a family name, of course. And all names have a meaning. Everyone gets a free Aspect, (we'll be discussing those later), based on their family name.

Bear - Burghe (Alone we Stand Together)
Elk - Steele (I Have Never Surrendered)
Falcon - Thorne (I Am the Land)
Serpent - Mwrr (I Bear Wisdom's Price)
Fox - Yvarai (Desire is Tamed with a Kiss)
Wolf - Adrente (My Weapon is Myself)

Next, you move on to your public name. Pick any old name that you find fit for a fantasy themed character. Once you do, you pick a meaning for that one as well. For instance, one of the stock NPCs is Lady Shara. Her name means, "The Veiled Rose". This meaning infers that she's good at keeping secrets. Anytime she's rolling dice to preserve a secret, she gets a bonus die.

Your secret name is something that nobody should ever know. If someone finds out your secret name, they can do sorcery at you. There are roughly two or three things that can be done to another character via sorcery.

And not a one of them is at all nice.

Now, we move on to Aspects. It's assumed that with the exception of your Weakness, the characters are sufficiently adept at most mundane tasks. Aspects are akin to skills, except they represent something that you're very, very good at. Each time you use one of your Aspects, you get 3 dice to add to the appropriate Virtue for the dice roll. Let's look at weapon use. The Aspect would be Swordsman. Each Aspect has an Invoke, a Tag and a Compel.

Invoke is the circumstances under which you would begin using the skill. In the case of the Swordsman, it'd be 'When entering sword combat'.

Tag is a flaw in your skill, something that if other characters knew it, they could spend a Style Point (We'll be covering those later) and they would get two bonus dice to use against you where that Aspect is involved. So for this Aspect, let's call the tag, "Cannot take the first swing".

Compel is a way to make another character take action. If someone knows your character's Compel for an Aspect, they can make you decide to use that Aspect even though better judgement dictates that it might not be wise to intervene. For the sample Aspect, we'll say that the Compel is, "Protecting those I've sworn to guard."

So the Aspect would look like this:

Aspect: Swordsman
Invoke: Entering sword-related combat.
Tag: Cannot strike first.
Compel: "Those I've Sworn to Protect"

Just about anything can be an Aspect. There's several sample Aspects in the book which I'll be listing in a bit. As promised earlier, we're going to cover the House Aspects now.

Aspect: Burghe
Invoke: When fighting alone against many.
Tag: When trickery or deceit is involved.
Compel: Pride prevents you from asking for help.

Aspect: Steele
Invoke: When making a deal where you're exchanging items/promises/etc with someone else.
Tag: When trying to win someone's trust; everyone knows that the Elk are Cunning.
Compel: If you can take advantage, chances are that you will.

Aspect: Thorne
Invoke: Anything regarding knowledge of the wilds of Shanri.
Tag: Uncouth Demeanor - In social settings where courtesy and etiquette are a prominent factor.
Compel: When put into a situation where you are expected to play out the 'Uncouth Barbarian' stereotype.

Aspect: Yvarai
Invoke: Any action involving seduction.
Tag: When someone is trying to seduce you. The Blooded of the Fox are notorious hedonists.
Compel: It's so easy to seduce someone, that you're easily distracted onto someone else.

Aspect: Mwrr
Invoke: When trying to discover secrets.
Tag: Others can get an edge on you in matters not pertaining to lore or the library.
Compel: Being secretive even when it's not that important.

Aspect: Adrente

Invoke: In direct, physical combat, but they only get 2 dice. See the Tag for why.
Tag: None. The Blooded of the Wolf are always striving for perfection, however their bonus isn't as great.
Compel: When your honor is called into question.

And as promised, here's the list of sample Aspects. You can invent your own Invoke, Tag and Compel for any two of these, so long as you don't do anything too silly like this:

Aspect: I Kill You in the Face.
Invoke: When Killing You in the Face
Tag: I can only kill you in the Face.
Compel: Make me kill you in the Face.

(An overexaggeration, I know, but it gets the point across!) Or, you can invent your own Aspects!

Anyhow! The list!

Academy Educated Athlete Buraucrat Chance-Taker Court Gossip Homewrecker
Honest Eyes I Pull the Strings Kind-Hearted Large/Small (Select one)
Love the Shoes Meticulous Old Sword Politically Voracious Wife
The Queen of Thieves The Righteous Fury of Youth Rivalry The Road is my Home
Self-Destructive Strange Intuition Treacherous Vendetta Well Known
Well Mannered

You start off with 2 Aspects, plus the one for your House name. This is because everyone starts off as a Spring character. The ven only measure time in two ways: days and seasons. To that end, they refer to the stages of their lives as they would the seasons of a year. Spring characters are the young'uns, from the teens to the early adulthood. Summer characters are the adult years. Autumn is middle age and Winter is old age.

There's also a fifth aging phase: Solace. Ven don't die of old age, they simply become eerily beautiful in their golden years, much like Audrey Hepburn. Their skin becomes delicate and papery, their limbs become elongated, things like that. Once they start emitting a white fluid from their skin, the end is nigh.

That fluid becomes a coccoon of sorts, and the ven passes into an eternal sleep, where their dreams affect other people. Their ancestors have achieved so much power, that their descendants worship them in an ancestor-spirit sort of way and they're called Suaven. Those Spirits, the founders of each noble House, can provide their followers with their Blessing if they so choose. You can worship more than one Suaven at a time, as well. We'll discuss the Suaven, their blessings and the rules for that, if and when it comes up. For the purposes of the demo, however, it's not really necessary.

Finally, in full character creation, you often have the option to obtain an Artifact. Some forgotten relic from the days of the Sorcerer Kings that gives you something cool. I'll be assigning those to each of you based on your sheets. But beware! Because its Sorcerer-King magic, they all have a drawback, (as most things in this game do). Any use of an Artifact can result in DOOM. If you're rolling dice and using your Artifact, I can arbitrarily declare DOOM on you because of the Artifact. The result of this is that you get no Wagers from your dice rolls, (Risks, we'll cover those next), and we treat the roll as if you'd rolled a 9.


As with most RPGs, there are dice involved in Houses of the Blooded. All six siders, for ease of play. This is how dice rolls work.

You always start off with the Virtue that's appropriate to the Risk. For this example, we'll use the most common roll in the game. Every game starts off with a setup.

"After a long night of revelry at your Count's castle, everyone files into the common area to find a dead body in the corner."

This is the whole of the setup. No mention has been made regarding how the body got there, how it got dead, who it is or anything.

At this point, everyone rolls a Wisdom Risk. Obviously, this will roll off of the Wisdom Virtue. Let's use the example character from the book again, Lady Shara. In the character creation sample, Wisdom is Shara's Weakness. However for the plot hook Risk, everyone gets one freebie Wager, to be covered in this section.

That's the Virtue. Now your Public Name may come into Play. Shara's name means, "Veiled Rose". It pertains to secrets, and currently, nobody knows how that body got there. She gets a die for her name. Currently, Shara's dice pool is 1.

Next we get into Aspects. For the sake of example, let's say that Shara has the Aspect, "Eyes Wide Open", and the Invoke is "Noticing details", which adds 3 dice to her rolls. This brings Shara up to a dice pool of 4.

Before Shara rolls, she gets a chance to make Wagers. These are dice that are set aside and are not rolled at all. I'll get into why in a second. Shara has 4 dice, so we'll say she feels cocky and decides to make 2 Wagers, leaving her with two dice remaining to roll against a target number of 10.

Fortune is with Shara, and she rolls an 11. She gets her two Wagers, plus the freebie for the opening plot hook Wisdom Risk, bringing her to a total of 3 Wagers. Had she failed to roll over 10, she would not get her intention and she would lose half of her Wagers, rounded up. (This does not include the freebie.) But this is not the case, she succeeded in the Risk to get her intention, which was to spot clues about what may have happened to this body.

Now, here's where the rolls deviate from other RPGs. Shara does not automatically get her intention; instead, she gets Privilege. Her first act with Privilege, is to state one thing that is true about the scene. Her first statement is that the dead body is wearing a cloak that belongs to her.

Now she uses her free Wager to add: "..And, I loaned that cloak to (another Player Character) last night at the party."

She still has two more Wagers left, so she adds a couple more things:

"There is no visible weapon or damage on the body."
"The body's skin is pale and green."

Other participants would add in facts of their own, of course. Now, we're going to try the same type of Wisdom Risk. Here's the premise.

"Someone's sister has been wronged. Your Count has given you permission to take Revenge on the responsible party."

Everyone post your Wisdom Virtue, and your Name and Aspect if you have any that may be applicable.


Okay, now decide how many dice you're going to set aside for Wagers and in the dice roller, write that number in the notes section: 2 Wagers.


Set the number and type of dice you're rolling in the dice roller, (d6, remember), and click "Roll"!


(Run Risk listings, award Style where appropriate and let them know you'll explain later.)


Now, I mentioned Style points a few times already. The primary function of Style points are kind of like free-floating Wagers. F'rinstance, anytime a new NPC is introduced, the Narrator always starts off by saying three things that are true about that NPC. Like so:

Three things that are true about Lady Peacock
-She knows Everyone.
-She's always surrounded by admirers
-She seems to know everyone's secrets, no matter how well hidden.

This is generally followed by a brief visual and reputational description.

Lady Peacock is a common character type in ven pillow books. "The Dowager Duchess". An older, more experienced woman who guides the younger, less worldly heroes and heroines of the book.

Lady Peacock could be a great help to the characters, a great pain or a very dangerous enemy. She's rather flippant and doesn't seem to take anything seriously. But in fact, she is fiercely devoted to those who treat her with respect. She's even been known to put her own reputation in danger to protect those that she's chosen to guide.

Now, let's say that someone wants to claim her as a relative. They would spend a Style Point to say, "Lady Peacock is my great-aunt." This is now true about Lady Peacock.

Style can also be spent to say something is true about another player. "The captain of your personal guard is my cousin." But instead of that Style point just disappearing into the ether, it goes to the player whose character you're affecting. If the targeted player chooses to reject that option, they must then spend a Style Point to say 'No'. That spent Style point goes back to the Narrator, or vanishes into the ether.

In effect, it costs 2 Style to say 'No'. Be open to suggestions!

This rule also applies to Wagers. If you use a Wager to say something is true about another player character, you must also spend a Style point, with the same procedures in place.

Style is also used for other things. There are certain suaven given powers, (called Blessings), many of which require the expenditure of Style to activate.

Once you use an Aspect, it's gone for the duration of the play session. However, you can spend a Style point to refresh that Aspect, and its ready to go again.

Each character can personally bank 5 Style, once a session is ended. Any excess goes away.

Unless you have a Maid/Valet as a Vassal, or you have clothing that was made by a Craftsman of exceptional skill. If you have one of those, they each have a ranking number, and that rank is the number of Style you can bank in that Vassal or item. Those Artifacts I gave you earlier? The rank of those objects, also permits you to bank a number of Style points equal to that rank.
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Re: HotB Demo Outline.

Postby Nihilistic Mind » Mon Oct 19, 2009 11:30 pm

Resurrecting this thread for my own purposes.

I'm planning to run monthly demos at my local game store. I'll be using this thread as my basis for it.

Thanks, Snag!
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Re: HotB Demo Outline.

Postby wunderworks » Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:12 pm

OH! Great idea! :) Do you want to co-ordinate? I'll run some too. :)
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Re: HotB Demo Outline.

Postby Nihilistic Mind » Tue Oct 20, 2009 12:41 pm

Yes! I just got word from Darren and it looks like Sunday afternoons will work best.
I'll even get to playtest some of the rules for 's-e-c-r-e-t-p-r-o-j-e-c-t' at some point.

This could be a fun regular thing, I think! :D
"Sparrow, I'll call you back. I've just gutted a man with a shard of wood and I need to make sure he's dead... I think you're right, Sparrow. I am a bad, bad man..."
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Re: HotB Demo Outline.

Postby wunderworks » Tue Oct 20, 2009 1:29 pm

Nihilistic Mind wrote:Yes! I just got word from Darren and it looks like Sunday afternoons will work best.
I'll even get to playtest some of the rules for 's-e-c-r-e-t-p-r-o-j-e-c-t' at some point.

This could be a fun regular thing, I think! :D

Then Werner von Brawn Will Be There!
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