Wuthering Heights - how the heck do you play it?

edited September 2008 in Play Advice
Wuthering Heights sounds pretty good, but the two versions available online left me quite "huh?"

Have I gone blind or is there no description in the rules how to actually play the game? I hope you're not just supposed to dice roll your way through the game. HELP!



  • edited September 2008
    Once everyone has their Personas, you need some manner of inciting incident, preferably targeted at the personas' Problems, that creates an untenable situation. The personas then try to deal with this situation; people describe what their persona is doing, and roll dice when dictated by the situation and stated actions. The dice mechanics nicely model their unstable emotions, and will get everyone into more trouble than they started in (everyone needs to be ready to unflinchingly roleplay according to the dice results) -- that's what makes it a Tragedy.

    You don't really need a GM to play it. My group had no problem framing scenes by consensus and passing NPCs around.

    Also, read plenty of Romantic tragedy novels. Might as well start with Wuthering Heights.

    EDIT: oh yeah, everyone should totally play up their Problems. Unflinchingly.
  • The Forge review is here.
  • Myeh myeh myeh, I beat Jeff to it.
  • edited September 2008
    Thanks, guys, I read the Forge review a long time ago, and again over the weekend. I have to admit I'm none the wiser. I had a feeling that there were a shitload of assumptions about how to play, rather than just advice on how, so in that respect it's solidly old school. Still, I'm thoroughly convinced that if you can assume something, you can also put words to it, some way or other. And if it works, why not promote it?

    Let me try to help with more specific questions.
    So, you just act out you characters and/or decribe what they are doing? Who decides when to test for the different stuff in the game, say fx. when to test for Rage or Oldness?

    What's the right mindset for this kind of game if you were to describe it to someone? I read in a review on RPG.net that it's basically rules for live-action romance, is that correct? The photos in the rules indicate show both players "acting" and sitting around a table. If it's for LARP mostly, I've got no interest anyway.

    Sorry for the barrage of questions guys - pointers to blogs/actual plays etc. are fine :)

  • It's a normal game. You talk shit, roll the dice, act in-character. Just when you get in the mood it's more fun a act it full blown way (i.e. stand up, gesticulate, etc.). And the game drives you into this mindset. Look at your disadvantages or whatever they're called and play them up to 11. There's no limit when it comes to drama in Wuthering Heights.

    In our games it was GM who usually called for rolls:
    the clouds and rain reminds you of your sadness and unrequited love for your brother's wife, time to roll

    you see this innocent young and handsome priest roll if you evercome your lust

    Charlotte is telling that she loves you but your heart is broken because of another woman, roll if you notice what Charlotte is saying

    Or sometimes player wanted to roll:
    I'm looking down this high cliff and I'm sad and broken, I'm rolling for suicide, etc.
  • Huh, that all seems a bit contradictory to me.

    Thanks anyway.

  • here's what I posted after a short, 1 hr, game at a con last year-

    When we talked about Wuthering Heights roleplay, some of the players had heard of it but thought that it was more of a parody or joke game than one meant to be played. They were glad to hear that it was legit and we had fun with it. I had enjoyed making pregen characters for this game. Characters are a collection of problems so we had republican, addict poet/printer's apprentice; a sick, occultist gypsy; a naive lesbian dance hall singer; an ugly, deaf, pianist and methodist rector; and a puny, alchoholic, badly dressed waiter with improper longings for his sister the singer. I kicked things off with a funeral (an idea lifted directly from an old actual play post by devp) and the game quickly focused on two conflicts: the rector wanting to drive the gypsy out of town and a love quadrangle with the poet and singer competing for the affection of the a french artist's model and the waiter pining over singer/sister. The game ended with a pair of murders committed with a fork and a piano.

    I felt like the system was a little overcomplicated or at least densely presented for what it was trying to accomplish (which is to seesaw the character emotionally and have each setback give rise to new problems, sort of a version of cocteau's infernal machine with outrageous romantic color.) I could have used a flowchart to keep track of the variations of rolling under/over rage, despair, oldness and the fallout from those shifting values. I did like how art and seduction and murder had their own two-step systems, and we lumped preaching and telling fortunes under the art/seduction subsystem, which worked well.

    I probably should have spaced the scenes out further in time so there would be more of a novelistic feel of strangers arriving in town and notorious rumors arrising etc- but I guess with out hour long session it was fine to lump the action into a few climactic and emotionally chaotic scenes.

    After running this just once, however, I'm convinced it's a classic game in all senses and probably more influencial than I suspect.
  • OK, the rigid play structured or time management are not mentioned in either of the versions I downloaded and printed out. I have the "Revised Alpha" version 2001 and the "Very incomplete preview of the version to come in September/October 2002", both entitled "Wuthering Heights roleplay" (sic), and both subtitled "A romantic roleplay by Philippe Tromeur".

    Those were the only ones I could find on the website - is there a more complete version somewhere?
  • I still need to write that revised edition of the game (yeah, in 2002, I know....).
    I will not change the rules, but I'll try to give more examples.

    Anyway, the game can be enjoyed with the current rules...

    Since its original design back in high school (in 1988), the game has not changed a lot.
    The original game, though, had a very rigid play structure. I've lost the original handwritten copies but I remember there was some rules about the number of actions per day...

    There's been a printed version a few years ago ; I don't known if it's still available.
    The website is still up : http://chrysopee.net/index.php?rub=0&art=Affiche_Serie&ID=597#2
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