Althua Chibaven - “The Game of Assassins”

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Althua Chibaven - “The Game of Assassins”

Postby Keith Fyans » Sat May 08, 2010 12:35 pm


I'll be honest here, a lot of this piece is extrapolated from the briefest of mentions in some very incomplete sources. The name of the party type itself is the name of the main source, the blood opera The Game of Assassins, translated by Mario Patenostro for “Incomplete Works of the Ancient Ven”, 1936 and translated and published in 1975 for Oxford Press during their flirtation with publishing what they considered to be "occult texts".

The “Maiden of Knives” is actually a translation of the character name “Skiana” from Tears of Silver and Gold (trans. S. Cooper, private collection), a tale where a game involving knives is being undertaken as a background event and she is asked to hold the red-huged & named blades, though I accept this could be a variant of D'Vanesh (though as it is not clearly defined in the remaining fragment we may never know).

Finally there is brief mention of the happenings at an Althua Chibaven in the pillow book Cherry Blossom Veil, extracts from which are found in volume 12 of the formidable series "The Role Women in Ven Pillow Books". Anyone who is unaware of this series and is interested in themes of romance and manipulation should go out of their way to get copies. Hopefully the rights issues that prevent them from being published online will one day be cleared up.


Part game, part challenge to the Virtues of the individual, the Chibaven is a Alutha like no other. It really begins when the invitation to attend arrives. This invitation takes the form of a slender hand-length dagger forged of a red-hughed metal. The recipients name is engraved along the blade and an accompanying letter explains who is hosting and when it shall take place.

The dagger itself prompts Terror (1) in those who receive it. Those who can should attend, least word of their cowardice make it to their peers. Attendees are expected to arrive at the party before noon. Upon arrival the dagger is handed as the socially required gift to a “Maiden of Knives” (usually a female of Beauty such as the hosts wife or a young débutante making their first appearance in society), who jumbles up the daggers and ensures they are not tamperer with. Tampering with the daggers is the social equivalent of tampering with the maiden, something that could easily be argued by the maiden, the host and the related Altrex/families to be a cause of True Pain.

During the hours of daylight all attendees are encouraged to enjoy all the debauched excess of any other Ven party, perhaps even more-so than usual. As with any social grouping of the Ven this is the perfect opportunity for an individual to play the cat and mouse game of hiding ones own abilities and flaws while inviting others to reveal their own.

Once the sun has set each attendee should take it in turn to approach the Maiden of Knives and ask her favor. She will hand the Ven one of the knifes. Any Ven handed his own dagger may either pas it back and gain another (2), or may leave freely at this point.

When you approach the maiden is also of ritual importance. Approaching first is seen a a bold move, but ultimately gives the Ven in question a slight advantage (2) in planning time. Approaching at the same time as another is seen as Bad form (3) as you are thought to be openly trying to read the name from the dagger in advance and thus spoil part of the game. It is managing to approach last, however, that is seen as most bold and worthy of some notice (4),though at the same time demonstrates some character traits to the assembled Althua.

Once all the daggers have been drawn each participant gains the sole purpose of drawing the blood of the person named on their dagger. The greater the Injury caused, the greater the respect they gain (5). Causing anthers death during play is still murder. Once a noble has had their blood drawn by the blade with his name upon it they are expected to swap their dagger wit their opponent in a timely fashion and exit the party in good form. It is a game. A Ritual. Anything else is seen as a huge breach of etiquette (6). Breaking it is a highly shameful.

The effect of this “changing of the blades” is two-fold. First, the looser can now either leave the party to lick their wounds or stay to the end safe in knowledge they are no longer being hunted. It also means that the person who cut them has a new dagger and therefore a new target to stalk.

The Chibaven continues until only one person remains or until dawn. In the case of the former then the winner is inspired by the victory (7). In the case of the latter any Ven still in play become shunned by society (8). Loosing early may not be stylish, but failing looses you more face.

HotB Game Mechanics

1 The Dagger has a Terror Rank 2. Those who wish to attend must overcome this Terror or spend a Style. Those who receive an invitation but do not attend gain the Insult of “Cowardly” with its rank equal to the rank of the party.

2 Gain a point of Style

3 Spend a point of Style but learn the name on the other persons dagger.

4 Gain a Free Aspect entitled “The Last to Draw” with a rank equal to the level of the party; Invoke for a number of dice equal to the aspects rank when having to act calm under pressure, It can be tagged by whomever has the dagger with your name on it, Compel is to nonchalantly take your time OR to brag in an unsporting manor (pick one).

5 Gain a number of Style equal to the rank of the Injury caused.

6 You may not spend any Style for a number of seasons equal to the rank of the party. Good luck with that.

7 Gain the Aspect "Master of Assassins" with a Rank equal to the Rank of the Party. I: Gain a number of dice equal to the aspects rank when planning or executing an assasination against your sworn enemy. T: People are fearful of your reputation. C: To take steps to ensure the downfall of your sworn enemy. The rank of this aspect lowers by one level each season.

8 You gain the Insult of “Tardy” or “Cowardly” (pick as appropriate) With a rank equal to half that of the party (rounded up).
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