Promise them something you want.

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Promise them something you want.
« on: January 24, 2013, 11:12:38 PM »
So  finally got a chance to play Monsterhearts last night instead of running it. It was great. But we had a rules issue crop up, which I'm looking for some guidance on.

Here's the situation. My Hollow was paired up with the Ghoul (another PC) as dissection partners in biology class. I lean down to hold the dogfish we're cutting open, giving him an unobstructed view down my slightly too unbuttoned shirt. My roll to Turn Someone On is an 8, so he gets to choose one of the usual options.

We were teaching the game to the Ghoul's player and showing him the importance of Strings. He didn't want to give me a String (which I wanted) and didn't think he's character would act on my invitation right there in biology class. So he chose to promise me something he thought I wanted. In this case it was a promise to get his girlfriend to stop spreading rumors about me. Cool. I did want that.

After the exchange he turns to us as players and asks "Do I have to keep that promise?" I and the MC (who was MCing for the first time) were unsure how to answer. On the one hand, saying yes takes away some of the player's autonomy by forcing him to take a specific action. Holding someone to a promise like that is also stepping on the toes of the Fae Skin a bit. But if he can break or ignore the promise he made to me with no consequences, I feel that robs me of my roll. I didn't miss, I got a hit and I feel I should get something out of it.

How do other MCs handle this? Is the benefit I get for my soft hit simply the fictional guilt and shame I can leverage on the Ghoul for breaking a promise he made to me?
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Re: Promise them something you want.
« Reply #1 on: January 24, 2013, 11:58:40 PM »
Your Ghoul promised to try to convince his girlfriend to stop spreading rumors. He has very little control over her (without making a roll himself vs. his girlfriend) If I were playing the character or MCing. I'd play the promise out in good faith. I might not be bound to carry through, like a fey promise, but I'd at least try to set up a situation that doesn't rob you of your "hit".

Besides the conversation could be the source of good drama in and of itself. Why is the Ghoul suddenly so interested that the GF stop spreading rumors? Is he into the Hollow? It sets up a whole slew of complications spawned by a single roll. Which is the heart of MH to me.

But I've got to admit that in our games we've played such situations out in good faith. If you don't feel like giving the concession and giving them something they want, don't want to give yourself to them ( or it's narrativly inappropriate) give them a string. Strings are the currency of the game and should be gained and spent rather freely. Your MC could always choose to give you a String retroactively if the Ghoul doesn't follow through with their promise. A sort of emotional leverage of "You said you were going to do that and you didn't. I'll remember this later." Sort of thing.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2013, 12:08:55 AM by Ishnub »

Re: Promise them something you want.
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2013, 05:16:50 PM »
It's up to the character/player whether they keep the promise -- that's why it's 'promise them something...' and not 'give them something...' You aren't robbed of the results of your roll if the Ghoul decides to renege -- you're just overestimating what that roll gets you.

Everything in Monsterhearts is conditional, as a rule. This is especially true of social obligations and alliances. Most of the moves don't resolve anything at all, and Turn Someone On is probably the best example of the trend. Strings are temporary advantages, a resource to be spent -- if you had gotten a String and then spent it to try and get the Ghoul to shut his girlfriend up, the choice would still end up in the hands of the Ghoul (to take the XP or not, etc.)

I think when you consider the interaction in question as a typical teenage exchange, it becomes super obvious that the Ghoul does not need to keep the promise. I mean, what happened there? He kind of saw your boobs and it made him say something to impress you, in the moment -- whatever came to mind! What he decides to do about that later on, once he is no longer hormonally overwhelmed, will tell us something about who he is, and what he actually thinks about the way his girlfriend is treating you.

And equally importantly, if he decides NOT to follow through, you still get something: you get fictional leverage to get on his case. You get the fact that, at least that one time, he told you he would help you out. In high school that's something.

Re: Promise them something you want.
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2013, 01:18:09 AM »
And equally importantly, if he decides NOT to follow through, you still get something: you get fictional leverage to get on his case. You get the fact that, at least that one time, he told you he would help you out. In high school that's something.
I get that, but I was just expecting the option to have a bit more teeth, mechanically speaking. The other choices from a 7-9 result is "Gain a String on them" or "Give themselves to you." The player of the Ghoul isn't trying to get out of anything, but it does seem as if a player could have their character just keep promising things to people without repercussion. Eventually, the character will have so much fictional fallout that people don't trust anything they say. I guess I was just thinking that there would be some kind of mechanical effect.
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Re: Promise them something you want.
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2013, 02:59:59 AM »

No mechanical effect, no, they're just playing a sociopath. And they should probably stay away from faeries.

Re: Promise them something you want.
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2013, 09:01:58 AM »
In other words, make their lives hell for breaking a promise. just make sure that a fae is within earshot. Even an NPC would do nicely. Might even become a new threat...
Hmm, ideas...