"If life were a game, and you could play and wreak large changes in the world, at great risk to yourself … would you? Would you wield the Lever of Archimedes to weal or woe? For that is what is being offered - A place to stand. Answer."
What is "House Games"?
House Games is the best table-top roleplaying game ever.
Table-top roleplaying is the quintessential nerd pastime, full of orcs and wizards and waiting around at taverns trying to find chicks. Dungeons and Dragons is the classic, of course, but many others now exist and thrive as well, some with a sci-fi bent, some set in the real world with real, weak, mortal humans, etc… House Games is what you would get if all of them had an orgy and a baby resulted. It’s an elite system of roleplaying that’s been passed down from generation to generation of High Rollers (that’s the incredibly cool term that we call ourselves).
Technically, we're on version 1.5, but who’s counting? House Games is always shifting and morphing, and intentionally so. One of the purposes of the House Games revolution was to prevent creative and hard-working nerds from being restricted by a bunch of dumb source books (a Wiki, on the other hand…), and to that end House Gaming is designed to be a primarily user-generated experience. We create and balance our own world, from the scenarios and NPC’s right down to the character mechanics and supernatural paradigms.
So if you’ve always been filled to bursting with fun but nerdy ideas, or if you’ve got an idea for a story that just won’t go away no matter how often you tell yourself that you’re not a writer and should just give up this stupid dream and work for a bank, damn it! If you enjoy immersing yourself in a character and following their unexpected journey through insane situations; if you just wanna kick back and sling some dice with your homies… Anything experience you’ve ever wanted from a roleplaying game, House Games can offer it to you.
The Story Circle
Traditionally, one of the hardest parts of maintaining a functional role-playing group is finding a good Game Master. There are a whole host of problems: you have to find a good storyteller, who is super knowledgable about all the inane rules and systems, who actually wants to GM, and who can be in attendance reliably. Oh, and they have to be willing to spend far more time on the group than any of the other members. And the other players have to be content with playing out someone else’s scenario, often with little room to be truly creative.
House Gaming solves this problem in an ingenious way: communal storytelling.
When you play the Great Game, there is no one consistent Game Master. Instead, the members of the group rotate into that position each game. If your group meets once a week, for instance, Spencer might write up a game and run it Week 1, and then Week 2 Josh gets to run his. There’s no hard and fast rule about this, either; Spencer could run 3 weeks in a row, if he’s up for it and the group says yes. In fact this is quite common when an experienced player is starting up a new role-playing group. But the burden never has to fall on one person.
For this reason, House Gaming rarely sees “campaigns” in the way that is so common in games like Dungeons and Dragons. Instead, each Game is relatively self-contained: there will always be a specific, achievable objective each session. The system for advancement is designed to support this dynamic as well. There is no “leveling up”; at the end of each game, players receive a fixed amount of experience and, if they are successful in achieving their objective, a special Gift. These Gifts are the primary means of advancing your character and defining their supernatural paradigm and powers, as there are also no character classes.
Snowflakes of Carnage
Despite the self-contained nature of the Games, long-term story arcs are an integral part of our communal storytelling. In a way, it’s quite similar to Law and Order. In House Games, the story is carried through each standalone game in two ways: the player characters, and the Harbingers (an NPC, typically unique to each GM, who sends the players on their missions). Despite being NPC’s, Harbingers are highly developed characters with complex motivations, and over the course of several games run by the same GM, players may learn more about a particular Harbinger, and about what exactly that Harbinger is using them to do. Often they don’t like what they see; in some cases, the real enemies aren’t the ones you have to fight on the mission.
But player characters are where the bulk of the serialized storytelling happens. High Rollers are highly unique and diverse individuals, but they all have one important thing in common: each character has a reason for participating in House Games at great risk to life and limb, a singular, overarching goal that drives them to action. As a potential High Roller, your Driving Goal should be infinite in depth, and zealously pursued. If your character would not be willing to face down a biker gang for even a marginal step towards his ambition, you're not trying hard enough. Thus this goal informs their actions, their relationships with other players, and the direction that their character advancement takes.
So the characters (by extension, the players themselves) write the story together as they go along. Unlike a DnD campaign, the endpoint is unknown, things often change dramatically, and many have their arc cut short by brutal, tragic death. But the beautiful, unique snowflakes of carnage that survive weave a bitter tale for the ages. So if you work hard and the dice favor you, perhaps your story can be told, and then battered and crushed into a shell of it’s former self too.
No Time? No Problem!
The other benefit of this system is that it solves the all too common problem of absenteeism in roleplaying. No more worrying about trying to schedule the same group of people each time you want your story to continue, because it doesn’t actually matter which characters show up to each game. Whoever can make it, their characters get invited, and everyone else just waits till next time. The story waits for no man.