Reclaim your lands, bring down oppressors, topple empires. A completely unique set of mechanics designed from the ground up to fit your characters' struggles. Defy the odds or die trying in a world where the slightest mistake can cost you everything
The House Doesn't Always Win is a zero-prep, tabletop role playing game about those who have been left with nothing fighting against those that hold everything. It runs entirely on a standard deck of playing cards and a single 10-sided die, can be run in any setting or theme and uses a unique, poker-like system to drive its game-play. The House Doesn't Always Win will transform your deck of cards into a high stakes game of pushing your luck and fighting against your oppressors. Sessions are full of heist-like plans gone awry, fragile allegiances between allies around the table beginning to crack under pressure, and constant morbid curiosity for exactly what card is currently sitting on top of the deck.
The House Doesn't Always Win is built on a unique set of mechanics that bring your deck of cards to life. The diamonds are your targets, those you need to destroy to remake the world in your favour. The Kings, Queens, and Jacks are your characters, those fighting to change what keeps them down. Everything else is all the influence, allies, favours, equipment, and luck you've managed to scrape together to attempt this paradigm shift. Once the game starts, it's not just how the cards are dealt, but how you play them that will ultimately decide your fate.
Defy the odds or die trying in a world where the slightest mistake can cost you everything. What you're attempting is not going to be easy, in fact, it's an enormous gamble, but if you liked the odds you wouldn't be here in the first place. The House Doesn't Always Win is a game of high tensions and situations that exist on a knife-edge - where failure is always avoidable but takes no prisoners. The odds are always changing as cards are discarded and removed from the deck and with everyone sharing the deck between them, every action is important, not just your own.
Illustration by Riotbones
"It looks great! I love the aesthetic, art, and diagrams. Nice compact design on the scenarios too, which I always appreciate as a GM."
"THDAW is probably the most excited I've been about using cards in an RPG ever. The tension of a scene building up with each card that flips over, living on a knife's edge deciding when to hold 'em, and when to fold 'em, is captured brilliantly here. Couple the elegant and tense core mechanic with the premise of the game, going from zero to hero, and you've got a game that brings excitement and dread with each card flipped. You're not just looking for that next spade, you're putting all your chips on the table to live out a real underdog story."
"The best card games & my favorite RPGs let me think strategically, act tactically, & push my luck right up to the very end. THDAW perfectly shuffles a crisp theme & open genre play with sharp design & breathtaking art. This game raises the limit on what card based RPGs can do."
Watch Wheels run a tutorial session of The House Doesn't Always Win for special guests Zoe Delahunty-Light, Grimsevers, and Xalavier Nelson Jr.
The House Doesn't Always Win strips away the need for pages and pages of rules that most games require you to learn without sacrificing interesting moment to moment decisions. Suitable for advanced TTRPG players looking for something different as well as new players looking for a fast and easy to learn system - It's fast to pick up and set up and is infinitely repayable in whatever setting you choose, suitable for quick and deadly one-shots or multi-session narratively linked campaigns.
Everything in The House Doesn't Always Win will have you keeping your attention on the deck of cards in the centre of the table:
The House Doesn't Always Win feels like; A Hitman level run by a croupier, a high stakes game of poker mixed with Russian roulette, classic heist movies, David taking down Goliath, putting everything on black, knowing you stand to gain or lose everything, knowing you have no other choice.
You'll shout in triumph and cry out in agony from merely turning over a card. Your characters will suffer hardships and if they're lucky, narrowly escape with their lives. But should they succeed against all odds; their names will go down in history.
Illustration by Riotbones