Monsterhearts Actual Play – Edgegate, Part 1
Joe Mcdaldno, creator of Monsterhearts, asked me “What happened in your session? What were the big highlights?”. I thought this deserved a separate post to make it easier to find. I’ll probably do a follow up post too once we have our second session tomorrow.
For those who just want the highlights, here they are:
- Cole, the chaos ghoul, made another student’s lab experiment explode, probably killing the poor NPC. Cole jammed the door as gas filled the room, to create more chaos, yet when he finally stopped pretending the door was stuck and dragged the unconscious NPC into the hallway he was hailed as a hero!
- Jane, our part-machine Hollow dealt 3-harm to an NPC with a Terminator-strength bitch slap in a cat-fight, hospitalising her.
- It was subtle, but I really liked that Aurora and Cole shook hands on a promise and both lingered slight, both rolling 10+ on to turn each other on. In the backstory, Cole has had love rekindled in his dead heart after seeing Aurora frolic naked in the woods. Before we even started play Aurora had 4 Strings on Cole, now it’s 5.
- More than anything I loved how the game played, how we all suggested how things could go and how as the MC I didn’t have to strain to come up with where things would go next. Snowballing and chain reactions are awesome.
Everyone was throwing ideas in and relationships in our Home Room were very tangled before we even began play. So much so that I wrote up some ‘gossip‘ based on what we had developed as a group. Here’s our Home Room seating plan, too.
So we have Jane the part-machine terminator-inspired Hollow, Amelia the century-old Ghost, Aurora the hot and dainty male Fae, and Cole the badboy chaos Ghoul. In the book, Joe suggests getting to know the routines of the PCs in the first session so that then you have some ‘normal’ thing to break away from. I intended to do that, but the story got feral
We started with roll call in the Home Room. Jane was already there when the bell rang, watching and emulating others. Amelia was in the back corner, but nobody saw her come in. Aurora arrived after some NPCs and Cole finally rocked up long after his name was called. He bumped into Fat Steve’s desk – poor guy has a permanent Condition – and knocked things off it. He said “Sorry man” and kept going, but then he sat down and as Fat Steve was leaning over to pick things up, Cole kicked his chair forward.
Ms Cavanaugh saw or deduced this and gave Cole detention at lunch time. My players then suggested that the teacher should give some announcements. I like coming up with graphics for games, so I had already developed the logo for our school’s lacrosse team – here’s a zip of iPod and 1280×1024 wallpapers with and without text – so I decided that the girls team had won on the weekend with the jock NPC girl Mags as most valuable player, but the boys team had lost their match. Tryouts were being held today – at lunchtime, to Cole’s annoyance – for new players on the boys team. Also cheerleading tryouts would be after school.
Then things go messy. Cole and Aurora were in science class as lab partners, working on some volatile concoction. Aaron’s lab partner was away so he was having trouble with the experiment. Sam who is trying to be like Cole started a coughing fit at Cole’s gesture and distracted people, including Aaron. Cole dropped something into Aaron’s experiment and soon there were exploding beakers and noxious green gas. Aaron passed out and knocked his head on the table, maybe killing him.
Everyone tried to get out, but Cole made it to the door first and pretended it was stuck. He shouted to smash the windows. Everyone complied, while Mr. Bohr science teacher tried to regain control. Cole was feeding on the chaos. He shouted to one boy, Sanjay, to pull Aaron out of there and over through the window, hoping to cause more chaos as the unconscious boy was dragged over broken glass. He failed his roll to manipulate an NPC so Sanjay still tried to help but then called back to Cole for assistance. Cole pushed Sanjay aside and dragged Aaron the door, finally getting it ‘unstuck’. Cole was praised as a hero as the paramedics arrived.
Oh, an Aurora knew about all this, but tried to get out and ran away into something worse: diving out the window and pushing through some bushes he was confronted with a charging Mags playing lacrosse and pursued by two other players, none of them noticing Aurora. He avoided harm by running away again, successfully making it to the sidelines.
Meanwhile in history class Amelia and Jane were learning about an old haunted house. I asked Jane’s player who else she knew was there and randomly it was Max and Jenny. Mr. Phillips the history teacher was explaining who the house was the site of several murders and there were stories that some young girls had been locked up there and starved. Max is from an old rich family, so the teacher mentioned that his family would have been around at the time and might even know something about it. Mr. Phillips decided then that everyone’s homework was to talk to an old person, a relative if possible, and learn something interesting about the history of Edgegate.
Amelia, normally quiet and unnoticed had latched onto the fact that Max’s family might’ve been around and involved in the murder of the young girls – of which she thinks she is one. She gave him the blamed condition and glared at him for a long time, but she failed her roll on her Unresolved Trauma move, so she was struck silent. Just as Mr. Phillips demanded that she stop glaring, which she didn’t, and that she speak when spoken too, which she was unable to do. She suddenly blamed him too, seeing as he seemed to know too much about this and she started re-enacting her death: starving to death locked in a mausoleum.
So, there she is, quiet little Amelia banging on the walls, screaming silently. Mr. Phillips takes her to the Principle’s office as everyone mutters about what a psycho she is. Jane picks up on this and mutters along with the rest. One the teacher is gone the class start having some fun and Max and Jenny go into the back of the classroom to make out. As the MC at this point the situation had apparently stopped snowballing.
As soon as I mentioned the making out, Jane ran with it. She knew that normal teenage people shamed each other and spread rumours, so she called out a comment about Jenny sleeping with Sam. Jane was shutting her down, but only got a 7-9 so they gave each other Conditions: Jenny being labelled as a slut and Jane as a gossipy bitch. Soon people were calling for a cat fight. Seeing as this seemed to be what people wanted, Jane complied to fit in. Jenny scratched her for no harm and then Jane – who we established had a mechanical arm – lashed out physically for great harm, dealing 3 harm and breaking Jenny’s jaw, sending her sprawling unconscious across some desks onto the floor.
Sudden silence fell followed by whispers that Jane was “scary brutal” which Max pinned on her as a Condition. He confronted her as everyone muttered about telling the teacher. Jane tried to manipulate Max to keep quiet about the whole thing, but she got 7-9. So I told her that sexual or physical domination would make Max do what she wanted – either get with him or hurt him physically. She knocked him down for 1 harm and told the whole room “You saw Jane hit me first. It was self defence”. Max nodded, and said okay okay and explained the situation as such when the paramedics (from the noxious gas lab up the hallway) rushed into the teacherless room.
Finally, with both classes on the sidelines of the playing field, Aurora started extracting promises. He calmed Amelia down – who had run down here – while turning her on with hand holding and big fae eyes. He convinced her – thanks in part to Lure – to tell him the truth about why she reacted like that and to not tell anyone else. Amelia agreed and awesomely, the truth turned out to be “I don’t know”, which now she can’t use as her excuse to anyone else without breaking the promise.
Aurora moved on to Mr. Bohr realising that he could blackmail him for good grades if he kept quiet about the teacher letting Aaron work without a lab partner, not having enough safety equipment, handling the evacuation very poorly, and so on. Aurora also asked for Cole to get the same good grade. He rolled a 7-9 so Mr. Bohr said that if Aurora could make sure the story didn’t get out – that the other students didn’t talk – then he would give Aurora and Cole the grades they wanted. Aurora agreed and they made it a promise.
Aurora then went to Cole and informed him, extracting a promise for his help, which they sealed with a handshake that turned both of them on, giving them each a String over the other. Cole then sought Sam – nobody knew Sam’s gender or sexual preferences, but Sam seemed to have a thing for Cole, or perhaps that was just to impress Jenny. Anyway, Cole failed his manipulation roll too, so I told him that Sam would help keep the class quiet if Cole gave himself to Sam or took Sam under his wing. Cole chose the latter and the agreement was made.
Then the bell for second period rang.
Insane amounts of awesome fun in one hour of in-game and three hours of real time with basically zero prep. I am impressed and we all loved it. I can’t wait to play a longer session this weekend. Some PCs are going to advance soon, Jane’s conditions will drive her, Cole will soon be hungry for chaos again – and then there’s detention with the sultry Ms. Cavanaugh – Aurora wants to seek more promises and Amelia will decide how to treat those she blames for her death. I hope to see some more PC-PC interactions, and I think/hope some sex moves and Darkest Selves might come out.
Mostly, though, we have no idea what is going to happen so we’ll play to find out, and that is awesome!