Things!

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Things!
« on: June 24, 2012, 10:34:53 PM »
A while ago, I ran Monsterhearts; the intent was to podcast it. We did, for the first few sessions. (http://heliumbuffalo.tumblr.com/)

Mostly, the game worked very well. But it fell apart at the end of the season, and it left me wondering if the game itself was flawed or if our group/play was incorrect for it.

A few things came up that indicate that perhaps the game wasn't optimized for multi-season play.

In particular, the fact that there are only 9 advancements available for each Skin; this means that if your character hits their 5th advancement (triggering the end of the season next session) and then takes something other than switching playbooks for their Season Advancement, the character will only have four slots left for advancement. This seems like it could very easily leave a character in the second season with no advancements to take midway through.

Similarly, we had a great deal of trouble with the timing of the season finale. The game said that things should be wrapping up in the world by then, so I kind of figured that, you know, they would be. But they weren't, and the season finale felt very awkward and forced; we HAD to resolve all these conflicts RIGHT NOW. In the words of one of the players, it wasn't feral at all, and it kind of made everyone mad.

We elected not to make public the final session.

Maybe some sort of advice on how to handle these things might be useful?

Re: Things!
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2012, 03:47:22 AM »
As far as the XP goes, that is addressed in this thread; Advancement Options, XP, and Manipulate. Basically you can tinker with the number of XP required to buy an Advance if you want to prolong the "lifespan" of your characters. I'm of the opinion that Monsterheart PCs just have a set lifespan though, and you're not going to do epic, five year long (real time) campaigns with this game.
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Re: Things!
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2012, 04:12:32 AM »
As far as the XP goes, that is addressed in this thread; Advancement Options, XP, and Manipulate. Basically you can tinker with the number of XP required to buy an Advance if you want to prolong the "lifespan" of your characters. I'm of the opinion that Monsterheart PCs just have a set lifespan though, and you're not going to do epic, five year long (real time) campaigns with this game.

It's not about prolonging the "lifespan" of the characters; the character's going to stick around to the end of the season: retiring is a season advancement.

It's about having to change the rules to have experience mean anything for the character in season 2.

The game has a reward system, and it seems to break.

Re: Things!
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2012, 04:20:26 AM »
Similarly, we had a great deal of trouble with the timing of the season finale. The game said that things should be wrapping up in the world by then, so I kind of figured that, you know, they would be. But they weren't, and the season finale felt very awkward and forced; we HAD to resolve all these conflicts RIGHT NOW. In the words of one of the players, it wasn't feral at all, and it kind of made everyone mad.

Hey,

Sorry to hear that you had a bummer experience!

I've not yet listened to all of your episodes, so I can't offer much diagnostic help yet. Perhaps you can summarize what sorts of stuff you felt rushed to resolve?

It's not the game's intent to make players feel like they HAVE to resolve conflicts RIGHT NOW. The goal is to have a mechanic that says, "Alright, the next session is our last, so let's pace ourselves accordingly. Let's push for open confrontations and big reveals, knowing that we've got X hours of play left." Some questions will still go unanswered, and some conflicts will still remain embroiled. That's what's meant by the line: "Anything that isn’t resolved at the end of next session is left hanging in mid-air."

How do you typically end campaigns? Is saying "let's have the next session be our last session; then let's move on to a new game" a foreign phrase at your table, or was it the specific implementation of that set-up that felt off?

Re: Things!
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2012, 04:29:58 AM »
It's about having to change the rules to have experience mean anything for the character in season 2.

The game has a reward system, and it seems to break.

Maybe it'd be helpful for me to communicate some thoughts about how the advancement mechanic works in Season 2?

Monsterhearts isn't a game about characters who slowly become powerful and awesome. There is an upper threshold to what the characters can become. After Season One, take a break. Play different games. If you choose to return to Season Two, recognize that your character will likely max out their advancement in this season (unless you're playing a new character or a new skin). If this character already has six advances filled in, then we know that they're near the height of their power, and also that they won't be the one to trigger the end of the season. That's good and fine - the focus of Season Two is likely going to be on new characters and characters in new circumstances.

Monsterhearts is meant for tight arcs of play. If people return for a second season, then each player should take a look at their character and ask, "do I really want to play this character for another 2-5 sessions, or would I be more stoked to start a new one from scratch?"

Re: Things!
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2012, 06:50:32 PM »
I had this discussion at the table a while ago, and I suppose it's relevant: are you saying explicitly that when you switch skins, your previously marked advancement options remained marked? This is left undefined textually in AW (and as far as I know in MH) and Vincent's answer is "do what you will, we let people start with all of them open."

I admit, in Monsterhearts it struck me as odd if the path to mostest continuing advancement (including getting all your stats yet higher) was switching skins, which is much more... fraught than changing playbooks in AW.

Re: Things!
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2012, 07:17:44 PM »
if you switch playbooks, start with none of the advancement boxes checked off. Yeah, this does mean that you could theoretically have your character grow to epic power by having them become a vampiric werewolf or an elven dragon. That's cool.

I've always been more excited to start a new game of Monsterhearts than continue on a Second Season. We've already seen these characters grow and change and get laid and crash cars and eat people.

Re: Things!
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2012, 10:46:57 PM »
The game has a reward system, and it seems to break.
I admit, in Monsterhearts it struck me as odd if the path to mostest continuing advancement (including getting all your stats yet higher) was switching skins, which is much more... fraught than changing playbooks in AW.
I probably wouldn't say that the reward mechanic is broken. It's just designed for short term play. After you go beyond that point, it doesn't really work anymore.

I think this is where tweaking the XP costs of Advancements can be used. If you're planning to run a long-term game, you'll probably have to make the Advancements cost more than 5 XP. Once a player has marked all the Advances on their Skin sheet, offering them XP isn't really a motivator any more. There isn't anything they can spend that XP on and so no reason for other characters to bribe them them with XP or for them to make Moves that would generate XP.

Like any other RPG, Monsterheart characters will eventually hit a ceiling. A point where they're kind of too much of a bad ass to continue playing. You can't really prevent that from happening, you can only push it back. You could tweak the Season Advance rules so that the game lasts four or five seasons rather than just two.

Normally, the Season Advances unlock after someone takes their 5th Advancement and the next session is the last of the current season. That means normally once someone hits 25 XP, the next session is the Season Finale. If you increase the cost of the Advancements to 10 XP each and have the Season Finale trigger when someone takes their third Advancement (30 XP), you can have the game last for (potentially) four seasons.

  • Season One - Advance 1; Advance 2; Advance 3 and unlock Season Advances
  • Season Two - Advance 4; Advance 5; Season Advance 1
  • Season Three - Advance 6; Advance 7; Season Advance 2
  • Season Four - Advance 8; Advance 9; Season Advance 3
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