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).