[Monsterhearts] New players with interesting questions.

edited December 2012 in Play Advice
So I played the game with a new group just this evening that consists of folks who have only played World of Darkness games for the last 15 years. There were three major areas of complaint.

1. The players all complained that it felt like they were playing "tropes/stereotypes" instead of "characters" and that it felt like there was very little on their character sheets to indicate who they are, what they are like, and what they can do other than the stereotype description and moves. I really didn't know what to say to this. All I could come up with was that this was a deliberate design decision.

I have never noticed any of this before despite playing/MCing around a dozen sessions of this game. In fact, I feel like the rules put me in the head of my character like no other ever has. I'm wondering if this is related to a story focus (me) vs character focus (them) as thinking about it, I guess I often play to type as this seems to create the best stories.

2. You can sort of get around the "lack" of skills in DW and AW via "defy danger" and "act under fire" but "hold steady" doesn't seem to have the same broad applicability as the other two. Has anyone found themselves narrating in MH when they felt they should be calling for a roll? My ghost player in particular was frustrated by the lack of skills. He claimed that there was nothing for him to do. I kept trying to hook him into what was going on but he shrunk away. (I was told later that he will leap at plot hooks if you give them but they have to involve "things to do" and involve at least one other player)

3. The second one was even more perplexing. My ghost player was frustrated that "playing the ghost does not feel like playing a ghost". I can walk through walls but I in no way feel like a ghost at all". Although the trope of the "person everyone ignores" is very strong for teenage fiction, I must say that to come degree I concur.

Any comments or guidance gratefully received.
Stu.

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Comments

  • edited December 2012
    I haven't played any *World, but you should ask your players how they would achieve all that in their sessions when playing Vampire.

    I suspect that they using the skills to tell each other who they are. It's not that uncommon. If someone is indoctrinated in how to play roleplaying games, especially if they only played one or two games, it's hard to make them pick up new games and adopt to them because they've already formed how to create characters and play them around their standard rule system. "...in no way feel like a ghost at all" seems like the player wanted a pointer like the humanity scale in Vampire.

    The important thing is not to defend the new system, but to understand why they give that kind of feedback.
  • 1. I would agree you start with a stereotype and have to fill it out, which is not bad but the way the game works. Many world of darkness games are that way too but give you more to work with to deviate from the stereotype. You could embrace the stereotypes and go for a commedia dell'arte style of using the same "masks" in variations of stories. You can also use it as a way to show the idea of the characters in the world being stereotyped and having to define themselves outside cliques and assumptions, which is not easy and happens over time in the highschool / teenage story.

    2. If you need a certain roll for something make up a custom move on the spot. That works if you want to roll something.
    Knowing your players helps to tailor a game to them so take in what you learned about him and try doing something like that. Ghost being bored and having nothing to do with their time seems like it fits, I played my Ghost as really bored when I did it and he was trying to get out of that boredom.

    3. I guess I made my Ghost ghosty by having him be timedisplaced and acting in that way. Haunting places and people. Giving hints about the supernatural instead of telling it outright.
  • We used Hold Steady for my witch stealing stuff recently, then realised she's just a closet kleptomaniac so made up a custom move to cover it.

    It sounds like you need to ask more questions directly of the characters to help cement who they are and what their motivations are. For the ghost, have you got how they died? Who cares? Who is covering it up? There's a whole mystery can be made there and you should be able to tailor it to what the Player wants by asking their Character questions.
  • Running Away fors for stealing stuff.
  • It sounds like you need to add some procedure that gives the characters a) stuff they care about, and b) direction.

    In the game "as written", you're supposed to do this by asking provocative questions. That's not always as easy as it sounds, though.

    I have some thoughts on this, but I'd like to hear what people more experienced with Monsterhearts have to say first!

    (If you're really really curious now, you can look up a recent thread I started about Monsterhearts for a fun discussion.)
  • Interesting reactions. This, to me, sounded like some basic faulty assumptions coming from more traditional style roleplaying to more narrative indie fare.
    1. The players all complained that it felt like they were playing "tropes/stereotypes" instead of "characters" and that it felt like there was very little on their character sheets to indicate who they are, what they are like, and what they can do other than the stereotype description and moves. I really didn't know what to say to this. All I could come up with was that this was a deliberate design decision.
    I think that's pretty accurate, you have what? A couple of sections where you define your character (eyes and something else)? These aren't character sheets, they're playbooks. You're character isn't defined on the sheet, it's defined in your head (largely through the provocative question phase). They're supposed to be archetypes - you get a couple of physical things, you pick a couple of moves (though these may not say much about your character) it's all supposed to keep things simple.

    One thing I do is to flesh out the backstory phase more. Yeah, the box tells you to take a string on that other character, but what does that actually mean? What's the actual relationship there? What happened to give you that emotional leverage? And so it runs into provocative questions more naturally.
    2. You can sort of get around the "lack" of skills in DW and AW via "defy danger" and "act under fire" but "hold steady" doesn't seem to have the same broad applicability as the other two. Has anyone found themselves narrating in MH when they felt they should be calling for a roll? My ghost player in particular was frustrated by the lack of skills. He claimed that there was nothing for him to do. I kept trying to hook him into what was going on but he shrunk away. (I was told later that he will leap at plot hooks if you give them but they have to involve "things to do" and involve at least one other player)
    Yeah, again this reads like he's a player who's used to having his character defined by the piece of paper in front of him. You're not limited by your moves, you can (try to) do whatever you like. There aren't these constraints in narrative led gaming. You're a ghost, what's there to do? Well, who killed you? If you don't know, how do you find out? If you do know, how do you get your revenge? Does anyone know about your death? If they do, how are they adjusting to it? If they don't know, what's happened to your body? Of all skins - perhaps on a line with Ghoul - Ghost has the strongest story impetus.

    Obviously I don't know how your game went down, but it reads just from these comments that he was used to being spoonfed his story (e.g. being part of a party, being given a clear objective and a means of going about it) and so didn't feel able to take ownership of his character's personal story.


    Out of interest, how many players in this game? I ask because my solo gamer had exactly the same problem ("what do I do?") but I was tailoring the whole game for her so I was able to deal with her being largely passive. If I had a group of passive players then I wouldn't have been able to cater to them because MH is quite an MC-intensive game.
  • edited December 2012
    1. Umm...It's a game about supernatural teen tropes. They're supposed to be teen stereotypes.

    Here's a Custom move: If you want something on your sheet to indicate who you are, roll with cool. On a 10+ write down three things. On a 7-9 write down three things and the MC will "Yes, and..." the shit out them. On a miss, the MC will ask you to write down something about yourself you don't like.

    Why are they looking at the moves to tell them what they can do? Shouldn't they be looking at the fiction? Why not figure out what they want to do and then do it? If it's something that any teen could do, they don't have to ask the MC. Just do it. If it's impossible, the MC will tell them that they can't do that.

    2. and 3. I don't think it's a coincidence that the Ghost is having these issues. The Ghost is probably the hardest skin to grok. From Joe's recent interview on Walking Eye, it seems to be a very personal playbook. I think I'd hold off on the Ghost until they've got a few sessions under their belt.
  • Sounds like they're feeling a bit trapped by the stuff on their sheets, which isn't supposed to be an exhaustive description of everything their characters are and can do (it isn't in World of Darkness either, as JD will assuredly point out, but it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking so). The important part is the fiction, but that can be tough to focus on if people are used to looking down at their sheets (1) when they aren't sure what to do or (2) for tools to protect their characters from a vindicative GM.
  • edited December 2012
    Thanks Everyone, lots to think about.

    Last night it just felt like stuff that happens organically with my other groups was like getting blood from a stone. Normally I have to slow other players down and stop them from creating more content than we can use. After reading this thread and then chatting this morning with 2 of my 3 new players, I think I've worked out what happened.

    When I started the questioning, I kept getting "I don't know".
    I kept saying "just decide, you are designing your character one of my characters and saying something about the world".
    They kept saying "how can I tell you why Griff hates me if I don't know who I am or who he is"?
    "How can I tell you how Susan died if I don't know anything about the world"?
    At this point I'd say "we are defining both as we go, just decide. This is your game too". I started prompting them with suggestions but every time I did they pretty much just went with what I said. It was very frustrating.

    A similar problem exists in game. They (all but one actually who I think started to get it by the end) refuse to create their own fiction and keep looking to me to make stuff happen. I asked the Ghost player if there was a girl he liked or if he was having academic problems or if he was having issues with the cool kids....nothing.

    I think I'm going to insist that the ghost read the "playing the ghost" part of the book again and if he still isn't into the skin, I'll ask him to change. (Personally, I love playing the ghost. I never exist on the periphery of anything...)

    Thanks again everyone. Apart from maybe not pushing the questioning hard enough, I'm beginning to think the disconnects aren't all my fault. The game didn't fail or anything but it certainly didn't zing.
  • edited December 2012
    This may be obvious, but... if this group doesn't enjoy playing Monsterhearts, maybe don't try to play it with them again unless they specifically express interest. Nothing's worse than playing a game with a group that's not excited about it.
  • At this point I'd say "we are defining both as we go, just decide. This is your game too". I started prompting them with suggestions but every time I did they pretty much just went with what I said. It was very frustrating.
    I've had a similar experience with my gaming group. Robin Laws' HeroQuest2 has this quote in it:
    Where some games reward memorization, an instinct for math, and the willingness to comb through multiple rulebooks for the most useful super powers, HeroQuest tips the scales for creative improvisation, verbal acuity, and a familiarity with the techniques and stereotypes of popular fiction.
    With my group, at least, the players largely fall into that first camp and not only lack the skills of the second, but have no particular interest in developing them and don't find those kinds of activities fun. They're not interested in trying to be creative on-demand in the way most story games expect. Chacun leurs gout, we just don't play those kinds of games.

  • edited December 2012

    When I started the questioning, I kept getting "I don't know".
    I kept saying "just decide, you are designing your character one of my characters and saying something about the world".
    They kept saying "how can I tell you why Griff hates me if I don't know who I am or who he is"?
    That's cool. Some folks are hesitant to make stuff up, but eventually enjoy it. Some folks are hesitant to makes stuff up and never enjoy it. I'd get real patient and say "that's a great question. Did you ever hate anyone in high school? Did anyone ever hate you?" Then I'd turn to Griff's player and ask him what kinds of things might make him hate the other PC? If he was stymied, I'd ask about high school with him.
    "How can I tell you how Susan died if I don't know anything about the world"?
    It's high school right? Modern day? They know about that.
    At this point I'd say "we are defining both as we go, just decide. This is your game too". I started prompting them with suggestions but every time I did they pretty much just went with what I said. It was very frustrating.
    Yeah, that would start to suck fast. I'd graduate to offering choices. "Does Griff hate you because you stole his girl, or did you steal his? Are you still banging her when Griff isn't around? Did Griff find out or is he just suspicious?"
    A similar problem exists in game. They (all but one actually who I think started to get it by the end) refuse to create their own fiction and keep looking to me to make stuff happen. I asked the Ghost player if there was a girl he liked or if he was having academic problems or if he was having issues with the cool kids....nothing.
    Did you try leading questions, like "Tell me about the girl you like, what's her name? Is she popular or is she a mysterious loner chick? What was the last prank those cool kids, you know Johnny and his pals Nate and Tom, played on you? Which subject is giving you the most trouble in school (one quick question: how does a ghost have academic trouble?)

    Ultimately, if they're not into it, don't force things.
  • What they said :-)

    You need buy in. Have the 'why are we playing this' discussion, if the game isn't going to deliver what they want, suggest the group plays a different game.

    If they really want to play then work out a way to get answers to the questions rather than accept no answers. Emphasise that there is no wrong answer and that not everything they make up will matter, you want a field to play in, when play starts in earnest you'll decide which bit of it you want to look at closest.

    Ask mundane questions, one might trigger something. The question that defined my Mortal the first time I played was 'what music do they listen to?' Ask if they have a car? Siblings? Did they ever share a bedroom? What's the best holiday they've ever had? Mundane stuff. Get them used to answering questions then throw in a harder one, Who did you promise to keep in touch with on holiday? Did you?

  • edited December 2012
    "How can I tell you how Susan died if I don't know anything about the world"?
    /.../
    I asked the Ghost player if there was a girl he liked or if he was having academic problems or if he was having issues with the cool kids....nothing.
    This is also typical for Vampire. The players want a canon to adopt to. And I can totally understand the feel of emptiness if they can make up whatever they want. Then what's the point of play, if they can just come up with anything?

    What you need to do is a to form a creative environment. If the players aren't used to declare things in the world on the fly, restrict them. That's what I do when I play InSpectres on convention. I use a short exercise, and it's really important to do the exercise, to show them how I can restrict the players by using and, but and because. The *World games have their own restrictions through the moves. Show them to the players, because that will make them more confident that they aren't making up to much about the game. These players don't want to take up to much space, so show them that they wont do that.

    Another thing you can do is creating some statements with the players before play. It wont feel like the player through the character is controlling the world (by making stuff up on the fly), but instead that they create something to adopt to. Read the headline Getting Your Players To Ante Up for some inspiration on how to do that.

    By restricting them, they will feel more willing to contribute to the game.
  • Sounds like they're feeling a bit trapped by the stuff on their sheets, which isn't supposed to be an exhaustive description of everything their characters are and can do (it isn't in World of Darkness either, as JD will assuredly point out, but it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking so). The important part is the fiction, but that can be tough to focus on if people are used to looking down at their sheets (1) when they aren't sure what to do
    This. In World of Darknesss character creation you are continually asked "what can your character do?" And if you are ever stumped for ideas you look at your sheet and yell "Computers! I got two dots in Computers! I go find the bad guy's Computers and I Computers them!!" (This is why the WoD quickstarts are a so good for noobs...there is less you can do in them, so your choices are narrower.) Your sheet might not be exhaustive (this is actually a question I hadn't ever thought of before) but it is where you go when you are unsure.

    I think unfamiliarity with the system is driving the unhelpful answers to the pointed questions. Once you've picked a playbook you know if you are good at turning people on, shutting them down, or lashing out, so that's where you should be looking to brainstorm answers to your questions. Why is that guy mad? You turned him on and left him hanging. You turned his girlfriend on and she cheated on him. You turned his stepmom on and now she wants you overr to the house all the time.

    Because there's no customization of the basic moves, people forget them, but when you pick a playbook you do know the basics of what you can do. I would be directing them towards the attributes and what they mean for basic move success/failure, not just saying "well, we're buillding the character now, be creative."
  • Good point, JD.

    I was thinking the same thing, but approaching it more from a relationship angle. Instead of "what do you know how to do", it's more about "who do you know"? To get what they want, they have to either help someone, manipulate someone, or push someone else down (since happiness always comes at someone else's expense).

    So focusing on questions which create people to interact with is a good process.

    Then ask them what they want to do, and point them at one of those people. "If you want to be the captain of the cheerleading squad, you've got to get Coach Nelson on your side somehow. What are you going to do?"
  • That makes sense for play, but it can be even harder to put someone else on a blank slate.

    PS The Ghost playbook assumes a really driven player. I would almost take it (and the Fae) off the table for a first playthrough. If you got three players, give them the Vampire, the Mortal and the Werewolf. Add the Witch for a four player game. (The Mortal should be mandatory in every game actually.)

    Another thing is that WoD tabletop (versus LARP) really encourages a team attitude. Knowing something about Twilight (versus Buffy) really helps here. For all its (horrible) flaws it does balance the individual characters needs of each other with an external threat pretty well. You may not drive a lot of wedges between PCs in your first playthrough but it should a be enough to give them a taste.
  • edited December 2012
    It's also notable that Monsterhearts is probably the most PVP of any existing AW hack. The biggest threats to the PCs are (1) each other, (2) other teenagers, and (3) adults with authority over them, roughly in that order.
  • It's an interesting PVP too: you aren't just fighting each other, you might be REALLY IN LOVE and trying to help/ impress someone who would rather you jump off a bridge.
  • edited December 2012
    I'll echo what others have said in that they sound like they are accustomed to defining their character by what's on their sheet and not whats in the narrative. Whenever I find myself stumped for something to do I always find myself asking " What would be the most interesting action to take? And would that specific character think of doing that/ be appropriate within the story?" This also applies to what can my character do and what skills do they possess. "Would it be cool and fit the character to be a cracker jack hacker?" If the answer is yes, well then chances are good that you're above average in knowing about computers and what makes them tick.

    I'm also gonna suggest that you not let them say "I dunno". "I dunno" is boring and robs them of the opportunity to make setting pieces relevant to their character and denies them the creative process. If you have to shepherd them with leading questions till they respond. And it might be a bit late. What with you having already created the class and run the first session but here: http://www.story-games.com/forums/discussion/16858/monsterhearts-provocative-classroom-questions/p1 are alot of good questions to use as mind fodder.
  • At least outlining your character by what's on the sheet isn't a bad thing! It pushes your character into the mechanics of the game and makes you aware of what the game is about. World of Darkness games are about action (to a degree) so most of what's on your sheet is about actions you can take.

    The issue is that people forget the Monsterhearts basic moves if they're not in front of them, and normally the playbook is in front of them during character creation, not the basic moves. I would almost construct leading questions in terms of the moves: "Geoff is mad at you. What move did you make (and against who, and when) that ended up with him mad?" Now it makes sense. "I lashed out at him after we lost the lacrosse game and blamed him for the loss in front of the whole team and Coach Wiesniewski, so now he's mad."
  • Here's another way to make the game's moves work as "options on the character sheet you can use", in three steps:

    A. Figure out one thing the character wants. Any old simple thing. "I want to be part of that group." "I want to pass math class." "I need a date for the prom." "I need to hide this body and I don't know how."

    B. Identify one person who could fulfill, or help fulfill, this need/want. The leader of the in-group. The teacher of the math class. The girl/guy you're crushing on. A friend whose parents own a large property with lots of hiding spots, or an experienced adult (a police officer?) to help you hide the body.

    C. Now you need to get some Strings on this person. Look at your sheet and the basic moves sheet, and pick a couple of ways to get some Strings on that person.

    And... go!

    That should do the trick. After that, the game is on a roll, I'd imagine.
  • PS The Ghost playbook assumes a really driven player. I would almost take it (and the Fae) off the table for a first playthrough. If you got three players, give them the Vampire, the Mortal and the Werewolf. Add the Witch for a four player game. (The Mortal should be mandatory in every game actually.)
    Interesting. I've played a couple of great Monsterheart convention one-shots, but the Mortal has never been chosen. The Fae was once, but by a player who is quite experienced and knew how to have a blast and make everyone else's game much more, ah, interesting...
  • I've found the Mortal makes it a bit of a train wreck, an appealing, can't look away, Ooooooh, train wreck, but still :-)

    I think they are great in a one shot but I wouldn't say they are indispensable.
  • Also don't neglect just omitting a playset from consideration if you don't like it, or it's generally problematic at your table. They aren't precious snowflakes; I don't like the Driver so we never have Drivers in AW when we play.
  • The Mortal is the seed for PVP - if you have people (like my group) who shy away from PVP for many reasons, the Mortal gets them yelling at each other and flouncing off marvellously.
  • People are saying smart things in this thread.

    StuMc, do you feel like your questions have been answered, or is there something you'd like to me speak to specifically?
  • Hi Everyone,

    Happy New Year!

    Sorry I've been a little absent. We hosted NYE this year for a board games (play Pandemic if you haven't, excellent game) night and there was a lot of prep/gaming/cleanup/sleeping to be done.

    The response in this thread has been awesome. You should all know that I showed some of the responses to my players yesterday and they commented that they hadn't seen such a supportive and constructive online community before. I agree, you guys are awesome!

    So, armed with much information I had a long chat with two of my players yesterday. We are going to re-do question time at the beginning of next session.

    They now know that:

    The players are expected to create more content than they are in WOD.

    Questioning is mainly for the now-story rather than the back-story even if it references past events.

    The questions are broad-reaching because they are trying to generate/connect elements of setting/people/pc's together to illuminate past and current events and relationships.

    Thanks again everyone. This thread has really helped. I'm still blown away by how different play-styles can be. I used to think it was either "hack and slash" or story driven. I now know that there are other models.
    Stu.
  • edited December 2012
    I just sat and wrote myself some notes. (kept myself strictly to one page)

    Don't know if this is useful to anyone.

    1. The important thing is not to defend the new system, but to understand why they give that kind of feedback.

    2. Make custom moves. Probably base them off Simple World or an existing move. Run away or hold steady can be used. Misdirect via a new name for the move.
    We used Hold Steady for my witch stealing stuff recently, then realised she's just a closet kleptomaniac so made up a custom move to cover it.

    From Simple World: http://buriedwithoutceremony.com/simple-world/
    Taking Action
    When you take an action that risks failure or opposition, roll with one of the basic stats. On a 10+, you succeed at your goal. As appropriate, the MC might award you: resource points, harm dealt, or a bonus to carry forward. On a 7-9, the MC will offer you a hard bargain or a cost. If you agree to that hard bargain or cost, you succeed at your goal (and as appropriate, the MC might award you resource points, harm dealt, or a bonus to carry forward).

    3. Get the players to read the sections on “How to play the ___ again.

    4. When asking questions.
    Ask mundane questions, one might trigger something. The question that defined my Mortal the first time I played was 'what music do they listen to?' Ask if they have a car? Siblings? Did they ever share a bedroom? What's the best holiday they've ever had? Mundane stuff. SOMETIMES: construct leading questions in terms of the moves: "Geoff is mad at you. What move did you make (and against who, and when) that ended up with him mad?" ALSO (three steps) What do you want? Who has it/who can help? How do I get it?


    ALWAYS Ask questions about the questions like:
    Some folks are hesitant to make stuff up, but eventually enjoy it. Some folks are hesitant to makes stuff up and never enjoy it. I'd get real patient and say "that's a great question. Did you ever hate anyone in high school? Did anyone ever hate you?" Then I'd turn to Griff's player and ask him what kinds of things might make him hate the other PC? If he was stymied, I'd ask about high school with him.

    MAYBE/SOMETIMES: graduate to offering choices. "Does Griff hate you because you stole his girl, or did you steal his? Are you still banging her when Griff isn't around? Did Griff find out or is he just suspicious?"

    5. IN PLAY it's more about "who do you know"? To get what they want, they have to either help someone, manipulate someone, or push someone else down (since happiness always comes at someone else's expense).

    6. MENTION: . Knowing something about Twilight (versus Buffy) really helps here. For all its (horrible) flaws it does balance the individual characters needs of each other with an external threat pretty well. You may not drive a lot of wedges between PCs in your first playthrough but it should a be enough to give them a taste.

    7. DIFFERING FLAVOUR It's also notable that Monsterhearts is probably the most PVP of any existing AW hack. The biggest threats to the PCs are (1) each other, (2) other teenagers, and (3) adults with authority over them, roughly in that order.. It's an interesting PVP too: you aren't just fighting each other, you might be REALLY IN LOVE and trying to help/ impress someone who would rather you jump off a bridge.
  • Hi everyone,

    "The Ghost's player" here :)

    Before I say anything else, firstly I want to make it clear that none of us had any particular problems or issues with playing MH. It was a fine, fun system. Although the dice and character sheet might be different, the style of roleplaying wasn't really that different from how we typically played already (considering our current game is about a bunch of teenagers at high school who happen to also be monsters, we were already exploring many of the themes from Monster Hearts, just due to the similarity in the source material)

    Most of these comments were made after the game, and the ones I made were intended more as a "Well, we just played a different game. Here's what I liked about it, and here's what didn't work so well for me" - it doesn't mean I was waving my arms saying there's a problem with the MH game design ;) (Which I have been known to do with other game systems)

    I also want to make it clear that I've only played this one game, and haven't read through the rulebook. So bear in mind when I make statements that I am likely missing context.
    1. The players all complained that it felt like they were playing "tropes/stereotypes" instead of "characters" and that it felt like there was very little on their character sheets to indicate who they are, what they are like, and what they can do other than the stereotype description and moves. I really didn't know what to say to this. All I could come up with was that this was a deliberate design decision.

    I have never noticed any of this before despite playing/MCing around a dozen sessions of this game. In fact, I feel like the rules put me in the head of my character like no other ever has. I'm wondering if this is related to a story focus (me) vs character focus (them) as thinking about it, I guess I often play to type as this seems to create the best stories.
    Absolutely. The preference of the three players in this game is strongly towards focussing on characters, character development, and character relationships. There is story (which is fun, too) - but the story is very firmly secondary, and the character development is first. We tend to structure our games around creating a story that will give opportunities for character development and relationships to change.

    MH has a lot of potential in this area, especially with strings being a great way to represent the current-state of relationships.
    1. I would agree you start with a stereotype and have to fill it out, which is not bad but the way the game works. Many world of darkness games are that way too but give you more to work with to deviate from the stereotype. You could embrace the stereotypes and go for a commedia dell'arte style of using the same "masks" in variations of stories. You can also use it as a way to show the idea of the characters in the world being stereotyped and having to define themselves outside cliques and assumptions, which is not easy and happens over time in the highschool / teenage story.
    True. And stereotypes aren't bad. If I just want to play "a werewolf" then playing a stereotypical werewolf is fine, and makes the role easier to just pick up and play. Even starting with a stereotypical werewolf, the character can grow and develop, you'll define personality quirks and flaws, and they will have their own unique relationships with the NPCs and world.

    Where WoD and MH seems to differ when it comes to playing these stereotypes is when we start putting numbers down on the paper. Possibly partly because WoD assumes that all the players will be playing werewolves, while in MH only one player will play a werewolf, WoD has more focus on ways to (system-wise) differentiate the different werewolves. That, in turn, allows more opportunities to deviate from the stereotype.

    So, for example, in MH if I play a werewolf, I have a bonus to volatile. Cool, that makes perfect sense for a werewolf. And I can increase that bonus further if I want. But what if I want to play a werewolf that's non-typically chilled out? A werewolf that's horrified by themselves, and keeps themselves permanently self-medicated on pot, maybe? In that example, I might actually want this werewolf to have a penalty to volatile. Or what if I want to play a ghost like in asian cinema, where they are supernaturally beautiful and behave more like sirens, that seduce and then feed off the life of their victims? Do I really need to, at best, have "hot" at 0? Sure, I could probably make that argument to the DM, and get those stats changed. That's not a problem in a cooperative group with an encouraging MC. But the game system itself seems to encourage you to play those stereotypes as-written. In WoD, when assigning points, I could just assign low combat skills, or the "calm" merit to the werewolf. Or assign higher appearance to the siren-like ghost. Not that this makes WoD better in any way. Just that it has an explicit step in character creation where the player thinks about how their character would be different to the stereotype. And it avoids them needing to get special permission from the MC to vary from the stereotype in a mechanical way.

    These stereotypes also keeps character creation simple - which is great - but as this set of players are so focussed on character, character development etc. - keeping character creation simple is still good, but not as valuable as other players might find it. We typically spend a whole evening just discussing potential characters and relationships before playing a game. So a simple character creation option isn't valuable (to us personally) if it reduces options. So the simple character creation is definitely a benefit to the game system for most players. Just not a benefit to our particular players.

    All that said, MH seems to be about playing stereotypes. So, cool. It's set up well for that :)
  • 2. You can sort of get around the "lack" of skills in DW and AW via "defy danger" and "act under fire" but "hold steady" doesn't seem to have the same broad applicability as the other two. Has anyone found themselves narrating in MH when they felt they should be calling for a roll? My ghost player in particular was frustrated by the lack of skills. He claimed that there was nothing for him to do. I kept trying to hook him into what was going on but he shrunk away. (I was told later that he will leap at plot hooks if you give them but they have to involve "things to do" and involve at least one other player)
    I'll disagree with the way Stu presents this. I wasn't frustrated by a lack of skills in terms of "what can I do?" - I felt quite comfortable getting involved in the game, and although I didn't do it much, I would have been quite comfortable saying "I want to do , can I roll ?"

    My comment about a lack of skills was more intended along these lines...
    This. In World of Darknesss character creation you are continually asked "what can your character do?" And if you are ever stumped for ideas you look at your sheet and yell "Computers! I got two dots in Computers! I go find the bad guy's Computers and I Computers them!!"
    I feel quite comfortable coming up with options that aren't on the sheet. I do like being able to glance at the sheet for inspiration, purely because that might spark an idea that I didn't have before. "Hey, I have politics. What if I try to find a way to use that skill" might remind me that my character is a political science student, and to show how that changes their outlook, or something. But that's a minor issue, really.

    What's more major for me, and probably comes back to the stereotypes, is that I enjoy my characters (and me) being challenged by the obstacles presented in the game. And I enjoy feeling like my character's abilities (which might be different to mine) can be used to overcome those obstacles. So knowing what my characters abilities is pretty important. Now, I can certainly just decide "my character is good with computers" - but having limits to the abilities is also important (what's the fun of overcoming obstacles if you're superman, and nothing poses a challenge) - it's interesting to me seeing how my one character who can't read well investigates something differently to my other character who is comfortable with computers.

    I can put those limits onto the character myself, and usually do. But I enjoy having them defined mechanically somehow. I don't enjoy having my mostly-illiterate character succeed at a computer attempt just because I happened to have "Dark 2" (or "cool" or whatever would be rolled?) - so I say "Hey, I should get a penality to this roll" - but I also don't particularly enjoy having to handicap myself, especially if the other players aren't doing the same.

    In my mind, a ghost who has the skills of lockpicking, stealth and observation will behave very differently to a ghost who has intimidate, shut-down and sarcasm skills. Even though in MH they might be represented with the exact same abilities.

    Now, sure, I can and would play them differently, having decided on their abilities. But come a verbal sling-off, I have to remember and penalize my stealthy ghost character. Come the stealthy snatch-and-grab I have to penalize my socially-aggressive ghost character. Even though both ghosts could potentially do both sets of abilities, to varying degrees.

    Or, if I don't penalize myself, then I can still play both types of ghosts, but I don't particularly feel like the mechanics are following the narrative, when both ghosts are equally good at dice rolls involving both skill sets.

    I feel similarly about in-character resources. Does my character have a car? A gun? A billion-million-gazillion dollars? A squad of ninja assassins? A best friend who lets them copy homework? Obviously, these should be discussed with the MC and the rest of the group, but I want to pay a cost if my character has a powerful resource. If my character is super-rich, and that's going to substantially help me overcome in-game obstacles, then I want an appropriate weakness elsewhere that hinders me in overcoming different in-game obstacles. (Or, to put it another way, I want to make a character I think is cool, but I want limits on what I can do, so I don't create a mary-sue character, or have to deal with other players creating mary-sue characters. And *I* want to choose those limitations.)

    That said, I don't want *too* many skills to roll. It's a personal balancing act based on preferences, I think. It's not really a "system" thing.
    MH makes it explicit that you've only got a few attributes, so the player NEEDS to decide what they want their character to do, and then pick the most appropriate. WoD lets you fall into the trap of only trying out actions that are written down as explicit skills on the character sheet. Even though in WoD you should be doing exactly the same, picking what you want the character to do, and if a roll is needed, choosing the most appropriate match.

    So really, this just comes down to a personal preference. Not really a system issue at all.

  • 3. The second one was even more perplexing. My ghost player was frustrated that "playing the ghost does not feel like playing a ghost". I can walk through walls but I in no way feel like a ghost at all". Although the trope of the "person everyone ignores" is very strong for teenage fiction, I must say that to come degree I concur.
    There were plenty of good ideas in this thread about fun ways to play a ghost. I found my own ways during the session to show it (for example, when showing one of the other characters around the school, he made comments about how the school used to be, or the history of the town. When asked if he's interested in history, he said "No, not really." He does fencing, rather than a more "modern" sport, etc.)

    But what I didn't have was a sense of how a ghost is different to a normal human. In this setting.
    I didn't have any source material to base this character on. I was told that it's basically a perfectly normal teenager who can do all the things a teenager can do. And can also walk through walls (because that's the power I chose.)
    At one point I made a comment that asked if the ghost could levitate knives (since that's a pretty common "ghost power" in a lot of fiction) or turn invisible (since the description talks about them being overlooked) - and was told to assume he's got the abilities of a normal teenager, except for the explicit powers I had.

    So I wasn't sure how to play a "normal teenager" who had apparently been at this school for quite a long time, was perfectly visible and solid. I wasn't sure how to explain why the teachers didn't notice that he never moved up a class. I wasn't sure how to be "creepy" like the skin's description talked about, in a ghostly-creepy-way. I played him creepy, but it was creepy in a way that any other teenager could be.

    Although he could walk through walls, he didn't. Because he was at a school, and fully visible, and doesn't want people to know he's a ghost.

    So I had fun playing the session, but I was essentially playing a creepy teenager who likes history. And has issues because he believes he's died. Which was a fun character to play. But it didn't make me feel like him being "a ghost" added anything to the roleplay.

    What I really needed was some agreed source material on "how ghosts act, and what they can do" within this setting. The closest I could come to that was the episode in Buffy with the girl who was ignored so much she turned invisible. And, as well as needing the source material, I also need the ability for the mechanics to allow me to play out a ghost that can behave like in the source material.

    I picture ghosts from Asian cinema, that feed on the life force of the living. Often they are presented as very seductive (which seems to work well for a game of teenage romance) - and they seem to have an ability where the person they're seducing just takes the idea of an attractive girl appearing and wanting to have sex with them totally in stride (which seems like a good use of rolling "hot") - except that doesn't really seem to fit the MH stereotype with a penalty to hot.

    Or the ghosts that are horrific - but my ghost didn't seem to have any "scaring" powers. Sure, he could "shut someone down" by rolling cool, but again, is that ghostly? Or is it intended that he can make a horrific beetlejuice-like face and fly around the room wailing like a banshee, and do all those supernatural "special effects" and then roll cool to shut someone down? Because if he's still limited to rolling "shut someone down" while using human abilities like talking at them... yeah, not sure how to play the horrific scary haunting ghost, then?

    So there's also the mournful haunting ghost. That you occasionally catch glimpses of standing on the balcony, then when you go there, you don't find anyone. Except, y'know, being perfectly solid and visible, and having no way to turn invisible or become unnoticed other than activating dark self, kind of made that one look like it'd be rather hard to play. I could play the mournful moping teenager who hangs out on the balcony and nobody talks to. But that doesn't seem like a great way to help get involved in the plot and engage with the other players.

    So I get the angst that the ghost was meant to go through. I could totally roleplay a few sessions of my character talking about how he's dead, and how that's messed him up so much. But I didn't get what he could *do* ability wise, in a way that allows me to roleplay him as "ghostly."

    I don't think this is a fault of the ghost or the MH game. Just a fault of our group not spending the time to decide these things. Or a fault of me choosing a skin that can't do anything overtly supernatural beyond walking through walls.

    I did make some statements that were accepted, like "It's just part of his supernatural magic that nobody at the school has noticed that he's in the same class every year" and "his clothes are made of ectoplasm, so he can change them at will."

    That's also why I chose walking through walls as the ability, as none of the others were overtly supernatural. (I could secretly blame people, and then forgive them and get XP. But nobody else sees the "ghost" doing anything a normal teenager couldn't do.)

    To be clear, I have no issue playing a normal, mortal teenager. Or a pretty-much-a-mortal immortal who died at some earlier point. (Hmm, that sounds like playing a Highlander.)
    My problem was trying to play a ghost, with the ghost skin, and feeling like there were no options to be "ghostly."
    3. I guess I made my Ghost ghosty by having him be timedisplaced and acting in that way. Haunting places and people. Giving hints about the supernatural instead of telling it outright.
    Yep, I tried to do that, too :)

    I suspect you guys are either basing your ghosts on source material I'm unfamiliar with, I'm meant to have just assumed that ghosts can do "ghostly things" without needing them as an explicit power, or I'm meant to be playing an essentially-mortal-teenager who angsts about being a ghost. Either way, I feel like I've missed something conceptual here.
  • edited January 2013
    Azrael, for playing different versions of creatures I would recommend re-skinning another skin by changing the color around. So for the Asian cinema ghost who feeds off of the life force of people via seduction is totally a vampire with different color.
  • Azrael, for playing different versions of creatures I would recommend re-skinning another skin by changing the color around. So for the Asian cinema ghost who feeds off of the life force of people via seduction is totally a vampire with different color.
    Absolutely. And I have no trouble doing that.
    (Actually, I wouldn't use the vampire, because their sex move is to loose strings on someone they sleep with, which will motivate the player to be stand-offish. Instead, what I'd probably do is give them hot & cold +1, volatile & dark -1, and make their sex move similar to the chosen, where they heal all damage or clear conditions. That gives them motivation to "feed off" the life of others. As for their special powers, maybe the vampire powers would be good. I'd have to look at the sheets again.)

    But that's not really what my problem was. I was happy to play the ghost as written. (In fact, it was us who asked Stu to run a game of MH, and he kindly obliged. So we were happy to play within the rules without making changes, to see what the vanilla game is like.)

    My problem was, using just the skin as-written, what is a ghost "like"? How does it behave? How is it different to a normal mortal, both in terms of behaviour, abilities, and weaknesses? If you don't use a power, is there any way for someone to discover that you're a ghost? My examples above were the "stereotypes" of ghosts that I could think of from the fiction I'm familiar with. None of them seem to fit the mechanics as presented. I'm not asking to change the game to make it fit the fiction that I know. I'm asking if we were playing wrong, or if there's some other fiction about teenage ghosts, that I'm unaware of, and that I should have been using to understand what the character is like?

    I'm not sure if I'm explaining this right.
  • The ghost in MH is very much like the ones in American Horror Story if you have seen that, dunno if that helps or not.
  • I haven't, but I'll pick it up and give it a watch :) Thanks.
  • Another thing is that WoD tabletop (versus LARP) really encourages a team attitude. Knowing something about Twilight (versus Buffy) really helps here. For all its (horrible) flaws it does balance the individual characters needs of each other with an external threat pretty well. You may not drive a lot of wedges between PCs in your first playthrough but it should a be enough to give them a taste.
    Our (non-MH) playstyle is very much focussed on the "team attitude" - that doesn't mean that the characters always love each other, and never disagree.
    What it does mean is that we talk OOC about what we would find fun in the game, and all agree on something, and then all build characters that will get involved together to do that thing. Then we give our characters motivation to tenaciously stick with that thing, despite other issues.

    And THEN we play all the social dramas, wedges between characters, fights and makeups, and all that other good stuff. Knowing that we've already established a strong reason for why the characters will come back together again, even despite the fights.

    The reason we're so picky about that is because, well, all three of us enjoy playing our characters. We're quite able to sit back while someone else "has their turn" - we're also quite able to play NPCs and otherwise help out the MC while someone else "has their turn." But we have the MOST fun when we get to have OUR turn playing our character. When we get to focus on what our character is doing, the dramas their going through, their opinions about what's currently going on. And so, to facilitate that, we try and look for excuses to draw in the other players to what we're doing. So an example, if I'm playing the ghost, and I decide my character wants to spy on someone, I wouldn't just say "Hey, my character is spying on someone" - I'd find an excuse to draw in the other players. I'd go to the chosen one and say "Hey, I'm going to spy on that person there. Can you be my lookout?" - which not only involves them in the scene, but lets them know what I'm doing, giving them the opportunity to ask why I'm spying, and giving the opportunity to create new roleplaying between the player characters.

    Then that also creates the opportunity for negative effects. The chosen might refuse to spy, tell my character off for being a creepy perv, tell the person I was spying on, or all sorts of other things. Which I'd find fun to play out.
    Sure, any of those events could also have come from the MC - but if I involve the other players, then there are more players creating events for me to react to, and more potential for me to engage in interesting roleplay.

    If I just do it myself, then if I succeed, great. I get what I wanted. But didn't particularly create any new roleplay for myself, and certainly didn't create any for the other players. (And I'll do exactly this if it's just a minor event that the other players wouldn't care about. And we don't want to create a whole lot of roleplaying around it)

    If I fail, that might have an impact. But unless that impact got back and created a response in the other player characters, it's still just roleplay for me.

    Having that driving force for the characters to work together also means that the chosen CAN tell my ghost that he's a creepy perv. My ghost CAN storm off and say he's never talking to her again. And then we both still have a reasonable in-game reason for the two to come back together and compromise, make friends again, begrudgingly decide to keep working together, or whatever. Rather than just saying "No, they don't like each other" and not getting any more roleplay.

    If possible, I'd create roleplay for three players, rather than just for one. Our whole group has restructured our play style around that attitude.

    Sure, you can tell me "Monster Hearts isn't really intended to be played like that. It's intended to be played where each of the characters gets their own individual stories, and only really interacts with each other via NPCs." - and that's how we played our last session. But that's not how I enjoy my roleplay, so if that's the case, this likely isn't a good game for me. And I'd suggest to our group that we find ways to draw the characters together.
    It's also notable that Monsterhearts is probably the most PVP of any existing AW hack. The biggest threats to the PCs are (1) each other, (2) other teenagers, and (3) adults with authority over them, roughly in that order.
    Not having read through the book, this is interesting. I can see that it's about teenage monsters who try to keep their monsterous identities hidden. But beyond that, how are they threats? What are they in danger from? Are we talking just that the werewolf might go crazy and kill the mortal? Or are we talking more a social way where the werewolf might convince the mortal to do something reckless? Or are we talking a setting where there are monster-hunters who will spot the characters that don't keep their secret identities hidden, and will destroy them? Is there any particular reason why my character would be motivated to be a threat to one of the other characters (beyond just him being a dick?)

    Or are threats more likely to be "threats to you achieving the objective" - so obviously, if my ghost is trying to uncover the mythical tomb of king arthur, well, something like the map being stolen would be a clear threat to the "mission" (not that I think high school kids would be looking for king arthur's tomb. Just an example.)

    In our game, we really didn't have any goals. Not for the group as a whole, nor for individuals. We can all create our own personal goals for our characters, but without having any discussion with the other players or MC about what those goals will be, it wasn't something that any of the players really pushed for. The chosen one patrolled the school, protecting people. The infernalist did what the voices told him to. The ghost hung around. And they occasionally talked to each other, or had sex. There wasn't really any drive or reason for them to be threats to each other. As players, we didn't really understand what types of threats we were expected to be facing in the game, so we couldn't really plan our characters around it, or help out the MC by creating opportunities for those threats to materialize.

    I assume this sort of thing is discussed in the MH game book, and we just didn't discuss it before our game.
  • I would almost construct leading questions in terms of the moves: "Geoff is mad at you. What move did you make (and against who, and when) that ended up with him mad?" Now it makes sense. "I lashed out at him after we lost the lacrosse game and blamed him for the loss in front of the whole team and Coach Wiesniewski, so now he's mad."
    This is interesting. I can see where you're going with it. And it's pretty much coming to the same end result as what we currently do, but from the opposite direction.

    In our (WoD) games, we probably wouldn't start with "Geoff is made at you. Why?" - we'd start with "What sort of character do you want to play?" - and follow a train of thought similar to:
    "So, I want to play someone a bit volatile." "Hmm, ok, so maybe a bit of a jock with a temper." "OK, so a good way to demonstrate that might be to have him lash out at a teammate after a sporting match" "Hmm, ok, so how about we name that guy Geoff, and he's mad at me for blaming him for loosing the game in front of Coach Wiesniewski"

    So we'd likely end up with the same end result, but instead of starting by focussing on the NPC, and asking questions about the PCs relationship with them, we'd start with the PC, ask questions about the PCs personality and character development, and then tie that back into the world (possibly by creating elements of the world to support it.)

    I think both methods work, they just have a subtly different focus. And I think which one works best is likely to do with player personality, preference, and habit.

    But I can tell you, with our group, what they would prefer is deciding that their PC lashed out at Geoff after loosing a game, and would then want to roleplay out that scene. Rather than pre-deciding that it's because they blamed Geoff, they'd jump into the scene, and play the volatile jock, and see where it goes. Did Geoff miss the goal, and they blamed him? Or was Geoff a jerk to them, so they unjustly blamed him? Or did they try to talk to him quietly, and he made a scene, which is why the blame happened in front of the coach? The planning is fun, but with everyone there to roleplay, we'd typically prefer to roleplay out the scene, rather than just plan and decide what happened.

    Because of that, the planning and "deciding what happened" tends to be used mostly to define the characters history, how they got to the current point in the story, what their relationships with not-yet-introduced NPCs are, and the like. Instead of deciding that Geoff hates them, we'd be more likely to roleplay out that first match, and "discover" why Geoff hates them. (Or discover something different, depending on what happened.)
    A. Figure out one thing the character wants. Any old simple thing. "I want to be part of that group." "I want to pass math class." "I need a date for the prom." "I need to hide this body and I don't know how."

    B. Identify one person who could fulfill, or help fulfill, this need/want. The leader of the in-group. The teacher of the math class. The girl/guy you're crushing on. A friend whose parents own a large property with lots of hiding spots, or an experienced adult (a police officer?) to help you hide the body.

    C. Now you need to get some Strings on this person. Look at your sheet and the basic moves sheet, and pick a couple of ways to get some Strings on that person.

    And... go!
    That's a really good way to structure a game around "getting stuff from other people" while also creating roleplayed scenes. I like it :)
    (As I mentioned, I love the string mechanic. And it gathering strings first creates more roleplay options than the WoD "OK, I want something. So I intimidate him, and roll. Do I get it?")

    For it to work, there still needs to be things that the NPCs (or other characters) can offer the PCs, that the PCs have a need for. And that requires goals or in-character needs.

    I don't think our group has a problem approaching NPCs and creating roleplay, once they know the NPC has something that can help progress the story.

    We also don't have a problem deciding on things our character wants.

    We DO have a problem knowing what sorts of things our character should want, that will help create the sort of story that MH is designed to tell, and knowing what needs to be approached in this way, and what is just decided by the players or MC.
    So using your above examples, I genuinely don't know - if there is going to be a prom, do I just say "My character is taking Mary to the prom" because, y'know, I can do that, and I'm contributing to the world and plot? Or do I need to pass a "hot" roll to convince Mary? Or should I really be taking Sue, because I don't know it yet, but the MC is planning a big story event, and it will work better if Sue is the date? Or does the answer depend on what I, as a player, want? And I could just declare that I'm taking Mary, or declare that I want to roll, depending on my preference? Or does it depend on the MC's preference?

    If I decide that my ghost really wants to track down his murderer and kill the SOB, is that something that is great and will help the MC run a great MH game? Or is it something that will distract from the high school drama, and focus on a problem that high school kids don't deal with, and thus would be bad?

    If I decide that my ghost does fencing, should I be pushing to roleplay scenes where he's at the fencing club? And creating opportunities to interact with the other fencing students, gathering strings or whatever? Should I be asking the other players to roleplay the other fencing students? Or maybe should I be encouraging the other player characters to also join the fencing club? Or should I be waiting for the MC to suggest "So, you're at fencing class and..."? (I mean, I'm not really interested in roleplaying fencing class if nothing significant to the story or character development is likely to happen. So I'm inclined to wait for the MC to instigate the scene, presumably because they have an idea for something significant that will happen there. Otherwise, I'm happy to just say "He goes to fencing class, and then afterwards...")

    Y'know what I'm getting at? I know how I'd run a game. I know how to hint, state, or cue the MC into what I want to roleplay with our current group. I don't know what the social conventions when playing MH are.

    Most likely this is just something to work out with Stu, and doesn't really have too much to do with the game itself. But it does, sort of, tie into the game system when my decision not to roleplay the fencing class means I miss out on the opportunity to gather (or loose) strings, or whatever.
  • The response in this thread has been awesome. You should all know that I showed some of the responses to my players yesterday and they commented that they hadn't seen such a supportive and constructive online community before. I agree, you guys are awesome!
    Absolutely true! Most game forums tend to be echo-chambers of fans-of-that-game, who dismiss people who have other preferences. You guys have been wonderfully constructive, informative, and friendly.

    I also want to say that Stu is awesome. He was asked to run this game for us. He did. He listened to our questions, and listened to what we liked and didn't like about this new system. And then he's gone above and beyond by bringing these topics to the forum to get new insights into it.
    Questioning is mainly for the now-story rather than the back-story even if it references past events.
    That's fine, but just warning that you're going to get resistance from the players, who want to feel like they know the major events of their character's past.

    You either need to let them invent their character's background and then respect their decisions, or you need to have a discussion about them.

    We have a character who is at the school, but doesn't even know how he got there, or where he was living before getting there, or how and why he made a deal with a demon. Y'know, that doesn't effect the "now" decisions he's making, but knowing that information might strongly change the character's personality, which WOULD change the now-decisions.

    Plus, when it's something the players enjoy, I'm not sure what the benefit of not letting them figure out and discuss it is.

    That said, we did ask you to run the game. So we'll roll with it, if that's how this game works and you want to run it.
    The questions are broad-reaching because they are trying to generate/connect elements of setting/people/pc's together to illuminate past and current events and relationships.
    Yeah, this will help a lot. I think a lot of the stunned responses to the questions were because we didn't understand what the goal of the questions were. So we'd give an answer, but that wasn't very satisfactory, as it didn't help create those connections to the NPCs.

    Knowing what the questions are intended to achieve should help a lot.
    1. The important thing is not to defend the new system, but to understand why they give that kind of feedback.
    Agreed. And I hope nobody feels like my comments are in any way an attack on MH. I'm just interested in looking at the differences, and seeing what the strengths and weaknesses of both games are. If the strengths of MH are things that our group enjoys, then brilliant. If not, then we'll move onto another game system, with no harm done :)
    2. Make custom moves.
    I don't think this is necessary.
    I don't think any of us felt like we "weren't allowed" to do any specific, reasonable action.

    Instead, we sometimes felt like we didn't understand what the consequences of taking an action, and the resulting dice roll, could be.

    So when the snooty character was rude, and my character "shut down" her (after I roleplayed him being curtly polite to her, drawing attention to her snobbish behavior) - and I rolled well, what does that mean? I got to add a condition to her, and so I said "prejudiced" because the conversation was loud enough that the other kids could hear and form opinions. But what does that mean?
    When the next PC walked past, she made a very similarly mean comment. From my understanding of the rules, that PC could then attempt to "shut down" the rude character, and could tag that "prejudiced" condition to get a bonus on the dice roll, right? So they are more likely to succeed. But then what? At what point is it "enough" and the character will change their behavior? Is that something that comes from the MC, and not the dice mechanics? Or is it something we as players should have been telling the MC? (Should I have said, "Instead of a condition, how about she stops being rude for the next few days"?)

    I think it's that sort of managing expectations that is more needed, rather than more custom moves. I don't really need a "stop people being rude" custom mood. I just need to understand what I can or can't achieve with dice rolls, what I can or can't achieve with roleplaying, and what I can't change in the game world.
    3. Get the players to read the sections on “How to play the ___ again.
    No, please, not again :)
    As with my example of the ghost above, the problem isn't that I didn't read the description about how to play the ghost. The problem is I don't understand, having read that description, how to use the game mechanics to support me playing the ghost.

    I suspect the others are in a similar position.
    4. When asking questions.
    Ask mundane questions, one might trigger something. The question that defined my Mortal the first time I played was 'what music do they listen to?' Ask if they have a car? Siblings? Did they ever share a bedroom? What's the best holiday they've ever had? Mundane stuff. SOMETIMES: construct leading questions in terms of the moves: "Geoff is mad at you. What move did you make (and against who, and when) that ended up with him mad?" ALSO (three steps) What do you want? Who has it/who can help? How do I get it?


    ALWAYS Ask questions about the questions like:
    Some folks are hesitant to make stuff up, but eventually enjoy it. Some folks are hesitant to makes stuff up and never enjoy it. I'd get real patient and say "that's a great question. Did you ever hate anyone in high school? Did anyone ever hate you?" Then I'd turn to Griff's player and ask him what kinds of things might make him hate the other PC? If he was stymied, I'd ask about high school with him.

    MAYBE/SOMETIMES: graduate to offering choices. "Does Griff hate you because you stole his girl, or did you steal his? Are you still banging her when Griff isn't around? Did Griff find out or is he just suspicious?"
    Yes. But even before that, ask questions like "What sort of character do you want to play?" "Are they friendly, manipulative, nasty? Or changeable?" "What excites you most about playing this skin?" "What sort of relationships are you most interested in roleplaying?"

    Then you can ask about the other PCs, or the NPCs. But those questions can be tailored to what the player is looking for in the game.
    You can ask me why Griff hates me due to a stolen girlfriend - and I'll roll with that. But by asking the question in that way, you're missing out on the opportunity for me to say that Griff hates me because he's in love with my PC, and hasn't yet come to terms with his feelings. Wheras if you asked about what relationships I'm interested in roleplaying, and I said "I totally want to roleplay relationships about confused feelings and sexuality, as characters are just discovering who they are as adults." that might have spurred questions that led to the "Griff is in love with another male"

    Asking the direct, leading questions like that are great if the players don't know what sort of themes they want to explore, or what sort of relationships they want to have with the NPCs. But in our case, especially since this is so similar setting-wise to an existing game, you'll probably find the players have a very good idea of what they'd enjoy playing, and don't need to "discover" it by answering specific questions like that.
  • edited January 2013
    5. IN PLAY it's more about "who do you know"? To get what they want, they have to either help someone, manipulate someone, or push someone else down (since happiness always comes at someone else's expense).
    Sounds fun. But we need to discuss what our character goals should be. So that we have something that they want. And THEN we can play the "who do you know" game.
    6. MENTION: . Knowing something about Twilight (versus Buffy) really helps here. For all its (horrible) flaws it does balance the individual characters needs of each other with an external threat pretty well. You may not drive a lot of wedges between PCs in your first playthrough but it should a be enough to give them a taste.
    From what I know of Twilight, the characters competed, but they were competing for Bella. So there was a common goal that would continually, socially push them into a story together. For the group to be "working towards the same goal", it doesn't necessarily mean they are cooperating. They might be competing for the same reward. Just as long as the cooperation or competition pushes them into interacting with each other (i.e. pushes them into scenes that allow the PCs to roleplay together, and create story and relationships.)
    7. DIFFERING FLAVOUR It's also notable that Monsterhearts is probably the most PVP of any existing AW hack. The biggest threats to the PCs are (1) each other, (2) other teenagers, and (3) adults with authority over them, roughly in that order.. It's an interesting PVP too: you aren't just fighting each other, you might be REALLY IN LOVE and trying to help/ impress someone who would rather you jump off a bridge.
    I think this pretty closely sums up our current game of WoD hunter, where the hunters are all teenagers living in an orphanage together. And are continually fighting, but also not sure of their relationships with each other, and also probably REALLY IN LOVE, or at least TOTALLY IN LUST with each other. And always doing things that cause conflict within the group.

    But if the game of MH is going to be primarily PVP, then there needs to be something to be gained from attacking the other players, rather than cooperating. Some sort of motivation. I don't (yet) know what that motivation is, either because we haven't read the whole MH book, or because we haven't discussed it with the group and decided on why the PCs would want to backstab each other.

    ---------------

    So my suggestions before playing the next game are:
    - Discuss as a group what the external goal or threat should be, and make sure everyone understands why it is a significant threat, and what roleplay opportunities it creates. This should be something all the PCs are motivated to work together to deal with.
    - Discuss as a group what the PvP mechanics should be, and why we would be motivated to backstab or otherwise work against other PCs. And if there is no motivation, discuss as a group, and decide on motivations that will achieve this.
    - Discuss how we should be contributing to the game world, and building setting and details, in a way that won't negate the meaningful-ness of the in-character decisions.
    - Discuss some plots the players would like to see, and how we can make those plots involve all the players.

    Honestly, I think that 90% of our issues are just that we're crossing wires while communicating, and about managing expectations, so we're all trying to do the same thing. And the remaining 10% are just that it's a new system and we don't yet know it well.

    Despite me having written a thesis, I don't think the play style of MH is much different to how we're already playing, and I don't think there are any "problems" with the game. (Certainly no problems any worse than what we've already got with WoD, where we just house-rule away the aspects we don't like, and add in new aspects we do like. Which we can do equally well with MH)

    Thanks for indulging this discussion, everyone. Hopefully me providing an "outsider's" perspective is useful :)
  • I don't know MH very well, so correct me if I'm off base here, but the Ghost has a move for taking your trauma out on other people, right? Did you try doing that to another PC? Blaming them for what happened to you like they were involved, even though, sure, they weren't really, but sometimes from the Ghost's perspective, it sure seems like they somehow were, so you're going to treat them like they were. I had the impression that's what the Ghost was about: some inarticulate grievance that no one else understands and no one else will validate, so you're all alone and it's just you against everyone else.... That was my impression of the Ghost, anyway! And it looked to me, on cursory read, that the Ghost worked best when you were turning that on your "friends". MH isn't a game where "I don't like you" means no more RP, right? I thought it was a game where "I don't like you" is where the really nasty stuff begins. That's what the PVP angle is all about, right? But I say this having no experience, so I dunno if this is helpful.
  • I don't know MH very well, so correct me if I'm off base here, but the Ghost has a move for taking your trauma out on other people, right? Did you try doing that to another PC? Blaming them for what happened to you like they were involved, even though, sure, they weren't really, but sometimes from the Ghost's perspective, it sure seems like they somehow were, so you're going to treat them like they were. I had the impression that's what the Ghost was about: some inarticulate grievance that no one else understands and no one else will validate, so you're all alone and it's just you against everyone else.... That was my impression of the Ghost, anyway!
    Absolutely. My ghost had died in a fire, and also was a pack-rat, with piles of stuff in his room. So when the Chosen started saying (helpfully) how they need to clean out the room, find somewhere else to store the stuff, and that it's such a fire hazard, I decided to have that remind the ghost of how he died, and he blamed her (and the other PC)
    - But then that does, what? It added the "Blamed" condition to those characters. And since my ghost could walk through walls, he didn't have any of the other abilities that take advantage of the "Blamed" condition.

    I could have tagged that blamed condition (somehow) when making a future roll against them. Beyond that? I don't know.

    I possibly could have had him start ranting about his death, or about how he blames them. That would have created roleplay. But I rolled an exceptional success, so I decided not to play out anything that would be overtly negative to the character. (Since I figured I'd save that for another roll that doesn't go quite as well.)
    And it looked to me, on cursory read, that the Ghost worked best when you were turning that on your "friends". MH isn't a game where "I don't like you" means no more RP, right? I thought it was a game where "I don't like you" is where the really nasty stuff begins. That's what the PVP angle is all about, right? But I say this having no experience, so I dunno if this is helpful.
    "I don't like you" doesn't mean "no more RP" - sure. But before my ghost starts inarticulately blaming the other PCs, I want to have a reason for why they will come back for more RP. Or a reason for why my ghost would seek them out for more RP.
    Even without the PCs being nasty to each other, we were still struggling to find reasons for these disparate characters to come together and start interacting and doing things together. It didn't seem the right time to tear that group apart with drama, when there wasn't yet a "group" to tear apart.

    Perhaps I should have ripped the not-yet-a-group apart with drama, been unreasonable, given the other PCs no reason to want to interact with my ghost. And left it to the MC to push the PCs back together and create more roleplaying opportunities. In our games, we try to avoid doing that, to reduce the demand on the MC to have to keep the game on-track, and to maximize the chances for all the PCs to be in the room together, so they can all engage in the RP as much as possible. But maybe we just need to get out of that mindset.
  • edited January 2013
    Well, the two things that stand out to me are,

    1) "To do it, you have to do it." Is that a rule in MH? It should basically be a rule in every RPG ever. To apply the "blamed" condition, you have to RP what it is that you do that involves blaming them, right? And the other PCs decide what they think of that. Probably they're not going to stand for it and are likely to react with their own moves. MH is all about the cycle of flouncing and backstabbing and gossip and violence and tearful confession and then starting it all over again, right?

    2) I think you'll find, in MH as in other Apocalypse World-inspired games, the moves themselves will snowball and build momentum as you go, because they should raise questions in the fiction that beg for answers. That'll come as you and your MC get more experience and get more comfortable. The MC needs to get comfortable with setting up complications and then bringing them to bear as threats. I dunno about MH, but in AW it also really helps to have the right combination of playbooks on the table. They can form interesting feedback loops if you keep your eye open for such opportunities. I suspect Monsterhearts is the same.

    The Ghost's incentives seem to me to involve getting close to others and wanting love, then blaming others and reacting desperately and going too far. You need them to need you, but you are also going to be pushing them away later. Maybe you can think of that as your strategy. That's the story of the Ghost. You want to push things eventually to the point where you go into your Darker Self, but you don't want that to happen before you've built a sufficient relationship with the others that they won't miss you at all. Meanwhile, the other PCs will be reacting in their own ways, which are likely to be even more destructive.

    But, again, I'm talking out my ass and anyone who has played so much as a second of MH has more experience with the game than I do!
  • Hi Azrael. Some thoughts after reading your posts.

    But what if I want to play a werewolf that's non-typically chilled out? A werewolf that's horrified by themselves, and keeps themselves permanently self-medicated on pot, maybe?
    If you want to play those things you probably shouldn't play the werewolf. Playing the werewolf in MH is about being "Passionate, violent, muscular, fickle. The werewolf is all about using physical violence and transformation to get what it wants." That's the description of the werewolf skin in MH. If you choose to play the werewolf skin, then you're choosing to play a character that's passionate, violent and fickle.
    Or what if I want to play a ghost like in asian cinema, where they are supernaturally beautiful and behave more like sirens, that seduce and then feed off the life of their victims? Do I really need to, at best, have "hot" at 0? Sure, I could probably make that argument to the DM, and get those stats changed.
    If you want to play a sexy ghost, you should definitely pick a different skin. If you chose the ghost skin in MH, then you agreed to play a character that was "Tormented, insecure, intuitive, fickle. The ghost is all about channeling past trauma, seeing people’s true selves, and having spooky powers."
    But the game system itself seems to encourage you to play those stereotypes as-written.
    More than encourage, needs. The game needs the werewolf to be violent, the ghost to be tormented, the vampire to be manipulative, the infernal to be power hungry. The game is about the ways that teenagers hurt the people they are closest to. I'm sure there's a cool game to be played with a declawed werewolf who is self medicating himself into a stupor and chilling out while thinking deep thoughts about existence, but there's no good MH game to be played with that. MH requires characters actively fucking each other over. Amd the wolf is good at fucking people over with his muscles.
    In WoD, when assigning points, I could just assign low combat skills, or the "calm" merit to the werewolf. Or assign higher appearance to the siren-like ghost. Not that this makes WoD better in any way. Just that it has an explicit step in character creation where the player thinks about how their character would be different to the stereotype. And it avoids them needing to get special permission from the MC to vary from the stereotype in a mechanical way.
    Because WoD is about character using their abilities to complete goals. MH is about characters trying to find love and acceptance when all they know how to do is hurt each other.
    These stereotypes also keeps character creation simple - which is great - but as this set of players are so focussed on character, character development etc. - keeping character creation simple is still good, but not as valuable as other players might find it.
    Character creation in MH is not simple. Picking a skin and some moves in MH is simple. But this is a game where characters develop in play.
    We typically spend a whole evening just discussing potential characters and relationships before playing a game.
    Here the whole game is character creation. If you discuss the characters and nail their relationships down before play, there's nothing left to do. MH starts with some basic story seeds, strings and then builds on those through the MC's questions and the characters' behaviors.
    I'll disagree with the way Stu presents this. I wasn't frustrated by a lack of skills in terms of "what can I do?" - I felt quite comfortable getting involved in the game, and although I didn't do it much, I would have been quite comfortable saying "I want to do , can I roll ?"
    So, in MH you just say "I start screaming at her and start calling her Mother. How could you do this, Mother! I scream. How could you let me die?" Then the MC says "You're totally projecting the blame and trauma of your death on this scene, aren't you? Yeah, the walls start to change shape and suddenly you find yourself back then and you're standing in front of your mother while she's shooting up. She drops her cigarette and the fire is everywhere...then you're back in the room with suzy and she's reaching for the syringe. Roll with dark. Suzy take the blamed condition."
    What's more major for me, and probably comes back to the stereotypes, is that I enjoy my characters (and me) being challenged by the obstacles presented in the game.
    The chief obstacles in the game are the other characters and your unresolved trauma.
    And I enjoy feeling like my character's abilities (which might be different to mine) can be used to overcome those obstacles.
    In MH your abilities are not suited for solving your problems, only for making them worse.
    I can put those limits onto the character myself, and usually do. But I enjoy having them defined mechanically somehow. I don't enjoy having my mostly-illiterate character succeed at a computer attempt just because I happened to have "Dark 2" (or "cool" or whatever would be rolled?) - so I say "Hey, I should get a penality to this roll" - but I also don't particularly enjoy having to handicap myself, especially if the other players aren't doing the same.
    The way it works in MH is you flesh out your character and say what makes sense. So, if your character is illiterate, then he probably has to go to someone for help if something needs reading. But who does he go to? Is there anyone he is going to trust with this embarassing information? Will they use it against him? Will they even tell him what it really says?
    In my mind, a ghost who has the skills of lockpicking, stealth and observation will behave very differently to a ghost who has intimidate, shut-down and sarcasm skills. Even though in MH they might be represented with the exact same abilities.
    A ghost doesn't need stealth skills, they can walk through walls and turn invisible, for all the good that will help them in getting over their death and learning to forgive.
    Or, if I don't penalize myself, then I can still play both types of ghosts, but I don't particularly feel like the mechanics are following the narrative, when both ghosts are equally good at dice rolls involving both skill sets.
    You don't penalize yourself. You say what your character is doing. If you are trying to turn someone on, you describe your character saying or doing something that might turn them on MC calls for a Turn Someone On roll. If you want to hurt someone, you describe your character punching them in the eye and the MC calls for a Lash out violently roll. If you want to pick a lock (not sure why a ghost would pick a lock, but okay), you just describe your character picking a lock and the MC says "Hmm. You know how to pick a lock? Where did you learn that? And if you have a plausible reason your character would know how to do that, it's picked unless the MC can think of some kind of move that might trigger here.
    Does my character have a car? A gun? A billion-million-gazillion dollars? A squad of ninja assassins? A best friend who lets them copy homework? Obviously, these should be discussed with the MC and the rest of the group, but I want to pay a cost if my character has a powerful resource.
    You have what makes sense for your character. Would having any of those things improve the experience of the game for you and the other players? If not, don't take em. If you want to play the ghost of a rich scion, that's cool. It's not going to help you deal with the fact that your dead and your traumatized and you hate yourself and everyone around you.



  • edited January 2013
    Although he could walk through walls, he didn't. Because he was at a school, and fully visible, and doesn't want people to know he's a ghost.
    There's no Spot Hidden in this game. You don't have to be seen walking through walls unless you want to. You want to know what's creepy? A dude who's never around when you look for him, but all of a sudden, he's just there. Like he appeared out of thin air or walked through the walls or something. One minute there's nothing, and you look a way for a second and he's there. That would creep the hell out of me.
    You know what else is creepy? The ghost move Creep." When you secretly witness someone in their most intimate moments, perhaps showering or sleeping..." That's creepy.
    So I get the angst that the ghost was meant to go through. I could totally roleplay a few sessions of my character talking about how he's dead, and how that's messed him up so much. But I didn't get what he could *do* ability wise, in a way that allows me to roleplay him as "ghostly."
    Well the Unresolved Trauma move suggests that a big part of the ghost is blaming others for your death and giving them the blamed condition. The Vengeful move suggests that the ghost lashes out violently on those that are blamed. And the Forgive and Forget move rewards you for eventually absolving them of guilt. So you could do worse than cycling through blame, attack, forgive.
    That's also why I chose walking through walls as the ability, as none of the others were overtly supernatural. (I could secretly blame people, and then forgive them and get XP. But nobody else sees the "ghost" doing anything a normal teenager couldn't do.)
    Who said you could secretly blame people and get XP? You have to PROJECT the blame and trauma of your death upon the scene.
    "Hey, I'm going to spy on that person there. Can you be my lookout?" - which not only involves them in the scene, but lets them know what I'm doing, giving them the opportunity to ask why I'm spying, and giving the opportunity to create new roleplaying between the player characters.
    You can ask another character to help you spy on someone in MH too. Although, the ghost doesn't need much help with things like that. What with the whole walking through walls and dissipating thing.
    Sure, you can tell me "Monster Hearts isn't really intended to be played like that. It's intended to be played where each of the characters gets their own individual stories, and only really interacts with each other via NPCs.
    That's definitely not how MH is intended to be played.
    Is there any particular reason why my character would be motivated to be a threat to one of the other characters (beyond just him being a dick?
    No, it's totally him being a dick. Because you blame them for your death and you're projecting the trauma and blame on the people around you. Meanwhile the werewolf has anger control issues and he has a big hole in his heart and doesn't know how to fill it except by forcing the people around him to do what he says. That guys a complete dick. Then there's the Vampire, that icy bastard. He just takes what he wants, but it never quite satisfies him and he doesn't know why. So he takes and he takes and he takes. What a dick.
    Or are threats more likely to be "threats to you achieving the objective" - so obviously, if my ghost is trying to uncover the mythical tomb of king arthur,
    But your ghost isn't trying to do that. Your ghost is really trying to resolve his inner conflicts by inflicting himself on the outside world. Not a very good solution by the way.
    In our game...The chosen one patrolled the school, protecting people.
    What about this from the Chosen skin "There’s someone who knows that you’re the Chosen one, and wants you dead. The MC gives them a name and two Strings on you." Who wanted the Chosen dead?
    The infernalist did what the voices told him to.
    Who did they owe debts to? Which character thought they could save him? And what about this: "The central mechanical game that The Infernal plays is choosing when to give the dark power Strings (via Bargains). The Infernal is extremely powerful when they’re borrowing power heavily, but eventually they crash and become powerless for a while." The infernal only does what the voices tell him to do because he wants to use the power the voices promise him.
    The ghost hung around.
    But the skin tells you "There are several different directions to take The Ghost. The first is a callous and dangerous spirit, using Unresolved Trauma and Vengeful to vent your pain upon the next generation. The second is a voyeuristic and lonely spook, forever trapped in a state of pubescent tragedy. Creep and Hungry Ghost both contribute here. The third is someone trapped in a cycle of confused self-haunting, vacillating between Unresolved Trauma and Forgive and Forget." Also, what about the string questions? Who knew you were dead and how you died? Whose bedroom were you in while they were sleeping and WHY?
  • This is a great thread: there are lots of good questions and good answers.

    My own take on this, so far:

    1. Monsterhearts is definitely: "I'm meant to be playing an essentially-mortal-teenager who angsts about being a ghost." I think all the Skins are basically metaphor for various types of teenage problems. The Ghost's deal is that s/he is angry about all kinds of things, and feels invisible and neglected, and blames everyone else for it. You probably knew someone like this in high school: that's the Ghost.

    The Ghost moves are kind of the icing on the cake, they make it a little more concrete, help externalize those feelings.

    2. The game relies on you (as a player, as a group) to create an interesting situation for your character. You should choose a Skin with some sense of how you see that archetype/stereotype/monster involved in a powerful, emotional story.

    That can happen by a) the player himself coming up with a clear direction and goal, b) the MC creating a direction/goal for the character by asking very strongly leading questions, or c) the group essentially brainstorming something together.

    But, to play, I think you need to know, "What is this character's deal?" What do they care about, who do they love, what do they want to change about their life? What are they afraid of?

    I can't see the game going too well if the character isn't established as having some clear desires/wants/goals early on in the game. The way the game is written, you are supposed to do that fairly organically, by asking each other questions (especially about the starting backstories and Strings). But that can be tricky, since you're basically on your own. It sounds like your group didn't get that established.

    I wrote a "custom character creation move" for a) (establishing situation for yourself as a player), which I'll post below. I've heard of other groups doing b) (by asking pointed questions), and c) by having the MC come up with a focal point for play ("this person is missing!" or "there's a portal to the underworld opening under the school's gymnasium") and then asking each player why their character cares deeply about this focal point.

    High School is Complicated, Dude

    Once you've chosen your Skin, stats, moves, backstory, and so on, take a look at this list of problems to complete your character:

    * My academics are really suffering: I'm in danger of flunking some important classes, or worse.
    * My family, my home, or my life outside school is a dysfunctional mess, unstable, hurtful, jarring.
    * I'm unpopular, shunned, forced out of the circle or group I desperately wish I could be a part of.
    * My romantic life is a disaster, or non-existent. Something just happened which has left me lonely and heartbroken.
    * I'm in some serious trouble with the authorities: either the school administration, the local police, or both.

    First, choose two of these and cross them out. These are definitely not problems for you right now. Very much the opposite, in fact. Say why and how for each.

    Second, choose one more and write this beside it:

    "Yeah, maybe that's kind of true. But it doesn't bother me too much; I don't really care right now."

    This is something that could be a problem for you later, but not just yet.

    You can make it a less serious problem, too, if you want.

    The remaining two, though, those are trouble. They occupy your mind, they're constantly staring you in the face. Tell us how and why.

    At least one other player character is involved in each of your problems. For each problem, choose another character and then pick one:

    * They're helping you fix the problem
    * You want to be like them, they're your model for how this should go
    * They're the source of the problem

    Of course, use your backstories and Strings to inform which of these three you choose. (Some or maybe even most might just fall in logically right at this moment, because of your starting Strings.)



    Example 1:

    Luke is a Queen, and the captain of his school's swim team.

    Luke's player chooses two things that aren't problems at all (popularity and romantic life):

    Luke's very popular, and he's dating the hottest girl in school.

    Next, Luke's player leaves one issue as a potential future problem, but not a big deal now:

    Things aren't as good at home: his parents are getting divorced, and that means they might lose their house. But whatever, he doesn't really care about that right now.

    Finally, the two remaining issues, and related characters:

    His gang (the swim team) has been buying these weird drugs from this weird new kid Lilith (the Fae) and dealing them at school. The police found some of the drugs at the last swim meet, and Luke's barely keeping his head above water trying to keep himself as well as his friends out of more serious trouble.

    Worse yet, between spending time with his new girlfriend, his dedication to his swim team, and trying to keep his gang (and himself) from getting arrested, he failed History last term, and is now in danger of flunking out of school altogether. Now he's trying to get on Willow's good side, whatever it takes, so she'll help him pass his exams.


    Example 2:

    Willow is a young Witch, very smart but a little nerdy.

    She's a straight-A student, and she's never been in trouble for anything, so that's good.

    She's not very popular at school, though, and the "cool kids" mock her sometimes, but she's above that - or thinks she is - for now.

    Luke was her best friend since they were five years old. But now he's dating this cheerleader, and Willow is beginning to realize that maybe, just maybe, they aren't going to get married when they finish high school like she always imagined they would. She's got a journal full of angry letters to him, but she's never said anything about it to him in real life, not yet.

    Her friend Buffy, though, is helping her find a date for the prom: she seems to know how to deal with boys, and thinks making Luke jealous might be her best bet.

    Meanwhile, though, things are really not going well at home. Her mom's got this new boyfriend, and the other day she came home crying and sporting a black eye. Willow wishes she could be like Lilith, who seems so carefree, like this stuff would just never happen to her. What's she doing that Willow isn't?
    The short version is that I agree with you that this can be a challenge!

    Here's a question for @Azrael:
    I think this pretty closely sums up our current game of WoD hunter, where the hunters are all teenagers living in an orphanage together. And are continually fighting, but also not sure of their relationships with each other, and also probably REALLY IN LOVE, or at least TOTALLY IN LUST with each other. And always doing things that cause conflict within the group.

    But if the game of MH is going to be primarily PVP, then there needs to be something to be gained from attacking the other players, rather than cooperating. Some sort of motivation. I don't (yet) know what that motivation is, either because we haven't read the whole MH book, or because we haven't discussed it with the group and decided on why the PCs would want to backstab each other.
    What did you do in that WoD game to establish these relationships between the characters?

    Did you have to use tools (like the characters' skills) from the system to accomplish this?

    What would that look like in Monsterhearts?

  • While in Werewolf you play different types of Werewolves in Monsterhearts you play different types of Teenagers. So the difference between characters is more about what kind of teenagers they are then what kind of their monster species.
  • (Here's a great Actual Play which shows how some other people leveraged the stereotypes and provocative questions to create an intense one-session game: http://story-games.com/forums/discussion/16584.)
  • edited January 2013
    The section Under Each Skin is a great guide for the MC to help the players flesh out their characters in play. Which can help deal with the challenge Paul mentions.

    The ghost is obsessed with death. The MC is told to decide how the town reacted to the death of this teen. Is it still reeling from the event? Did the town move on like it wasn't a thing? Either way, the town is is dealing with their departure while they're still here. The MC is told to ask lots of questions of the ghost about how they're feeling being immersed in a town that's moved on without them. Also, if the ghost has Creep or Dissipate then the MC needs to frame lots of private scenes for the ghost to creep in on. Scenes that heighten the ghost's emotional turmoil are good here.

    Similarly, the Infernal is all about their dark powers. The MC is encouraged to nail down what the dark powers are and tie them to a threat as soon as feasible, and to start offering the Infernal what they want with a price. I'll add, with a player that doesn't know what they want, start offering what you think they might want. Offer the world.
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