So you've been handed a contract and asked to risk your life, limb, and sanity in exchange for an opportunity to change the world. Welcome to the club!
The rest of this wiki is absolutely bursting with detailed information, but much of it is geared more toward Game Masters and Cell Leaders than new players. This page will tell you how to prepare and what to expect.
In House Games, you play a skilled, ambitious character that is invited to go on a series of supernatural missions for a chance of great rewards. The GameMaster (or GM) for that day will be chosen beforehand and could be any experienced player in the cell. They come prepared with a scenario and the know-how to run it.
As a player, all you need to do is come prepared with a created character.
How does the System Play?
The House Games dice system plays fairly realistically. Unlike in some RPGs, injuries take a long time to heal, cannot be shrugged off, and in some cases leave debilitating scars. Weapons are fairly realistic in their lethality as well. Bows are generally outmatched by guns, and having a knife in a fist fight is enough to make up for a pretty large skill difference. Finally, being outnumbered is extremely dangerous. There are no guarantees that your foes will run in one at a time like a karate movie.
GMs are also urged to be sticklers for things like how you are transporting all of your equipment around, and how people will react if you are strapped head to toe in ammo belts and automatic weapons at the library.
Your character will be approached and invited on a mission by some individual, played by the GM. Don't feel obligated to break character by accepting to go on this mission without a good reason. The GM should be able to lure and entice your character even if they initially refuse.
From there, you will be transported to a place with the other Player's Characters (generally) and given an objective. For new players, it's best to play in a game with one GM and Three or Four players. Your GM will ask you to describe your character's appearance to the group. You are not required to explain your character's history or thoughts at all at any time during the game.
The first few games for every character should have very clear objectives. If your group manages to achieve the objective, the game is considered a success, and you will be rewarded. Every game is deadly, and every game requires some ingenuity from the players. Be resourceful, perceptive, and channel your inner MacGyver!
All scenarios will conclude in one play session.
Since House Gaming is, ultimately, a roleplaying game, many actions can be accomplished simply by saying that you are going to do them. Though rolling dice is the second thing that comes to mind whenever “roleplaying” is used in word association, it also slows the game down, so it’s best to keep it to a minimum. Something like going to your office, for example, doesn’t require you to roll Pilot to drive there, and putting together Ikea furniture likely wouldn’t require Crafts.
In general, an action requires a dice roll when it is either a) difficult enough that success is in doubt, b) a contested action between multiple characters, or c) involves an element of random chance. So while driving to work might not require a Pilot roll, running from the cops would. Logging into Facebook doesn’t even need any points in Computer, let alone a roll, but get your dice ready if you want to hack into a security network and reposition the cameras. If an action falls into the fairly large grey area between easy and insanely hard, it’s the GM’s call as to whether a roll is needed, but GMs are encouraged to avoid frivolous dice use when possible.
See rolling dice for more information.
Given the dangerous, confrontational nature of the Games, combat comes up fairly frequently. When it does, gameplay moves into a turn-based structure, with each round of turns taking approximately 3 seconds of in-game time.
Players will take actions in an order determined by an Initiative roll, one at a time, but this does not indicate that they are acting at different times. All actions taken within a single round will resolve more or less simultaneously, with the order of turns simply indicating which characters reacted more quickly and therefore began their actions slightly ahead of the other characters.
In a chase, for example, both pursued and pursuer are moving simultaneously; the loser does not stand idly for three seconds waiting for the winner to complete his action. Thus, moving characters reach their destinations at the end of the turn, after all actors (including those who lost initiative) have taken their actions. Similarly, a character who dives for cover which is not very close may not reach that cover before attackers fire their weapons, and a character who charges a pistol-wielding attacker may not reach the attacker before being fired upon.
GMs should take care to tell the story of combat in a fluid way which minimizes the “turn-based” feel as best as possible.
All characters go in sequence from highest to lowest initiative, a number determined at the beginning of each combat by rolling Wits + Dexterity, difficulty 6. In combat situations with characters who have multiple actions, all characters take their initial actions, then second actions are taken in the same sequence after all primary actions, then third actions in sequence, and so forth. However, you may take a defensive action at any time, provided you have actions remaining. Any action which is instant and purely defensive is considered a defensive action.
Resolving Actions In Combat
Combat is a contested skill check. The attacker uses Dexterity + Brawl, Melee, or Firearms; the defender uses Dexterity + Dodge (to dodge) or Dexterity + Brawl or Melee (to block or parry). To score a hit, the attacker must have at least one success remaining after subtracting the defender's successes. Ties go to the defender.
You may dodge or parry an obvious incoming attack if you have unused dice. Roll Dex + brawl, melee, or dodge, with successes subtracting from the enemy's successes to hit. If you are aware of the incoming attack and your turn hasn't come yet, you can attempt a dodge or parry in response to an attack (this does not apply to lasers, firearms, and other attacks that are "instantaneous"). If you have the initiative, you can attempt an Evasion, a sort of general dodge not inteded to avoid a specific incoming attack. Roll dex + dodge with the number of successes providing a buffer against all incoming attacks, including those by firearms and attacks you are not aware of. If there are multiple attackers, dodge and parry successes are "used up" after being applied to a single incoming attack. For example, if you score two successes on a dodge roll and have three attackers, each scoring two successes to hit, you will be hit by two of them.
If an attack lands successfully, damage is dealt. Weapons, powers, and the like will specify a dice pool to use for damage rolls. Damage rolls are at Difficulty 6. Add together total successes to determine damage dealt.
A character who suffers 4 levels of damage from a single attack (not attack sequence) is likely to suffer permanent injury or maiming.
Certain items and powers may provide your character with an Armor Rating. A number of damage dice equal to your Armor Rating are automatically "soaked", and are not rolled. If your character is getting slashed for 6 damage dice but has a Kevlar vest on (which has an armor rating of 2), the enemy rolls 4 dice of damage. Armor cannot reduce the damage roll below a single die.
If a combatant can soak damage due to different abilities or items, the abilities or items usually do not stack. Typically, general categories don't stack. Items do not stack. Powers do not stack with the same type of bonus unless it provides an entirely different type of effect.
Health in House Games is represented by an ascending series of Wound Levels. As you take damage, your Wound Level will increase, and if you hit Incapacitated (the final Wound Level), you lose consciousness. Damage beyond Incapacitated will result in death.
section discusses completing game and reward system
After playing in a couple games, you should maintain multiple active characters. Due to the House Games format, it's very easy to choose which character you will be playing for any given play session. You are also free to create a new character whenever you want.
The benefits to having multiple characters include:
- Not being discouraged when your character dies
- Switching up the playstyle
- Being able to participate in games of any level.