[ap] monsterhearts is amazing! first session

edited March 2012 in Actual Play
so, tonight i took part in a session of MH. technically, the 2nd session, but since the Ghoul dropped out to be the MC, the old MC rolled up a Mortal with explicit intentions to take Infernal moves as soon as possible.
So the group was:
me, Lucca, the Witch (naturally gifted; skeptical of the supernatural, despite her powers)
George played Hope, the Hollow (born from a wish to a childless couple. constantly learning and mimicking social behaviors)
Joe played Carla, the Mortal (in love with Lucca, and obsessed with devil worship)

So we start out in homeroom. Carla immediately turns Lucca on. Lucca, irritated, lays a hex on her to keep her from lying. This somehow leads to Carla getting sent to the principal's office for being rude, which spirals into Carla taking her friend Alexandra off to the woods to do Satanic rituals to get back at their homeroom teacher.
Lucca and Hope go to chemistry together, but their teacher, Miss Alegard, is some kind of monster or blood-drinker or something who starts honing in on Hope as her prey. Hope has only a vague idea of what's going on, and Lucca, feeling protective, tries to intervene. Ms. Alegard starts to berate Lucca for interrupting, and Hope tries to "protect" Lucca by throwing the chem teacher out the window.

Shortly thereafter, Hope is on fire (and yet unharmed) and tearing open the hood of Ms. Alegard's car as she tries to drive away. There are cops everywhere, and Lucca just runs on home. Hope and Carla end up getting dragged in handcuffs to the drunk tank while the cops figure out what to do with them. Lucca's "next time on Monsterhearts" bit involves her and an ex-boyfriend dropping acid and talking about how weird their town is.

Apparently, in the previous session, they established that the police dept. had been infiltrated by some kind of death cult. I mention this because that may be a factor in what happens to Hope and Carla in jail. Something tells me Lucca would organize a protest in front of the jail or something.

edit: on a mechanical level, you really have to be a flirt to take Strings with people. Strings let you do help or interfere with others' rolls, make them act under fire, or even offer other players an experience point in exchange for following one command. The simplest way to get Strings is by successfully turning someone on. it's a +hot move everybody gets.
Lucca was sparing with the flirtations, and thus did not get as many Strings. But Hope and Carla racked them up like crazy, and used them to affect each other's rolls, compel one another with experience points, and such.
Buddha, our GM, had a large set of clay rune stones that we used for Strings. It was a nice touch, and felt very appropriate given that we had a Witch and a Mortal/Infernal in the group.

Casting hexes is pretty cool, and my Darkest Self got triggered, which was interesting: I had to use my magic as hard as I could on anyone who fucked with me, until such time as I "offered peace" to someone that I had "hurt the most". That turned out to be Hope, and I decided that I'd hurt her the most because Lucca had once given Hope a concussion in a lacrosse game at school, and now assumed that her Hollow behavior (very tabula rasa) was just a symptom of brain injury. That was pretty neat.
I thought the game gave a lot of opportunities to fill in personal details like that. It's kind of like "always ask questions" gets applied more to the players in MH than in other AW hacks.

My character concept was inspired by the comic works of Ross Campbell.
For example: image

Comments

  • Ooooh, so delicious Zac. Lovely AP. I really dig the focused scenes and aggressive framing. Did you find the basic moves covered most narrative 'die-rolling moments', or did you consdier custom moves? Can't wait to see what happens!
  • Hey, thanks Nathan!
    No, Buddha was pretty strict about using existing moves, but was pretty open to discussion or group input on which move to apply. Basically, the onus was on us to set up moves from our Skins/playbooks, while the MC focused on lining up basic moves.

    We will probably try out some custom moves at some point, since the game encourages it right in the advancement rules.
    I can't speak highly enough about the Darkest Self rule. We were all in agreement that Monsterhearts scratches that World of Darkness itch really well.
  • I'm really tempted to run an ad-hoc session of Monsterhearts at Eye-Con this weekend. It's good to hear such great reports about it.
  • Posted By: Zac in Virginia
    I can't speak highly enough about the Darkest Self rule. We were all in agreement that Monsterhearts scratches that World of Darkness itch really well.
    I'm glad the Darkest Self rules served you guys so well! The Witch has one of my favourite Darkest Selves in the whole game (alongside The Hollow and The Ghost).
    Posted By: Zac in Virginia
    Buddha, our GM, had a large set of clay rune stones that we used for Strings. It was a nice touch, and felt very appropriate given that we had a Witch and a Mortal/Infernal in the group.
    Ooh... how did this work? Did certain runes correspond with certain characters? How did you handle NPC Strings?
  • Hey Joe!
    Go Team Fremen! I'm really proud of your accomplishment here with MH! :)

    George should chime in if he feels like it, but he said at the time that the Hollow's Darkest Self seemed overly reliant on others' actions to end it. Unreliable currency, maybe? Personally, it felt very thematic and awesome to me as an observer.

    Also: only players used the rune stones. The runes themselves did not correspond to anything, but I did decide for myself to set aside magic-looking rune stones to represent my sympathetic tokens.
    NPC strings were handled by the MC keeping track on a piece of paper. Strings held by PCs were recorded by writing someone's name on an index card and then putting the correct number of rune stones on said card. Easy peasy!
  • edited April 2012
    Posted By: Mcdaldno

    I'm glad the Darkest Self rules served you guys so well! The Witch has one of my favourite Darkest Selves in the whole game (alongside The Hollow and The Ghost).
    Ya know, Joe, I'm kind of not sold on the Hollow's Darkest Self... specifically, the escape clause. It seems a lot more restrictive than the others, because "meet someone even more trapped than you are" is a pretty tall order for a nonhuman/unreal being caught in a human shell and tormented by the very thought of it. When I GMed, I created an NPC who was literally forced to live in a cage, just so George would have an unambiguous "OK, I guess I can stop freaking out now" moment.
  • You could also do it by making up/revealing that someone IS more trapped than the Hollow, but if they're rampaging about, that may be a tough thing to slip into the fiction.
  • Posted By: Zac in VirginiaYou could also do it by making up/revealing that someone IS more trapped than the Hollow, but if they're rampaging about, that may be a tough thing to slip into the fiction.
    Well yeah, but my point is that I have a pretty hard time thinking of characters MORE trapped than a Darkest Self Hollow, off the top of my head. Which is largely when I'd need to introduce them.
  • fair point.
    rewrite? :)
  • Posted By: Joe McGuffinYa know, Joe, I'm kind of not sold on the Hollow's Darkest Self... specifically, the escape clause. It seems a lot more restrictive than the others, because "meet someone even more trapped than you are" is a pretty tall order for a nonhuman/unreal being caught in a human shell and tormented by the very thought of it. When I GMed, I created an NPC who was literally forced to live in a cage, just so George would have an unambiguous "OK, I guess I can stop freaking out now" moment.
    Ah! Let's troubleshoot this.

    First of all: every group ends up finding different things that don't click for them. It's totally fine to simply rewrite that line into something that does work for you guys. Off the top of my head, you could go something like: you escape your Darkest Self when you prove to yourself that you bleed red blood, just like anyone else. Or something along those lines, where stressing sameness saves you.

    But! You can also shift your approach to the Hollow's Darkest Self. Here's how:

    Looking at the "Under Their Skin" section for the Hollow, it says: "Put them in complicated and confusing situations, and then ask questions about how they’re processing what’s going on around them." It doesn't ask you to solve their problems for them, especially the problem of their Darkest Self. It asks you to present murky situations and see if they solve those situations themselves.

    Looking at your Always Say section (page 103), you should always say what the principles demand, and what honesty demands. It sounds like your inner voice was telling you that you couldn't readily imagine a more trapped person, so saying what honesty demands in this situation looks like, "Gosh, I can't imagine someone more trapped than you are right now. So, what do you do? Do you seek other miserable people out? Do you continue your self-destructive violence?" Don't force an answer - let it emerge from the feral unknown.

    Finally, let's look at the escape clause itself, because you are missing a key word in your little quote there: To escape your Darkest Self, you must come face to face with someone who feels more trapped than you do. It might seem unimportant, but I think "feels" is one of the operative words here. There is no objective scale of "feeling trapped" at play here, and teenagers are frighteningly narcissistic and solipsistic. In a lot of ways, The Hollow is the least trapped creature in the game: no codependency (the Mortal), no web of contracts and promises (the Fae), no uncontrollable hunger (the Ghoul), no animal-form that tears out of you (the Werewolf), no family trying to run your life (the Serpentine), no addictions driving you into the hands of a demonic master (the Infernal).

    The Hollow doesn't need to encounter someone objectively more trapped than they are - they need to encounter someone who's subjectively and differently "trapped." And once they encounter that person, it's your job to ask questions and stick to your Principles. My favourite moment of Hollow escape was when she came face-to-face with a hulking Werewolf that had just torn someone's throat out. I asked, "Have you ever lost control of your body like this?" The Hollow player took it from there, describing the loss and entrapment she could see in the Werewolf's eyes. And that was how she escaped her Darkest Self.

    Relevant Agendas: Keep the story feral.
    Relevant Says: Say what the principles demand; Say what honesty demands.
    Relevant Principles: Ask provocative questions and build upon the answers; Make monsters seem human; Make humans seem monstrous.
    Relevant Hard Moves: Put them together; Leap to the worst possible conclusion; Expose a dangerous secret to the wrong person; Ask "What do you do?"
    Relevant MC advice for Hollow: Put them in complicated and confusing situations, and then ask questions about how they’re processing what’s going on around them.


    But, once again: if it doesn't work for you, you can always rewrite it. I won't be sad.
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