As of version 1.5, each cell is allowed to choose their own setting. The base for the old, shared setting is described below.

The World of House Games

The world of House Games is identical to our world, in the current time, with certain specific differences.

Magic, the supernatural, and the paranormal are real. Mythical creatures and races exist, and aliens visit Earth on a regular basis. In addition to acting directly from time to time, both mythical and alien races operate through agents and cults. Dozens of factions struggle for control of governments and powerful organizations, and conspiracies multiply as the factions seek to outmaneuver each other.

The average person believes in the supernatural and the paranormal, but doesn't know much about them. Accurate information is hard to find; truth is jumbled with fiction, and superstition and paranoia are rife. The public knows that secret societies and covert organizations are struggling for control of the government and the world, but doesn't know the truth behind such struggles.

Governments are covertly influenced and controlled by the factions to varying degrees. No one faction or group of factions has succeeded in gaining control of most governments; rather, they struggle for control of agendas and individual agencies, and seek to block the influence of rivals. Elections are rigged, but not by any one group; rather, each group seeks to falsify ballots and otherwise sway election results in as many regions as possible. The more powerful government agencies are themselves active factions, and participate vigorously in the struggle for control of the government as a whole. Because governments at least theoretically hold a monopoly on force, they are far from the weakest factions in the game.

The strongest of the factions frequently operate overtly and have quasi-governmental powers, such as the right to employ mercenaries and enforce the law.

As a result, the Great Game plays out far more violently than has been the case in our world's history. Pitched battles are not unknown, and many Third World nations are in a constant state of civil war. Wars are more often hot than cold. Most factions maintain military or paramilitary forces, though they attempt to avoid open conflict except when they have an advantage, and only the strongest will challenge governments openly.

Secret societies, and the struggles between them, are not truly secret; rather, they are covert. In most cases, their existence and general purposes are known, but their membership, influence, and specific actions are not. Battles and political struggles between secret societies usually become public fairly soon after the event, as they are closely followed by the press, but the true reasons for such events are often hard to discern.

Because elections are known to be rigged but few people are privy to the inner workings of the Great Game, the public feels powerless to influence events through the democratic process. As a result, many people try to influence events by joining a faction. Many also become involved in the supernatural, whether through traditional religions or through cults. Many more people are religious than in our world, and there is less tolerance for unusual religions. Some cults have been outlawed as terrorist organizations, including those of the Cthulhu Mythos, most forms of paganism, and Satanism. Laws are harsher than in our world, and the death penalty is common.

Corruption is surprisingly low. Although many people are involved in conspiracies and seek to subvert the government, they often do so for idealistic reasons rather than out of self-interest; they typically see themselves as patriots or Resistance fighters. Those inclined towards greed or self-interest usually join cults which maintain a fairly tight rein over their members; such people often find themselves acting in the interests of their cult because they don't wish to be killed. Loose cannons are purged or expended.

Significant numbers of people take matters into their own hands. Often known as hunters or investigators, these people investigate rumors and hunt supernatural creatures perceived to be enemies of humanity. Most such vigilantes are not greatly effective against the more formidable of such creatures, but they often thin the ranks of the less formidable ones.
Naturally, governments don't like having vigilantes roaming freely, but they can't prevent it, so they insist that independent agents be licensed (typically as bounty hunters or private investigators) and report their activities to local authorities. Agents working for a particular faction may not be subject to such restrictions, depending on the power of their sponsor and its relationship with the government in a particular area. If a faction is not powerful enough to openly employ mercenaries (which are legal, but whose use is restricted to governments and the strongest of the factions), their agents usually will be classified as security contractors.

Many factions have existed since the dawn of history, and numerous alien races predate humanity. For most of human history, however, the Great Game proceeded at a stately pace, with frequent pauses for strategizing and lengthy negotiations. Most factions were controlled by long-lived races which were very patient and often only slightly concerned with humanity. As technology advanced, however, humans gained increasing control, and the pace of the Great Game increased. In the last century, factions have multiplied, and the game has become increasingly violent. The rise of the Internet enabled information to be shared with unprecedented speed and prompted many small, quasi-independent groups to strike out at any faction deemed harmful to humankind. It may be that the struggle is nearing a climax.

Changing the World

The established world of House Games is shaped largely by the games that GMs choose to run and the actions of the high-rollers. You won't find a detailed list of all the entities that exist in the world of House Games, because fleshing out what does and doesn't exist is left up to the GMs. Once a GM runs an entity or organization, its existence has been established. This works surprisingly well in practice as long as the common sense guidelines laid out in writing and running games are followed.

Until 2013, all House Games took place in the same shared setting. This proved to be problematic, and now cells each have their own parallel dimension to explore. Two or more cells in close communication can share a setting if desired. Visits to the settings of other cells is encouraged through cross-cell games.

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