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The Evil Writer

Good game + good community = win

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Good game + good community = win

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I think it might have been the largest tabletop RPG table I ever ran. Eleven people. Eleven people playing Houses of the Blooded. And it was fantastic.

Oh, it was chaotic. It was big and spread out and random, and I fear a few of the quieter players may have been overlooked. But I tried, and everyone seemed to have a good time. We'll be splitting the group into two tables for future games.

So, we began with a bang. After defining the archipelago in which the characters would be playing, I had to get them all together. That was easy enough. We are playing in Living Shanri, in the southern region. Since the online cabal in which I am a player is also from that region, I happened to know that the Storm had hit very recently. For those of you who don't play HotBlooded, the Storm is the single worst weather pattern you can possibly imagine. And it knows your name. And it wants you dead.

But that was in the past. It served as a perfect means to bring everyone together. They traveled to the central city of the archipelago. I did not define the city beyond the Wisdom and Cunning risks of the players. I did not need to. By the end of the session the city was destroyed, and by player actions no less (which is the best way to destroy a city.) But of course, they did not know that then. They thought they were traveling to a storm-damaged city, overseeing the veth (peasants) as they began repairs, and trying to figure out just what the hell had happened.

Of course, things did not just happen in the past. They were happening in the present. The apothecary was being looted. One player declared that he supplied much of the raw materials for this apothecary. Good form, and he and his contact went off to investigate. The others might have joined them, were it not for the orks in the city.

Orks! In the city! And worse yet, one was wielding a glowing artifact of sorcerous power! Blasphemy! Scandal! And in the city no less!

This would be a good time to tell you about Jareth. Jareth is an interesting character. His player first created Jareth when I ran a demo of HotBlooded to drum up interest (which, at eleven players, it certainly did.) He defined Jareth as a swordsman who was constantly drunk, in fact he could not swing a sword sober. This caused warning bells to go off in my head. Was this going to be one of THOSE players? One of those players who just wanted to stumble around drunkenly destroying things, with no thought to the glorious political campaigns I wanted to run? But this was HotBlooded. The maxim of HotBlooded is trust. Trust in the narrator, yes, but also trust in the players. His second aspect justified this. Jareth hated sorcery. Despised it. And the compel for that aspect? He could be compelled to attempt to kill a known sorcerer. Over the course of the demo Jareth proved himself, showing that the player knew not only how to portray a somewhat comedic character tastefully, but also how to play his flaws for all he was worth.

So, where was I? Ah yes. A sorcerous ork. And naturally, Jareth charges. What happened next was a beautiful muddle. Some sought to help him. Others to hinder him. He was hindered just long enough for our Queen of Thieves to send her monkey familiar to snatch the artifact away, a task that the monkey succeeded in. The ork stopped glowing. The monkey started glowing. The artifact had changed hands. That was when the crack opened up in the earth. A crack caused by the eventual death of the head ork, a crack which spread everywhere.

Scrambling. Strength checks all around. Those who had chosen Strength as their weakness crying out for help, hoping others would save them. Close calls. Very close calls. Finally the last two tumbling over each other, landing in a compromising and potentially romantic position, but outside the radius of the destruction.

And the thief. The thief with her monkey, suddenly feeling the artifact jerk her back. Suddenly feel it wanting to return to the fallen body of its former master. Managing to release it before escaping. The glowing artifact buzzing through the air and slamming into the ground. The city erupting into magical flames.

Ah yes, but there were two men trapped in the apothecary, weren't there? Why yes, there were. They did not catch the looter, who will no doubt return at another time, but they did manage to find some startling clues. At least they did just before the apothecary erupted into flame. I was kind. I was generous. I allowed them to leave without a risk, given that the apothecary was a good distance from the starting point of the conflagration.

Did they repay me for my generosity? Oh yes, they did. The first one announced, "As I leave I try to knock over some barrels to trap the other one inside. I try to make it look like an accident." The second nonchalantly replied, "I try to do the same thing back." Style was given. Good form. Beautiful form. The supplier of narcotics won, with two wagers. With privilege, he escaped the apothecary. With his first wager, he accidentally knocked over a barrel. I questioned him. Did he accidentally knock over a barrel, or "accidentally" knock over a barrel? He looked me straight in the eye and said that it was a sincere accident. Then he laid down his second wager and said that he intentionally pushed the barrel to trip his companion, leaving him to die by fire.

Everyone survived, though his companion by the skin of his teeth, and only after his two would-be rescuers almost died themselves. Adrenaline. Passion. Treachery. Ven. The game ended there. Regrettably the realities of running an eleven man table meant actions took forever. But most importantly, there are several great mysteries to be solved. What are the mysterious magical flames that consume organic material (including wood, and of course ven,) but leave stone untouched? What caused these flames, and how can they be stopped? What were orks doing in the city? And what does the looting of an apothecary and a disruption of the archipelago's narcotics trade have to do with it all? To answer these questions the Ven, treacherous, suspicious Ven, some of whom have already tried to slay their fellows, will have to band together in cabals. They will have to sign their true names in blood. Because one Ven alone could not solve these mysteries.

Reason. Purpose. Alliances made out of necessity. Alliances made in haste, without consideration. Drama. Treachery.


Oh yes, I think I am going to enjoy running HotBlooded in Knoxville.
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