My Monsterhearts Session

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Chris

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My Monsterhearts Session
« on: January 26, 2011, 09:35:07 AM »
I've been meaning to write this up, but I'm lazy.

So I ran Monsterhearts for some chick-type friends of mine. Three of them. They are non-gamers, with no idea that gaming is a thing that exists. I pitched it to them from a "Hey, you guys should come over and get three kinds of drunk with me" and then dropped a roleplaying game on them.

So I had:

A Vampire
A Mortal
And An Infernal

The biggest thing that stood out to me is that the sorts of unbalanced relationships the game fosters makes for some crazy play. And that a group with no conception of "we're a party of adventurers" will get murder-tastic real quick. Secondly, the semi-real world nature of the game and it's slight(ish) horror means that people seem to put versions of themselves into the game or use it to explore stuff that's going on in their lives.

So here's the basic set up. The Mortal, Danny, worked at a diner as the short order chef. He was a former prom king who had just graduated and was no dealing with the realities of "the real world" where he wasn't going to college. (RL Note: Danny's player is one of only members of my social circle who hasn't been to college and I know she's mentioned that it bothered her in the past. The armchair psychiatrist in me was titillated.)

Danny had a thing for Jess, The Vampire. Jess was your basic 'I've been alive for so long, now I'm sort of bored, so I'll use humans as sexual playthings' sort of vampire. Maybe I'm oversaturated on Vampires, but the playbook feels the weakest in terms of interest and color. She basically spent the game cock teasing Danny and then shutting him down, building up strings.

Erin, the Infernal, was more interesting. She had a pact going with some sort of sex demon chick, a sort of succubus. It was a sort of a relationship, and a mutually codependent one. The demon provided Erin with power and Erin provided the demon with sex and human connection.

So of course, Erin decides that the demon, while incredibly sexy, isn't good for her. She wants to go off to college and have a family and kids and doesn't see where the demon fits into all this. The demon and the related powers were sort of a casual plaything for her, but that sort of stuff is ... hard to get out of.

Erin has had a thing for Danny for years. He was former prom king in their town and has never noticed her. So (and get this, this is where I fell in love with the game) of course Erin decides that the best way to get Danny is to use the demon's power. This is the demon that actually loves her, in a crazy stalker demon way. So she's using the power that one person's love gives her to pursue another, because the game is rewarding her for that. Wow.

(RL Note: Erin's player and Danny's player are dating in the RL. When Erin's characteriztion became apperent, in that she was part of a lesbian arrangement that bored her and now was thinking of dating a guy, real life tension ensued. :) We all ended up agreeing that it was just the proximity effects of my rugged and incredibly masculine presence. And by 'we all', I mean 'just me'.)

So Danny is chasing Jess, Erin is chasing Danny, and the demon (I can't remember her name) is chasing Erin.

The game built to a nice conclusion where the demon and Jess destroyed each other and Danny and Erin ran off together to New York, which made no sense to me, but all the girls agreed was perfectly plausible.

The End.

All three girls really liked it. Interestingly, with no experience in roleplaying, they viewed it as a game sort of like Apples to Apples, one we'd play once and then maybe again in a month. One of them said "Next time, I'd like to play a Fae." So the expectations are that it's a movie, not a television series. I just thought that was interesting.   



 
A player of mine playing a gunlugger - "So now that I took infinite knives, I'm setting up a knife store." Me - "....what?" Him - "Yeah, I figure with no overhead, I'm gonna make a pretty nice profit." Me - "......"

Re: My Monsterhearts Session
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2011, 12:50:26 PM »
Good writeup!

How did the strings affect things at a player level?

Did it seem like they enjoyed using that mechanic?

Did you actually have "strings" or did you wing it with some other physical thing representing it?

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Chris

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Re: My Monsterhearts Session
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2011, 12:55:06 PM »
Strings were sort of ignored; I had to keep reminding them of what they were for. Physical tokens might be a good idea for next time.

A positive is that there was none of the "I want to Go Aggro" that I see with more established gamers. They just played their characters and when they hit a trigger for a move, I told them so "Oh, that sounds like you're lashing out, right?" Worked really well.

A player of mine playing a gunlugger - "So now that I took infinite knives, I'm setting up a knife store." Me - "....what?" Him - "Yeah, I figure with no overhead, I'm gonna make a pretty nice profit." Me - "......"

Re: My Monsterhearts Session
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2011, 04:09:56 PM »
Chris,

That sounds like a fun session. I especially like the notes about the real life, social things going on at the table.

I've been rewriting the game, and will be releasing a new playtest version in a month or two. One of my goals is to give The Vampire more... teeth. Any specific changes you want to see?

I really like the "now I take your character and fuck with her" dynamic. But Im hearing that it's problematic for others, and I'll revisit it. Any ideas?

Thanks for playing!

Re: My Monsterhearts Session
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2011, 04:19:14 PM »
Joe,

Posted about this in the other thread... I think it might be as simple as you just explaining/describing in more detail how you envision Darkest Self playing out in a game. It's not 100% clear to me from the text (particularly because engaging it can be a pretty guideline-less "MC move": when? how?).

Can you start there?

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Chris

  • 342
Re: My Monsterhearts Session
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2011, 04:38:07 PM »
One of my goals is to give The Vampire more... teeth. Any specific changes you want to see?

Hmmm. Like I said, it might just be saturation with Vampire stuffs. Hard to separate that out.

That said, it just felt kinda samey to me. One note. "You're hot, but you get power by denying those that like your hotness." Every move is that, except for Invited, which was remarked about at the table. We couldn't see why someone would take it. The restriction wasn't that bad for someone who can seduce anyone and the reward of string wasn't that big a deal for a playbook for whom strings weren't hard to get.

The player went straight PvP, in emotional terms, on the others. Like this, yes:
"now I take your character and fuck with her"

Kind of a brainer-menace vibe, but not with the possibility of usefulness that a brainer might present to a hardholder or something. Almost an antagonist.
 
I don't know. You're the expert on all this. :) The best I can do is a vague meh. Maybe the player is just boring. I'll tell her. :)

Joe,

Posted about this in the other thread... I think it might be as simple as you just explaining/describing in more detail how you envision Darkest Self playing out in a game. It's not 100% clear to me from the text (particularly because engaging it can be a pretty guideline-less "MC move": when? how?).

Can you start there?


Maybe that's it, but different. My player was her darkest self the whole time, really.

Maybe two little menus for improvement: a normal one and a darkest self one? And have the darkest self one be ... dark.
A player of mine playing a gunlugger - "So now that I took infinite knives, I'm setting up a knife store." Me - "....what?" Him - "Yeah, I figure with no overhead, I'm gonna make a pretty nice profit." Me - "......"

Re: My Monsterhearts Session
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2011, 05:27:38 PM »
I wonder if the Darkest Self material would benefit from describing some Moves for each one of them.

Re: My Monsterhearts Session
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2011, 05:43:38 PM »
I need to articulate Darkest Self better, I think... because it works beautifully at my table. So: I hear all your concerns, and the next iteration will explore Darkest Self with a lot more clarity and depth.

There are SPECIFIC Darkest Selves that must be changed - The Infernal is a bummer for lots of people, it seems; the Fae needs to either be more concrete or different.

But I'm not stoked about the idea of mechanically advancing the Darkest Self, or stuff like that. For me, the Darkest Self is about knowing what kind of monster you are, knowing what harm you are capable of, not wanting to go there... and ending up in that dark place none the less. It's also about self-indulgence. There's a point at which the mechnanics say, "You should just abandon your goals and your friends, and wreck the world." The power of absolute self-centeredness, of absolute justifications, of plain old absolutes... That's a power that youth have. And Darkest Self is a way of flagging that no, as a matter of fact, you don't know better. No, your great power doesn't lend itself to great responsibility.

You are, in fact, a monster. And no matter what you aspire to be, you are a monster. And for all the good you might do, all the things you might accomplish, you will eventually destroy yourself.

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Chris

  • 342
Re: My Monsterhearts Session
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2011, 06:08:33 PM »
Yeah I get that. What I mean is that where usually when you get xp for rolling highlighted stats, now, if you're a vampire, you also get xp when you just abandon your goals and your friends, and wreck the world.
A player of mine playing a gunlugger - "So now that I took infinite knives, I'm setting up a knife store." Me - "....what?" Him - "Yeah, I figure with no overhead, I'm gonna make a pretty nice profit." Me - "......"

Re: My Monsterhearts Session
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2011, 06:52:17 PM »
Joe,

What the Darkest Self is/stands for is pretty clear. What I'm not sure about is how to use it in play. How do we decide when it comes into play, and what does it look like? Do you just have the MC take over the character for a while? If so, how do they trigger the conditions they need to "snap out of it"? I can imagine some of these "moments" lasting a long time (some of the conditions are not all that common, although they are definitely fitting in terms of the source material's fiction).

I think a brief Actual Play example from one of your games would really help. What made it work? Who said what? What triggered the Darkest Self? What happened next?

My intuition is that something like Darkest Self should work as a player-triggered thing, like escalation in Dogs. You want to avoid it, but you just can't, because the game pushes you towards it. You face some tough decisions in play, and now and then you end up going there, but you also know it's because you chose to do so. That's important if, say, your character ends up murdering their best friend.

How do you see it? I can't quite put my finger on it from the text.