Monday, 24 August 2015

#RPGaDay 2015: Day 24 - The House Always Wins

Prompt: Favourite House Rule

I don't know that I have a favourite 'house rule'. I find them useful, but have yet to find one that I thought 'wow; yes. That.'

I do have a clear least favourite house rule, that comes from the old IoD chronicle. The ultimate power of the vampire discipline of Presence is called Sovereignty; it's a room control ability that prevents anyone acting in a way that would displease you. They can't attack you unless they beat you in an opposed contest or you are directly attacking them, although they can try to stop you attacking an ally. That's not a problem; it's a powerful effect, but it's a top-tier power.

The problem was that as written it was a high-maintenance power: Each time someone tried to act, the user and the opponent had to make a test and the one with the most successes won. If you managed to act, you didn't need to test again. This was a lot of tests, however, and the unofficial (despite claims to the contrary - see below - it was never incorporated into the addendum for the society) house rule was that a) the user tested once, when activating the power, and b) you had to test to act, and if you failed, that was it; you didn't get to test again. A meant that the user could pump what was already bound to be an imposing pool through the roof, and combined with B meant that any chance of a lucky roll getting you through was gone, which meant in turn that unless you were a complete monster (or had the right Carthian devotion) then you might as well not bring your game to a fight, because some motherfucker was more or less bound to have Sovereignty, and if you'd spent your points on being good enough to cut it in a fight using the appalling Mind's Eye Theatre rules, you sure as shit weren't going to stand a hope in hell against a long-term character's Sov.

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One of the things that made it impossible to ever change the above ruling was that when people remembered that it was a house rule at all, they assumed it was an official part of the addendum, when in fact it was neither. This is actually a common problem with house rules, from Monopoly (the most common rule that people assume is part of the official game is that fines go in the middle of the board and you collect them if you land on Free Parking) to any RPG with a complex enough rule set. For LARP in particular, people tend not to want to got to the rulebook any more than they have to, so the ultimate authority is whomever sounds confident enough.

Come back tomorrow as we enter the closing straight of RPGaDay 2015.