Again, very long. I hope to have the rest up by the end of the day.
Oh, and I’ve got the assassination rules in here. You’ll want to check those out.
Time is measured in seasons. The ven measure the year in much the same way we do. The ven year is divided into four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. (You may note the ven year begins in spring rather than winter.) In the game, you too will count the seasons’ passing, noting how things change with time.
A season lasts approximately one hundred and twenty days. During that time, characters may find enough opportunity for one or two stories, possibly even three. But when does a season begin and when does it end? And how much can characters do in a season? Let’s answer those questions one at a time.
The Passage of Time
When you first sit down to play Houses of the Blooded, with everybody around the table, character sheets, dice and refreshments ready, the season has begun. In other words, the first adventure begins the first Season. We’ll assume you’ll be starting with Spring. Remember: you have one hundred and twenty days before the end of the season. That leaves you with plenty of time to get a lot done.
The GM prepares a number of “stories” for the season based on how much time he feels the characters can get done. A story, of course, is a fictional tale with a beginning, middle, and an end that the players’ characters take part in—for better or worse. The GM Section has more information on building stories.
Characters cannot participate in more than 4 stories per Season. Upkeep of lands and other downtime actions demand attention. If the players take up too much time with stories, the GM may determine they cannot spend time handling other important activities.
Security & Loyalty
This chapter deals heavily with your Domain (and the Domain of others). Before we go any further, we need to talk about two very important traits: Security and Loyalty.
Security refers to how safe your Domain is from exterior threats which will be covered in “Espionage Actions,” below. The higher your Security, the less you have to fear from subtle foreign influence.
Loyalty is how much your people trust you. The higher your Domain’s Loyalty, the more faithful your followers are and the more they are willing to do for you when it counts.
Each Region has a different value for Security and Loyalty. Your Domain’s Security and Loyalty begin at rank 1. You can change this over time, but for now, that’s where they start.
The Beginning of the Season
Four phases outline the beginning of a Season.
Phase 1: Harvest
At the beginning of the Season, you can harvest all the Resources and Production from last Season.
If this is your first Season (your characters haven’t even had an adventure yet), your character gains a full harvest, free of Troubles.
Once you’ve determined how many Resources you have, you can add them to your Castle Stores. Each Castle can hold a certain amount of Resources. A Small Castle (like yours) can hold ten. A Large Castle can hold fifteen. A Grand Castle can hold twenty. Any Resources you harvest for the Season that you do not use by the end of the Season (through production, storage or trade) are lost.
Personal Improvement (see “Actions,” below) occurs before any Resources or Production are Harvested. Personal Improvement is the first thing that happens during the Harvest Phase.
Phase 2: Planning
For the second phase, you must decide what your Regions will be doing with their time. You write down orders for each Region, telling them what you want to grow or produce over the next few months. You have two options for orders.
Order you vassals to produce their appropriate Resources. Because most of the Regions can grow two different kinds of Resources, you must order which one you want produced.
The Village and City Regions have the ability to produce Goods. If a City or Village has the appropriate Resources, they can make weapons, clothing, delicacies, or just about anything else your imagination can muster. But your Villages and Cities need Resources to do it, which means they’re typically using last Season’s Resources to make this Season’s Goods.
All Resources and Production will be gathered at next Season’s Harvest Phase.
Phase 3: Troubles
The first thing to do at the End of the Season is determine what kind of Trouble has sprung up in your Domain. This takes a couple of steps.
Each Region in your Provinces has a creates a certain amount of Trouble. Add up all the Trouble in a Province using the Region Trouble Table (Trouble 1) located below.
Region by Region, roll a number of dice for each equal to the amount of Trouble. For example, rolling Trouble for a Farm is just one die while rolling Trouble for a city is three dice. Roll your dice. If any dice come up 1 or 2, that Region is in Trouble. Any Region in Trouble gives you no Resources and can perform no Production this Season.
Phase 4: Actions
Finally, it is time for you to take action.
Every Season, you get one “Season action.” You can use your Season action for the following tasks.
1) Quell Trouble
You can use your Season action to get rid of the Trouble from one Region. This opens up the Region for Production or Resources at the beginning of next Season.
If you have Vassals, they can take actions of their own to quell Trouble.
The Master of the Road can quell any Trouble occurring in Forest, Hills, Lake, or Mountains Regions.
The Master Spy can quell any Trouble occurring in Village or City Regions.
The Seneschal can quell any Trouble occurring in your Castle Region.
Your Spouse can quell Trouble in any Region.
2) Personal Improvement
You may also use your Season action to improve the traits on your character sheet. Any improvements appear during the Harvest Phase of the next Season.
Find the Personal Improvement section on the Season Sheet. You will see there are lines for Skills and Aspects. Increasing an Aspect or a Skill requires one Season of study. At the beginning of the Harvest Phase, your Aspect or Skill increases by one rank. This occurs before any Harvest is made.
3) Domain Improvement
You can also spend an action to improve your own domain. Both Regions and Vassals can be improved with enough time, Resources and effort.
Improving a Region improves the quality of Resource it produces. All Regions begin at rank 1. Rank 1 Regions produce Rank 1 Resources. As a Region’s rank increases, so do the number or quality of Resources it produces. Finer Goods demand finer Resources. Also, producing finer Goods gets you Style.
Each Season, you can use a Season action to improve one Region. The Region’s rank increases by one at the beginning of the Harvest Phase before any Resources are determined (the same time Personal Improvements occur). Yes, this means you can gain the benefit of this Season’s improvement the following Season.
Higher rank Regions can either produce a number of Resources equal to their rank or one Resource equal to the rank of the Region. In other words, a rank 2 Farm can either produce two Industry or one rank 2 Industry.
You can also improve Vassals. Like Regions, Vassals have ranks. A rank 1 Spy Network is nowhere near as efficient as a Rank 3 Spy Network.
Like Regions, you may spend a Season to improve one Vassal by one rank, and like Regions, the Vassal’s rank increases at the beginning of the Harvest Phase, just like Personal Improvements.
4) Espionage Actions
Certain Vassals—your Spy Network and the Master Spy—are capable of “espionage actions.” These allow you to spy upon and sabotage other Domains. Espionage actions are dangerous. You can very easily lose your Vassal if they are caught, or worse, have your Vassal turn on you becoming a traitor in your midst.
To be clear: you cannot perform espionage actions without a Spy Network or a Master Spy.
To spy on other Domains, you must overcome that Domain’s Security rank. All Provinces have a Security rank equal to rank of the Spy Network operating in the Province. Thus, if you have a rank 2 Spy Network operating in the Province, your Province has a Security rank of 2. If you have a rank 3 Spy Network, the Security rank is 3. This is free. Your Spy Network does not have to take any action to establish this default Security rating.
If you do not have a Spy Network or a Master Spy, the Security of your Domain is zero.
When your Spy Network or Master Spy enacts an espionage action, he rolls a number of dice equal to his rank.
Also, if you have a Master Spy, he may help your Spy Network in many ways. See “the Master Spy” under each heading for more information. If the Master Spy is a player character, use his Revenge rank for all purposes involving the Master Spy.
In order to accomplish any espionage action, your Spy Network must overcome the Security of the foreign Domain. To do that, your Spy Network rolls a number of dice equal to its rank. The risk is the Domain’s Security x 3. Thus, if the Security of a Domain is 4, the risk to spy on that Domain is 12.
If your Spy Network defeats the Security of the Province, you gain the information you sought.
If your Spy Network does not defeat the Security of the Province, they learn nothing.
If your opponent’s own Spy Network used their action to Increase Security (see below) and you fail to defeat the risk, your Spy Network has been captured. You may now be eligible for legal action, depending on your ability to talk your way through ven bureaucracy.
The Spy Master adds his own rank to any attempts to spy on Domains, but he must use his own Season action to do so. If a Spy Network is captured while the Master Spy is assisting them in an espionage action, the Master Spy may make an Escape Roll. He makes another risk against the Domain’s Security. If the Spy Master rolls higher, he escapes. If he does not roll higher, he does not escape. In the event of a tie, the Spy Master escapes with an Injury equal to the rank of the Spy Network.
If a Spy Master has used his espionage action to Increase Security in a Domain and a foreign Spy Master has been captured, add the Spy Master’s rank to the risk to determine if the foreign Spy Master has been captured.
The first action a Spy Network can make is increasing the Security of a Province. If you decide to have your Spy Network “increase Security,” the Security rank of the Province doubles. A rank 1 Security rank becomes rank 2, a rank 3 Security rank becomes rank 6, and so on.
Only one Spy Network may be assigned to a Province (they just get in each other’s way).
The Master Spy may spend his own Season action to add his own rank to the Spy Network’s rank. If he spends his Season action, he adds his own rank to the Spy Network’s rank to the Security rank of the Province. If the Spy Network and the Master Spy spend their actions to Increase Security, add the Master Spy’s rank to the Spy Network’s rank, then double that value.
You may choose to use your Spy Network to spy on other Domains. If you choose to do so, you can find out one of these things:
• Discover what Resources the Province is making this Season
• Discover what Goods the Province is making this Season
• Discover what Improvements the Province is making this Season
• Discover what Personal Improvements the Lord of the Domain is making this Season
• Discover what actions a Vassal is making this Season
Player character Spy Masters use their Cunning or Revenge in lieu of their rank when determining the outcome of these actions.
Sabotage Region Improvement
You may also choose to sabotage Improvements rival Domains are constructing. To do so, you must know the Improvement is underway. You cannot blindly send in a Spy to sabotage something you do not know is there. Thus, in order to perform Sabotage, you must have successfully performed an Espionage action that informs you the Improvement actually exists.
Use the same system for Spying to sabotage an Improvement.
You can use your espionage action to sabotage another Domain’s Resource production. You do this by causing Trouble.
Like most espionage actions, your Spy Network rolls against the Province’s Security to do so. If successful, Trouble is increased by a rank equal to the Spy Network. This does not directly sabotage production, but it does make it much more likely to occur.
You can also woo away Vassals from your enemy’s Domains. Bribing a Vassal requires paying double what his liege lord pays him. This lowers his Loyalty by one rank. If you continue this action, continually lowering the Vassal’s Loyalty, as soon as his Loyalty hits zero, he defects to your Domain.
Straight out killing another Domain’s Vassal is dangerous work. First, the Spy Network must determine the location of the Vassal. This requires a Spying action (see above). If the Spying action is successful, the Master Spy can make an assassination attempt. Handle assassinations like any other espionage action: the Master Spy must roll against the Security of the Province. If successful, he must now make a contested risk against the rank of the Vassal using his own Spy Master rank.
If he wins, the Vassal dies. If he does not beat the Vassal’s roll, the Vassal survives.
Either way, the Spy Master must now escape. He must make a second roll against the Security of the Domain, but this time, he must do so as if the local Spy Network has used their action to Increase Security. (Killing an important member of the lord’s entourage automatically makes it hard to get away.) Again, if he succeeds, he escapes. If he does not, he is captured. There is no additional Escape Roll for this action.