Saturday, May 24, 2014

Monsterhearts: End of Season One

So, last Sunday was the final session in Season One of our Monsterhearts game. Let's discuss a little.

This group is freakishly perfect for Monsterhearts. If you don't know, the game is tricky to play because it requires a lot of trust between players. You can make a roll to turn another character on, and, as written, there's no allowance for "no, I'm straight" or "no, I'm gay" or "no, I'm asexual" or whatever. You get turned on if the other player makes the roll. Now, you are never actually forced into sex (rather, your character is not), but the whole situation can and does make some players uncomfortable. Which is fine; if it makes you uncomfy you don't play.

These players, however, are very comfortable with the whole thing, and wove a really neat narrative and messy relationship map and so forth with their characters. We didn't quite get to the point that the season would officially end, under the rules, but I have some ideas so we're going to tweak those rules just a little.

Anyway, before we start, here's an awesome map that +Stentor Danielson drew of Perdido, California, our fictiona little seaside town.

Moving along. Last time, we ended on Wednesday evening. The dance is Friday night, meaning we had Thursday to consider. We kind of glossed over Thursday because we wanted to get to dance day; Dora confirmed that Miguel was going to be her date, Brandon was absent, Rook stayed home, Genesis freaked out because Rook was home.

Friday, the students went to school. Brandon came in with cuts on his lip and looking utterly wiped out, so when art class rolled around, Genesis tried to get him to talk about it (and give her back her skin). She tried to manipulate an NPC, but failed, and Brandon's stitches popped open and he started bleeding from the mouth, and finally collapsed.

The teacher sent Dora to the nurse. She got the nurse, but lingered behind in her sanctum to cast a watching hex on the Black Tamanous (using the condom wrapper as a sympathetic token, since she and Genesis had sex with it while it was possessing Omar). She succeeded, and saw through the eyes of the creature (currently possessing Anna Diaz, Omar's mother). She was chopping up some meat, probably human. Omar's father entered the room, with a cut on his lip similar to the one Brandon had. She told him that Brandon would be going to the hospital soon, and to make sure he didn't talk.

Dora came back to her body...she thought. She stood up and texted everyone, but the digits on the phone were backwards. She wandered through the school, trying to find the art room, but students walked through her. She held steady, and headed back to her body.

Back in her body, she sent the text messages she'd meant to. The students figured someone had better go to the hospital and keep an eye on Brandon. There were also rumors flying around the school that Austin had beat up Brandon, and perhaps the football players were gunning for him. Cassi told Austin he should stay at school and stay safe. Briar argued that Austin should go, thus getting away from the people who wanted to hurt him, but Cassi shut her down (and Briar lost a String on Cassi). So in the end, Briar, Skylar, Dora, and Genesis headed for the hospital.

They entered, and Genesis tried to manipulate an NPC to get Brandon's room. She did, and they headed back into the hospital, into ICU. Skylar used dissipate to sneak into the curtained-off area where Brandon was being kept, and watched Mr. Diaz entered. He pulled something out of his pocket, but Skylar didn't wait around to see what it was, she just tazed him.

Rather, she tried. She failed her roll to lash out physically and hit Brandon instead. Brandon thrashed about and fell off the bed, Mr. Diaz bolted, and Skylar faded through the walls. Security picked up Diaz running from the room, and while he's unlikely to be actually charged with tazing Brandon, he'll be tied up for the rest of the day. Brandon seems safe.

Back at school, Rook, Austin, and Cassi wind up in history class with the football players. The football players were being unpleasant, and Rook tried to shut one down, but failed, and the coach kicked him out of class.

Austin didn't show up for lunch, but sent Cassi a text saying Mr. Scherick, the biology teacher, needed him for something. Cassi got suspicious and gazed into the abyss of Austin's mind and felt punches and beatings. Horrified, she tried again, looking for more clarity, gazing into the abyss, and everyone felt a punch. They left the cafeteria and went looking for Mr. Scherick. They found him in his room, and Rook manipulated an NPC to ask him. Scherick claimed that Austin had walked away in the direction of the stairwell. They investigated, and found Austin at the bottom of the stairs, bleeding. He'd been thrown down the steps.

They ran down (with Mr. Scherick) and asked what had happened. He claimed he didn't remember who'd done it. Briar gazed into the abyss to find out, and saw Scherick pointing him to the stairwell and a football player grabbing him and throwing him down the steps, whereupon others jumped him. When Scherick left to go get help, Austin revealed that he very much remember what had happened, he just hadn't wanted to tip his hand in front of Scherick. Clearly their bio teacher was in on it.

The students got together after school to make up their plan. The problem, they realized, is that they need to lure Diaz to the basement and bind her with the grapevines without killing her, since if they kill her the Black Tanamous will simply jump to another host. That means getting her away from the dance with no one noticing and, as Rook pointed out, no one pointing that later than the characters were the last ones to be seen with her. Austin noted that if they attempt this earlier in the dance, the football players won't be there yet, and the dance won't be as populated. That might be the best time to strike, since she won't have her muscle on her.

They ultimately decided to spread the rumor that kids are drinking in the basement. That should get Anna downstairs quickly, since she knows what's really down there (namely, the evidence of the fire, the blood-stained butcher block, etc). Once she leaves, the others will follow her, confront her in the basement, tied her up with vines and imprison her somehow. If need be, they can go back later and move her.

Briar outlined this plan, and used her light the way move to give everyone bonuses to following it later. Skylar used mimcry on this move, just in case a new plan is needed later.

From there, they split up to go get dressed. Skylar wore a tux, but his eyes were made up, plus he wore his hoodie. Briar wore a girl-cut tux with green accents and a rose in her hair. Rook rocked a vintage tailored tux, silver-tipped cane, top hat. Cassi wore a strapless hot pink dress, short in front, long train in back, and a tiara. Dora wore her church dress, navy blue. And Genesis bought a sparkly dress, ocean blue/aqua/green, with a boat neck. They all went out and to the restaurant (and meet Miguel, Dora's date), and talked, perhaps a bit awkwardly.

Genesis got up to use the bathroom. When she got there, a woman handed her a phone and then walked out.

On the other end was Anna. "I have something of yours," she said. "I wonder what will happen if I burn it."

Genesis felt heat on her back.

"I will give it back to you," said the monster, "just tell me what you people are planning."

Genesis thought for a moment...then dropped the phone into the toilet. She was immediately rewarded with a burning sensation down her spine. She came out of the bathroom and explained what happened to the others; there was some brief concern about this requiring changing the plan, but they decided that if the monster wanted to know the plan that badly, it was probably in the dark enough that this would still work. Dora wondered if she could use Genesis' wound as a sympathetic token on the monster; doing so would undoubtedly hurt Genesis. Genesis decided it was worth it, and Dora ran her finger down Genesis' spine, using watching hex (and doing Harm to Genesis). Dora saw the pelt locked in a filing cabinet at the gym; apparently the monster wanted to keep it close. Genesis held steady, and kept her cool, but the monster gained a String on Dora and Genesis.

The group headed out to the dance. Once they got there, Briar, still wounded and needing some sweet, sweet contact (her sex move allows her to heal all Harm), turned Skylar on. They spent some time snogging in the car, enough to fog the windows and count as sex for game purposes. Skylar asked Briar if she was in love with anyone, to which she responded, "not yet." Briar turned the question back on Skylar, and got the same answer.

They all entered the dance, and Skylar and Briar went to the coach's office, where the pelt was stored. Briar lashed out physically to get it open, but failed, and the tool she was using (a hole puncher) slipped from her hand and broke the window. Fortunately no one notice - the music was loud - but they had to work faster. She remembered her come prepared move and picked the lock, and she and Skylar ran away with the pelt.

Meanwhile, Dora and Miguel were dancing, and Rook and Genesis were dancing, and Austin and Cassi were at the door taking tickets. Rook had already walked up to the DJ, slipped him some money, and made a special request, but now he was cheerfully dancing with his date. Skylar and Briar approached them, with the pelt, but Diaz saw them and moved to intercept...and Genesis saw this.

Her hair started floating up as though submerged. Her eyes went black as stormy seas, and though none of the characters could see it, the waters out in the ocean were growing restless (I spent a String and triggered her Darkest Self.)

Rook, though, came up behind her and whispered to her that she had family here, that they were her family, and they wouldn't let her lose her pelt. And then he turned her on, no so much in a sexual way, but in a comforting "oh god please don't flood the place" way.

Genesis held steady, and failed, but one of the things my players remembered this session was that they could spend Strings on each other to alter each other's rolls. Rook spent a String to help Genesis, which was appropriate given the context, and she held it together.

Meanwhile, Dora manipulated an NPC to get the rumors spreading. The rumor reached Anna just as she confronted Briar and Skylar, and she left them alone. Skylar gave Genesis back her pelt, and the characters left and followed the monster to the basement.

They opened the door, and started moving downstairs, and saw Diaz. She turned and burst up into her monstrous form, grabbed a tarp on the stairs, and yanked it. Briar, Rook, and Austin fell and wound up at the bottom of the stairs (I made a Hard Move to separate them). Dora cast the binding hex on the monster, and found her mouth bleeding, but she was able to keep it immobile.

From there, everyone - Briar, Skylar, Rook, Cassi - all lashed out physically with vines, spending Strings on each other and making use of the bonus from light the way to succeed. The monster was bound, but then started to swallow its own tongue. Genesis lashed out physically and gagged it with vines, stopping it.

The tied it up, and Genesis taunted it, telling it that it had lost, that everyone it had killed and everything it had worked for, what was that all for?

Its stomach growled, but it said nothing. It couldn't.

They lifted the butcher block and slipped it into the hollow beneath, under more grapevines, and left. Briar put yellow tape over the door, and they went back to the party, just in time to hear the DJ dedicated the next dance to Oberon, fulfilling Rook's promise to the Faerie King.

Roll credits. End of season one.