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oriongates
Mar 14, 2013

Validate Me!




Halloween Jack posted:

I think that under Achilli's leadership, they really wanted to dispense with the metaplot and cruft. But they were on a treadmill, so to speak, and there were some genuine missteps and oversights.

I think that if one really wanted to do a deep dive into the metaplot--perhaps even with crossovers and attempts to reconcile the irreconcilable cosmologies at the End Times--it would be better to just make it an action-adventure game and run it in something like Badass Kung Fu Demigods. That's not a knock. If the PCs are getting involved in things like the Week of Nightmares or the apocalyptic scenarios from the End Times books, they don't really need some mechanical punishment stick to drive home the morality of their actions. The consequences will be enough.

So, sorry to quote something from almost a month ago but I've been way behind on F&F so I've been reading through the thread and my little heart nearly stopped here.

Apologies for the interruption.

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JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


Cythereal posted:

That's my feeling after having played Dragonfall. If you could be a productive member of society, you wouldn't be a Shadowrunner.

If you're a productive member of society, you're most-likely a corpo slave, and a Shadowrunner at least has gun to defend against corporate depredations with.

E: At this point, the best thing for Shadowrun would be to do just adapt the Harebrained Schemes' rules to tabletop.

Though the classless-ness of it all rubs me wrong.

JcDent fucked around with this message at 11:34 on Oct 21, 2019

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

Shadowrunners exist because it's totally normal for corporations and governments to train and equip people for war, then just dump those people back into civil society and hope it will work out. Insane and destructive, but also totally normal.

ChaseSP
Mar 25, 2013



Also shadowrunners have the "advantage" of being entirely out of the whole SIN system meaning they don't have a massive database tracking each and every moment of their lives along with security systems not recognizing them at a glance. Comes with drawbacks but a shadowrunner enjoying being off the grid and not wanting to basically take a job working for a corporation isn't unreasonable given how rare the successful ones are lorewise.

Ronwayne
Nov 20, 2007

That warm and fuzzy feeling.


Is that still true? Most runner PCs i've seen, like 80%+ are have sins and use a fake one to get by, with the gm just handwaving most of the surveillance state (Rule of thumb is, rating 4 gets you through normal life with no issues). A genuine barrens rat, born sinless, and working their way up, is a fairly rare concept IME; most sinless PCs tend to be prototype transhuman vatbabies* that fell off the back of a truck.

*The corps seem to have perfected how to manufacture magic people because goddamn are there a bunch of PT awakened out there.

Ronwayne fucked around with this message at 15:57 on Oct 21, 2019

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

One of the things that genuinely is difficult to reconcile is how shadowrunning works with the modern omnipresent surveillance state. I tend to handwave it with the following rationale: You're living in an era presided over by the ghosts of Reagan and Thatcher, where the concept of society has been basically eliminated and governments are in full retreat in the face of corporate power. As a consequence, sharing information between corporate enclaves, government agencies, and the other corporations they contract to actually do things is a total nightmare. So getting caught on camera breaking into a Shiawase plant is not likely to impact you until the next time you mess with Shiawase.

One cliche in Shadowrun that really cuts against its own themes is a) Mr. Johnson betraying you and b) the megacorps sending specops teams after you. You're deniable assets, hired to do a job! Mr. Johnson, most of the time, has every reason to want you to complete the job. And your target has little to gain by coming after you personally.

Ronwayne
Nov 20, 2007

That warm and fuzzy feeling.


Yeah, its hard to overstate how much the UCAS is a hollow shell of the U.S.'s ability to project power. Its one of the reasons punk themes died in 4th was because it was really hard to imagine people hiding in the cracks of society from omnipresent law enforcement.

Basically in shadowrun, I go with the rule of thumb that if more than one or two months have passed, and you didn't commit a massacre, no one is gonna look for you. Unless an atrocity is involved, a modern-style police investigation that take months/years before nabbing you at random later just don't happen to runners.

ChaseSP
Mar 25, 2013



Shadowrunners are pretty much considered costs of business as long as you're not Renkoku or you don't hit something big enough that'll cause lasting operations.

Also yeah Mr Johnsons shouldn't be outright betrayl happy but more not telling the whole story to try and trick people into doing things they may not fully agree with but won't outright cause either party to get murdered/try to murder the bastard that sends you into a suicide mission.

megane
Jun 20, 2008





ChaseSP posted:

Shadowrunners are pretty much considered costs of business as long as you're not Renkoku or you don't hit something big enough that'll cause lasting operations.

I consider this one of the most damning parts of SR. When "your PCs' actions are essentially meaningless and almost beneath the notice of their targets" is a core conceit of your setting, maybe you should rethink things.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Johnson usually isn't trying to betray you (he has a rep too, and needs people to work with him) but he is absolutely trying to scalp you because he gets to keep the part of the budget that's leftover.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

megane posted:

I consider this one of the most damning parts of SR. When "your PCs' actions are essentially meaningless and almost beneath the notice of their targets" is a core conceit of your setting, maybe you should rethink things.
That's a baseline assumption, like how most vampires in Vampire just want to protect their little scrap of turf and don't rock the boat. Your PCs will have an impact.

Or not, if their goal is just to make enough nuyen to retire.

ChaseSP
Mar 25, 2013



megane posted:

I consider this one of the most damning parts of SR. When "your PCs' actions are essentially meaningless and almost beneath the notice of their targets" is a core conceit of your setting, maybe you should rethink things.

The megacorp as a whole won't care no, but the person in charge on the complex you raided for x reason likely will be upset and put in some measure to try and find you. I feel like the idea progression is basically hitting higher and higher until you go out in a blaze of glory that while won't change the world will have some impact that will be felt even if it's just on a city/state sized level.

Cooked Auto
Aug 4, 2007

If you will not serve in combat, you will serve on the firing line!




Shadowrun has sorta run into the same problem as Neuromancer did. Technology and society as well has just managed to run away from the ideas it posit. Or taken it a wholly different direction and thusly has made them look out of place. A thing I feel is really common the Cyberpunk genre as a whole.

Ronwayne
Nov 20, 2007

That warm and fuzzy feeling.


Yes, also the "you can't actually change anything, just minor local details" is really grating in the current zeitgeist.

EthanSteele
Nov 18, 2007

I can hear you


Halloween Jack posted:

One of the things that genuinely is difficult to reconcile is how shadowrunning works with the modern omnipresent surveillance state. I tend to handwave it with the following rationale: You're living in an era presided over by the ghosts of Reagan and Thatcher, where the concept of society has been basically eliminated and governments are in full retreat in the face of corporate power. As a consequence, sharing information between corporate enclaves, government agencies, and the other corporations they contract to actually do things is a total nightmare. So getting caught on camera breaking into a Shiawase plant is not likely to impact you until the next time you mess with Shiawase.

Yep! The golden rule of Shadowrun is "Shadowrunners exist" so anything that would go against that doesn't exist, and corps instantly cracking down on every runner that goes against them in any capacity and sharing info between each other is a thing that would definitely go against that. Like, the canon reason a big search engine like google doesn't exist is because the corps won't share information with each other.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

Cooked Auto posted:

Shadowrun has sorta run into the same problem as Neuromancer did. Technology and society as well has just managed to run away from the ideas it posit. Or taken it a wholly different direction and thusly has made them look out of place. A thing I feel is really common the Cyberpunk genre as a whole.

This is my issue with cyberpunk games tossing the ball further down the timeline. Things get flat-out sillier, and you move further and further away from genre conceits. I see poo poo like 'the world is basically a corporate panopticon' in SR or Eclipse Phase and I sit back and ask, 'Why bother?' Why bother adventuring under this assumption? Why bother -making- it, for that matter?

Mind you, I'm old.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



The most accurate cyberpunk future so far has been Megaman Battle Network.

Omnicrom
Aug 3, 2007
Snorlax Afficionado




Mors Rattus posted:

The most accurate cyberpunk future so far has been Megaman Battle Network.

I would totally endorse a cyberpunk setting that had the same zany energy as that series. Yeah, sure, the giant alien meteorite is actually a massive computer server which is host to an alien program that intends to judge the sins of man. Why not?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



I was thinking more about how it predicted the Internet of Things, but sure, that too

Omnicrom
Aug 3, 2007
Snorlax Afficionado




Oh I knew exactly what you were talking about, but at the same time I think a series that says "Actually, yes, you can do stuff" and also the setting is fun to engage with would be a good thing just in general.

I Am Just a Box
Jul 20, 2011
I belong here. I contain only inanimate objects. Nothing is amiss.



Mors Rattus posted:

I was thinking more about how it predicted the Internet of Things, but sure, that too

I could see products offered down the line where you pay money to install a little frog program with bubble powers in your dishwasher so that visiting web browsers can challenge it to a duel.

ChaseSP
Mar 25, 2013



Planned obsolencence but it's a "rogue virus" deleting the OS to your oven.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



I Am Just a Box posted:

I could see products offered down the line where you pay money to install a little frog program with bubble powers in your dishwasher so that visiting web browsers can challenge it to a duel.

I mean, it'd be more secure than our current world, where lightbulbs are routinely turned into botnet nodes.

Plus, you'd have a little frog program!

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003

Number 1 Nerd Tear Farmer 2022.

Keep it up, champ.

Also you're a skeleton warrior now. Kree.


This is why I wondered if you could do a cyberpunk game where a “run” is a single move, and the question is how they change the city/world over time.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




hyphz posted:

This is why I wondered if you could do a cyberpunk game where a “run” is a single move, and the question is how they change the city/world over time.

Isn't that the Android boardgame?

Flail Snail
Jul 30, 2019

Collector of the Obscure

That also sort of describes the RPG based on the Coup universe, Uprising.

Flail Snail fucked around with this message at 00:19 on Oct 22, 2019

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


The worst internet of things thing must be the grenades you can hack mid-flight in the Syndicate remake.

Also every other time they try to make hackers immediately relevant in battle by making guns hackable.

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003

Number 1 Nerd Tear Farmer 2022.

Keep it up, champ.

Also you're a skeleton warrior now. Kree.


wiegieman posted:

Isn't that the Android boardgame?

Nah, that’s about detectives rather than runners. Well, actually because of the thematic mess it’s about corrupt detectives framing the person they don’t like while dooming each other to miserable lives.

Magnusth
Sep 25, 2014

Hello, Creature! Do You Despise Goat Hating Fascists? So Do We! Join Us at Paradise Lost!




As you might know, I'm a part of the San Jenaro Co-Op, a cool leftist co-op of game designers and writers. So far, our main thing is the Short Games Digest, a quarterly collection of small games. So far, we've put out 2, the Short Games Digest volume 1 and volume 2.

https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/278871/The-Short-Games-Digest-Volume-1
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/287884/The-Short-Games-Digest-Volume-2

They each have a bunch of different games, from skating games to microlarps to surrealist road-trip games, to gay arthurian knights and other fun wierdness.
Anyway, if anyone here wanna do a Fatal and Friends for either of these, hit me up on discord at magnusth#1555 and i'll get you a review copy of the pdfs.

Maxwell Lord
Dec 12, 2008

I am drowning.
There is no sign of land.
You are coming down with me, hand in unlovable hand.

And I hope you die.

I hope we both die.


:smith:



Grimey Drawer



Buck Rogers XXVc: The 25th Century



Overview and Timeline: It Was Only A Few Nukes

Now we get to the good stuff. The World Book opens with a brief overview of the solar system, a lot of which we learned from the Race section- Mercury is a planet of underground mines and overhead solar collectors, Venus is partially terraformed but still a land of poison gasses, Mars is a paradise controlled by an evil corporate dictatorship, etc. We’ll get into that soon enough.

There’s a brief overview of the “state of the world” in the 25h century. Space travel’s common, with powerful rockets flying through the solar system. Computers are powerful enough that you can “download” personalities into them (I use the quotes because that’s more like uploading) and live forever as a hologram. Genetic Engineering is the big science, though, with some gene alteration being quite common and new genotypes being developed all the time. It’s also a very armed society- people carry around mono-knives, rocket pistols, etc., it’s very much a Wild West vibe.

But now, the history. This timeline’s a little weird, taking place in big chunks even though some of the events don’t seem like they’d take too long.

1999-2050: In 1999, the Soviet Union still exists, and a small group of Soviet hard-liners within the government make one last big play, launching a giant space offensive satellite called Masterlink. The US naturally see this as a big problem, but don’t want to risk a major military confrontation, so they decide to send a single pilot in an experimental space plane. The pilot, Lt. Col. Anthony “Buck” Rogers, manages a daring assault and destroys Masterlink, but he doesn’t make it back and is presumed dead.

The fallout of this incident sees a limited nuclear exchange between the superpowers- the Soviet hardliners only manage to commandeer a few silos, and the US recognize the Soviets are divided and are limited in their retaliation. The resulting “Last Gasp War” isn’t quite the end of civilization as we know it, but enough damage is done that everyone kinda steps back and takes a moment. A new era of international cooperation begins, with three major power blocs emerging- the Euro-Bloc faction, the Indo-Asian Consortium, and most fatefully, the Russo-American Mercantile Combine. Advances in nuclear fusion make space travel more commonplace, and we see the beginnings of plans to terraform other worlds- not a moment too soon, as Earth is getting more polluted and resource-starved all the time. Radioactivity actually isn’t a big problem despite the recent war, it’s just everything else that’s making the planet less habitable.

2051-2100: The System States Alliance is formed to hash out the colonization of the solar system. The three power groups are each awarded charters for the inner worlds: The Russo-Americans, with the most influence, take Mars, the Indo-Asians take Venus, and the Euro-Bloc faction takes Luna. The SSA levies material taxes on the colonies so that Earth can get the materials it needs.

2101-2300: The Russo-American Mercantile group is now RAM, and makes big strides in colonizing Mars with the help of genetic engineering. Terraforming makes some areas habitable. The Europeans have no such options with the Moon, so stick to underground cities and domes. The Venusian colonists have to take a slow approach- the first colonies are airborne, sitting on the clouds.

2275 sees RAM rebelling against Earth control and the taxes they levy. Venus and the Moon stay out of it, while RAM quickly thrashes the SSA and, by depriving Earth of outside materials, quickly accelerates its decline into savagery. The Ten Year War ends with RAM in control of Earth, and for funsies they sabotage work on the Venusian space elevator as well.

2301-2455: As RAM’s power grows in the solar system, refugees from Earth and Mars flee to begin colonizing Mercury. They use asteroids pulled into orbit to create the Mariposas, massive solar collectors, and set up mining concerns on the planet itself. Still more refugees head outwards to asteroids and to Jupiter and Saturn. Uranus remains distant and untouched. Because of the traffic to the Outer Worlds, space piracy emerges as a major force, personified by the Black Brotherhood.

2456: The present year. RAM has successfully terraformed around half of Mars, and runs it like a totalitarian police state. For Earth, they have set up the Solar Alliance Protectorate, which officially is there to protect the wounded planet from outside exploitation, but of course RAM intends to take all it can get. Earth itself is slowly recovering from centuries of ruin, and a new group has emerged- the New Earth Organization, or NEO- dedicated to opposing RAM’s tyranny.

And they’ve made a bit of a discovery- Buck Rogers survived the destruction of Masterlink in suspended animation, and is now awake and on their side. This is a big deal because while the SSA was developing its plans for colonization, Rogers was held up as an icon, a martyr for the new age of human progress. Now he’s alive, and he’s a good enough strategist and fighter to be a real asset to NEO. 

All of the major worlds now have their own military, comprised of gennie troops and space fleets. RAM has the biggest army, but everyone else has a decent presence, apart from Mercury who have allied with Venus for the moment. NEO, by contrast, is made up mostly of “pure” humans (who from the text seem a little haughty about being unmodified) and doesn’t have a lot of resources. Open war has not yet broken out in the solar system, but tensions are very high.

And that’s where we come in. Next time, we’ll begin our look at the Solar System with Mercury!

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


Maxwell Lord posted:

But now, the history. This timeline’s a little weird, taking place in big chunks even though some of the events don’t seem like they’d take too long.

That happens with every backstory in every RPG. Stuff either takes too long or happens way too fast, and it eventually ends up not mattering anyways, since your characters have more pressing contemporary issues.

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Monsterhearts 2: Chapter 1

As we enter the climax of the season of the witch, it’s time to get spooky. And by that I mean, let’s look at the second edition of everyone’s favorite game of teenage monster angst, Monsterhearts! I’m going to emphasize mostly the changes between first and second edition (though I’ve also got a whole bunch of spicy new Skins that weren’t in the original review to discuss both in first and second edition versions), though I will still give enough overview that this stands alone.

Chapter One: How The Game Works

It should be noted we’re already inside a major change, because the original started with character creation. That now comes significantly later in the book.

We start with the absolute most basic of basics, the game’s format. And then we get right into what the creator considered needed to be said right from the start:
[quote="This game is queer, meaning that it pushes back against the heterosexist framework that underlies so many of our culture’s stories. When you play, you contend with all the chaotic possiblity and uncertainty of desire. [/quote"]
I really like that this gets laid out immediately. Just in general there’s a LOT about player comfort (and a lot of the changes are to things that were potentially uncomfortable in the prior version). We then get into a description of what the game is about, that the players are all teenagers who are secretly monsters. It heavily emphasizes that the monstrosity of the characters is both literal, in that they’d pretty much all be at home in a horror movie, and allegorical. That’s especially important when we get to a skin like The Mortal that is just a regular human, but who can easily be the biggest monster in practice thanks to their mechanics. But just in general it makes it clear you need to be keeping in mind both what your character is and what they’re supposed to represent.

We divert into discussing Apocalypse World, the framework from which this is built, and that at its core both games consider roleplaying to be a conversation. The rules are the framework that mediates it, nothing more or less. You’ve got your character, the other players have theirs, and you tell the stories of their lives together within the framework of the rules and mediated by the Master of Ceremonies, who controls the rest of the world. They emphasize here that the MC is not supposed to be an antagonistic role even allowing that NPCs can of course be antagonists, and we’ll see this come up again later on when they discuss the MC’s mechanics and role in more detail.

So, another change is here. In the original, the Agenda was something that was presented to the MC as their role. They now extend that to the whole table, and present one here before even explaining the mechanics. The agenda is as follows:

- Make each main character’s life not boring
- Keep the story feral
- Say what the rules demand
- Say what honesty demands

So, this is adapted from what the previous edition game to the MC as an agenda as well as what the previous edition said the MC had to always say. Two things are missing from this list: Make the players feel unaccepted, and always say what the principles demand. The latter isn’t really that important, because the MC section will make it clear that’s still a secret fifth one. Principles are instructions to the MC that only apply to them. The former’s removal I think speaks to the really toxic and adversarial potential of that directive. I think the four points actually really speak to all that is needed, and I’ll summarize them.

Make each character’s life not boring: Your job as the player is NOT to keep your character safe, it’s to figure out who they are, what they want, and what they’d do for it then do those things. The game’s pretty open-ended with no endgame beyond that which you create at the table so this is pretty important.

Keep the story feral: Don’t try to take control of the story. Instead focus on reacting to what’s going on and how the rest of the table’s ideas change what you thought about things.

Say what the rules demand: The rules are intended to constrain you in ways that can lead to further creativity. When you’re supposed to roll dice, the point is that you can fail. And if the dice tell you that, well, that’s how it goes.

Say what honesty demands: While your character can be lying, you can’t. The other players need information for the conversation to be interesting, and you need to just trust that everyone will not do dumb metagame poo poo and behave in ways that only make sense if they are exactly as informed as their player. They also bring up the point that you need to be very honest about your own feelings and needs at the table, because this is a game that can potentially make people uncomfortable and you need to always feel free to express that. There will be much more on this later.

We then talk about framing scenes, which generally starts with the MC asking someone as question about what is going on or what their character is doing. You then take the response and build on it. It’s primarily the MC’s authority, but they note that where it makes sense to do so you should feel free to let the players frame a scene.

We now get to the mechanics. Normally you just describe what you’re doing and then it happens. But sometimes, what you say will trigger a Move. Moves are where the rules kick in, and there are both Basic and Skin moves. Everyone has access to the Basic moves, whereas obviously the Skin moves are associated with the different Skins (which are the character types in Monsterhearts). Moves sometimes roll dice, and if they do they’ll also tell you to roll with a stat. We’ll talk about the stats more later, but there are four of them: Hot, Cold, Volatile, and Dark. Stats will generally range from -1 to +2, and the mechanic is to roll 2d6 and add the stat value. A 10+ is a success, a 7-9 will generally involve some complications, and a 6 or less is a failure. It should be noted that the MC does not have moves and does not roll dice. We’ll discuss how they interact with the rules later.

Before we cover the moves, though, we introduce one of the core social mechanics of the game: Strings. We don’t get the full rules for them here (that comes after the moves), but we learn they exist and in general that they’re a way of tracking the shifts in power in a relationship that can be spent for mechanical benefits and will be generated by many of the moves we’re about to see. And here are the moves:

Turn Someone On (Hot): You roll with Hot, and on a 10+ you gain a String on them and they have to choose one of the following reactions: Give themselves to you, promise something they think you want, or get embarrassed and act awkward. On a 7-9, they choose either to give you a String or choose one of those reactions. Turning someone on is an interesting move because it doesn’t necessarily happen ‘on purpose’. The intent is that when you describe something that might turn someone on, it potentially triggers a roll on this. This explicitly also is noted as not necessarily meaning anything about the sexuality of your character unless you want it to. The book’s going to talk about this more later.

So, this move’s a bit different than in first edition in the mechanics. There’s an extra reaction (the one to get embarrassed and act awkward) which is important because originally you just got a String on a 10+. If it’s possible to force a reaction, there definitely needs to be one where you just kind of get flustered.

Before we move to the next, um, move, there’s actually one that no longer exists. There used to be a move Manipulate an NPC. That’s not a thing anymore. It was actually kind of an awkward move anyway, the original was a roll to determine who got to decide what they wanted (or on a failure that they simply weren’t going to budge. As we’ll see next update, this has been replaced with a different mechanic.

Shut Someone Down (Cold): Roll with Cold and choose from the following list on a 7+: The target loses a String on you, you gain a String on them (but only if they have none on you), they gain a Condition, or you take one Forward. If you rolled a 7-9, the target also gets to put a Condition on you. We’ll talk about Conditions later, and Taking Forward just means you add one to your next roll. This is pretty much mechanically being an rear end in a top hat to someone, and if you got a 7-9 you looked like an rear end in a top hat to everyone doing it.

The ability to Take One Forward after shutting someone down is new. Also new is what happens on a 7-9. Previously you either exchanged Conditions or both lost a String on the other. Part of that became the current version, with the Strings option eliminated.

Keep Your Cool (Cold): This used to be a move called Hold Steady, which it resembles in some ways. You name what you’re afraid of and roll Cold. On a 10+, you ask the MC a question about the situation and then take one Forward when acting on that. On a 7-9, the MC will tell you how your actions will leave you vulnerable and you can either do it or not. This move ends up being a bit more broad than Hold Steady was, because it is not just for immediate jeopardy but really any situation where you might be afraid and it might hinder your ability to act.

Hold Steady was essentially identical on a 10+, but very different for 7-9. It gave you the option of taking the Condition Frightened if you wanted to ask a question rather than laying out what the consequences might be if you go through with your action.

Lash Out Physically (Volatile): The move for harming people. Roll with Volatile, on a 10+ you deal them harm (more on how that works later) and they choke up and can’t react. On a 7-9, you still get to harm them but have to choose one of the following: They learn something about your true nature and gain a String on you, the MC determines how bad the harm ends up being, or you become your Darkest Self (again more on that later).

This has changed a bit since the first edition. You used to get choices as to what happened when you rolled a 10+, getting the opportunity to gain a String or do extra harm as well as preventing them from retaliating (the only option you have now). The 7-9 options were also changed slightly, in the first edition instead of the chance for the MC to decide how badly they were harmed you might take a harm as well. It’s a bit different and I think intended to de-emphasize violence a bit, because now there’s no way to gain a String by harming someone.

Run Away (Volatile): Roll with Volatile. On a 10+ you get away, on a 7-9 you get away but have to choose from the following list: You run into something worse, you cause a big scene, or you leave something behind. It’s pretty straightforward.

This is slightly changed from first edition. The 7-9 option to leave something behind instead gave the scariest person present a String in the original. Again, I think they wanted to alter the String economy for the second edition.

Gaze Into The Abyss (Dark): Name what you’re looking for and roll Dark. On a 10+, you get a vision and can take one Forward to addressing it. On a 7-9 you still get your answer, but the vision is confusing and alarming rather than lucid. It’s up to you to decide how Gazing into the Abyss works for your character and how the visions will manifest.

This move has also changed a bit since the first edition. A 10+ used to get you two from a list: lucid and detailed visions, learning what you need to do and taking one Forward to do it, and being cured of a Condition. And a 7-9 used to let you choose either confusing and alarming visions or lucid ones that leave you Drained. The choices have been taken out of this one, you get a useful vision or you get a spooky vision.

This is going to get super long if I don't split it, so it’s time to end this post and pick it up in the next one with the rest of Chapter One.

Feinne fucked around with this message at 14:11 on Oct 31, 2019

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Monsterhearts 2: Chapter One Continued

It’s time for more Spooktacular HallowScream fun with Monsterhearts 2.

Chapter One, Continued: How The Game Works

Last time we finished up on the Moves. Our next topic is what we can do with Strings. Spending a String on a character gives us the following options:

Tempt them to do what you want: For a PC, you’re offering them an experience point to do something. For an NPC, the MC will tell you what it will take to get them to do what you want. Note that this is essentially what you used to get from a 7-9 on the old move Manipulate an NPC. I think they decided both the 10+ and 6- versions of that move were kind of boring and eliminated them.

Give them a Condition: We’ll learn what Conditions are later, but you can pretty much just say a thing about them and that word or phrase sticks to them until something is done about it.

Add 1 to your roll against them: What it sounds like. Add to a roll for a Move that affects them.

Add 1 to the harm you deal them: Again straightforward.

The list has changed a bit. Previously you could also subtract one from a roll against you and force a character to Hold Steady (the Move which is now called Keep Your Cool). I think the point was to make all four options be something that would work against NPCs and PCs almost identically, with only the first one having some different rules.

Harm is pretty simple. PCs can take four Harm before dying. MC characters can take whatever amount of Harm they decide. How much Harm is inflicted by Lashing Out Physically depends on what you’re doing to someone. The more dangerous the attack, the more Harm.

Once per session you can heal one Harm by tending to your wounds. If someone else is there assisting you (with potential erotic subtext) you get to heal an additional Harm. Healing doesn’t really have to make sense, it just happens.

If you take your fourth Harm, there are two ways you can skirt death normally (though some Skin Moves can also impact this). The first is to pop back up with no Harm as your Darkest Self, a terrible version of your character archetype. The second is to lose all your Strings you have on everyone. If you can’t or don’t want to do either of those things, you’re dead. The previous version restricted you to this once per game, but it no longer does. This actually makes your characters pretty resilient if you want them to be.

We get the details of Taking Forward next, where they make clear that if we just get to do so generically it’s always our next roll whereas if it’s got conditions it’s our next roll that meets them.

Conditions are words that describe someone. If you’re making a Move and can come up with a way it takes advantage of a Condition, you get to add one to the roll. They also make clear that Conditions are what other characters think about a character, and since they’re often hurtful words you want to be really careful about them. Conditions last until something happens to remove them. Sometimes Moves can do this, sometimes it’ll just be your actions in-game that resolve them. You used to be able to resolve conditions as part of the old Hold Steady Move, but that is now gone.

Experience makes you more powerful. You gain experience in three ways: Fail a roll (roll 6 or less), when a Move tells you that you do, or when someone spends a String to tempt you and you accept. Five experience let you take one of your Skin’s advancements. Each Skin’s got its own advancement options, some of them are a bit different and we’ll look at those when we get there (as well as how advancement changed in general). This is a bit different than the previous version, where you had two highlighted stats each session and got to gain experience every time you rolled against those. It generally makes experience gain slower and also encourages you to try things you might fail at.

Gangs are a possible advancement most characters can take, you join a group with a description as shown on your Skin. A Gang gives you some obligations (and at the end of the day they’re MC characters) but their assistance both lets you add one to a relevant roll and inflict an additional Harm when relevant. The original talked about Seasons around this point, but that’s coming much later. Now we’ve got some stuff that isn’t so much rules as guidance.

Out next section is on Queer Content and how to handle it. This is part of the whole idea that Turning Someone On works regardless of what the player might think about their character’s gender preferences. Basically they want you to remember that your character isn’t you and sometimes the dice are going to say some things about them that you didn’t know at first and that’s okay.

Our next section is on Belonging and Difference. You’re inherently characters that don’t really belong as monsters, so the struggle to find where you belong and who accepts you is real. Honesty demands that you be clear with how your character doesn’t belong.

We now have a guest-authored section on Experiencing Race. This is the sort of game where there’s a nonzero chance of someone really showing their rear end and you want to make sure before you even start that everyone is on the same page and nobody’s going to actually do that. Make sure everyone’s also feeling free to point out if someone’s saying or doing something that’s making them uncomfortable, which is going to come up again. They then list out a series of questions on your setting and characters for the players and MC to think about, again to ensure everyone’s on the same page.

We next have a page on Blending In, where we talk about the idea that no matter how little sense that makes everyone usually seems normal. You should think about the mechanics but only to the extent that it might be interesting to the story.

We now learn about the Darkest Self. There are a few ways you can enter your Darkest Self (we’ve seen two of them already, and there are a few others as well). Your Darkest Self depends on your Skin, and represents your monstrosity running wild. The description will tell you how you can escape it. They tell you not to pull punches when in your Darkest Self but also not to make things edgy for its own sake.

We now move on to a discussion of Violence, which as we’ve sort of seen already but will really see later on in the Skins there has been a serious effort to de-emphasize in this edition. They note the violence isn’t really the interesting part about a situation where violence happened, and if you’re in a situation of exchanging blows by Lashing Out Physically you’re probably violating the Agenda because things are boring. They suggest the MC should be ready to jump in and keep things feral when violence is happening.

The next section is on Sexuality. The same caveat on Turning Someone On, to remember that teenagers can’t really decide what turns them on and you need to let the dice fall where they may and decide what it means. Equally, though, it’s always you that is control of what your character does about the situation. They also bring up the Sex Moves here. These are things that happen when characters have consensual sex, and vary by Skin.

We follow that with a section on Asexuality. If for some reason you seriously do not think your character can be turned on by a situation, you are allowed access to a Move called Non-Attraction. This move turns the attempt to Turn Someone On into a roll to Shut Someone Down using Hot instead of Cold. I think this is REALLY good as an addition to the idea that we don’t necessarily get to decide what turns us on, because someone you’re really not able to be attracted to trying is still a very uncomfortable situation.

There’s a whole section on remembering your characters probably have smartphones and can do all the poo poo teenagers do with said things.

Okay, now we’re at Seasons. Seasons are the multi-session structure, and they are pretty much what their name makes you think. The Season lasts until someone has taken their fifth Advance, at which point there will be one more session and everyone unlocks the special Season Advances. You’re allowed to take one Season Advance per season, and they’re kind of a big deal. They then suggest that you should take a break before considering picking up for a new season, because otherwise things can get stale. The four Season Advances are:

Change your character’s Skin: Reboot your character as a new Skin. You keep everything intrinsic to you but lose anything that wouldn’t make sense for your new Skin. You get a new statline and choose Skin Moves for your new Skin as normal.

Rewrite your Darkest Self: You can sit down with the MC and change how your Darkest Self works. If you have a new idea for how your darkness might manifest, this is pretty cool.

Retire your character and start a new one: If you’ve decided you’re at the end of your character’s arc, you can retire them and start over. They’re now in a place of safety and acceptance, and you pick a new Skin and entirely new character.

Gain two of the Growing Up Moves: There is one of these for each stat, and they represent healthier ways of dealing with things than the normal Moves. I’ll cover them after we talk about how Seasonal Advances have changed.

So, there used to be an option to rewrite your Sex Move. That is no longer a thing. It’s probably for the best, since the real offender for ‘I really want to rewrite my Sex Move because it’s hosed up’ has had theirs changed.

The Growing Up Moves, they’re pretty cool.

Make Others Feel Beautiful (Hot): Roll Hot, on a 10+ choose two: The target takes one Forward, removes a Condition, marks experience, or you can take one Forward. On a 7-9, you get to tempt them to do what you want as if you’d spent a String. This is super powerful for obvious reasons, Condition removal is hard and taking Forward is really good. Plus it tosses experience out like crazy.

Call People On Their poo poo (Cold): Roll Cold and choose from this list: The target loses a String against someone else, or they choke up/break down/bail. If you roll a 7-9, they give you a Condition in return. This is all about making a stand against bullying and abuse and is a way to intervene on others’ behalf socially that you wouldn’t otherwise have.

Intervene in an Act of Violence (Volatile): Roll Volatile, on a 10+ the person you’re protecting gets to react and take one Forward to whatever they decide to do. On a 7-9, the assailant gets a choice: They back off, they take whatever Harm you want to give them as they go past you, or they redirect their violence to you. The physical version of the previous Move.

Share Your Pain (Dark): Roll Dark, on a 10+ you choose two things from the following list. You choose one on a 7-9: Remove a Condition from yourself, remove a Condition from someone who listened, take one Forward to helping yourself, or those who listened take one Forward to helping you. A move for reaching out to others in a way you couldn’t before.

That’s the end of the Chapter. Next time, we get a section on Preparing to Play.

Feinne fucked around with this message at 14:12 on Oct 31, 2019

Leraika
Jun 14, 2015

slime time



I really appreciate the attempts to add more player safety to Monsterhearts, given my first exposure to it was through people who saw 'you can't decide what turns you on' and decided that meant they could go full magical realm on the game and everyone had to cater to that.

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Leraika posted:

I really appreciate the attempts to add more player safety to Monsterhearts, given my first exposure to it was through people who saw 'you can't decide what turns you on' and decided that meant they could go full magical realm on the game and everyone had to cater to that.

Yeah beyond the Skin changes that impact it, we've actually still got another whole chapter that's just on player safety. We'll in fact be seeing it later in the day, the call of spooks is strong.

Feinne fucked around with this message at 14:20 on Oct 28, 2019

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

One thing that gets singled out for criticism is the Ghoul playbook. I've used it a couple times and had no problems with it, but I've seen groups do bad poo poo with it because they chose to interpret its prompts in the worst way possible. A shared understanding of boundaries is important to every game but particularly to Monsterhearts.

Speaking of which.

I did a F&F for the first, Pacesetter Games edition of Chill. The System Mastery episode on the second, Mayfair Games edition prompted me to give the third edition another look. I'm not sure what I think of the mechanics, but I was impressed with the writing.

One pillar of Chill's premise is SAVE, an international secret society that fights "the Unknown." Another pillar is that the Unknown is thoroughly hostile to humankind; there are no good or even conflicted monsters. The Mayfair edition basically destroyed SAVE as part of an effort to get away from a Hammer Horror theme that some felt was too light-hearted. The third edition revives SAVE but follows through on the premise, making it an international, interfaith, multi-ethnic network. There's a broad representation in the sample PCs, which earned some praise and some grousing from the usual suspects. The monster sourcebooks actively interrogate the biases of the old SAVE (mostly British noblemen) and the societies that form myths around monsters. It also avoids being a game that is fundamentally about banding together to fight the dreaded Other, because fear of the Other (and other social ills) are not embodied by the Unknown, but exploited by it.

But the 3rd edition was published by Growling Door and much of the writing and editing was done by the McFarlands. Several people have pointed out that they were able to downplay their abuses because they knew how to use the correct, progressive language.

Since Growling Door shuttered all rights have reverted to Martin Caron, a Québecois horror host who bought the IP from Mayfair. I've read that the McFarlands receive no profits from future sales. But the prospect of doing a detailed review, and praising the game at length for its inclusivity, makes me a little sick.

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Monsterhearts 2: Chapter 2 and 3

We're a few posts out from Skins and I don't want to spoil what they did, but I will say the Ghoul is very different in some important ways in Monsterhearts 2 vs the original. Speaking of posts!

More Monsterhearts second edition incoming! We just got done with the interesting situation of learning to play before creating characters. We’ll be hitting that today.

Chapter 2: Preparing to Play

This chapter is generally noted as being addressed to the MC, with the likelihood they’ll be the one preparing and teaching how the game works. They lay out what you want to have on hand, namely printouts of the default Skins and the Handouts. They also note you can optionally print out one of the Small Towns, some prefab settings they give along with the game. I’ll probably talk about those eventually. You also have the option of using some of the optional Skins, there’s two that come with the game as optional downloads and some others that were made you have to pay extra for (but I have them and will cover them because they’re pretty interesting).

We start by laying out what the game is about and reading out the Agenda, in our own words. We also almost immediately introduce Safety Tools, which actually come up in Chapter 3 but are ways the game suggest you deal with content that might cause people discomfort. Now we pick Skins. You start by handing all the Skins you’re using out as evenly as you can among everyone at the table (including yourself) and reading the italicized text on them in as over-the-top a voice as you can manage. Once you’ve done that, everyone picks a Skin but the MC.

Before we get to anything mechanical, we choose Identities. There’s a section on each Skin for them, with a Name, Look, Eyes, and Origin. Share these aloud and keep them in reference. The game suggests you put them on index cards and tent them in front of you with as much as possible there.

The next step they suggest is, if you’re not using one of the pre-established Small Towns, to deal with establishing your setting. Ask the players what they want from the game and what they might need to exist in your town for their character idea to work. You don’t need things to get super specific, make sure you leave enough room for things to get detailed as the game progresses.

Next is discussing roleplaying. Make sure people understand how it works in general, and how Monsterhearts is different (it’s not a game about coming together as a party, but neither is it strictly a PvP game). Make sure people get that things can get adversarial.

Next we start getting into rules. Tell people how the basic Moves work and what Strings do. They suggest using an example afterwards, because it can be a bit of an information dump. Now that you’ve done this, it’s time to choose your stats and Skin Moves. One major change between first and second edition is how you choose your stats. You used to get a 1/1/-1/-1 spread and add one to the stat of your choice, now you choose between two 2/1/-1/-1 spreads for your Skin with no floating point. How you choose Skin Moves depends on the Skin.

They then suggest you stop explaining further rules, and just wait for them to come up in-game and explain reactively. That’s probably a good idea, again it effectively lets you teach by example. Our next step is the Backstories part of the Skin sheets. This involves exchanges of Strings and just in general establishing relationships between characters.

We then set up a Seating Chart. This is a collaborative process where we establish things like petty high-school drama. The MC goes around the room and asks questions and at the end of it we’ll have a sheet that says who sits where, giving us a bunch of NPCs to interact with and relationships between characters that Backstories don’t cover. If we’re in a game where the PCs aren’t in high-school, a similar process appropriate to the setting should be done. The important thing is that this gives us a lot of our starting point.

That’s where Chapter 2 ends, but let’s keep going to three because it’s pretty important.

Chapter 3: Keeping Your Heart Safe

This is an entire chapter dedicated to making sure everyone is having fun and is comfortable with what’s going on. It lays out some ways to make sure you are handling things responsibly.

Responsibility is laid out in three tiers. The innermost tier is responsibility to yourself, to feel safe, set boundaries, and make sure those boundaries remain clear to everyone else. Outside that is your responsibility to the others at the table, to listen to their boundaries and collaborate to create something awesome. The outermost is the responsibility to the characters, to portray them as people with agency and complexity.

Setting boundaries is detailed next. Start by naming your boundaries up front. Just make absolutely clear what is off the table for you, so it can be eliminated as much as possible from the game. Then think about the Skins people are using, and what sorts of patterns of dysfunction and crisis they represent. Because those things are very likely to come up, consider if any of them are part of your boundaries. This is very much the time to talk about that. They give some options including asking the Skin to be left out, getting the person playing it to do so in a way that respects your boundaries, or just to play it yourself if you think you can do so.

Once you’ve set boundaries, you need to keep evaluating them through play. If they’re not working for you, you need to bring it up immediately and deal with it. The game’s going to give us some ways to do so, but it also makes clear you shouldn’t feel limited to those.

One of the major tools they suggest is the X-Card. Just draw an X on an index card and place it on the table. Then read this script or paraphrase:

quote:

“I’d like your help making sure the game stays fun for everyone.
If something comes up that you find upsetting or disturbing, you can lift this card up – or even just tap it. It can be a little thing or a big thing. We’ll edit out any content that gets X-Carded. You don’t have to explain why you don’t want it in the game. It doesn’t matter why, we’re happy to replace it with something else. Anyone can use the X-Card at any time.”
This is a really good mechanic to have, and I think explains itself pretty well.

Another tool they note comes from film, fading to black. Whenever you get to something you’d rather not narrate out, you fade to black and pick up afterwards. Whether this is sex, violence, or something else that might make someone uncomfortable, it’s an option. There’s a really good chance characters are going to have sex at some point and you’re pretty much always going to want to Fade to Black rather than do a bunch of lurid description at the table.

They also suggest several times a session to call a break where people straight all leave the table for a few minutes. They further extend this to the suggestion to run some other game after a Season ends before deciding if you want to come back to Monsterhearts. Again, great suggestions.

Now we move on to what to do when a boundary gets crossed. They remind you to keep sight of your responsibility to yourself, and do whatever you need to do to feel comfortable if someone crosses one of your boundaries. Equally, you need to always be on the watch for when someone else might need support.

Alright, that’s Chapter 3. Next time we’ll cover Chapter 4, which is on the MC’s role.

Feinne fucked around with this message at 14:12 on Oct 31, 2019

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Monsterhearts 2: Chapter 4

Chapter 4: MCing

We last left on in keeping our hearts safe, now we’re firmly in a section that’s for the MC. We start with the Agenda from earlier, and get our basic responsibility laid out: the MC handles all the NPCs and deals with facilitation. You never roll dice as MC, instead having a list of Reactions to unleash when appropriate. But first, we get a set of Principles:

Embrace melodrama: This used to be called ‘blanket the world in darkness’. Basically if something can be dark and melodramatic, it should be.

Address yourself to the characters, not the players: Always talk to the characters, to help the players stay in their characters’ roles.

Make monsters seem human, and vice versa: Perhaps the same can be said of all religions. But seriously, the point is to center on how your monstrous characters are actually very human and on how the human characters can be lovely.

Make labels matter: Labels need to have teeth. If someone’s accepted an identity that leads to them being labeled, don’t half-rear end it. That’s why you make sure to talk about things first!

Give everyone a messy life: Put some detail into what characters are doing when they’re offscreen. It makes everything more vibrant. This used to be called Giving Everyone a Life.

Find the catch: Whenever things are looking good, look for how it could secretly be bad. What’s potentially going to spoil everything? This used to be a pair of principles, to Accept people, but only conditionally and that Happiness always comes at someone else’s expense. They’ve been sort of folded together here, and part of this is because there is no longer a principle about making people feel unaccepted.

Ask provocative questions and build on the answers: Just what it sounds like. Make sure you’re always asking questions of the players and build on those answers.

Be a fan of the main characters: While you’re in a position of power over the characters, it’s important that you neither coddle nor bully them. You’re not there to make their lives great, nor are you there to make their lives horrible for its own sake. You’re there to make them interesting.

Treat side characters like stolen cars: Don’t get too attached to NPCs. If something needs to happen to them, that’s fine. Don’t do metaplot poo poo where you keep some villain around so they can set something up later.

Give side characters simple, divisive motivations: Don’t be unnecessarily obscure with your side characters. It should be pretty obvious what they want and how they’re planning to do it, even if it’s a matter of making sure it’s obvious to the players while also making it clear that the characters don’t necessarily know what’s going on. Also make sure the side characters have motives that will potentially divide the players and generate conflict.

Sometimes, disclaim decision making: If it makes sense, put the decision making power into the hands of a side character by asking the table if they think the character would do something. And further, sometimes just ask a player what they think happens next.

The previous version had the MC’s Agenda laying out that you had to say what the Principles demand. It’s not explicitly laid out here, but remains implicit. As I note above many of them have been altered a bit and are presented under new names. There used to be a Principle on how the MC makes their Moves. This is laid out when the MC’s Reactions are described, which is next.

Speaking of, Reactions. These used to be called Hard Moves. They’re things you do when someone fails a roll, when someone’s in harm’s way, or when you’re called upon to react. Reactions exist to Set Things Up or Knock Them Down. You’re either calling the players to action, or forcing them to deal with the consequences of an event. Let’s get to the list of Reactions now.

Put Them Together: Put two characters who have problems together. The proverbial situation where two enemies are trapped in an elevator, or got assigned to a group project together.

Separate Them: The opposite, if two characters are getting too comfortable together you pull them apart.

Tell Them The Possible Consequences and Ask: Make it clear what it will cost for the players to get something they want and ask them if that’s okay. As a setup, this is laying out consequences. When knocking it down, though, it’s telling them what’s being demanded of them now that they’ve stepped in it.

Inflict Harm: Exactly what it says. Something went wrong and now they’re hurt.

Enact Drastic Measures: Have something drastic happen in response to what’s going on in the story. Did a side character just die in the school? Well the cops are probably going to show up with a whole lot of questions. Did you get in some big crazy confrontation? Maybe everyone ends up in detention. Maybe the media shows up because of all the weird poo poo that happens at your school.

Turn Their Move Back On Them: Have their actions create unexpected consequences. Pretty simple.

Leap to the Worst Possible Conclusion: Have a side character take the information they have access to and draw the absolute worst conclusion from it.

Expose a Dangerous Secret to the Wrong Person: Someone learns something they’re not supposed to. This is often going to involve learning that you’re a monster, because everyone has dangerous secrets.

Take a String on Someone: Have a side character gain a String on one of the Main Characters. Side characters can’t have Strings on each other.

Herald the Abyss: Sometimes you Gaze into the Abyss, sometimes it Gazes Back. Spooky stuff goes down and you learn things you might not have wanted to know.

Trigger Their Darkest Self: The most serious Reaction and the one to be used most sparingly, make sure you’ve got a good reason for why they’re supposed to have snapped.

At Every Turn: “What do you do?”: Whenever you use a Reaction, after you’ve described what’s happened you ask what the character does. The whole point of your Reactions is to generate reaction from the players, after all.

The Reaction to Enact Drastic Measures is new to this edition, and replaces Moves to Announce off-screen badness and Announce future badness. I think this is not to say you should not do those things, just that they’re not really part of the toolset of Reactions.

We move on to talking a bit about NPCs. Remember that the MC never rolls, so NPCs don’t have stats beyond potentially their Strings and how much Harm you decide they can take. The important thing to keep track of is who they are and why they matter.

Side characters with Strings can use them in a few ways. These are:

-Offer an experience point to do what you want.
-Place a condition on them.
-Add 1 to the harm you’re dealing them.
-Ambush them with a Reaction, setting it up and knocking it down all at once.

The first three are all things players can do, and work the same way. The last is unique to the MC, and is further part of how notable NPCs might be special (as NPCs can have their own special Reactions you create). These were all things an NPC could do with a String before, but there’s an important one missing: The option to put the NPC at Advantage. Advantage is just gone. It was previously a way of nebulously accounting for situations where side characters should have a bonus to a roll but whoops they don’t roll. The Reactions are now generally considered to cover that, I believe.

We get a bit about the use of the Seating Chart next, making sure that you take advantage of the relationships it sets up. It then gives some ideas on how to get things rolling, with three suggestions: to Stage a Disappearance, Plan a Party, or Demand a Fight. There’s some advice on Convention Play, where obviously it’s a one-shot and you don’t have tons of time to deal with some aspects. They then suggest ways to control the story’s tempo and make sure it flows properly.

They make some suggestions as well on making the setting feel more alive. The obvious is to map the setting, because it creates places characters might go and things they might do. Another thing they suggest is for players to ‘cast’ their characters, essentially saying who’d play them in the show, and to create the playlists they’d listen to. They give some suggestions on how to handle continuity between sessions, which is valuable.

So, another big change. The first edition had a concept called Menaces, which were a broad way of describing dangers and villains. This isn’t a thing anymore. Remaining are Villains, however, major antagonists who arise over the course of play. Villains are special NPCs, in that you are suggested to write a custom Principle for playing them and write them a custom Reaction. Just in general they are a LOT less structured than they were in the first edition, probably on the principle that you’re going to feel much more free to treat them as stolen cars when you didn’t have to do quite so much work on them.

And that’s the whole MC section. A bunch of the original content got moved into the earlier Chapters, if this seems much shorter than it was in the first edition. Now that all that’s out of the way, we’ll start getting into the things people really want to hear about : The Skins. That’ll be starting next time, same bat time, same bat channel.

Feinne fucked around with this message at 14:12 on Oct 31, 2019

Feinne
Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.


Monsterhearts 2: The Fae and The Ghost

Now back to Monsterhearts, where we’re up to the Skins. Before we start, let’s talk about some broad changes. First of all, the Core Skins have actually changed. The Chosen has left the Core Skins and moved into the bonus Skins, the Hollow has been kicked up to the Core, and The Angel has Poochie’d off to Heaven forever. So, let’s list them out. The Core Skins are The Fae, The Ghost, The Ghoul, The Hollow, The Infernal, The Mortal, The Queen, The Vampire, The Werewolf, and The Witch. There are then two bonus Skins that alter the game quite a bit if chosen, The Chosen and The Serpentine. There’s further a set of Skins that are part of an optional expansion: The Sasquatch, The Wyrm, The Cuckoo, The Unicorn, The Heir, The Neighbor, and The Selkie. We’ll do these in order, and do a couple every update (maybe only one when we get to the Second Skins, because we’ll need to talk about the First Edition versions of those a bit more).

The Fae:

quote:

At the edges of this world, just beyond the veil, there are colours that few mortals even dream of. Beauty enough to shatter any heart. The Fae live and breathe at the edges of this world. They keep a dusting of that magic tucked behind their ears, just in case.
And the Fae are willing to share. They’re nothing if not generous, asking for only one thing in return. A promise. Keep it, and the true beauty of the world will be revealed. Break it, and feel the wrath of faery vengeance.

You’re a fairy creature of some kind, as fickle and vengeful as you are otherworldly and alluring. The Fae is all about promises, made, kept and broken. Your stat options are Hot 2/Dark 1 or Volatile 2/Hot 1. As the game describes it, these are ‘beautiful and mysterious’ or ‘audacious and alien’. Your Cold stat is always going to be poor. The original Fae had Hot 1/Dark 1 as their starting stat spread.

You start with two Skin Moves, Faery Contract and one of your choice.

Faery Contract: If someone breaks a promise or contract to you, take a String on them. When you’re using a String to take revenge for a broken promise, you get two new options: they gently caress up something at a crucial moment, and if appropriate take one Harm in doing so, or you add 2 to your roll to get vengeance. With the relatively low numbers of this game, adding 2 is pretty huge and makes your success very likely if it’s already something you’re good at. The first option doesn’t leave it obvious that you were the cause of their fuckup and potential injury, it should be noted. This one has changed a bit since the first edition, in that the Harm and botch were separate options while they’re now together. This gives you a bit more teeth when wronged.

Unashamed: Give someone a String when rolling to Turn Them On to add three to the roll. It’s a super big bonus and if you don’t mind them getting a String as well is a pretty certain way to get one. It’s a bit more important to your toolset than it would have been in the first edition because the Fae doesn’t have all the same Moves.

The Wild Hunt: When you draw upon your most feral manner, add one to rolls to Turn Someone On. Not as large a bonus as Unashamed, but also doesn’t involve you giving them a String. Still powerful, because you want to have Strings ready to burn if you get a chance to invoke Faery Contract.

Lure: Why would someone bother making you promises knowing you can gently caress them over? Well, with this Move they get to mark experience for doing it. And if they break it, you mark experience. Experience is harder to come by in this edition, so there’s even more incentive to get some out of this. The previous version required you to try and take vengeance to mark the experience for them breaking the promise, this one does not.

Guide: Spend a String on someone willing, at which point you can bring them into the faery realm. It lasts for a scene or two, however long seems right. As far as what is there, well, that’s for you all to decide.

Beyond the Veil: You can try to seek an audience with the Faery King by Gazing into the Abyss. On a 10+ you get to add a String on someone you didn’t know about in addition to the other results. On a 7-9, though, you need to do the Faery King a favor in addition to the other results.

The main change is that one Move is completely gone: The Constant Bargain. This let you roll with Hot when you did something for someone else that they asked you, and shift Strings around based on the result. I’d say overall this one was way too good at generating Strings to the point that it made Unashamed and The Wild Hunt feel super weak. It’s also just in general a lot harder to generate Strings in second edition and this is part of that.

The Fae’s background gives everyone a String and then chooses someone whose fancy they’ve captured and takes two Strings on them. They’ve got very standard Advances, getting to add one to a stat, the ability to take other Fae moves, the ability to take moves from other Skins, and access to the Jury of Fae Gang.

The Fae’s Sex Move is to ask a promise from someone when they lie naked with them. If the promise is refused, you get to take two Strings on them. Note that this explicitly does NOT require you to have sex in spite of being the Sex Move. Their Darkest Self is as follows:

quote:

Everything you say seems a promise. Everything you hear seems a promise. If a promise is broken, justice must be wrought in trickery or blood. You aren’t subject to the human rules of mercy. To escape your Darkest Self, you must in some way re-balance the scales of justice.

This is a bit darker than the version in first edition. Beyond making it clear that the first part is subjective, it’s also much more plain that while in your Darkest Self you are inhuman and merciless in your efforts to redress the scales. The escape clause is the same.

The Fae is still a really strong social character, with the new option to actually be really scary and dangerous with the high Volatile score.

The Ghost:

quote:

You used to have a future. Growing up was a painful tumult at times, but at least you were growing. Now you only have a past - unfinished business to take care of before you can leave this world behind.
Life is precious. You understand that, now that you’ve lost yours. You just want to help. You just want to be seen. But sometimes even the simplest desires feel so di cult to grasp.
Ghosty ghost, you’re dead.

You’re a ghost, like it says on the tin. Blending In suggests that in spite of this generally people can see you and at least seem to interact with you physically, so maybe you’re really there and physical? At some level that’s up to you. Your stat options are Cold 2/Dark 1 (icy and distant) or Dark 2/Volatile 1 (scary and moody). No Ghost has a good Hot stat. The original Ghost had Cold and Dark.

The Ghost’s moves actually changed a lot. We start with the Move Unresolved Trauma, and two more.

Unresolved Trauma: When something reminds you of your death, you choke up and gain the Condition Traumatized (unless you already have it) If someone helps you resolve this Condition, you both mark experience. This Move is completely different than the similarly named move from the original edition, which involved projecting blame for your death on others but potentially suffering consequences from doing so. There’s going to be a Move that involves that, but it’s not this one and I think it’s important that it’s not mandatory. This Ghost focuses much more on the trauma than blaming others for it.

Helpful Spirit: Whenever you help someone else resolve a Condition, you mark experience. This is a mostly new Move, sort of based on a now-removed Move called Hungry Ghost that let you listen to people and give them some benefits and mark experience for doing it. Now you actually have to roleplay and resolve their Condition to get the benefit for you, which means you both always benefit.

Transference: An entirely new move. Whenever you truly listen to someone else’s troubles, they heal one Harm and then transfer the rest to you. So you’re straight up a healer, and if you’re friends with someone minor ills aren’t really a thing anymore. This fits pretty well with the move of the Ghost to being much more about dealing with trauma.

Projected Blame: If you’ve got the Traumatized Condition, you get to treat anyone you want as though they had the Condition At Blame For My Death. There’s no other Moves that interact with Blame in this version, so it’s just a +1 to rolls where you can justify it. It’s still super powerful, though, because it’s just ANYONE if you’ve gotten yourself Traumatized with Unresolved Trauma. This is another Move that’s totally new, because god drat would it have been busted in the original version.

Creep: If you watch someone when they’re in private, you gain a String on them. It’s pretty much the only move that is unchanged between the two versions.

Limitless: You can move through walls and fly. This used to be Dissipate, which just let you walk through walls. Flying makes this much more useful.

There are a few Moves that are just gone that interacted with the Blamed condition they could inflict with the old version of Unresolved Trauma. You could mark experience for forgiving people who were Blamed, and you could Lash Out Physically with Dark instead of Volatile against them. But now the Ghost is much less about throwing out blame, and you also have the option to just take a Volatile Ghost if you’re thinking about being something kind of poltergeist-ish. We’re actually going to see too that stat swap Moves are VERY rare now, and were generally replaced with just having an option of the stat in question being high. ‘Combat’ moves are also pretty much gone, in this case you’ll just need to console yourself with the option of having Volatile as a high stat and the +1 you can easily get out of Projected Blame.

Your backstory is that someone knows you’re dead and how you died, which gives them two Strings on you. You on the other hand have been in someone’s bedroom while they were sleeping, giving you a String on them. There’s an extra String in it for someone to know you’re dead. Your Advances are the standard (as the Fae’s were above), with their Gang being that they reside in a Haunted House. Which is awesome.

Your Sex Move has both you and the person you have sex with asking each other a question in-character, which must be answered truthfully. This is a good potential source of drama but definitely one of the most positive Sex Moves. Here is their Darkest Self:

quote:

You become invisible, unnoticeable. No one can see you, feel you, or hear your voice. You can still affect inanimate objects, but this is your only avenue
of communication. You escape your Darkest Self when someone acknowledges your presence, and demonstrates how much they want you around.

It’s essentially unchanged from First Edition.

Okay, next time we’ll get two more Skins: The Ghoul and The Hollow. The Ghoul’s definitely got some Changes.

Feinne fucked around with this message at 14:12 on Oct 31, 2019

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


I remember being completely baffled that Monsterhearts did not invent Sex Moves and that they came from the base system. They certainly make sense here, but they seem less genre-essential to a post-apoc story.

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