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The Hermit's House

The Hermit's House

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The Hermit's House
House.jpg
Designer: Josh Hadley, from a concept by Andrew L. and Jenny Williamson
Players: 8-16
Stuff required: A sheet of paper for every player; one voting token per player.
Crew required: One narrator.
Preparation: Ten minutes.
Time required: 1 hour plus.
Place required: A quiet room
Activities: Bluffing, deduction
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This is an untested game. Its rules are written, but it hasn't been tested out yet.
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This game is made available under an Attribution-Noncommercial Creative Commons licence. (What does this mean?)

The Hermit's House is a social game of role play, creative problem-solving and detection. Players take the roles of a group of people stuck in a haunted house, and must find creative ways to solve the problems presented to them by the House while also sniffing out the ghosts in their midst.

Setup

Each player will be required to create a suitably period-specific character. They should also craft some name badges for themselves. Players should be assigned "human" or "ghost" roles in the same manner as a game of werewolf. Ghost players will also have to be given a theme for their proposals. Suggested themes could be along the lines of "Must reference the titles of Shakespeare's plays" or "Must contain the name of at least one fruit."

The game can start with as many or as few ghosts as you wish, but starting with 0 to 2, depending on the game size, is generally best, as they can expand their numbers very quickly in the early stages. The narrator should consider not creating any Ghosts at all until Day 3, especially in smaller games. In this case, the human should know that you have reserved the right not to start the game with a ghost, but that you will guarantee that one will exist by Day 3 at the earliest.

Play

Play is split into a "day" phase (5-10 minutes) and a "night" phase (2 minutes max).

Day Phase

Each day, the Ghosts attempt to tighten their grip on the House by posing a challenge for the players. The day begins with the narrator outlining the nature of this challenge, and the players must then discuss solutions and propose ways of combating this menace. Players should give their proposal a name and write it on a piece of paper in front of themselves, so that the other players can see what solutions are available.

At the same time as solutions are being proposed, players can vote for the solution they most want to see enacted by placing their voting token in front of the player who proposed it. The solution with the most votes gets enacted and the proposing player gains points appropriately. Humans may suggest any solution to the challenge that they like, provided that it at least vaguely solves the issue before them, but solutions put forward by each ghost throughout the game will have a common theme (selected by the narrator, obviously with a great deal of care so it's not ridiculously simple and allows the ghosts some creativity).

The solution with the most votes at the end of the day wins. The player who proposed that solution gets 2 points. The points are allocated to the individual player who put forward the solution, and thus to the team to whom they belong, by proxy. (In other words: if a player switches sides, they take their points with them.)

During the day phase, both humans and ghosts may elect not to act in order to perform an action in the night phase. See below for more details.

Night Phase

The players all close their eyes. The narrator enacts the solution. The players don't know whether it succeeds in ousting the ghosts (as it will if it's a human plan) or not. Because that would give the game away!

First, the Ghosts will be invited to open their eyes if they wish (see On the subject of Ghosts, below). If, during the day, the Ghosts chose, en masse, not to propose solutions, then they may Ectoplasm (turn) a human player during the night. That human player will become a ghost at the end of the night phase / beginning of the next day phase. The newly turned ghost WILL NOT be told who the other ghosts are. They will be told the theme that they have to adhere to. Thereafter, it is up to the existing ghosts if they want to get in contact and up to them if they want to be contacted.

After that, regardless of daytime play, the ghosts can vote on a Poltergeisting; the player who has been poltergeisted will have their vote the following day count for naught, although they won't know until the end of the voting. In the event of a tie vote, the Ghosts have priority in order of seniority, i.e. the first ghost to be turned will win the tie.

Once this is done, everyone can open their eyes. For the last act of the night phase, any individual player - ghost OR human - who elected not to propose a solution during the day before may spend 1 point to vote for one player to be 'exorcised' - a painless (although somewhat intrusive) process that will turn a ghost back into a human, or counteract an ectoplasming-in-progress. There will be an object in the play area; the first player to reach it may use it to attempt to exorcise another player. In order to do so, the player must:

  • be able to suggest a theme in the exorcisee's suggestions
  • have the verbal backing of one other player.

Be warned - any player who exorcises a human with have one point deducted from their total.

Resolution

The next day runs as the last day phase. The new challenge will always arise from the solution the day before.

Endgame

At some point, it will be announced that an object (call it "the radio") has switched on. This heralds the end of the game, allowing whichever side has the greatest degree of control over the house to oust the other and claim victory.

From the point forward, any player may suggest using the radio as a solution to the daily manifestation. In order to win the day, the radio must receive a quorum of votes (i.e. more than 50% of the votes cast). If it wins, the game immediately ends. The radio has a failsafe device; no more than 2 ghosts may vote to use the radio at a time. If any more than 2 do so, then the radio will shut itself down for the day.

At this point, the scores will be tallied, and whichever team has the highest score will win. The ghosts start with a 2-point advantage.

On the subject of Ghosts

A Ghost who is exorcised and turned back into a Human may not take any of their knowledge with them, i.e. they are not permitted to overtly reveal the identity of a former team-mate. All other conscious or sub-conscious biases remains legal, however, so it is far safer for ghosts to keep their identities secret