Old Setting

This is the setting that was used for House Games 1.0.


The earliest recorded game was set in 1200 AD. Every ten years, the hidden powers select ordinary folks from all walks of life to engage in these secret struggles. The mortality rate is high, and for the first half of the decade many will be replaced by newcomers, keeping the number of active players around 1000 worldwide. After the 5th year of that decade, no new people (contestants? victims?) are sought. By the end of that 10 year period, typically less than 5 come out as hardened Veterans, so transformed by their experiences and ambitions as to be largely unrecognizable from where they began.

No one knows why these events transpire, although theories abound among Vets. Some believe they are purely entertainment (many games are quite sadistic), others believe they are being readied as an army for some trans-dimensional apocalypse. Thus far, no one has produced a lead on the puppet masters.

The only linking factor with all those chosen is a bright and burning drive to somehow be or do more than what they have now. The "Secret Masters" have an uncanny ability to seek out these people & aid them in this pursuit, but like the Monkey’s Paw, they never quite offer complete satisfaction. Thus the chosen, through unknowable hardship and terrors, are forged into some of the most formidable beings ever to exist.

Secret Masters

The Games are organized by a shadowy conspiracy that is seemingly all knowing & all powerful. Their direct servants, the Harbingers, are powerful enough to stagger the imagination, yet even they don't know the true identity of The Powers That Be. That does not mean that theories abound however…

Some think they are highly evolved aliens, or the ascended masters of Shamballah. Some think the games are a contest between God and The Devil. No one knows, & most likely no one ever will. What is known is that they reward a rare few, & reward them well. The purpose for that, as well as how they pick candidates, is likewise unknown. Some think that the Chosen are being prepared for some sort of Apocalypse. Others think the "Masters" are merely sadists…

The World Today

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.


  • Character: A fictitious persona adopted by a player in order to participate in a role-playing game. Each character is controlled by one character. Characters under the control of the GM are known as Non-Player Characters or NPCs.
  • Player: A real person who adopts the persona of a character. Each player controls one character at a time and decides what that character does.
  • Gamemaster (GM) (aka Storyteller or Referee): The person who referees the game and controls the non-player characters. The GM must arbitrate rules and engage the players as best he or she can. Ideally, a person gets to be a player at least once between running Games. House Games is designed to make it easy to take turns like this.
  • Ringer: A player-controlled NPC. The player of the ringer generally works with the GM to fulfil a certain role within the game (often by dying).
  • Introduction: Everything that happens to a character up to the point where he joins the other characters for a Game. This usually includes the Harbinger's (or representative's) pitch to the High Roller before the Game commences.
  • Side Game: Events outside a Game, illustrating what one or more characters are doing during "down time." Side Games can be used to eliminate enemies, acquire resources and allies, investigate leads, or anything else. They often become necessary or beneficial for High Seasoned Chosen.
  • High Roller: Characters who accept the challenge of participating in the Games. Characters have been known to adopt their own terms such as Imbued, Chosen, Contractors, Doornails, and many more.
  • Novice: A Chosen with fewer than 10 Gifts.
  • Seasoned: A Chosen with 10 to 20 Gifts is considered Seasoned.
  • High Seasoned: A High Roller with at least 20 Gifts is considered High-Seasoned.
  • Veteran: A High Roller who occasionally attempts Games without the aid of other High Rollers. Veterans typically have more than 30 Gifts.
  • Cells: A group of House Games players that frequently play together is called a Cell.
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