Some of you may be familiar with John Wick.
Legend of the Five Rings?
A pre-publication PDF for those who pre-ordered the limited edition was emailed to them today. After some difficulty, I managed to download it.
I didn’t need the temptation, with TBR work to do, but its irresistible to read through this. I will definitely post my thoughts.
So, first, what’s it about?
Let the designer himself tell you:
This game is about tragedy. Specifically, the kind of tragedy found in the literature of
the ven. It is about their style of storytelling, their culture, their obsession with romance and revenge.
In it, you take on the roles of ven nobles struggling to survive in a deadly and
But you won’t just play a single character. You have the opportunity to play many. Your noble will grow older as the years pass, transforming from a young noble to an adult, and then finally, to an ancient aristocrat looking for an heir. You may choose to play that heir, or you may choose to play another character. You can also take the roles of your noble’s various vassals. Master spies, valets and maids, roadmen, masters of the sword: these are all characters that fill the pages of ven pillowbooks and populate the stages of the theater and the opera.
HOTB is intended to be a response to D&D. I think “anti-D&D” is a supreme simplification, but its based on a template very different.
I designed Houses with D&D in mind. No hiding that. But I did so as a reaction to D&D. I didn’t want to re-design that game, but design a new game that was a kind of response to it.
Almost everything that’s true about D&D is untrue in this game. In D&D, the most common kind of character is a wandering nomad who lives outside the law, an adventurer roaming the countryside, scouring dungeons, killing monsters, gaining treasure and weapons so he can kill bigger monsters. Cities are little more than outdoor dungeons and characters rarely—if ever—encounter the upper class or deal with politics.
In Houses, you play a noble. A character with a past. A character with a family, with vassals, responsibilities and duties. The Law is an ever-present factor in your life. Because you are a noble, “treasure” really has no value for you and problems such as “wandering monsters” are problems for someone of lesser status to handle. Someone you can hire. Someone expendable. And rather than living in a bubble immune to the effects of political scheming, your character lives in a world that looks like a bastard child of Tanith Lee and Niccolò Machiavelli.