Household Designer Diaries 1 – Welcome to the House!

Hi everybody! I’m Rico Sirignano and I am the author and designer of Household, along with Simone Formicola.

Somewhere in 2018, Simone and I were shooting a pilot for a television series, and since we were both RPG enthusiasts, we started discussing the idea of making a game in our spare time. One thing led to another, and in 2019 Household, was published in Italy. We saw our passion project become a hit among the Italian community, and that very year, to our great honor, it was also awarded Role Playing Game of the Year at Lucca Comics & Games.

Our whole idea behind Household was to use our knowledge of cinema, the theater, acting, and screenwriting to design a system that heavily revolved around interpretation and character development. Of course, it was our first game ever and we made a lot of mistakes, but we also learned a lot from our growing community during the years.

In the end, the first edition of Household became the foundation for our second game, Broken Compass. Broken Compass is now the foundation on which we’re building this amazing, new edition of Household, keeping the elements that made the first edition so appealing and improving where we saw that we had room for growth.

As our long-terms players will know, Household has its unique twists that set it apart from your everyday RPG. To those of you who are new players, we thought we would introduce you to a few of the key mechanics in the game so you can get familiar with them! Let’s start by saying that, in Household, your Character doesn’t have ordinary attributes, but 4 Fields represented by the 4 suits: Hearts for Society, Diamonds for Academia, Clubs for War, and Spades for Street. Whenever you face a problem, you must decide how you want to approach it by choosing a Field. If you want to solve it by speaking, seducing, or deceiving, you are in the Society Field. If you want to solve it relying on your determination or brute force, that’s the War Field. And so forth.

Each Field is linked to 5 five Skills which are more commonly used in that Field, but not exclusive to it. For example, Grace is a Skill linked to the Society Field, and it’s most commonly used to dance or show perfect posture at court. However, you can also use your Grace in the War Field when you have to dodge a sudden strike from a duelist.

The sum of a Field plus a Skill determines the number of D6 you roll to try and Succeed. You don’t need to score high or low numbers. In fact, our custom dice don’t really have numbers on them. What you need is a Combination: a two, three, or four-of-a-kind, just like when you play Poker!

Household revolves around three core concepts: Obstacle, Threat, and Conflict. These concepts determine whether you need to roll dice, what are the stakes of your actions, and most importantly, how much time you will spend on each scene in terms of actual play.

Basically, an Obstacle is something that stands between you and your objective, like a wall you have to climb or a gendarme guarding a door. In terms of screenwriting, an Obstacle gives the Character a chance to prove themselves. Are you going to climb the wall or are you taking it down? Perhaps you can just find a way around, instead. How you deal with an Obstacle is totally up to you and it allows you to let your actions speak for themselves.

A Threat, on the other hand, is actively trying to harm or stop you, like getting noticed by that gendarme or a bandit is chasing you. Threats are especially designed to be faster than Obstacles and, of course, more dangerous. In game terms, the difference between an Obstacle and a Threat is whether your Characters need to Act or React. When you face an Obstacle, you Act, and that means you freely choose the Field and Skill to use to try and overcome the Obstacle. When you face a Threat, you React, and that means the Narrator (GM) tells you what Field and Skill you need to test. Is someone shooting at you? Roll Evasion in the War Field. It’s not like you have time to think of a complex strategy right now!

Lastly, a Conflict happens when you’re directly facing off with an Opponent, be it physically, verbally, or in any other way. In Household, there are some classic War Conflicts, like fighting a giant spider (giant relative to you, of course), as well as Society Conflicts like seducing a noble or deceiving someone. The goal of a Conflict is to help you extend dramatic moments whenever needed. Does a Character need to steal a key from a gendarme? That could be just a quick Obstacle, one roll and its success or failure. But what if his fiends’ life depends on it? That single act of theft could become a Conflict and be extended for multiple turns and even became the dramatic and adrenaline-packed ending of a Session. Not every story needs to end with a fight!

In game terms, you can think of Conflicts as an Obstacle (when you try to defeat the Opponent) followed by a Threat (when the Opponent tries to defeat you), and so on until one side prevails against the other. One turn, you decide how to Act to try and defeat your Opponent, or to escape the Conflict or to help a friend. The next turn, you have to React to whatever your Opponent will try to do. And how does the Narrator determine the actions of an Opponent? Glad you asked, because every Opponent comes with a random chart to help the Narrator determine their actions, turn by turn, with a single roll.

Well, I think I’ve covered more than enough for today! Thanks to all of you for reading to the end. I hope you enjoyed the little overview, and I cannot wait to share this game with you. Stay safe!

Household is coming soon to Kickstarter and you can be notified on launch using this link!

Household Designer Diaries 1 – Welcome to the House!

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