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Topics - mcdaldno

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Monsterhearts / Purchasing Monsterhearts
« on: April 13, 2012, 02:05:36 AM »
Good news! You can purchase Monsterhearts here.

The PDF is $10, and the print + PDF is $25.

Have more compassion than cash? You can also pay for them using good deeds as currency.

Downloads and other materials available at that first link.

Monsterhearts is available for preorder now, on IndieGoGo:

It's based on the Apocalypse World engine, which is why I'm posting this announcement, but it's grown into its own unique game. It's about the messy lives of teenage monsters, and it's designed to tell stories like those in True Blood, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ginger Snaps, and yes, Twilight.

Click the image to check out the IndieGoGo preorder site.

the nerve core / The Grotesque: A New Playbook
« on: August 10, 2011, 05:21:22 PM »
Hey, I wrote a playbook that is good. It's called The Grotesque, and you are an unpredictable mutant, with something to offer those who can accept it.

I'm offering people access to it in exchange for this: one purposeful act of social good. I'm also offering a game I published (Perfect Unrevised) for the same exchange, if you're interested.

Deets on how to get The Grotesque here.

Monsterhearts / The New Sexy
« on: April 01, 2011, 05:27:22 PM »
So, Vampires and Werewolves aren't played out, but they're certainly well explored. Ghosts and witches, likewise.

Help me find the new sexiness, the Skin that's easy to envision but not already a supernatural drama trope.

The Ghoul is my attempt at a sexy zombie, a gorgeously disinterested psychopath. That's a bit of a departure from the norm, but it's still the focal character of Jennifer's Body. So: not new enough, I'm still on the prowl.

I'm working on something called The Hollow, which is all about being not real. Dawn, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is a hollow. Mimics and dopplegangers and amnesiacs are all hollows. Carrie might be a witch, or she might be a hollow - her actions are so non-intentional and sporadic that she might be a hollow.

What else could exist?

Angels? Shamans/Mediums/Psychics/Channelers? Dreamwalkers? Merfolk?

Apocalypse World / Move Idea: Bloodcrazed
« on: March 16, 2011, 11:06:16 PM »

Is there yet a move where you roll +harm-suffered? Like, if you've got 4 boxes filled in, you're rolling +4? Or a move where you deal harm equal to the amount of harm you've already suffered?

It seems like a really awesome mechanic, especially for the "totally bloodcrazed deathwish guy." Having the possibility of rolling up to +6 is broken, or of doing 6-harm, is going to be broken regardless of the implementation.

+half-harm (rounded up) is quite a bit less elegant, but an immediately workable solution.

Further thoughts? Has this been done? Could this be done? What could be done with it?

One thing I could do is steal the idea and apply it to Monsterhearts, where the most harm you can have at any given time is 3.

Apocalypse World / Luxe Eternal #1: Call for Submissions
« on: March 11, 2011, 04:46:12 PM »
When you love Apocalypse World, roll +cool.

Luxe Eternal is a fanzine for Apocalypse World. The first issue is going to be released near the end of April. It's quite likely that I'll release another issue 3 months after that.

Luxe Eternal is going to be the home of:
  • new custom playbooks
  • pretty maps
  • thoughtful dissection of AW principles and play
  • con scenarios
  • custom moves
  • fan art and fan fiction

If you're interested in submitting for Luxe Eternal, here's the deal:

1.) Priority goes to things that are being released exclusively via Luxe Eternal.

2.) Each accepted submission is worth 1-barter. 1-barter is the going rate for: a PDF issue. 3-barter is the going rate for: a print issue.

3.) As editor, I'll be working with you to make sure that your piece is polished, of the right length, and of the right tenor for inclusion in Luxe Eternal. Generally, we don't want articles longer than 750 words, nor maps bigger than a half-letter (portrait) page.

4.) With custom playbooks, you have the option to submit it unformatted/without illustration, or formatted/with illustration. If submitted unformatted, I'll format it and work with you to create a playbook illustration.

5.) With everything else, I'll be formatting it and laying it out.

6.) I'm not sure how much the fanzine will cost, per issue. I'd like it to be enough to make 30-50 cents an issue, after printing & paypal fees & packaging & shipping. My best guess, at the moment, is that it'll work out to $3 per copy, or $1 per PDF.

6a.) The reason I want to make coin is because otherwise my incentive for keeping up the work is very low.

TO SUBMIT: Email me at mcdaldno(AT)gmail(DOTT)com, or reply here.

Apocalypse World / Fanzine Idea: Luxe Eternal
« on: March 07, 2011, 09:21:31 PM »

Lots of people are making cool custom playbooks.
I have one finished, for example (The Grotesque, currently unreleased).

Lots of people are making cool setting hacks, rules tweaks, and the like. While some of them (Dungeon World, Monsterhearts) are big enough to be their own thing, some are smaller.

Some people have made cool maps, cool custom moves, and cool other stuff.

Would people be interested in a fanzine dedicated to collecting this stuff in print form? I know that some people did that with the custom moves thread over on Story Games, but I'd love to see a more open-ended project.

I'm thinking about starting a little fanzine, tentatively called Luxe Eternal. Sell each issue for enough to recoup printing, shipping and handling. Aim to put out four issues over the course of a year, and then reevaluate after a year.

If I did this, would you be interested in contributing stuff? What stuff? Would you be interested in picking up a copy for $2-3? What about a year's subscription for $10-12?

Apocalypse World / The Hoarder
« on: February 23, 2011, 02:37:23 AM »
So, Vincent released a new Apocalypse World playbook: The Hoarder.

For those who're interested, it's part of a rad $10 charity bundle (which also includes Perfect Unrevised, btw): here.

This is one of my favourite playbooks yet. Of all the special-release playbooks (Maestro D', Faceless, Quarantine, Hoarder), I'm most excited about The Hoarder.

I'm a little unthrilled about A Spoonful of Sugar, mostly because I don't get an immediate sense of how to use it - how the mechanics lead into the fiction, or the fiction leads into the mechanics. I guess it's only for use in circumstances where you're bribing the guards in order to help your friend sneak into the fort, etc, etc... but either way it seems like a scene-level move, and not an action-level move.

If I were to play a Hoarder, I'd be tempted to take Acquisitive Eye and Appraising Eye, along with the stat-block that gives me Sharp+2. The idea of simply reducing the world to a collection of objects, of seeing every situation and every opponent as a cache of  valuables... so good.

Apocalypse World / Alt. Battlebabe Special Move
« on: January 28, 2011, 08:00:07 PM »
So, over in another thread I started, a couple people mentioned how the Battlebabe sex move always falls flat in play. I agreed, saying:
The Driver and the Battlebabe both have "clever" sex moves. They do clever things, and they communicate a bunch of things about who these characters are. But only one of them is fun in play.

The Driver's sex move is fun, because it takes play in a direction. The Battlebabe's sex move is not fun, because it shuts down directions without providing new ones. I mean, sure, you can have already seduced someone to get what you want, and not have to suffer consequences for those actions now... but that's a before thing, not an after thing.

In the moment that the Battlebabe's sex move happens, it shuts down momentum. Lame!

So, someone else asked if there was a more sex-positive special for the Battlebabe, one that would actually make sex mechanically interesting for the Battlebabe.

And I came up with this:

Battlebabe Special
When you have sex with someone, you can temporarily change their special move to one of the other playbooks'. The effect only lasts while you're having sex.


The idea is simple: when you're a battlebabe, you decide what sex means. You decide whether it's about feeling good, or getting something for nothing, or getting inside their heads, or what.

What do you folks think about that idea?

Monsterhearts / Gift to Helpful People
« on: January 28, 2011, 06:13:41 PM »
Dear [Steve Hickey, Chris, NilsH, Paul T, Nathan Wilson, John Harper, Neon Fox],

I am so excited to see so many hands on deck, helping me work on Monsterhearts. Its really moving.

And so I want to give you people a thank you present. Private Message me your email address if you'd like a copy of the Perfect Unrevised PDF or the Gun Thief PDF - your choice of which.

Joe Mcdaldno

Monsterhearts / [AP about: Ghoul's Hunger] Riding in Cars with Boys
« on: January 28, 2011, 05:19:37 PM »
(In this example, I'm the MC, Jackson Tegu is playing Castidad the Ghoul, and Chuck is an NPC)


Castidad Torez has a condition. That's how she understands it. Every six months or so, she goes to see the doctor, he puts her under, and she wakes up looking different. No one's explained to her why in all the family photos it's like she's an entirely different person from year to year. She doesn't realize that she's dead.

Castidad has some problems. Some "emotional stability issues." That's why her family had to move to Finlay, Ohio. Because she got expelled from every single school in their old home town, and they needed to move.

Castidad Torez is a Ghoul
She hungers for chaos and fear.
She has: Obsessive Hunger, What the Right Hand Wants.

The Scene

Everyone's at a party, down by the swimming hole. Fights are breaking out amongst the jock kids. The stoner kids are getting stoned. Castidad is all alone, off at the edge of the party, leaned up against a pick-up truck.

Chuck is a jock, and he gets into a fight with Farley (The Chosen, another PC). Farley lays him out, and so Chuck storms off and leaves the party. Castidad's leaning up against his truck. Bloody-nosed and embarrassed, Chuck snaps at Castidad, "Listen, either get in the truck or get the hell off it." To Chuck's surprise, Castidad shrugs and climbs inside.

Chuck's driving away, his nose bleeding like crazy. He flips on the radio, saying tersely, "You better fucking like country." Castidad gives him a weird look, and then twists the volume knob to max, while saying, "I love country."

I narrate that Chuck's clearly not attracted to Castidad, but he's sizing her up and trying to decide whether he wants to fuck her anyways. I don't remember what happens at this point, but I know it involves some (character) confusion about what the phrase "maybe I should take you home" means, and then Chuck's undoing his seat-belt and unzipping his fly.

Jackson's face gets deadly serious at this point. He narrates Castidad leaning over, and pressing her right hand down on his knee, hard - forcing him to accelerate. As he speeds through a red light and gives her a startled look, she just looks back at him with fire in her eyes. "I'm going to bite your dick off. Seriously."

They're driving pretty fast down a narrow residential street. Chuck freaks out at her batshit-crazy proclamation, and shoves her away. Jackson asks, "So, he takes both hands off the steering wheel to do that, doesn't he?" I nod, sure.

"Well, Castidad grabs the steering wheel, and as she's flung back, she yanks the wheel down to the right, hard. I want to drive this truck straight into someone's living room."

It's about now that it clicks, for everyone else at the table, what's going on here. Castidad is feeding on fear and chaos. This is precisely what she came to the party to do. She hung around by the cars, waiting for a drunk driver to offer her a ride. And then she fucked with him, freaked him out, and crashed his car.

"Alright, Castidad, roll to lash out." 10+. Castidad is beat up pretty bad, but Chuck goes flying through his own windshield into the living room that they drove into. A startled housewife comes down to see a truck where her sofa usually is, a teenage girl sobbing inside that truck, and a dead boy with his pants around his knees (laying on her nice hardwood floors).

Castidad climbs out of the truck. And then, without a trace of guilt, she lies, "He tried to rape me. I did the only thing I could."

And So

That's an example of a Ghoul feeding. Castidad wasn't at her Darkest Self in this scene, she was simply a cold-blooded killer.

Apocalypse World / How Explicit Are Your Sex Scenes? [+AP]
« on: January 27, 2011, 07:19:46 PM »
So, I'm going to ask a couple questions, then follow them up with some AP.

How explicit are the sex scenes, when you play Apocalypse World?
What factors change the level of detail you go into?
Do some players get weirded out? How do you handle that?
What's the sexiest sex scene that's come out of play?
What makes for the most fun sex scenes?

For me, I MC'd a one-shot of Apocalypse World last night, and it had my favourite sex scene that I've yet had in AW.

As background:
The apocalypse happened when the earth rose up and swallowed the cities, fighting back against the humans. Now, some humans attempt to rebuild their concrete fortresses, and some attempt to co-exist with nature. Vega is a hardholder (played by Ben) who's chosen to try and coexist with nature, living in little stilted huts poised over some Florida marshlands.

Vega's taking his wounded friend Barker over to White's hardhold, because they actually have a competent medic over there. Vega's a shrewd character who always seems to be weighing the cost/benefit analysis of things in the back of his mind.

The Scene Prior:
Vega and his (I say his, but Vega's gender was ambigious. Throughout play, Vega seemed to emerge as a concealed/androgynous male)  men approach White's hardhold: a series of big-box stores along a highway. Two of White's snipers appear, guns trained upon Vega's people. Shortly thereafter, a gang of bikers circle Vega's people - White in the lead.

The reason she's called White is readily apparent: she steps off a white bike, removes her white helmet, and calmly walks over. She looks incredibly sexy in that white leather outfit.

White's all about ostentatious shows of power, even though she's keen and calculating beneath the surface. She's not going to heal Vega's buddy for free - she demands a hefty tribute of those psychedelic mushrooms from the marshlands, as well as some bodies for the slave trade (which she refers to, rather coldly, as "units"). Alright. The deal is struck. White points her gun (painted white, of course) skyward, and fires off a couple rounds to "seal the deal."

The Sex Scene:
After making sure Barker is attended to, Vega asks to speak with White privately. White's definitely willing to oblige him. She leads them into a small meeting room (about the size of a walk-in closet). She's got her back to the door, and places her hand on the wall next to Vega, leaning in towards him. She's taller than he is, more confident than he is, and more assertive than he is.

Vega suggests that White's in a position to offer his holding some protection, but Ben intones this in such a way as to imply that White has personal power over him. Ben glances at the Hardholder's special move. We're of one mind about this.

White gives him a half smirk, leaning one shoulder in closer coyly. "What, a big thing like you needs a little girl like me to protect you?" I reiterate the fact that White is taller than Vega now, hoping to stress that White is turned on by power differentials.

Vega says something else about her holding's might, again with the double entendres that suggest to White that she could take him at any moment. White kicks the door shut behind her, without looking. With the hand that she had placed next to Vega's head, she takes out her gun. She holds it in the narrow space between them for a second, before placing its hilt (and her fist) on his shoulder, snub barrel pointed at the wall he's leaning on.

She says something, taunting and playful, but also deeply predatory. He gives some form of consent, and it's clear they're not negotiating a protection racket anymore. They're deciding how rough its going to be when White pins Vega to the floor.

This is my favourite part: with the gun next to Vega's ear, still, White fires a shot into the wooden wall behind him. "Vega, she's testing you here. She's testing whether or not you can handle the heat." Ben has to roll to keep it together, to see if he's man enough for a woman like White. He rolls a 7-9, and I offer him an ugly choice: "if you don't flinch away, that shot is going to deafen you." Vega wants White more than he's ever wanted anything. And so he resists the urge to flinch.

"You experience the aural equivalent of blinding white light. But the rest of your senses don't care. And this is when she takes you."

The three of us at the table are smiling, pleased at this scene. "What's your sex move?" We deal with interpreting the hardholder's 1 free barter thing, and then I skip over the actual sex and pick back up with:

"White stands up first, gets dressed first, and walks back to the door first. As she does so, she points her gun skyward and fires off another shot - her little way of 'sealing the deal,' remember? But - you can't hear the shot, and it's then the the flush leaves your face and you realize that your hearing is absolutely, 100% gone."


I was pleased with this level of detail. I don't know if it translates to the screen or not, but we were all in agreement that the scene was sexy and good. I'm glad we didn't narrate the actual sex, as narrating sex is kind of like narrating parkour: nearly impossible to translate that sort of action and retain what's cool about it. The gunshot next to Vega's ear was my favourite moment in the game. White was my favourite NPC - a flashy, predatory, cold-as-ice badass.

So, yeah. That's my answer to a bunch of those questions up top. How about you?

This is a funny joke.

The person running the game plays as the GM (Gamemaster), and everyone else is an MC.

When you rep the four pillars, roll +legit. On a 10+, cipher 2. On a 7-9, cipher 1 and beef 1. Throughout the scene, you may spend cipher to: add +1 to a hot roll, give everyone in the cipher +1Hx with one another, give someone +1forward. If someone got beef, they can spend it throughout the scene to: add +1 to a hard roll, give someone -1 forward, start a Front* (*as is "to front 'gainst someone").

Now, some moves that various playbooks can buy:

Hustle (for the Smooth Cat playbook)
Add this to the list of options for when you spend cipher: gain +1barter.

Too Legit To Quit (for the Survivor playbook)
You have Armour equal to your Legit.

Limelight (for the Producer playbook)
When you produce for someone, roll +cool. You get the effects of repping the four pillars without actually doing it. The cipher and beef can be spent to introduce effects not contained within this scene, montage style.

Monsterhearts / Darkest Self - Who, What, Like What
« on: January 27, 2011, 06:16:48 PM »
Alright, this is in response to some very helpful prompting from Paul T. I've been kinda sparse in my replies to this forum lately - since December 20th, I've been on the road, couch surfing without a laptop of my own. That'll be the case until February 8th.

Anyways, on to the Darkest Self. First, some clarifications:


The player controls their own character when at their Darkest Self. The only exception is The Infernal, because possession is their shtick (and that's likely to change).

The player is in charge of interpreting their Darkest Self text, and deciding what specific actions and behaviors are implied therein. Some (The Ghoul, The Witch, The Chosen) imply some very concrete actions and behaviors, and others (The Fae, The Mortal, The Vampire) are open to a wider range of interpretation. Its up to the player to interpret, but the MC and other players should hold that player accountable... if someone isn't playing up their Darkest Self when it's active, point it out and encourage them to go darker.

Ultimately, if someone isn't stoked on playing their character's Darkest Self with relish, then this game is at a disconnect with them.


When you are your Darkest Self, you should play it hard.  Go for the jugular. Do some serious damage. Leave wreckage. You should do this not because the Darkest Self is your punishment for bad decisions, but because playing in that self-destructive space is fun and liberating. You should enjoy playing your Darkest Self.

You are free to play it conflicted, though. You are free to start pursuing your escape clause the moment you become your Darkest Self - so long as you're also playing up your Darkest Self.


John Harper is playing as Anne. Anne is a witch in her early 20s. She wants desperately to be known as the moody, angsty kid. And she's doing a fairly good job of telegraphing that desire to the world - bangs over her eyes, constantly being mopey, making snide comments to all the d-bags of the world.

Anne meets Satan, and asks him for his number. Satan doesn't use phones, but he gives her a business card for Eclipse, a nightclub that Anne's never heard of before. She plans to show up and meet him there, later that night.

But later on in the afternoon, before showing up at Eclipse, Anne's Darkest Self is triggered. The witch's Darkest Self is all about hexing anyone who slights her, and having the hexes be unsettlingly powerful. She gets super vengeful with anyone who tries to stand in her way.

When she shows up, there's a vampire bouncer in the entranceway. But he's preoccupied with draining a victim dry. WTF, right?! Anne's freaked out by this, as she's never watched someone die, and I ask her to keep it together. Even though she's her Darkest Self, the rest of the body of mechanics still apply. She gets a 7-9, I think, and the result is that she's shocked and shaken. The bouncer finishes draining his prey, and turns to her. Sizing her up, he says, "Maybe you should go." I'm wondering if this counts as a slight, but John thinks its not, yet. "It's pretty good advice, to be honest, and I'm sort of thinking the same thing." Fair. Anne disregards the vamp's good advice, and enters the club.

There's demons and scary things! Anne is out of her element and spooked, but she's also her Darkest Self. The way that plays out is that she's on edge, ready to lash out and hurt anyone who questions her. She sits down and orders a drink, and starts rethinking the situation with the vampiric bouncer. John's narrating this inner monologue that Anne's having, where she's slowly working herself up to the decision that she's going to put him in his place before leaving.

Across the club, Anne spots an ex-boyfriend. That one who just disappeared one day, without saying goodbye. He's surrounded by a bevvy of sexy ladies. She walks up, and essentially picks a fight with him. She's baiting him with passive aggressive remarks, waiting for him to slight her. And he does. And so she casts Illusions on him, making him see aggressive demonic visages everywhere. But when a witch is at her Darkest, her hexes all have crazy powerful side effects. So, the three women surrounding this ex simply burst into actual demons, their skin rupturing to expose disgusting shades of goopy flesh and knotty sinew beneath. The demons have him pinned inside a booth, and they begin the slow work of cutting him up, cackling, torturing him to death. Whoops.

A situation like that is obviously enough to draw Satan's attention. "Ah, Anne," he calls, approaching. He looks bemused, watching the squiggly demons make short work of some random mortal boy. "What a pleasure to see you."

Satan asks why Anne came. She's on edge, just looking for a reason to pick a fight with him. He explains that he's not interested in catching "small fish," and so if she's not here for something big, she'd best leave. She makes some demands, requests some powers. Satan makes his counter-demands. He's happy to hand her raw power. He just wants the soul of her father, in exchange.

Anne is disgusted that he would even think that could ever, like, even possibly be a fair, like, deal. And so she hexes Satan in his own club. She casts Ring of Lies upon him. Since she's at her Darkest Self, her hexes are all insanely powerful and have horrendous side effects. So I make a quick decision: instead of the hex applying whenever he lies, it applies whenever he says something unholy. Being the devil, this is always.

Satan starts to speak, and freezes, confused. He starts again, and then stops. Blood is running from inside his nose. He starts again, and something inside his head must rupture, because he collapses in a heap.

Anne doesn't escape her Darkest Self this session - she doesn't even try to seek out ammends. As far as actual game time goes, she was her Darkest Self for about 1 hour of gameplay. As far as scenes go, she was her Darkest Self for 2-3 scenes.

John didn't play the Darkest Self "to the nines" or anything - he was pretty subdued about it. But Anne did hex Pierce, kill a former lover, and kill Satan. She worked herself into a rage, where she was willing to take down everyone in that club, if anyone dared step up to her. So, excellent.

Monsterhearts / The Mortal
« on: December 05, 2010, 07:55:21 PM »
The Mortal
(click the title to see a PDF version)

none of them would understand. what you have here, in this dark and secret place, it’s beautiful. they’d warn you that this sort of beauty is dangerous, like a raging fire. well, some things are worth getting burnt for.

love has eclipsed all hope. and the dark has left you feeling beautiful.


quiet, desperate, awkward, beautiful, displaced

doe eyes, sad eyes, darting eyes, nervous eyes, human eyes

new kid in town, kid next door, your barista, someone’s girlfriend, someone’s boyfriend, nobody


hot 1, cold -1, steady 0, volatile 2, dark 1
hot 1, cold 0, steady -1, volatile 2, dark 1
hot 2, cold -1, steady -1, volatile 2, dark 0
hot 1, cold 1, steady -1, volatile 2, dark 0

Mortal moves

you automatically get this one:

true love
you always have exactly one lover. the first is chosen during “your backstory.” if you ever fall in love with someone else instead, give them a String and they become your new lover. several moves target or involve your lover - these apply regardless of who your lover is, and whether you’re actually in a relationship with them.

also, choose two:

mess with me, you mess with him
when you use your lover’s name as a threat, you automatically succeed at trying to keep it together. your lover gains a String on you.

sympathy is my weapon
every time you forgive someone for hurting you, and excuse their base nature, take a String on them.

excuses are my armor
when you ignore a blatant problem, mark experience.

want to be wanted
whenever someone takes a String on you for the first time, you both mark experience. if it’s an NPC, only you mark experience.

downward spiral
when you gaze into the abyss, you may cause yourself 1 harm. if you do, add 2 to your roll.

your backstory
The Mortal always declares their backstory last.
declare one person to be your lover. you may take Strings that others have on you, and give them to your lover.

sex move
when you get what you want, sexually, carry 1forward.

Darkest Self
nobody understands you, or even wants to. they’d rather you disappear. well, you’re not going to disappear. you’re going to make life a living hell for them. you’ll betray the wicked to the judges, the weak to the executioners. you’ll pit humans and supernaturals against one another, until everyone looks like monsters. only seeing the pain that you’re causing your lover will let you escape your Darkest Self.

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