"I heard that..."
The Rumor Mill
In a typical game session, the players are in a Story. Whether the Story is about a party being held in Lady No's new Opera House, or a Hunting session with a few Serpents, or something just as grand, a typical practice is for the Narrator to declare three true things about the party which is then followed by the players making Wisdom risks to determine other facts in the Story.
In our games, I've decided to take this a step further. On the turning of a Season (for example, when Spring ends and Summer begins) all players choose what kind of Rumors their character has overheard. These Rumors represent events and changes that transpired as one Season shifted into the other. Given how quickly events shift in Ven society, it is not uncommon for Ven to overhear what has been going on even beyond the confines of their own Castle. This system is meant to reflect that idea.
At the turning of a Season, players choose what kinds of Rumors they have overheard.
- Romance, Affairs, and Relationship Rumors : Beauty
- Warfare, Trouble and Ork-related Rumors : Prowess
- Sorcery, Artifact and Shanri-related Rumors : Wisdom
- Senate, Insult, and Revenge-related Rumors : Cunning
For example, at the turning of the Season, Ti'Ann Burghe, the Bronze Inquisitor and Duchess of Grindle, opts to hold her ear towards Sorcerous and similar rumors. Rolling Cunning, and gaining extra dice from her Aspect, "I love Secrets" she gets three wagers. So she makes the following declarations as Rumors that she has over-heard: All Puzzle Houses have suddenly shut their doors, barring anyone from entering. Sorcery somehow has become harder to use, costing an extra Style point to invoke. And lastly, drought has struck Shanri... causing all Food-providing Regions to have +1 Trouble.
These Rumors can be accepted as Facts by the Narrator, and since they generally have made things harder for the players, the Narrator rewards them all with a Style point for each approved Rumor into Facts. Clearly any Rumors that need to be vetoed can simply be done by not playing the players Style for it and having it stated as, "Merely a Rumor, and nothing more..."
Basic rules of course apply. A player cannot use a Rumor to replace Espionage actions, for example, nor declare a Rumor to affect only one single character (or give one single character an advantage alone, but then again, there are precious few non-Wanker declarations that are not ultimately still double-edged blades).
While still seemingly will allow players to start the Story with a LOT of Style, it does encourage them to consider "writing" the general feel of the new Season as it begins, which makes for excellent role-playing opportunities.
"That is a lovely scent..."
More Interesting Goods
While Goods are described in the game typically as Clothes and affections a character wears and carry additional Style, in our game we've decided to push Goods to a new creative level. (Note: This was something we were doing prior to the advanced release of the Houses of the Blooded: Wilderness book, so our apologies for it contradicting some of the ideas in that book.) In our games, Goods can be more than clothes. The real question is, what Resource are you using to create the Good, and what benefit does the Good grant?
If the Good grants additional Style Points, then there's no need to worry too much about the specifics, other than to allow the Resource used to match the idea of what is then afterwards created into a Good. Here's a small example of things we've created as Goods in our games.
Lumber: Interesting Furniture, Nice Cabinets, Stylish Canes
Spices: Cosmetics, Perfume, Simple Healing Salves, Flavored Wines
Herbs: Paints, Dyes, Medicinal Powders
Iron: Intricate Metalwork, Simpler Statues, Simple Archways, Simpler Jewelry
Note that some of these items sound similar to works of Art, but since all they do is allow the player to start with additional Style at the start of the game, so long as they are at their Castle, then it simply acts as a non-carried Good. The total number of carried Goods however still remains equal to one's Beauty Virtue. The total number of uncarried Goods that one can draw Style from is equal to one's Beauty as well, but this Style can only be "gathered up" if the player spends one scene in the presence of the said object during the Story.
It was an interesting declaration for us that one of the Ven would "consume" a season's worth of Spices, for example, to create the perfect scent the character was to wear. Or spend a season's worth of Lumber just to get the walking cane he wanted to show off. Clearly, when statues, jewelry, archways, canes, and the like are no longer simple, then they becomes works of Art that follow the rules for creating Art.
This approach also made for very interesting Gifts when it came to Parties. One player presented the Duke with a large iron chest as a present. While not a work of Art, the chest was functional and useful and definitely sturdy enough, which matched the player's desire to give a gift that suggested, "The important of Security, your grace, is what I wished you to have."
So have fun with Goods and see what else you can come up to create with them. To be frank, I see no harm in giving players more Style to play with.