Monday, May 4, 2015

Monsterhearts: End of Season Three

Yesterday we ended the third season of Monsterhearts: Perdido. Some thoughts:

The game was so much more sexual in the first season. Three-ways were common. But then the characters got to know each other, and there were deals with demons and lack of trust. Next season we're going to introduce at least two new characters (well, one's been an NPC before), and changing Skins for a couple more, so it'll be interesting to see if some new blood gets the pants off again.

This group remains the perfect group for Monsterhearts. I can make call-outs to the first season and they remember them. Remember that we've been playing this game since August of 2013, so that's pretty impressive.

Using Strings in this game is pretty crucial. I didn't bother much during the first season, but being able to come out of nowhere with a hard move is awesome. I'm gonna miss the Infernal. :)

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

So, last time, the characters nearly caught fire a couple of times and Briar wound up promising something to Mr. Baron in exchange for Austin's life. This time, we open on Erika, in her room surrounded by mirrors, summoning Chantico.

Erika asked Chantico to, like, quit trying to kill her friends. Chantico said she couldn't have been that concerned; she was prepared to put letting one of her friends die to a vote. Erika retorted that Chantico was the one who had made that necessary in the first place, which Chantico didn't really dispute. Finally, Chantico said she'd think about it and vanished, cracking all of the mirrors. Erika, exhausted, went to sleep.

Back at Briar's house, Briar confessed how she'd saved Austin and talked with the others about what the implications were of owing Baron "a life." Genesis, in particular, was concerned, not least because she blamed Baron for her brother's death. They talked about Erika and in what capacity they needed to deal with her; Austin, in particular, wondered if it had reached "torches and pitchforks" yet. Ash pointed out that blaming Erika for her proclivities while Briar had just indebted herself to another supernatural power was, perhaps, a little hypocritical.

Skylar, into all this, decided to bike over to Erika's and check on her. He peeked in her window to creep, and saw she was dreaming. At that point, I spent a String on Erika to put characters together and put her and Skylar her dream.

They were on a beach, but the sand was finely crushed glass and it sliced her feet (she tried to hold steady and failed, taking Harm). She tried to get to the grass, out of the razor-beach, but she failed in her attempt to run away and took more Harm...that makes four. Again, she nearly died, and again, she used numbing it out, summoning Chantico to help her.

And Chantico appeared, resplendent and beautiful. She told Erika that she'd thought about it, and she'd lay off her friends...if Erika sacrificed one of them. Heck, she'd even take one of the dead ones (Ash or Skylar). She opened a black, swirling vortex, and nodded to Skylar. Skylar told Chantico, in detail, how she died, using her ending move. She turned Chantico on, and Chantico listened, rapt. Skylar then tried to shut her down, ending the dream, but failed, and Chantico took a String on both of them.

Erika, though, had had enough. Furious at Chantico for threatening her friends and finally understanding that she would never be free, she threw herself into the pit. Chantico screamed, and Skylar woke up. Nothing was left in Erika's bed but a scorch mark.

Meanwhile, the other characters continued their discussion. Briar and Cassi left to go get supplies to clean up the house (which had flooded, remember). They contact Baron, and tell him that they'd like to discuss terms. They arrange to meet him at a park, and then return to the others.

Skylar returns, and tells them what she learned and saw. The group discusses whether Erika is really gone, and Austin asks Ash if he can tell (since it's been established that Ash can see people's deaths). He says he'd have to be directly asked, and Austin balks, but Skylar doesn't. Ash gazes into the abyss but fails, and sees a monster wearing Erika's body, burning with wrath. He decides her soul might not be entirely gone, but it's getting there.

Briar and Cassi talk with the group about Baron and what they might be able to do. No one's keen on Briar owning anyone a life, especially which such ill-defined terms. Cassi, overwhelmed by carrying this key, walks off, and Ash follows, hoping to comfort her. He casts the bones to help her, and resolves her terrified condition. She also learns that Rook is in stasis - he's dead, but he wants to come back. With that knowledge, she feels better about dealing with Baron, but tries to get Ash to take the key (spending a String to get him to do it). He refuses - it's hers, Rook gave it to her. If they want to finish this, they should go do it.

They come back and the group goes to the park. Baron appears, and they talk. He reveals that Rook's life is in an egg, and the lighthouse contains many such lives ("that's the light," says Ash). Cassi has the key because Rook gave it to her, so Baron can't just take it, and he can't promise to restore Rook if Cassi gives up the key. Briar theorizes this is because that would be bargaining for something that has to be given freely, but the truth is more disquieting. Baron says he'll reveal that, but knowing the truth might have consequences. Cassi and Genesis agree, and learn that Baron isn't the only one with a key.

Finally, the characters agree to go to the lighthouse and get Rook's life back. They head to the seaside, and Cassi jumps in to swim. She holds steady and makes it across. Ash and Skylar get across with no problem (they're dead), and Genesis initially refuses, but Ash spends a String and offers her experience to come along, and she agrees. Austin and Briar swim it, and Briar fails to hold steady and takes Harm from the freezing water, but Genesis swims out to get her.

Cassi unlocks the lighthouse, and everyone except Genesis goes in.

Inside, they find a room made of flowing silver. A great hound appears, but Cassi shows the key and it demurs. The hound indicates the stairs going up, and they start climbing. The windows on each floor show them the past - the vineyard, the dance where Rook died, Pi, the school, the basement.

Outside, Genesis sees the waters go black. Erika - but not Erika, Chantico wearing her form, eyes on fire - walks out across the water and tells Genesis to stand aside. But Genesis isn't having it. She lashes out physically, knocking Chantico into the water (and taking a String on her), and then uses ocean's breath to take her away.

The ocean drags her down, and in the depths, Genesis sees all manner of sea life - jellyfish, sharks, octopi - and her father, Tobias, waiting with a coral-tipped spear. Bastion would be avenged.

Inside, the group makes it to the top, and sees the light - a mass of life, hovering in a locked glass case. Cassi opens it, and then turns Rook on to find his life. She fails, but Briar, Skylar, and Ash all spend a String on her to pump up her roll (seriously, don't you love it when the mechanics work with you?). Rook's life-egg floats toward her, and she stores it in her bosom for the swim back.

Baron is waiting on the shore, and asks what they'd like to do. They huddle up, and note that Rook has been dead for a year - if he just comes back, that'll be traumatic for a lot of people. They raise this concern to Baron, who says there's a way a around it. Rook has to return in a way that is as reminiscent of the scene of his death as possible.

"Which means we have to go to Prom," says Briar, curling her lip.

So they do. A couple of weeks later, at junior prom, they watch as the principal opens an envelope and reads, "And the Prom King is..."

Time stops. Cassi hands Baron the egg, and he cracks it. Time starts.

"...Rook Carmichael!" Rook steps forward, confused but happy, and accepts the crown.

"And the Prom Queen is...Erika Perez."

The room goes quiet. The principal beckons Cassi up. "Would you accept this on her behalf?"

Cassi nods, and dances with Rook. On her way to the dance floor, Baron steps out of the crowd, and Cassi puts the key around his neck. "Who's that?" Rook asks.

Later, at the after-prom on the beach, everyone eats pizza and has a grand old time. And then in the wee hours, Genesis tells her friends it's time to go. "Y'all are just weird," she says. "I've learned what I came to learn."

They exchange hugs, and Genesis goes into the water, taking on her seal form, heading home forever. Ash, likewise, walks back into his crypt, lays down, and goes to sleep.

End credits.

Season four starts at the end of June.