Saturday, December 5, 2015

Monsterhearts: The Finale

Today (moments ago, in fact) we finished up our Monsterhearts game. It's been running since August 2013, monthly, making this our 24th session (so I think we missed a couple here and there).

I've waxed poetic about this game before, so I'm not gonna do it too much now. I'll only say that this is a really fantastic game, and I really thank +Avery Mcdaldno for making it.

Anyway! Last time, the characters were kinda split up around Cassi's house. Miguel was in Cassi's mom's bedroom, and mirror-Skylar had just come through the door with a glass shard. Romy, Rook, Skylar, Austin, and Mikaela (who had a body!) were in the mirror-verse, down by the front door. Briar had been out in the pool house where she'd destroyed her mirror self. Cassi had elected to stay behind with her brothers (her player left the game after last session).

Briar was wandering back to the main house, but between the poolhouse and the main house was a long, gray slog. She held steady to keep going, and gained terrified but carried one forward to keep going. Meanwhile, Mikaela pointed out there was a shape out in the distance, and Rook and Skylar headed out to find out if it was Briar (Austin, Romy, and Mikaela stayed behind).

Briar heard a howling noise on the wind, held steady again to head toward it. She saw figures in the distance and ran toward them, and ran into Rook and Romy. They said that the house was "this way" and started heading off into the distance with her...

...but actual Rook and Skylar saw this and held steady to catch up with them. They did and claimed to be the real Rook and Skylar (which they were, but Briar didn't know that). Mirror-Rook and mirror-Romy claimed to be real, too, and they kind of went round and round (and noted that no one had silvered eyes, but this might be because they were in the mirror) until Skylar turned Briar on and gave her the morbid condition (uses his ending move). This convinced Briar, and the mirror folks got all silver-eyed. They got in the way, but Briar shut them down, taking Strings on them. Briar started heading back toward the house, and Rook and Skylar followed.

Meanwhile, up in the bedroom, mirror-Skylar was looking pretty menacing. Miguel shut her down, taking the scared condition while the mirrorskin got confused. Mirror-Skylar complained that their Briar had been shattered and they didn't have a Miguel, so if Miguel would come into the mirror-verse, she would let Cassi's mom go back to her body (though the others would have to get out on their own). Miguel agreed.

Downstairs, Briar, Rook, and Skylar joined the rest of the folks. They talked about going through the mirror and whether that would grant Mikaela a body or put her in Romy's mind again or vice versa. Rook ranted a bit - Skylar was a ghost, Rook had died and come back, they were all in a mirror, who really knew anymore? Skylar took that opportunity to use hungry ghost and strip Rook's conditions away.

Briar suggested they go back upstairs and check on Cassi's mom (lighting the way). They went up just as mirror-Skylar and Miguel came out of the room (though the others didn't notice Miguel). There were some harsh words; mirror-Skylar pointed out that they'd destroyed mirror-Briar, and actual Skylar responded flippantly, to which mirror-Skylar tried to shove actual Skylar over the banister.

Briar intervened against an act of violence and blocked mirror-Skylar, at which point she kind of deflated. She told the others where Cassi's mom was (up in the attic), and then went and got her. They led her downstairs and everyone started to file out of the mirror-verse. When Cassi's mom left, she vanished, and the mirrored eyes on actual-Cassi's mom returned to normal (and she passed out). When Mikaela left, holding hands with Romy, she vanished, and returned to Romy's head. Miguel was the last one, and mirror-Skylar reminded him that he'd said he'd stay. She also said that here, in the mirror-verse, everyone could see him and talk to him. Miguel considered it, and gazed into the abyss to see how that would pan out, but failed and instead saw the mirror-verse fading. Miguel then thought "screw that" and ran away, smashing through the mirror and landing on the floor.

The characters figured maybe now they could have a seance for Emmett, but Austin suggested maybe not here. They decided to hit Briar's house and decide what to do. Rook went to find Cassi and found her asleep in her brother's room. He woke up her to tell her they were leaving, and Cassi stayed behind with her family. She'd had a hard day, after all.

Everyone else went to Briar's house, and then to the books. Briar realized that trying to contact Emmett with the hexmutes and the quietkin still in the way might be difficult, but since she blocked the mirrorskin from violence, it faded - might there be a way to accomplish this with the others? Calling up the hexmutes was easy; Briar just lashed out physically and punched Rook in the nose. Hexmutes appeared, and Rook approached two and started making out with them, using horny reward. Problem as, all that did was call up more of them, and give them they happy condition.

Watching all this (because Rook was blissed out), Briar went to the books real quick, and realized that for the hexmutes, pain was just something they wanted - they needed it put in some kind of context to learn anything. Skylar, therefore, called them on their shit, and explained that pain without any understanding of what caused it and why was useless, just sensation. The hexmutes faded away, one by one, and the last one reached out and tenderly wiped the blood from Rook's lip.

Briar went to the books again to learn about the quietkin, and the characters realized that the quietkin weren't just after physical warmth, but also belonging. They figured they could help the quietkin with that, but many of the characters were dealing with unpleasant conditions.

Rook had a solution for that: he turned everyone on. Everyone retreated to a bedroom together, and I'd like to think that we got some loving, lingering shots of Rook and Austin making out (since Austin has, I think, gone this whole series without making out with a guy). Anyway, of course Rook used horny reward, so Skylar ditched his conditions and everyone else took a String on Rook. And then the Sex Moves, oh lordy. (I think this is the song that plays, by the way.)

(In retrospect, while I'm sorry that Cassi's player wasn't present, it's probably just as well Cassi wasn't present for this bit, because it would have triggered everyone's Darkest Self. But anyway.)

So: Briar lost all her conditions and felt better. She felt a little uncomfortable getting with Romy (Briar thinks of herself as straight and she's never been with a cis woman, though she did get with Skylar at one point), so Romy got a String on her. Romy's Sex Move meant everyone got shadowed, and Skylar, who already was, got drained. Miguel's meant everyone can see him and gained three Strings on him.

And then Skylar's freaking Sex Move means everyone gets asked questions. Rook asked what gender Skylar considers herself (Skylar is genderfluid, hence the alternating pronouns). Briar asked Skylar who she loves (Skylar says that she's not in love with anyone, but loves herself). Austin asked why Skylar is still here (Skylar simply says that she wants to be). Miguel asked if he wants to have dinner on Saturday (yes). Romy asked if being with two people in one body wigs Skylar out (Skylar answers with an immediate and emphatic no).

Skylar asked Rook what it feels like to have so much physical love all the time (Rook answers that helps him fill the need for the emotional love that isn't there). Skylar asked Briar what she'll do
when high school is over (she says she'll go to college). Skylar asked Austin if he's always wanted to bang Rook (Austin says he was surprised to find he was sad he'd missed his window back when he split with Cassi and got with Briar). Skylar asked Mikaela if she's happy (she says she's happy enough). Skylar asked Romy what would make her happy (she says she doesn't know, maybe find a way to give Mikaela a bit more freedom). Finally, Skylar asked Miguel if he'd want everyone to see him again (he says he doesn't think so).

Whew. Cut to commercial.

Back, with Austin tying his shoe with a sheepish glance at Rook, and Briar coming in with bags of burgers from In n' Out (product placement!). They decided to build a bonfire out at the old house where Emmett died, and call the quietkin there.

They headed out there and built the fire as the sun was rising. The quietkin appeared, staring into the fire, and the characters walked around, lifted their hoods, and greeted them. Skylar made them feel beautiful, and they sat, silently, warming themselves by the fire. The characters sat around as well, and Miguel gazed into the abyss to call Emmett (which marked the first time ever that Miguel has managed to do that).

Emmett appeared, and they talked, and Briar shared her pain. They all talked, and they discussed their lives and what it was like kinda being them. Briar said that hunting monsters was lonely work, but that with her friends she'd found a way to make it work. Skylar, likewise, talked about the pain she'd felt in being so depressed she'd tried to commit suicide, and then coping with changing her mind and dying anyway. Emmett said that his last thought as the smoke overtook him as wishing he had someone to miss, since he really didn't. He asked about Cassi, since she wasn't there, but Rook said she was hurt and tired and needed to rest. They were all together, even if they weren't literally together.

Emmett asked them what they would do next. Rook said they would probably go get pizza. Emmett said he meant, like, next, after graduation, but they weren't sure. College, maybe, but Skylar mentioned going to Europe, and the other folks thought that sounded fun. They talked about that, about the possibility of going to a hostel and having sex on the Eiffel Tower and whether they could afford to chip in and get a vacation home, and the fire slowly died out. Emmett put his head down on Miguel's shoulder, and faded away, surrounded by friends.

They sat there a while longer, and then got up and headed for Pi. There was a new breakfast pizza, which Rook regarded as an abomination, but Austin pointed out that pizza for breakfast is a long and glorious tradition. So they walked off in to the sunrise, another day in Perdido.

Closing credits:

(And thanks to +Dirty Heart+Michelle Lyons-McFarland+Stentor Danielson+Tom Trent+Jeffrey W, and +Cheyenne Wall-Grimes for making this an awesome game. I'll get to work on the soundtrack.)