Nick Wedig

House of Masks

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

HOUSE OF MASKS: A roleplaying game of Secrets and Sorcery, Power and Greed, Violence and Revenge

2008 Game Chef winner!

Six players switch in and out tag-team style to play three predefined characters in a complex, randomized web of intrigue and sorcery.


In a far off land where mighty sorcerers dwell, the God-King Castor rules from a castle where the spirit realm and physical realm touch, allowing for powerful magics to happen and for a person’s spirit form to take control of one’s body. On the eve of Castor’s wedding to the foreign princess Inanna, a mysterious peasant woman named Thalia comes knocking on the palace door…

Each of six players play Aspects (either the “real world” or “spirit world” form) of one of three predefined player characters (PCs). Each player can take control of the PC under specific conditions.

Each player has a randomized goal, which will likely conflict with the other PCs and possibly conflict with the player of the other aspect of their PC. There are three decks of goals (one for each character) with three goals in each deck. Each goal is identified with a symbolic image: a hand with a Key in it (representing Secrets and Magic), a hand wrapped in a Necklace (representing Greed and Power), or a hand holding a drop of Blood (representing Violence and Revenge).

Beyond the initial setup phase of the game, characters have almost complete freedom to act. They are only constrained by their imaginations and the other players. When two characters oppose one another, the players use the conflict rules, which are tremendously simple and flexible. One player (called the Objector) sets two possible outcomes that could happen to the opposed characters. The other player in the conflict (called the Actor) then applies one of these outcomes to their character and one to the Objector’s character.

Two cards called Boons grant special privileges to their holders. The Boon of Beginnings allows the holder to frame scenes. The Boon of Endings allows the holder to call for the end of a scene. Either Boon can be used to activate a character’s sorcerous abilities. In a conflict, these magical powers can be used to reject the stakes set by an Objector and set new stakes. After any use of a Boon, the user gives the Boon away to some other player (which other player depends on how the Boon is used).

The Watchers

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

It is some time after the Creation and before the Great Flood. War rages across the Heavens. Some angels sinned against god, and were exiled from Heaven. Others chose to rebel against the Lord. Under Samael’s leadership, these fallen angels wage war against to forces of the Creator.

In every war, there is espionage. You have been chosen by the Lord to infiltrate the rebel angels, and sabotage their actions from within. But is it rebellion or obedience to sin if God asks you to?

Before the creation of the earth, all was well in Heaven. All the angels obeyed and respected God and the divine order of things. But when God created Earth, he also created mankind. Many angels, especially Samael, resented humanity. The Lord had chosen mankind to be the centerpiece of creation, and their moral development was seen as of primary importance. The angels, once God’s most beloved creations, were now to be subservient to mankind. Samael, and other angels, could not accept this, and began to agitate for change.

Shortly after humanity’s creation, a host of angels, led by Semjaza, became enamored of human women. They taught these human women heaven’s secrets, like metallurgy and astronomy, and fathered children with these women. These children, when born, were the monstrous giants known as the Nephilim.

When the lord God learned of these Nephilim, he ordered the sinning angels banished from Heaven. The angel Metatron, who had once been the human Enoch, tried to intercede on the angel’s behalf, but the Lord would not listen. “You were formerly spiritual,” they were told, “living the eternal life and immortal for all generations of the world; and therefore I have not appointed wives for you.”

When these angels were banished from Heaven, Samael moved from complaining to outright rebellion against the Lord. He chose to leave Heaven and the Lord’s service and fight for control of Creation. About a third of all angels left with him. These rebel angels have created an alliance with Semjaza’s exiled angels, but this alliance is an uneasy one: those that left willingly left for political reasons, but the exiles are criminals, and many penitently wish to return to the Lord’s service.

The End of the World

Saturday, September 24th, 2005

A zombie game that focuses more on issues of betrayal, trust and the breakdown of society than it does on shambling corpses. systems.

For some unknown reason, the dead have begun to rise from their graves. Perhaps an advanced scientific experiment or chemical weapon is responsible. Or possibly the dead have returned because of black magics or other occult knowledge long hidden from society at large. Perhaps it is the end of the world, as the televangelist channel proclaimed for a while before it turned to static.

You don’t know why, but you know that shambling, formerly human creatures have invaded your peaceful little suburb. As far as you can tell, everyone else in the city is dead, except for a terrified few other that you have found. You have all congregated together for mutual protection, but as the stress increases, the internal tensions of your compatriots may be more dangerous to you than the undead outside the window.

Thematically, the game is about the breakdown of social taboos and mores. Once these outside limitations are removed, the hatred that usually bubbles beneath the surface comes forth. Zombies are only in the game peripherally as a way of addressing these themes, really. Perhaps other apocalypses could be substituted. Anything where the normal rules of society have broken down. The nice suburb that the PCs lived in has been disrupted, for some reason, and now they have to band together and deal with that. More frightening, though, is that they need to deal with each other as their own sense of morality breaks down.

The game really requires four or more player characters, plus a GM, as with fewer players the hatred relationships are easily figured out.