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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, itís time to get spooky. And by that I mean, letís look at the second edition of everyoneís favorite game of teenage monster angst, Monsterhearts! Iím going to emphasize mostly the changes between first and second edition (though Iíve also got a whole bunch of spicy new Skins that werenít 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 weíre 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 gameís 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 cultureís 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 thereís 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 theyíd pretty much all be at home in a horror movie, and allegorical. Thatís 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 theyíre 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. Youíve 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 weíll see this come up again later on when they discuss the MCís 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 characterís 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 isnít really that important, because the MC section will make it clear thatís still a secret fifth one. Principles are instructions to the MC that only apply to them. The formerís 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 Iíll summarize them.

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

Keep the story feral: Donít try to take control of the story. Instead focus on reacting to whatís going on and how the rest of the tableís 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 youíre supposed to roll dice, the point is that you can fail. And if the dice tell you that, well, thatís how it goes.

Say what honesty demands: While your character can be lying, you canít. 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. Itís primarily the MCís 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 youíre 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 theyíll also tell you to roll with a stat. Weíll 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. Weíll 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 donít get the full rules for them here (that comes after the moves), but we learn they exist and in general that theyíre 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 weíre 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 doesnít necessarily happen Ďon purposeí. 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 bookís going to talk about this more later.

So, this moveís a bit different than in first edition in the mechanics. Thereís 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 itís 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, thereís actually one that no longer exists. There used to be a move Manipulate an NPC. Thatís 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 werenít going to budge. As weíll 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. Weíll 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 youíre 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 canít 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. Itís a bit different and I think intended to de-emphasize violence a bit, because now thereís 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. Itís 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 youíre 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. Itís 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 itís 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


Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Monsterhearts 2: Chapter One Continued

Itís 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, youíre 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: Weíll 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 youíre 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 doesnít 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 canít or donít want to do either of those things, youíre 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 itís always our next roll whereas if itís got conditions itís our next roll that meets them.

Conditions are words that describe someone. If youíre 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 theyíre 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 itíll 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 Skinís advancements. Each Skinís got its own advancement options, some of them are a bit different and weíll 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 theyíre 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 thatís coming much later. Now weíve got some stuff that isnít 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 characterís gender preferences. Basically they want you to remember that your character isnít you and sometimes the dice are going to say some things about them that you didnít know at first and thatís okay.

Our next section is on Belonging and Difference. Youíre inherently characters that donít 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 doesnít belong.

We now have a guest-authored section on Experiencing Race. This is the sort of game where thereís 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 nobodyís going to actually do that. Make sure everyoneís also feeling free to point out if someoneís saying or doing something thatís 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 everyoneís 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 (weíve 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 weíve 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 isnít really the interesting part about a situation where violence happened, and if youíre in a situation of exchanging blows by Lashing Out Physically youíre 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 canít really decide what turns them on and you need to let the dice fall where they may and decide what it means. Equally, though, itís 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 donít necessarily get to decide what turns us on, because someone youíre really not able to be attracted to trying is still a very uncomfortable situation.

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

Okay, now weíre 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. Youíre allowed to take one Season Advance per season, and theyíre 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 characterís Skin: Reboot your character as a new Skin. You keep everything intrinsic to you but lose anything that wouldnít 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 youíve decided youíre at the end of your characterís arc, you can retire them and start over. Theyíre 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. Iíll 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. Itís probably for the best, since the real offender for ĎI really want to rewrite my Sex Move because itís hosed upí has had theirs changed.

The Growing Up Moves, theyíre 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 youíd 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 othersí behalf socially that you wouldnít otherwise have.

Intervene in an Act of Violence (Volatile): Roll Volatile, on a 10+ the person youíre 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 couldnít before.

Thatís 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

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

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. Weíll be hitting that today.

Chapter 2: Preparing to Play

This chapter is generally noted as being addressed to the MC, with the likelihood theyíll 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. Iíll probably talk about those eventually. You also have the option of using some of the optional Skins, thereís 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 theyíre 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 youíre 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 youíve done that, everyone picks a Skin but the MC.

Before we get to anything mechanical, we choose Identities. Thereís 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 youíre 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 donít 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 (itís 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 youíve done this, itís 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. Thatís 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 weíll have a sheet that says who sits where, giving us a bunch of NPCs to interact with and relationships between characters that Backstories donít cover. If weíre in a game where the PCs arenít 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.

Thatís where Chapter 2 ends, but letís keep going to three because itís 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 whatís 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 youíve set boundaries, you need to keep evaluating them through play. If theyíre not working for you, you need to bring it up immediately and deal with it. The gameís going to give us some ways to do so, but it also makes clear you shouldnít 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:


ďIíd 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 Ė or even just tap it. It can be a little thing or a big thing. Weíll edit out any content that gets X-Carded. You donít have to explain why you donít want it in the game. It doesnít matter why, weíre happy to replace it with something else. Anyone can use the X-Card at any time.Ē
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 youíd 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, itís an option. Thereís a really good chance characters are going to have sex at some point and youíre 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, thatís Chapter 3. Next time weíll cover Chapter 4, which is on the MCís role.

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

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 weíre firmly in a section thatís 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 Ďblanket the world in darknessí. 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 charactersí 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 someoneís accepted an identity that leads to them being labeled, donít half-rear end it. Thatís why you make sure to talk about things first!

Give everyone a messy life: Put some detail into what characters are doing when theyíre 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. Whatís 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 elseís expense. Theyíve 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 youíre always asking questions of the players and build on those answers.

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

Treat side characters like stolen cars: Donít get too attached to NPCs. If something needs to happen to them, thatís fine. Donít do metaplot poo poo where you keep some villain around so they can set something up later.

Give side characters simple, divisive motivations: Donít be unnecessarily obscure with your side characters. It should be pretty obvious what they want and how theyíre planning to do it, even if itís a matter of making sure itís obvious to the players while also making it clear that the characters donít necessarily know whatís 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 MCís Agenda laying out that you had to say what the Principles demand. Itís 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 MCís Reactions are described, which is next.

Speaking of, Reactions. These used to be called Hard Moves. Theyíre things you do when someone fails a roll, when someoneís in harmís way, or when youíre called upon to react. Reactions exist to Set Things Up or Knock Them Down. Youíre either calling the players to action, or forcing them to deal with the consequences of an event. Letís 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 thatís okay. As a setup, this is laying out consequences. When knocking it down, though, itís telling them whatís being demanded of them now that theyíve stepped in it.

Inflict Harm: Exactly what it says. Something went wrong and now theyíre hurt.

Enact Drastic Measures: Have something drastic happen in response to whatís 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 theyíre not supposed to. This is often going to involve learning that youíre 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 canít 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 youíve got a good reason for why theyíre supposed to have snapped.

At Every Turn: ďWhat do you do?Ē: Whenever you use a Reaction, after youíve described whatís 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 theyíre 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 donít 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 youíre 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 thereís 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 donít 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. Thereís some advice on Convention Play, where obviously itís a one-shot and you donít have tons of time to deal with some aspects. They then suggest ways to control the storyís 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 Ďcastí their characters, essentially saying whoíd play them in the show, and to create the playlists theyíd 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 isnít 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 youíre going to feel much more free to treat them as stolen cars when you didnít have to do quite so much work on them.

And thatís 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 thatís out of the way, weíll start getting into the things people really want to hear about : The Skins. Thatíll be starting next time, same bat time, same bat channel.

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

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Monsterhearts 2: The Fae and The Ghost

Now back to Monsterhearts, where weíre up to the Skins. Before we start, letís 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 Poochieíd off to Heaven forever. So, letís 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. Thereís 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. Weíll do these in order, and do a couple every update (maybe only one when we get to the Second Skins, because weíll need to talk about the First Edition versions of those a bit more).

The Fae:


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. Theyíre 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.

Youíre 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 Ďbeautiful and mysteriousí or Ďaudacious and aliení. 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 youíre 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 itís already something youíre good at. The first option doesnít 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 theyíre 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. Itís a super big bonus and if you donít mind them getting a String as well is a pretty certain way to get one. Itís a bit more important to your toolset than it would have been in the first edition because the Fae doesnít 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 doesnít 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 thereís 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, thatís 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 didnít 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. Iíd 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. Itís also just in general a lot harder to generate Strings in second edition and this is part of that.

The Faeís background gives everyone a String and then chooses someone whose fancy theyíve captured and takes two Strings on them. Theyíve 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 Faeís 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:


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 arenít 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, itís 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:


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 youíve 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, youíre dead.

Youíre 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 youíre really there and physical? At some level thatís 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 Ghostís 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. Thereís going to be a Move that involves that, but itís not this one and I think itís important that itís 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 elseís troubles, they heal one Harm and then transfer the rest to you. So youíre straight up a healer, and if youíre friends with someone minor ills arenít 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 youíve got the Traumatized Condition, you get to treat anyone you want as though they had the Condition At Blame For My Death. Thereís no other Moves that interact with Blame in this version, so itís just a +1 to rolls where you can justify it. Itís still super powerful, though, because itís just ANYONE if youíve gotten yourself Traumatized with Unresolved Trauma. This is another Move thatís totally new, because god drat would it have been busted in the original version.

Creep: If you watch someone when theyíre in private, you gain a String on them. Itís 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 youíre thinking about being something kind of poltergeist-ish. Weíre 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. ĎCombatí moves are also pretty much gone, in this case youíll 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 youíre dead and how you died, which gives them two Strings on you. You on the other hand have been in someoneís bedroom while they were sleeping, giving you a String on them. Thereís an extra String in it for someone to know youíre dead. Your Advances are the standard (as the Faeís 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:


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.

Itís essentially unchanged from First Edition.

Okay, next time weíll get two more Skins: The Ghoul and The Hollow. The Ghoulís definitely got some Changes.

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

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Monsterhearts 2: The Ghost and The Hollow

With Monsterhearts and the potential for it to get really off the rails in bad ways on our minds, letís talk get to two more Skins: The Ghoul and the Hollow. The Ghoul was previously really, really bad if you werenít really careful, and Monsterhearts 2 knows that acutely.

The Ghoul:


Death changed you. It took away your contemplative joy, it dulled your senses, and it left you impossibly hungry. That hunger is always with you, like a hum in your ears that swells and crescendos until you canít hear anything else. Unattended, it will come to dominate you - but feeding it may be just as bad.
There is a certain beauty to what youíve become. Your gaunt body, its unnatural form - it draws people in. Your stark disinterest is beguiling. But underneath that disaffected presentation - the hunger, the hunger.

The Ghoul is all about hunger, because youíre a sexy teenage zombie. Youíre just as dead as the Ghost, but youíre still walking and talking just fine thanks. Your stat options are Volatile 2/Cold 1 (cruel and erratic) or Cold 2/Dark 1 (disaffected and portentous). You never have a high Hot stat. The original version was Volatile/Cold.

You start with The Hunger and two other Moves.

The Hunger: You choose one of four options for your Hunger: Fear, Power, Plunder, and Thrills. You take one Forward if youíre heedlessly pursuing it, and to pass up an opportunity to feed you must Keep Your Cool. The original Hungers were fear, flesh, power, or chaos. Flesh and chaos are gone, with chaos completely eradicated and fleshÖ elsewhere. Weíll get there. The Hunger is actually a bit less unpleasant than the first edition, though this core mechanic is identical. The game also omits the idea that feeding The Hunger kind of needs to be excessive.

What The Right Hand Wants: Your body is a composite of Hungers, and you can create another that doesnít have to be from the list. This is unchanged from the first edition and is pretty cool.

Satiety: When you satisfy a Hunger, choose one: heal 1 Harm, mark experience, carry one Forward. You used to be able to remove a Condition this way, you can no longer. Otherwise unchanged, and still good.

Short Rest for the Wicked: If you die, youíll pop back up again a few hours later fully healed and back in business. Youíre essentially invulnerable if youíve got this, though only in the long-term. Really more like a Dark Souls character.

Watchful Golem: If you defend someone without them learning about it, you mark experience. Thatís also unchanged, and has its edge of creepiness.

Ending: If you tell someone about your death, you give them the Morbid condition then roll to Turn Them On using Cold instead of Hot. This is one of the few Stat Swap Moves that remains, they were mostly replaced with the stat variations. It actually has absorbed one of the previous Moves, Disaffected. That move was the actual Stat Swapper, and became a bit less broad by tying into Ending.

Espirit de Corpse: When you Gaze Into the Abyss, the Abyss will share its Hunger with you. It lasts until you satiate it, at which point you mark experience. This one is all-new and pretty cool.

The Moves are pretty much the same between editions, except for Disaffected and Ending merging.

Your Backstory is that someone has reminded you what love is. You give them a String. You also exchange two Strings with anyone who watched you die. This is similar to the original, but you give out one less String to the first person. Your Advances are standard, with your Gang being a Reckless Crew (in the previous version I believe it was Necromantic Caretakers).

But as I hinted, this Skin is RADICALLY changed for the better. And weíre about to get to how. The Ghoulís Sex Move is to create a new Hunger. This is a HUGE change, because it used to be that youíd get a new Hunger for having sex with the character in question. That was extremely problematic and had strong overtones of rape, especially in light of the old Darkest Self. Because yeah, thatís totally different too. Remember when I said weíd get to flesh?


Your dull hunger sharpens. You canít focus on anything else but feeding. And in addition to your peculiar cravings, you recognize something else. That primordial hunger which connects all hungers. Flesh, blood, meat. You escape your Darkest Self once youíve overindulged, or youíve been locked out for long enough to regain composure.

So yeah, while in your Darkest Self youíre a cannibal ghoul. You straight up want to eat people. Itís horrible, but not in the way the previous was. The old version had you violently attempting to feed off the nearest source of one of your Hungers. In combination with the Sex Move this turned you into a ticking time bomb of rape. As noted in the coverage of first edition on the archives, this was brought up to the creator and they acknowledged it was really bad. And they changed it, completely. The Ghoul still has the violent edge, but without the sexual one. A huge change for the positive.

The Hollow:


They set out to make something from nothing. Itís not clear whether they succeeded or not. See, it turns out thereís a lot of grey area between something and nothing.
Youíre alive, but youíre not real. You donít have a soul. You donít have child- hood memories, because you donít have a childhood. You donít have parents; you have makers. And those makers forgot to give you a place in the world.

Youíre a weird artificial person of some kind. How exactly this works is up to you, and part of your Identity. This can range from things like having been created by magic to being a machine. Your stat options are Dark 2/Hot 1 (beautiful enigma) or Volatile 2/ Dark 1 (erratic misfit). The original Hollow was Volatile/Dark. The Hollow was and is all about Conditions, which made them a perfect fit to move to the Core Skins with the added emphasis on Conditions in this edition.

The Hollow chooses two moves from the list.

Better Than Nothing: When you gain a Condition, mark experience. You are incentivized for letting other people define you, even more so than the other Moves will do. Unchanged.

A Blank Canvas: Whenever you take an action that embodies one of your Conditions, you can add one to your roll and then cross it off. This is also unchanged, but is actually in some ways MUCH stronger than it used to be. This is because Conditions are actually pretty hard to get rid of compared to the original game. So, if you have a negative Condition thatís really screwing you, you have the option of just leaning into it hard and then getting rid of it.

Try Harder Next Time: A new Move. When you screw up, you can take an appropriate Condition and then take one Forward. If you can synergize with this A Blank Canvas, this would obviously become a potential +2 to a roll. It also potentially makes you advance very quickly, as you gain experience for failing and then also for getting a Condition thanks to Better Than Nothing.

Fake: Add one to rolls while lying. Also totally new. Remember this is while your character is lying, not you the player. It adds to the incentives to play as though youíre whoever people think you are on the outside while working towards something completely different.

Metamorphosis: When you Gaze Into the Abyss, if you roll at least a 7 you are allowed to permanently swap two of your stats. Super useful, lets you straight retool for whatever youíre going to need to do as long as you have time to plan so you can Gaze. This used to be an option you could take if you rolled 10+ instead of taking a normal result, now itís an optional extra on any kind of success and way better for it.

Strange Impressions: When a main character harms you or helps you heal, you can watch them with wide eyes and study them. This lets you temporarily gain one of their Skin Moves, which lasts until you use it. This used to be called Mimicry, and made you roll Dark to copy a Move that was used against you. On a 7-9 you got a result like this, where you got it single-use. On a 10+ you could actually permanently replace a Move with it. This one is way better, honestly, and more flavorful.

The Hollow lost some Moves. Two were combat-based, one of them let you reduce the Harm you take if the attacker didnít take advantage of a Condition and another which let you fire up the base cannon and do one more Harm than you were currently suffering from when you Lash Out Violently. Combat Moves basically donít exist anymore and these were some of the most busted ones so no real surprise theyíre gone. They also lost a Stat Swap move, which let you Shut Someone Down with Dark instead of Cold. This is just gone, you suck with Cold no matter what unless you Metamorph.

The Hollowís Backstory lets you gain two Strings on the person who youíve been taking social cues from. Someone else has seen through your fake past, and gains two Strings on you. This si unchanged. Your Advances are normal, and your Gang is Hollow Siblings.

Your Sex Move used to be that youíd copy theirs, adding the sentence that mirrors Sex Moves afterwards so that it can change. Itís not that anymore. Now itís this:


When you have sex with someone, both players secretly write down whether the sex was confusing or soothing for their character. If you reveal the same answer, both characters mark experience.

Thatís really cool and drives player drama, itís so much better. As for the Darkest Self:


Your body is a prison. You donít belong inside of it. You need to put it in harmís way, and make
it suffer, just like itís made you suffer. Thereís got to be a way to cut yourself out of it. You need to meet your makers, and hold them accountable for what theyíve done to you. To escape your Darkest Self, you must come to see how someone else feels more trapped than you do.

This is unchanged from the first edition.

The Hollow is just great and really speaks to me personally. Thatís all Iíll really say on that.

Weíll have two more Skins next time, The Infernal and the greatest monster of all, The Mortal.

Feinne fucked around with this message at 14:13 on Oct 31, 2019

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Omnicrom posted:

I was under the impression that Sex moves didn't necessarily demand the act of actual intercourse, and could indeed be triggered by being in a deeply intimate moment that doesn't necessarily have to be romantic.

And if I'm wrong then I totally agree, it should be from more than sex.

That's probably the right way to adjudicate it generally, it's the Persona fade to black 'you spend an intimate moment with x' at the end of the social link and it doesn't matter what was going on in that intimate moment.

One thing about a lot of the changes between versions is a clear attempt to clip away pieces of Apocalypse World that were sort of kludged into the original without necessarily being needed. One of the big ways we see that is with Moves for fighting, which are pretty much gone now since the game recognizes it can be antagonistic and wants to reduce the inclination for it to just turn into a straight up PvP game.

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Monsterhearts 2: The Infernal and The Mortal

More Monsterhearts, more Skins. This time, The Infernal and The Mortal.

The Infernal:


At first, it seemed innocent. It gave you things, made you feel good about yourself. You came to it with your problems, and it fixed them. When you asked how you could return the favour, it told you to be patient - that all debts would be settled in due time. That was the first time you heard it mention debts.
Youíve got Satan as your cornerman, or a demon in your brain. Or maybe the stars glow just for you. Regardless, you owe a debt to something much bigger and scarier than youíll ever be.

You owe a debt to some kind of dark power, and wildly vary between riding high on borrowed power and crashing lows. Your stat options are Volatile 2/ Dark 1 or Dark 2/ Hot 1 (they donít give any descriptions this time, but youíre either a nasty piece of work or kind of hot and mysterious with those spreads). The original Infernal was Volatile/Dark.

All Infernals start with the Move Soul Debt, and one more from the list.

Soul Debt: You owe a Dark Power a debt. Name it, and choose two Bargains it provides you. Weíll get to those after the Moves. If the Dark Power ever has five Strings on you, you automatically enter your Darkest Self. This is super cool and provides some automatic world building. The old version game you a list of titles for your Dark Power, this is a bit more open ended on that front. Otherwise the same.

Dark Recruiter: If you bring an innocent soul to your Dark Power, you mark experience. Super flavorful and unchanged from the prior version.

Under Pressure: If someone has three or more Strings on you, you add one to your rolls to carry out their bidding. This is new and I love it. The whole Infernal experience is very much about kinda being a toadie and this applies not just to your Dark Power but to anyone who gets leverage on you and encourages you to kowtow to them.

Canít Save Myself: When someone else saves you from forces that were beyond your reckoning, they mark experience and you get a String on them. Also super cool and probably going to be a common occurrence for you. This is unchanged from the original.

Before we get to the Bargains, letís play taps for Unknowable. This was a combat Move the Infernal used to have, which make their Lashing Out Physically weird and way safer than usual. Combat moves are almost universally gone and this is no different.

Now for the Bargains, which seem to be unchanged:

The Power Flows Through You: Add 2 to a roll in exchange for giving your Dark Power a String. Itís pretty hard to fail a roll you add 2 to if youíre good at that stat, so this is really good.

Numbing it Out: Remove two Harm or a Condition in exchange for giving your Dark Power a String. Conditions remain hard to get rid of in second edition so this is more powerful now.

Elsewise Power: Use a Move from another Skin, once, in exchange for giving your Dark Power a String. So many great things to do with this. Remember just from what weíve already seen this would let you walk through walls, fly, and resist dying. That is not the limit of its power, by any stretch.

Uncanny Voices: Give the Dark Power to realize a secret about a person youíre talking to. They choose one of their secret fears, secret desires, or secret strengths.

Strings Attached: Ask for something. Anything, go nuts. The MC will then tell you what your Dark Power wants for it. Itís that Ďeasyí.

Your backstory starts with you owing debts. Give three Strings out, divided between the other characters and your Dark Power. Note that this can let you start out with Under Pressure active! Someone else thinks they can save you, you gain a String on them. This is unchanged. Your Advancements arenít quite the same as normal. You lose out on one of the normal chances of getting a new move from the Skin, in exchange for getting the rest of the Bargains as an option. Your Gang is to supply for Needy Fiends.

Your Sex Move remains the same as the original, which transfers one of your Dark Powerís Strings on you to the person you slept with. It continues to be really flavorful and provoke spooky results. Your Darkest Self is also the same:


You find yourself shivering, needy, and alone. The Dark Power will make some daunting, open-ended demands. Every demand fulfilled brings you closer to feeling whole again, and removes one of the Dark Powerís Strings on you. You escape your Darkest Self when the Dark Power is out of Strings, or you make a bargain with an even more dangerous entity.

The Infernal continues to be really cool, maybe even cooler now with Under Pressure around.

The Mortal:


None of them would understand. What you have here, in this dark and secret place, itís beautiful. Theyíd warn you that this sort of beauty is dangerous, like a raging fire. Well some things are worth getting burned for.
Love has eclipsed all hope, and the dark has left you feeling beautiful.

Also known as The Real Monster Here. Youíre basically the protagonist from Twilight, and youíre all about horrible codependency with the character youíve designated as your True Love. Your stat choices are Hot 2/ Dark 1 (brooding and lonely) or Hot 2/Volatile 1 (impulsive and panicky). The original Mortal was Hot/Dark.

All Mortals start with the Move True Love, and choose two more from the list.

True Love: You always have exactly one Lover. You choose one during Backstory later. If you fall in love with someone else, they become your Lover and gain a String on you. You always carry one Forward to earning your Loverís heart. This is unchanged from the original and is exactly as clingy and obsessive as it seems.

Mess With Me, Mess With Him: When you use your Loverís name in a threat, add 2 to your rolls to Shut Someone Down or Keep Your Cool. Your Lover then gains a String on you. This is pretty powerful, in that it counters your otherwise bad Cold stat. This is unchanged from first edition.

Entrenched: If you have a total of five strings between yourself and another character, you get to add one to all rolls against them. This does NOT have to be your Lover. Itís pretty good (though youíve potentially given the person a lot of ammunition against you to activate it) and is unchanged from the first edition.

Sympathy is My Weapon: When you forgive someone for hurting you, gain a String on them. Unchanged, and just as delightfully horrible as it was before.

Excuses Are My Armor: Whenever you ignore a blatant problem with your Lover, mark experience. Another real good one, and again unchanged.

Downward Spiral: You can add 2 to rolls to Gaze Into the Abyss if you inflict one Harm on yourself when you do. Very strong and flavorful, but really dark. Also unchanged.

Down the Rabbit Hole: When youíre poking into something you really shouldnít be, you mark experience and someone involved gains a String on you. Super duper flavorful, and again unchanged.

So, the Mortalís the only Skin so far that has all its original moves intact and unchanged, and no new Moves as well. This is a testament to how well they hit out of the park the idea of telling the relationships of people like the main character of Twilight like they are.

You always declare your Backstory last, and it is to choose your Lover. They gain three Strings on you, you take one on them. Thatís how it worked in the original as well. The Mortal canít take a Gang as an Advance, just as in the original. Instead, they get another opportunity to take a Move from another Skin. At some point I should do a post about some synergies between Skins. But for example just think about how The Mortal could make use of Under Pressure, because your Lover will almost always have three Strings on you.

Your Sex Move remains nasty as hell, as soon as you take your eyes off them next they become their Darkest Self. As for your Darkest Self:


Nobody understands you. Nobody even tries. You do so much for the people you love, and they walk all over you. Enough is enough! Betray them. Show them what its like to be uncared for. Reveal their monstrosity and yours. Only seeing the pain that youíre causing your Lover will let you escape your Darkest Self.

This has been rewritten a bit, and is much more about you being treated badly by those you love rather than simply misunderstood. Itís the only real change and I like it a lot.

Our next two Skins are The Queen and The Vampire. Weíve only got four more Core Skins total.

Feinne fucked around with this message at 14:13 on Oct 31, 2019

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Mors Rattus posted:

Iím just hoping the Werewolf is less disappointing, because the 1e Werewolfís Actual werewolf form was basically an afterthought that had no real discussion or weight beyond Ďit changes your fictional position8ng I guess but we wonít discuss how or what it lets you doí

I think at some level the idea is that anything that there isn't a rule for pretty much does whatever is narratively convenient or dramatically appropriate. But I can understand that not 'working' for some people.

And yeah The Queen is pretty cool, it's one of the more flexibly supernatural Skins. There's one of the Second Skins that's also very flexible like that since you range from 'just a huge possessive rear end in a top hat' to 'literally a dragon'.

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Mors Rattus posted:

The thing is there's not even guidance. Like, the ghost's ability to move through walls and fly by taking a move? That gives at least some guidance of what 'being an immaterial ghost' is good for, and what the ghost without it can't do. There's absolutely no guidance on what 'a giant wolf' or whatever can and can't do in the fiction.

e: and like, this is pretty important when 'being a werewolf' is the core fictional identity of the skin!

It does at least answer the main question in the Skin sheet, that you have the same stats and Moves. And like you'd definitely inflict more Harm when Lashing Out, because as that Move is laid out it does matter that for example you're a terrifying wolf and not just doing a punch.

Going to be honest the game kind of demurrs on how much you even want to actually have the Werewolf's actions while transformed on-screen. I have to wonder if they were getting feedback about people using it to be creepy edgelords.

I will say things like this are exactly the sort of thing to create custom Moves over (and there's actually a pretty fair amount in the game on doing exactly that). At some level I think they wanted to keep the monster 'lore' more open-ended, which does mean things like not really laying out Vampire weaknesses for example.

Feinne fucked around with this message at 15:45 on Oct 30, 2019

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Mors Rattus posted:

That at least is a change from 1e, where the sum total difference in lashing out as a wolf and as a human was

e: that said, that's basically, like...what's the point of being a werewolf if being a werewolf isn't central to it? If I play a werewolf it's because I want to be able to be a giant furry monster on camera.

Like being a werewolf is definitely central, I think they're just really sensitive to people taking the Werewolf just so they can describe a bunch of horrible murder porn stuff while in their Darkest Self.

For me a prospective Monsterhearts 3 or addon to 2 or whatever would probably include some optional extra Moves for each Skin that at bare minimum give examples of Moves that would put more defined rules to the monsters for people who kind of need that constraint. They themselves note that constraints are good for creativity, after all. Like again the game extremely encourages you to do exactly that yourself but giving examples would also help a lot of people who won't feel comfortable just straight coming up with the rules.

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Monsterhearts 2: The Queen and The Vampire

I will say this edition of Monsterhearts as much as begs you not to luridly describe sex or violence and to immediately speak up and stop them if someone tries to do that, and if that doesn't work suggests to you that it might be time to get the gently caress out of there because you shouldn't put up with people who won't respect boundaries.

Last time on Monsterhearts, we had two Skins that were pretty similar to their original verisons. Letís see if that continues.

The Queen:


Youíre one of the special ones. A sovereign beauty. You deserve more than the rest of this wretched world does. You deserve the will and worship of those around you.
And itís not only because youíre better than them. Itís because you make them better. Stronger, more beautiful, complete. Theyíd be nothing without you.

The Queen is Cordelia, pretty much. Except maybe the Queen leads a cult, or is literally an alien monster. The Queen gives you the option of being as supernatural or not as you think is appropriate, which is cool. Your stat choices are Hot 2/Cold 1 (desirable and commanding) or Cold 2/ Dark 1 (cutthroat and secretive). The original Queen was Hot/Cold.

The Queen gets the Move The Clique, and one more.

The Clique: Youíre the head of the baddest clique around, which counts as a Gang. You get to choose one of the following as their strength:

-Theyíre armed (with guns and real dangerous stuff)
-Theyíre connected (with money and designer drugs)
-Theyíre talented (in a band or sports team)
-Theyíre cultists (with dark oaths and willingness to die)

Theyíre a bit better than a normal Gang, because youíre in charge. This is unchanged from the original.

The Shield: When surrounded by your Gang, rolls against you suffer a -1 penalty. There are very few ways to give someone a penalty and that makes this pretty strong all on its own. One thing thatís different is that there is no more Disadvantage mechanic, so this Move has no mechanical effect against NPCs.

Bought Loyalty: You can give an NPC a String to tempt them to do your bidding, as though youíd spend a String on them. It works the same way, youíll be told what they want by the MC. This used to give you a +2 to your roll to Manipulate an NPC, but that Move is gone. Youíre the only one who can effectively do that action without a String in play now, making The Queen quite special.

And Your Enemies Closer: Whenever someone betrays you, gain a String on them. Nice and flavorful, this is unchanged. And maybe speaks to some inter-Skin Move synergies you could take as you Advance. If only there was another Skin that had Moves that let you do things with Strings when someone betrays you.

Many Bodies: When you offer one of your Gang members to someone, add 2 to the roll to Turn Someone On. If one of your Gang members has sex with someone, it triggers your Sex Move. This kind of makes membership in your Gang contagious, as weíll see in the Queenís Sex Move. +2 is still a huge bonus. This is unchanged from first edition.

Streaming: You have a telepathing connection with your Gang. You can always read their emotions, and you can read their thoughts by Gazing Into the Abyss about it with a +1 to the roll. Super cool and flavorful, and unchanged from the original.

The Queen has all her moves basically intact, and no new ones. Again, they did a pretty good job with this the first time.

The Queenís Backstory has her naming three side characters who are in her Gang and gaining a String on each. You then have to find someone threatening, and exchange Strings with them. This is similar to the original, but before you would gain two Strings on the threatening person. The Queenís Advances are mostly normal, but in place of a Gang you get to take The Clique again.

The Queenís Sex Move gives the Condition ďOne of ThemĒ, which makes them count as being part of your Gang as long as it lasts. So as noted, with Many Bodies you can end up with a situation where ďOne of ThemĒ is spreading around like a particularly nasty social disease. Which it might in fact be, depending on how you define The Queen. Her Darkest Self is as follows:


Theyíve failed you. Again. This whole mess is their fault, and why should you have to suffer the consequences of their idiocy? You need to make an example
out of each of them -- a cruel
and unwavering example. You escape your Darkest Self when you relinquish part of your power to someone more deserving, or when you destroy an innocent person in order to prove your might.

This is the same as the original, which worked really well. The Queenís only real changes were to bring her in line with the current rules.

The Vampire:


You are beauty eternal. You are the darkness that everyone wants to taste, but no one dares understand. Itís there in your eyes, your carefully chosen words, and your every gesture: you no longer have a soul.
Some vampires revel in that fact, their afterlife a tapestry of hedonism and exsanguination. Others hate the evil in their skin, solemnly vowing to a chaste and lonely existence. Either way, someone suffers. The choice is yours.

Everyone hopefully knows what a Vampire is, and the lovely things they tend to represent. Itís important to define a bit how Vampires work in your setting, for example whatís the deal with your character and the sun? The Vampireís stat spreads are much less varied than most other Skins, you can choose from Hot 2/Cold 1 (sexy) or Hot 1/Cold 2 (disdainful). Hot/Cold was the original Vampireís stat spread.

The Vampire chooses two Moves.

Invited: You canít enter a home without being invited. If you are invited in, you gain a String on the person. Obviously cool and flavorful, and unchanged from the original.

Hypnotic: You can hypnotize people who have no Strings on you. Roll with Hot, on a 10+ they do what you want and have no idea something is wrong. On a 7-9, the hypnosis works but choose one: They realize what youíve done, they gently caress up what you told them to do, or they become unhinged. This move is unchanged, and super powerful. Make sure you maintain Strings on the Vampire if you want to avoid it.

Cold as Ice: When you Shut Someone Down and roll a 7 or higher, choose an extra option from the list if you want. Really good, since youíll probably be using that Move a lot (since itís the only real way to purge Strings so you can use Hypnotic, for example). Unchanged.

The Feeding: You feed on hot blood, direct from the source. If this is the first time youíve fed on someone, you both mark experience. Then, choose two: You heal 1 Harm, you take 1 Forward, or they definitely wonít die. This has been changed a bit from the previous version, where you had to always take the last option to prevent the person from dying. Now itís a bit more interesting, because they still MIGHT die if you donít pick it. After all, the MC has Reactions for situations like theseÖ

Marked for the Hunt: Feeding on someone gives you a bond. From that point forward, if you are Gazing Into the Abyss concerning their whereabouts or well-being you count as Dark 3. Pretty powerful and flavorful, you see Vampires do this sort of thing a lot in your Twilights and True Bloods and what have you. Unchanged.

Inescapable: Spend a String on someone and demand they stay in your presence. If they still leave, you gain two Strings on them. Also unchanged.

The Vampireís not got any new or removed Moves, the main difference is that The Feeding is potentially going to generate slightly fewer corpses.

The Vampireís Backstory starts with them gaining a String on everyone because theyíre sparkly. Someone saved your unlife, and they gain two Strings on you. Thatís the same as the original. Your Advances are normal, and your Gang is a Vampire Coterie.

As with the previous version, your Sex Move actually revolves around sexual denial. When you deny someone sexually, you gain a String on them. But if you have sex with someone, you lose all your Strings on them. As for their Darkest Self:


Everyone is your pawn, your plaything. You hurt them and make them vulnerable, for sport -- like a cat does with a mouse. Maybe youíll even drain them dry, though youíll certainly take your time first. You escape your Darkest Self when youíre put in your rightful place, by someone more powerful than you.

This version is a bit different, the original implied youíd definitely kill people if you got the chance whereas this is much more ĎI might kill people if I decide itíd be fun, who cares if I doí. I like it, the original Vampire was maybe a bit too kill-y for the source material.

Two more Core Skins to come, the Werewolf and the Witch.

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

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

I think having some real definition about character goals might help a lot. People are going to get competitive either way, but just adding that slight bit of gamifying by actually having a goal written down by session or season or what have you that is what your character currently considered 'winning' also makes it a lot less personal.

Like it doesn't fix 'let me invite you to my Magical World' creeps but the only thing that fixes them is not playing with them at all.

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Omnicrom posted:

Feinne said Chosen was bopped off the core set and into supplementals.

It's this, The Chosen isn't in the main set of Skins anymore because it changes the game too much when they're present. It's actually probably a great Skin to include if you've got a group that wants something a bit less adversarial than MH usually plans to be, because there's much more assumption that your party is default united when The Chosen is present.

I think one major step forward for a theoretical Monsterhearts 3 is to re-term the Sex Moves Special Moves and decouple more of them from actual sex. Some of the Skins the flavor super works but for some of them I suspect you could hit the flavor harder with a different trigger.

Feinne fucked around with this message at 00:59 on Oct 31, 2019

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Monsterhearts 2: The Werewolf and The Witch

We return to Monsterhearts with the last two Core Skins.

The Werewolf:


Everyone around you seems so willing to play the roles they are handed, to quietly colour within the lines. Theyíve been tamed, domesticated. Youíre of a different stock: youíve broken down the fence built to contain you. Youíve howled at the moon, and heard it howl back.
Now, the transformation is complete. This is what you were always meant to be. Wild. Unwavering. Alive.

You know what a werewolf is. They represent all things wild, primal, and uncontrolled. You may or may not be able to be a wolf outside of your Darkest Self, but your Moves are unchanged regardless. Your stat options reflect this, you can be Hot 2/Volatile 1 (heart-breaker with a mean streak) or Volatile 2/Hot 1 (unpredictable loose cannon whoís dangerous to get close to). The original Werewolf was Hot/Volatile.

Choose two Moves from the list below.

Primal Dominance: When you harm someone, gain a String on them. The Werewolf is a character that uses violence to get their way. This is actually now kind of their specific thing, because Lash Out Violently no longer generates a String on the target on a 10+. So while this is unchanged, it actually does matter much more.

Scent of Blood: Add one to rolls against those whoíve already been harmed this scene. This is of course any roll, not just violence, and you donít need to have done it. This is unchanged from the original.

Howl at the Moon: When bathed in moonlight, you have Dark 3. This used to be a +2, which in practice meant youíd go from -1 to +1. So this is a massive buff, really. It gives you some interesting options beyond just making you great at Gazing Into the Abyss, because it makes moves from other Skins that roll Dark super powerful while in moonlight.

Spirit Armor: While bathed in moonlight, reduce all Harm you take by 1 and add 2 to rolls to Keep Your Cool. This affects a different Move now, but is in practice unchanged. It obviously synergizes well with Howl at the Moon to make you really powerful under the moon.

Heightened Senses: When you rely on your animal instincts in a charged situation, roll Dark (so another synergy with Howl). On a 10+, ask three of the following questions then take one Forward: Whatís my best escape route or way in? Which enemy is the most vulnerable to me? Whatís their secret weakness? What poses the biggest threat to me? Whoís in control here? On a 7-9, you get to ask one question and take one Forward. This is mostly the same as the original, though you didnít used to get to take Forward on a 7-9.

Unstable: When you enter your Darkest Self, mark experience. Simple and to the point, the Werewolf is incentivized to wolf out and do bad poo poo.

The Werewolf has lost some Moves since first edition. The first let you essentially roll Volatile to break out of confinement, the second was a Stat Swap that let you roll Volatile instead of Cold in your Darkest Self. Stat Swaps are almost all gone and Uncontainable might not have really needed a system beyond the normal Run Away Move.

The werewolf gives everyone a String, because theyíre unsubtle. You are basically stalking someone, and gain two Strings on them. Youíve got normal Advances, and your Gang is a Wolf Pack.

You get a cool Sex Move, until one of you has sex with someone else you share a special bond with the person you slept with and add 1 to all rolls to defend them. But you know immediately if itís broken, so drama. Itís the same as it was. As for their Darkest Self:


You transform into a terrifying wolf-creature. You crave power and dominance, and those are earned through bloodshed. If anyone attempts to stand in your way, they must be brought down and made to bleed. You escape your Darkest Self when you wound someone you really care about or the sun rises, whichever happens first.

Itís unchanged, they hit it pretty well the first time.

The Witch:


In every lock of hair, every furtive glance, every secret note that transfers hands during history class Ė there is an invitation. An invitation to be hosed with. Not that witchcraft is about loving with others, exactly, but itís hard not to notice how utterly malleable the world is, once you know a thing or two about magic.
Of course, a good witch like you knows restraint. A good witch turns a blind eye to all those invitations, and doesnít think about how sweet vengeance and con- trol might be. A good witch is above that sort of thing. At least, most of the time.

Our final Core Skin. Youíre, well, what it says on the tin. Youíre a Witch, who does magic stuff. Itís generally pretty unpleasant, and not always the most subtle either. Your stat options are Cold 2/ Dark 1 (calculating and venomous) or Dark 2/ Hot 1 (seductive and spooky). The original was Cold/Dark. I especially like this new option, because we see a lot of pop culture witches that much more follow that archetype.

You start with the Moves Sympathetic Tokens and Hex-Casting. You need an Advance to pick up another Skin Move, which is new. You used to get a Move pick as well.

Sympathetic Tokens: You gain power from items of personal significance taken from other people. They count as Strings (and so are obviously lost if that String is spent). Obviously cool and flavorful, and unchanged from the original.

Hex-Casting: You know two of the Hexes (which Iíll cover after the Moves). To cast them you either need to expend a Sympathetic Token during a secret ritual, or meet the targetís gaze and chant in tongues (which is Unsubtle). Then you roll Dark. On a 10+ the Hex works and is something you can easily reverse if you choose. On a 7-9, it works but choose one: take one Harm, the Hex has weird side-effects, or you trigger your Darkest Self. This move is also the same as the original.

Transgressive Magic: If something about your ritual transgresses your communityís moral or sexual standards, add one to your Hex-Casting roll. Be gay, do (magic) crimes. Itís pretty flavorful, and unchanged.

Sanctuary: You have a secret place for your witchcraft, and you add one to all your rolls while there. This has been buffed, it used to just add one to Hex-Casting. Now, youíre just better at ANYTHING while there. So be gay, do magic crimes, then invite someone over and be better at Turning Them On because of your sexy magic lair.

The Witch used to have another Move, which let you add to your rolls to Hold Steady (now Keep Your Cool) or Run Away if you had Sympathetic Tokens on the person in question. I suspect they wanted you to feel more free to be quick and loose with the use of Sympathetic Tokens both as Strings and for Hexes.

Speaking of Hexes:

Wither: Something goes horribly wrong with the targetís body. Maybe all their hair falls out, maybe they start losing teeth, maybe their skin gets horrible. But itís definitely awful. There is no Harm defined, but this would certainly be an opportunity for the Inflict Harm Reaction. This returns unchanged.

Binding: The target cannot physically harm others, full stop. Straight out of The Craft, and unchanged.

Ring of Lies: The target will suffer ill effects when they attempt to lie. This ranges from loud ringing noises to disorienting pain to actual Harm, depending on how big the lie is. Very powerful and unchanged.

Watching: You fall into a deep sleep and see the world through the targetís eyes. You can also feel their impressions and reactions to what theyíre seeing. Another flavorful one, and unchanged.

Illusions: Pick one: snakes and bugs, demonic visages, false prophecies, non-existent subtext. The hexed person sees that thing everywhere. This is unchanged and the last one still owns.

The Witch remains very powerful, especially since the Dark/Hot version can get a lot of Strings between Turning People On and swiping their poo poo.

Your Backstory gives you two Sympathetic Tokens, you decide whose they are and what they are. One of the others caught you rummaging, though, and gets a String on you. This is the same as before. Your Advancements are kind of special. You trade out one of your potential new Witch Moves for one that lets you take all the rest of the Hexes, and get a special Advance to create your own new Hex (which doesnít replace any of the normal Advancement options). Your Gang is a Coven.

Your Sex Move hasnít changed, when you have sex with someone you get to take a Sympathetic Token. Theyíre aware of it and fine with it. As for your Darkest Self:


The time for subtlety and patience is over. Youíre too powerful to put up with their garbage any longer. You hex anyone who slights you. All of your hexes have unexpected side effects, and are more effective than you are comfortable with. To escape your Darkest Self, you must offer peace to the one you have hurt the most.

Unchanged, because they got it perfect the first time. Donít gently caress with the Witch.

Next time, we have the two extra Skins: The Chosen and The Serpentine.

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

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

inklesspen posted:

This post layout is a super great example of making things very annoying for me in my job as archivist. Please consult the examples in the first post in this thread, and do a better job. Thank you.

Sorry, I've put a title at the top of each post.

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Monsterhearts 2: The Chosen and The Serpentine

We finished up the Core Skins last time on Monsterhearts, and itís time to move on to the Bonus Skins. These were free downloads that were not part of the Core package, because both kind of change the game in ways that makes the character with the Skin more important than everyone else. Weíll see how as we go.

The Chosen:


The world needs you. It needs someone brave enough to walk blindly into the darkness, and to shine a light for all the lost souls out there. They need a champion. They canít do it alone.
Thereís just that one nagging worry, the one that rears its head at the worst possible moments: what if youíre not good enough?

Youíre Buffy. And because youíre Buffy, this has been downgraded from a Core Skin to an optional one. Because when youíre Buffy, that means youíre on a show that has your goddamn name in the title. Not every group is going to be fine with that. Your stat options are Cold 2/Volatile 1 (brooding leader) and Volatile 2/Hot 1 (impassioned warrior). The original Chosen was Hot/Volatile.

You get two Moves to start with.

Growing Pains: When you fail to protect your friends, mark experience. This is unchanged, but potentially is actually a bit more powerful than it used to be since you now get experience for failing rolls as well.

Mercy: When you decide to spare someone you have reason to kill, take a String on them. Flavorful, and interesting in combination with one of the other Moves. This is unchanged.

Final Showdown: Spend four Strings on someone. They are finally and irrevocably dead. Do not pass go. Do not spend Strings to inflict Harm back, because that is no longer part of this Move. Itís way, way more powerful than the original, because itís no longer super likely to kill you.

To the Books: You and the Scooby Gang hit the library. This counts as Gazing Into the Abyss, and you add one to the roll for each friend helping (valuable since Dark is a bad stat). A 10+ on the roll will, in addition to the other results, show you your enemyís secret weakness and give you a String on them. This used to be a bit different, with its own mechanics instead of being a special case of Gaze. But Gazing probably covers Buffy-style research pretty well, honestly.

Take the Blow: When you leap into the way of some Harm someone is going to take, roll Volatile. On a 10+, you take the Harm instead but reduced by one. On a 7-9, you just take the Harm. Incredibly powerful when dealing with normal fighting, since a 10+ will just negate the Harm outright. This is unchanged.

Light the Way: Whenever your friends are following your lead, they add one to their rolls. Iíll probably have a post on Move synergies, but you could easily become a terribly effective if very dysfunctional team if everyone took Under Pressure and the Chosen had enough Strings on them all to trigger it. Again, kind of like some Buffy seasons!

The Chosen also used to have a move called Come Prepared that meant you just sort of had all the monster slaying tools you might need. This didnít need to be a move, you just have that poo poo. Werewolves donít need a move to turn into a goddamn wolf.

Your Backstory gives you a String on each of two friends who help you with your activities. But thereís someone who knows who and what you are and wants you dead. You describe them, then the MC will name them and give them two Strings on you. This is the way it worked in the original. The Advances are normal, with your Gang being Unholy Allies. Because again this is Buffy.

Your Sex Move is the same as it was before, when you have sex with someone you remove all your Harm and cure all your Conditions. If they disgust you, give them a String, if you disgust yourself, also give them a String. As for the Darkest Self:


None of your friends can help. Theyíre not strong like you
are. You need to chase down the biggest threat imaginable, immediately and alone. Any challenges or dangers that you encounter must be faced head on, even if they might kill you. You escape your Darkest Self when someone comes to your rescue or you wake up in the hospital, whichever comes first.

Thatís also the same as the original. The Chosenís flavor was fine the first time, they were just not really suited to be a Core Skin.

The Serpentine:


In ancient days, your family held dominion over this world. They were powerful, deadly, and wise. At least, thatís what they tell you. But all youíve ever seen is empty faith and crumbling dreams. You just want to live your life like any other kid, but they have bigger plans for you.
They say that there will come a day when the serpent rules once more. That once again they will swap secrets with powerful allies and venom with pow- erful enemies. But they need your help first. After all, what else is family for?

You are the Reptiloid conspiracy. Youíre some kind of reptile person, but thatís not really what the Serpentine is Ďaboutí. What itís about is faded glory and what people are willing to do to regain it. This isnít suited to be a Core Skin because you come with a whole cast of side characters, your family. Theyíre going to play a huge role in any game with a Serpentine, so everyone should be comfortable with that. Your stat choices are Hot 2/Cold 1 (seductive and aloof) and Cold 2/Volatile 1 (fierce and dangerous). The original was Hot/Cold, the new stat spread is clearly there to model some of what was changed in the Moves if you want. Because there are definitely some changes in the Moves.

You get Failing Dynasty, and one more.

Failing Dynasty: Back before these lovely mammals ruined everything, your family was hot poo poo. You choose what theyíre trying to get back: their political clout, their old wealth, their failing beauty, their secret allies. When a family member convinces you to do their bidding, you take one Forward to doing it but they gain a String on you. When you help your family regain some of its glory, mark experience. This remains the core mechanic of the Serpentine, and is unchanged.

Mesmerizing: Youíre Kaa the snake. Roll Hot. On a 10+, the target freezes up until you blink or someone touches them, after which they donít really remember anything unusual. On a 7-9, it still works but youíre hissing the whole time and theyíre pretty sure something weird happened. This is a little different, it used to give out a Condition, Dazed, and the bonus for 10+ was the effect you always get now. You also didnít have things get obvious on a 7-9.

The Big Reveal: When you reveal your true form to someone, they gain a String on you. If they accept you, they mark experience. If they donít, you take one Forward against them. Itís up to you what all your terrifying true form really is. This is unchanged.

The New Order: When you learn to meet a need in human society rather than by relying on your family, mark experience. When someone else helps you fit in, they mark experience. This is a fun and friendly Move for once and I like it. Itís unchanged.

Patience is a Virtue: When you bite your tongue and donít respond to an antagonist, roll Cold. On 10+, gain a String on them. On a 7-9, take one Forward to striking the next time you see them. This used to give out a Condition instead, called Snake Food. There were other moves that interacted with that Condition, but those are no longer with us. Which leads us to the discussion of removed Moves.

The Serpentine lost a few Moves. Temptation used to let someone take one Forward on doing a thing you convince them to do, and if they succeed you could either mark experience or take a String on them. There was a move that gave people in your lair Snake Food, and another that let you use Cold instead of Volatile to Lash Out at people with Snake Food. But now you just have the option of being Volatile, and the complication of Snake Food is gone. Temptation was kind of cool but Iím not sure it fit with the way the Skin really works. There were also way too many synergies for how many Moves you actually got.

Your Backstory is that youíve been watching someone to learn what it means to be human. You gain two Strings on them. But your family seeks to control you, and the head of it gains two Strings on you. This is unchanged. Your Advancements are normal, and your Gang is Nest of Humans.

Your Sex Move makes someone a part of your Failing Dynasty, which is what it always did, but the new wording makes something clear that I think was always intended: they literally gain the Move Failing Dynasty. So itís not just that you get bonuses for doing their bidding but they get tons of Strings on you. The same applies if they do what you want, and your family can also gently caress with them. This is your Darkest Self:


The human and serpent worlds are too different, and youíll never be able to reconcile their demands. The only way out is to choose a side, as decisively and irrevocably as possible. Watch carefully and quietly for an opportunity, and then strike, regardless of who needs to be hobbled or devoured in the process. Itís the only way to make the world simple again, and find your place at last. You escape your Darkest Self when you accept your complicated place in the world, or when you moult.

So this has changed a bit actually. Itís still about the same thing, deciding you need to pick one side or the other of your life, but the exit condition is completely different. You used to have to pick a side to escape, but now you actually have to accept that picking a side isnít an option at all. That, or you moult, meaning at some level your Darkest Self might just be a literal growing pain. I super like that.

There used to be another Skin that was part of the bonuses, The Angel. It was weird and complicated, and probably one of the most annoying mechanically to deal with. And now itís gone, there is no more Angel. What there is, though, is an expansion with some extra Skins called Second Skins. Next time weíll talk about two of those: The Sasquatch and The Wyrm.

Feinne fucked around with this message at 17:24 on Oct 31, 2019

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

inklesspen posted:

I should point out that the Second Skins are not official Monsterhearts product. However, there is a third official optional skin:

And there's also the Small Towns.

Yeah they're by someone else not part of the core book (though they are linked in there), but I bought them so you all get to benefit!

I did not know about The Cerberus, grabbing it now. And I am also planning on covering the Small Towns after everything, I really like them.

EDIT: Cerberus is super cool mechanically, nicely fits the other side of The Hollow's niche where it benefits from giving Conditions instead of having them.

Feinne fucked around with this message at 18:19 on Oct 31, 2019

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Monsterhearts 2: The Sasquatch and The Wyrm

Alright now weíve got some all-new content for Monsterhearts, weíre starting on the Second Skins.

The Sasquatch:


Everyone around you seems to have it figured out. They flirt and joke and walk around holding hands. You donít have it figured out. When people look at you, you want to disappear.

Iím going to talk a bit more about the Second Skins, because unlike the originals there isnít a whole review I have to try not to plagiarize in doing so. The Sasquatch is that super awkward person who never really says anything but is always in the background. They note that itís really easy for you to end up fading into the background, so everyone should make sure to keep you engaged in the story. You also canít ever truly disappear, because as weíll see you smell weird. You are pretty much inherently bullied, it should be noted. Itís going to come up in your Backstory. Your stat options are Volatile 2/Dark 1 (wild and weird) and Dark 2/Cold 1 (someone aware of deeper mysteries who keeps others away). Volatile/Dark was their original stat spread.

You get the Move Musk, and one more. The original version gave you two more.

Musk: You have a distinct smell. Itís not necessarily bad, but itís powerful. When you break a sweat near others, the MC will tell you which of them is aroused. You gain a String on them, and they choose a reaction: I give you a compliment, I give myself to you, My eyes water and I gag, Iím also repulsed so I ridicule you about your body and give you a Condition. This is pretty cool and builds on the whole idea that youíre terribly awkward and often have reasons to avoid the spotlight. The original version was a Volatile roll, and if you rolled 10+ they had to choose from a list of positive reactions while on 7-9 they HAD to give you a Condition. This version is a lot better, since it keeps your agency over your reactions intact.

Icebreaker: Youíre so painfully awkward that it affects those around you as well. When you ask someone one from the following list of questions, they will blurt out a truthful answer: Who do you want to make out with? What donít you want me to find out? What do you intend to do? What do you wish Iíd do? What are you scared of? What are you ashamed of? Do you like me? If you want to ask another question that scene, you have to answer the same question yourself. Super like this. This used to have a system, youíd roll Dark at the start of a conversation and on a 10+ theyíd blurt out two of these, on a 7-9 theyíd do one. I like the current one better, again, in part because it rewards thinking out your own answers to these questions. Also it doesnít have unnecessary dice rolling.

The Long Fuse: When someone wrapped in your arms would take Harm, negate it. If you do, name something that you hold dear. You must destroy that thing later, or suffer the Harm yourself. This is incredibly cool, and positions you as someone whoís willing to give everything for those they care about. This is unchanged from the original.

Understanding: When you hold someone close, gain a String on them. A corollary to The Long Fuse. While your awkwardness isolates you, what you really want is to be close to people. And doing so gives you deep understanding of them. Keep in mind you smell funny. This is also unchanged from the original.

Unnoticeable: You can fade from view and become invisible. If you want to hide your scent as well, roll to Keep Your Cool. On a 7+, your scent is hidden for a while in addition to the other results. Bigfoot vanishes into the woods out of nowhere, and so do you. While there were similar Moves in the original, this is new. Iíll just talk about the deprecated moves after weíre done the current ones.

Hidden in the Scenery: When no one knows where you are, you can roll Dark to become hidden in the scene and start listening. On a 10+, nobody knows. On a 7-9, someone notices. If they donít reveal you, they gain a String on you at the end of the scene. This is also really cool, and is an unchanged Move from the original. Itíd also be a neat Move to take as a Skin like the Ghost.

The Sasquatch used to have two Moves that are now gone. Negatives let you roll Dark to erase evidence of yourself, with it vanishing completely on a 10+ and leaving holes and mystery that still remains on a 7-9. Disappear was sort of like Unnoticeable, but was a special Run Away action. On a 10+ you could disappear and slip away, on a 7-9 youíd still turn invisible but the person there who cares most about you would gain a String on you. The old Sasquatch had way too much dice rolling, frankly, and has become a lot more streamlined. The Moves that were lost were cool, but probably didnít need to exist as they did.

Your Background has someone finally notice you and gain a String on you. Someone makes fun of you. They give you a Condition, you gain two Strings on them. This Condition is explicitly normal and can be resolved as normal. This is how it worked in the first edition. Your Advancements are normal, and your Gang is a Secret Club. Since Iíve got a 1e Skin right here, though, let me mention something really important about how Advancements have changed. See, you can only take one of any given Advancement per Season, which means that with only the one +1 Stat advancement in Monsterhearts 2 youíre limited to one stat rise per Season. The original had separate Advancements for each stat, letting you potentially raise all four every Season (up to the limit of 3). This was kind of busted if you were playing an extended game with the same characters and changing it was definitely for the better.

Your Sex Move is as follows:


Whoever has sex with you smells like you afterwards. If they face their peers before scrubbing it off, they mark experience.

Thatís pretty cool, mark experience for doing something that makes it incredibly clear youíre Ďwithí the awkward kid people barely know exists. This used to come with a Condition, Scented, but no longer does. Conditions are a bit more serious now since they can be much stickier, so probably a good change. As for the Darkest Self:


Now, right now, itís time to rain stones down upon the bullies and the excluders. Itís time to wreck their precious stuff, to shove them back so hard that theyíll never even dream of messing with you or anyone ever, ever again. You escape your Darkest Self when you hurt one of those people more than theyíve ever hurt anyone else... and more than you meant to.

To finish off the idea that youíre the quiet kind of loner kid whoís always in the background, youíre also the kid who suddenly snaps and unleashes a brutal suplex on a bully out of nowhere. Thatís pretty much a perfect cap to this. And just as that suggests, youíve lost all sense of proportion and are probably going to do something really regrettable in the end because you havenít been dealing with your anger in a healthy fashion. We also sort of see that in The Long Fuse, of course.

The Wyrm:


You see what most miss, passing glances that tell tales of control. Youíve been transformed by your aching desire for power over people. Theyíre hard to acquire all at once, but you can win them bit by bit, piece by piece, string by string.
What youíve changed into - youíre the kind of thing that runs the world. You donít have to be liked to be obeyed, or understood to be feared. Thereís nothing so excellent as the delicate flavor of power over others.

Letís just be straight up, youíre a loving dragon. This version is less blatant about it (first edition was to the point of making this Skin kind of absurdly powerful) but that is what you are. You want things, and when you want them you have to make them yours. Sometimes, those things are people, but you really donít care. Theyíre going to be yours anyway, and youíre going to have them. Not anyone else. Youíre also the goddamn master of Strings and loving with people, this Skin owns. Your stat options are Cold 2/Dark 1 (manipulative and otherworldly) or Dark 2/Volatile 1 (mystical and reactionary). The previous version was Cold/Dark. But, well, Volatile didnít need to be a high stat, as weíll see.

The current version chooses two Moves from the list below.

The Bait: You have a beautiful collection of some kind, you decide what. Whenever you show it off to someone, they find something in it they want. They mark experience when that thing becomes theirs. This is, as its name suggests, the bait on the end of your Strings. Itís how you incentivize people to want to make deals with you. The Wyrm likes deals. This move used to be free and mandatory, and used to have some extra effect after they got the item. It does not need either to be way strong, because the whole point is to lure you into interacting with a character you really loving shouldnít if you were smart.

Bargaining Ceremony: With eye contact and smoke you enter a strange trance with someone else. While there you can trade Strings and objects and make promises. This includes both Strings on others as well as new Strings on yourselves. So yes, you can dime out a friend by giving the Wyrm some of your Strings on them in exchange for that sweet issue of Batman you were missing. Thereís obvious synergies here with some Fae Moves, watch the gently caress out for Wyrms that are smart enough to take those with Advances. This was also a mandatory Move in the original version, which then gave you one more Move. Itís otherwise unchanged.

Opportunist: When you gain a String on someone with two or more Conditions, gain one more. Short and two the point, and incredibly powerful. And needless to say it incentivizes you to gently caress with people behind their backs to get them into a situation of needing your help, then getting massive leverage on them. When they figure this out theyíll probably be pissed, but will they even be able to do anything about it anymore? This used to be called Broker, and instead required the character to have a Condition named on one of the other Skins to work. This version is better, since you can just trigger it by texting enough people that Cindyís a bitchy slut.

Wingman: This is the most amazing move. You wax poetic about another main characterís beauty, at which point THEY roll to Turn the person On with a +1. Theyíre the one that has to deal with the messy outcomes while you were just trying to help. Itís also a great way of generating Strings on characters you might want them on without risking anything yourself, letting you then trade that your rare Garfield mug for them. The old version didnít have the bonus. It was better at making GBS threads on the character you were targeting, but you kind of want them to succeed because again the point is the String economy is your bitch.

Covetous: When someone you treasure shows affection to someone else, take one Forward against that person. Simple and to the point, youíre a possessive rear end in a top hat. This replaces a Move called Jealous Coils, which involved a Dark roll. Youíd gain a String on the character you covet, and on a 10+ theyíd lose one. On a 7-9 theyíd give you a Condition or youíd say something youíd regret. A lot of these Second Skins were way too roll and mechanics heavy and this change is part of mitigating that.

Where I Want You: Plot to catch someone alone and spend four Strings on them. You frame the next scene either of you appear in. Describe the place but leave it unsaid how either of you got there. Until you make a Move, nobody else can show up and they canít leave. The ultimate incarnation of covetousness, you straight steal them from the story to get to say or do whatever it was you think you deserve to get to because they belong to you. This is unchanged from the original.

There was one more Move, Scales, that went the way of a lot of Moves that were really combat-focused in this edition. It was also a Stat Swap, making it double-plus ungood here. You could give yourself the Condition Secretly Vulnerable and straight turn into a no holds barred draconic nightmare thing. It let you Lash Out Physically with Dark and inflict arbitrary levels of Harm when you hit. That was, needless to say, busted. That you can have high Volatile now is a nod to the idea that the Wyrm might well in fact be literally some kind of dragon without making you Death Incarnate.

Your Backstory has you dividing people into Treasure and Currency. You describe the moment each Treasure caught your eye and give each a String. Everyone else makes up something mean you said to them, and you gain a String on them. God the Wyrm is such an rear end in a top hat, I love it. This is how it used to work, though it was previously something Ďoff-puttingí rather than Ďmeaní. Your Advances are normal, and your Gang are Collectors.

Your Sex Move is suitably also really strong:


After sex with someone, ask them what theyíd like and promise youíll get it for them. Gain 2 Strings on them.

Which in turn is a really fun thing if that person happens to be the Fae! This has been substantially changed, the previous was very complicated. Theyíd choose one to four of the following: Giving you a String for something from your collection, giving you a String for a String, giving you a String for the current effect, or giving you a String to give you a Condition. This kind of had to change, because The Bait is no longer mandatory so you donít inherently have a collection with something they want. I like the new simpler one better. As for the Darkest Self:


Youíve become too heady, too lax, too vague. You need to dominate one of the people-things that
you treasure, let it know that itís yours, that it doesnít get to choose who owns it Ė you do.
You escape your Darkest Self when your treasured thing proves that you donít own it entirely, or when you see the difference between objects and people.

This is unchanged from the original and I really like it because the escapes are all an rear end in a top hat having to deal with the fact that they canít always get their way one way or the other. Once youíve got some Moves youíre the Real Final Boss of Monsterheartsí social game, who cares whether you can turn people on yourself when you describe the sexy werewolf to the mortal then convince them to give you a chunk of that relationship for part of your rare collection of exotic beef jerkies.

Next time, two more Second Skins: The Cuckoo and The Unicorn.

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Leraika posted:

The Sasquatch definitely hews a little closer to the not great experiences I had with the game than I'd like (written around a fetish, 'yes your character is turned on by this fetish', etc).

The Wyrm is super cool.

The nice thing with the second edition rules is that if someone starts getting Welcome to my Magical World-y about something like that the rules support you saying 'no seriously but I'm not into that'.

The Wyrm is one of the better realized of these Second Skins and is pretty much the specific thing that solidified for me 'you should have a post talking about Skin Move synergies'. Though nothing I can come up with will match the true new Ultimate Busted Combo of The Cerberus with Unresolved Trauma, Projected Blame, and Bark, Then Bite where you give yourself Traumatized, give everyone else Blamed For Your Trauma, then have +2 to your rolls against them because gently caress you.

Feinne fucked around with this message at 17:51 on Nov 1, 2019

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

megane posted:

The Wyrm is the best skin and the Sasquatch is a solid contender for the worst. My character gets +1 to turn people on when she's not wearing shoes. Why? Uh, no reason.

Might be beaten to the title by an upcoming one, though.

Yeah the Second Skins are kind of hit or miss, the good ones are really good and the eh ones are really eh. I will say most of them do a great job of hitting the feel they're going for, though.

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Monsterhearts 2: The Cuckoo and The Unicorn

More Monsterhearts Skins, this time the Cuckoo and Unicorn.

The Cuckoo:


Othersí lives are just so fascinating. Thatís why you want to walk a mile in their shoes... and pants... and shirt. Thatís why you want to look out through their eyes, make a few promises with their voice, and maybe kiss someone with those sweet lips.
Look at that smile. You could be anyone.

So, the Cuckoo is a magical shapeshifter who turns into people by wearing their clothes. The Skin is of course named after the bird, who lays its eggs in the nests of other birds so as to have them take care of its children. So letís get to something pretty important for a game with sex in it: You do in fact physically turn into someone youíre passing as. This includes having their various bits, and it lasts as long as you are still wearing some of their clothes. If you completely undress, though, you go back to being you. Your stat options are Volatile 2/Hot 1 (spontaneous and charming) or Hot 2/Cold 1 (gorgeous and snobby). The originalís was Hot/Cold.

You always have the Moves Feathers and Feathers Made of Knives, and get to choose one more.

Feathers: You can magically pass for someone else by wearing their clothes. When youíre seen in their clothes but arenít currently passing, roll Hot. On a 7 or higher, youíre passing as them from now until youíre not. A 7-9 adds a flaw to your current effort to pass: the magic will dissipate if you kiss or get kissed, or the magic will dissipate if you Lash Out at anyone. While youíre passing as someone, if youíd get a Condition they get it instead (though youíd in principle share it while youíre them). As an important note, if you take this Move as another Skin you automatically get Feathers Made of Knives as well. This is identical to the original version and is pretty cool.

Feathers Made of Knives: Your shape-changing magic protects you and when someone suspects youíre not really who you seem to be, they have to choose one: they can grab your clothes, which tear and reveal your identity but take one Harm when they do so, or they can ignore their suspicion. This helps stop other players from just trivially making GBS threads all over your gimmick. This used to be called Shredding the Looking Glass, but had the same mechanics.

Close to the Sun: When someone else is suspicious of your identity while youíre passing, mark experience. So, youíre encouraged to not really be doing a great job of acting like the person, because part of the whole Cuckoo is actually thinking you know better how that person should live their life than they do. This is identical in the first edition.

That Good: When youíre passing, if someone would gain a String on you they instead gain it on the person youíre passing as. This is some sneaky poo poo and is kind of amazing. Get into a bunch of poo poo and then whoops someone else has to clean it up. This was also unchanged between versions.

A Natural: When youíre passing as someone, you can spend a String on them to ask their player or the MC one of the following questions: What would you say in this situation? What would you do in this situation? How do you feel about the person in front of me? While some of these moves sort of encourage you to skirt the edge of acting like the person, this one supports you doing otherwise. This is a new Move, it wasnít in the first edition.

Jumping Out of Clocks: When you disrobe for someone, take one Forward to rolling with Volatile and they choose one: Offer you an experience point to do what they want or trigger your Darkest Self. This is Certainly Something. Iím earnestly not sure what it looks like in practice.

The Cuckoo lost two moves in the edition shift. The first was Brood Parasite, which let you gain a String on someone if you could tell they wanted to be you. The second was A Little Bird Told Me, which let you roll Cold to poo poo on someone behind their back and give them a Condition. If you rolled a 7-9, itíd also give you the Liar Condition. This doesnít really need to exist in a world where Shutting Someone Down gives Conditions and doesnít really need to be in the presence of the person if thatís your goal. Both Moves were kind of boring and unnecessary, really.

Your Background is that youíve stolen an outfit from someone, and gain a String on them. Youíve also been given an outfit by someone so that you can impersonate them. You each gain a String on each other. This was also the Background of the original. Youíve got normal Advances, and your Gang is a Flock of Wannabees.

Your Sex Move lets you add one to your rolls to pass as them in the future, which makes a lot of sense. Itís the same it was in the first edition. As for your Darkest Self:


Somebody is a hack at playing themselves in their own life. It grates on you. Itís time for you, the understudy, to take their place on the stage. After all, youíre so much better at being them than they are. So replace them, using whatever means necessary. You escape your Darkest Self when something they do surprises you, or someone else shows a genuine care for them, or you succeed.

So yeah, your Darkest Self makes you try and straight replace someone because you think you could do it better. Itís pretty great, as is the fact that the exits are really varied. I donít otherwise have strong feelings about the Cuckoo other than to note that the specific phrasing they use, Ďpassingí, is a choice. Iím not saying itís a good or bad choice, just itís a choice.

The Unicorn:


You try so hard to help, and to be good. To set a strong example. But you feel like a foal out on the ice and the lake is ringed by wolves and your inner warmth makes the ice beneath you weaken.
One of the best things in this world and not long for it.

The Unicorn is all about taking a stand for what you think is right and trying to help people. Itís also kind of about being a bit judgmental and stuck up about those things. Your stat choices are Cold 2/Hot 1 (righteous and compelling) or Hot 2/Volatile 1 beautiful and a little skittish). The original Unicorn was Hot/Volatile. You also have an extra stat of sorts, called Integrity. Weíll learn about that when we get to Moves, but itís something that varies between 0 and 3. Thereís also probably something youíre already wondering about, and weíll get there! But I will say, the original Unicorn was VERY much about virginity whereas this one is much less about it.

You start with the Move People Should Never and two more.

People Should Never: You hold yourself to a high moral standard, giving you the stat Integrity. This will always range from 0 to 3, and starts at 0. Gain Integrity when you follow through on something important or take the moral high ground on an issue that matters. You also get a list of things people should never do, and need to circle all that your character thinks apply as well as make up any others you want: eat meat, lie, support sweatshops, hurt the environment, break laws, drive cars, disobey elders, dance, gossip, swear, dress provocatively, do drugs, be selfish. The original version of this was called With Integrity and didnít have the step where you define what you actually believe in. It otherwise worked the same. I like this, and I think itís good to define exactly how youíre a stick in the loving mud.

Lesser Beasts: While youíre near them, animals can converse in human speech. Theyíre still animals, and this will potentially lead to things being confusing and disturbing because they donít see things the way we do. This is still amazing and hilarious. This one is unchanged from the prior edition.

Just What You Do: When you help someone you dislike, gain a String on them. The Unicorn is exactly the kind of pushy person who helps even when itís unwelcome. This is new, and I like it.

I Believe In You: When someone else rolls less than a ten, you can just sense it. You can whisper words of encouragement from afar. Roll with Integrity and then erase one (note that youíre allowed to roll with Integrity even if you donít have any, and you explicitly do not need any to use the powers that would cost you Integrity like this one. On a 10+, you get to change their result to 10 straight up. On a 7-9, their 7-9 is changed to a 10 and their failure is changed to a 7. This is super cool while also only being really powerful if used sparingly, because at zero Integrity itís a roll with no bonus to get it to go off. This is unchanged from the previous edition.

Prophecies: Predict the outcome of someone elseís action well before they do it then roll with Integrity. Erase one Integrity after. On a 10+ your prediction of success or failure comes true, though it might not be in the way you foresaw. On a 7-9 the prediction will come true if the action is gone through with, but an innocent will suffer a terrible cost. This just plain OWNs. On one hand, itís really powerful to be able to just say whether certain things that might be attempted will succeed or fail. On the other hand, if you got the 7-9 version some particularly manipulative characters may be able to take advantage of that to wheedle you into some course of action, lest they start a chain of events that will lead to an innocent suffering. Love it. The old version was different on a 7-9, it required you to actively assist the effort to ensure the success or failure. It also allowed the prophecies to be defied if someone was willing to break their own heart. That was also kind of cool, but I think this double-edged version is better.

Unicorn Hunters: Some side characters are actually there to hunt you. If someone is, or you just say they are, your friends mark experience for chasing them off. This is also great, because youíre in theory a super moral character and nobody expects you to just maybe be lying that some person you just object to is trying to kill you. This used to be a Move called Hunted, where you were definitely being hunted and whenever it came up you had three options. The first was to stand up to it and gain Integrity. The second was to call for help, where the friend who assisted you would mark experience (the only part that remains now). The third was to ask the MC a question about what is hunting you. I like the new one a bit more, with the idea that itís open-ended whether anyone is really hunting you while still leaving the idea that itís definitely true and disbelieving the Unicorn this time might just get them killed.

Horizons: When you have sex in a way you havenít before, mark experience and gain a String on your lover. This is explicitly NOT your Sex Move, by the way. In fact this has very interesting interactions with said Move, because itís counterproductive to it. This is new, and makes sense because the Unicorn is much, much less about virginity than it used to be.

There were several Moves in the original that didnít make it to this version. Speak From the Heart gave to +2 to Manipulating an NPC, which of course doesnít exist anymore so neither does this Move. A Good Person let you spend Integrity in place of a String when tempting someone to a course of action. If that action was an attempt to help a third party at no-oneís expense, mark experience. Blessings required you to pompously announce that you can bless worthy endeavors when you take it. If they then ask for your blessing for a course of action, you can either agree (at which point they take one Forward and erase a String on you if they have one) or refuse and give them a String. I think the Moves that were lost were probably a bit too much, and let the Unicorn avoid the String economy when being weak at it is sort of part of the point.

Your Backstory is that someone wants to take something from you. Ask them what and exchange Strings. Someone is also in love with you, and you gain two Strings on them. Maybe donít decide that first person is the Wyrm if you picked Prophecies, unless you like living dangerously. Normal Advances, and your Gang is a Circle of Friends.

Your Sex Move is pretty fun:


When you lay your head in someoneís lap, they take 1 Forward to protecting you.
When you have sex, erase all your Integrity.

So yeah, sex is kind of a problem for the Unicorn. It used to be worse, actually. The recipient of the head in the lap had to be a virgin, but then youíd also either let them take one Forward to protect you or roll to Turn Them On. If you kissed a non-virgin? Youíd suffer a Harm. The whole virginity aspect of things has been completely removed, and Iím happy about that. The Darkest Self is as follows:


This is it. Everything keeps falling apart, and you canít hold it together anymore. You arenít good enough. So beg their forgiveness, everyone youíve failed, and show them how sorry you are before the curtain falls. Donít seek their acceptance. You donít deserve it. You escape your Darkest Self when someone reflects to you a glimmer of your own self worth.

Iím absolutely unwilling to talk about something so crushing other than to say itís definitely a thing. I like the Unicorn but Iím still not sure itís quite all in one place, if that makes sense.

Okay, next time we have just one Skin, The Heir. Itís all on its own because itís VERY complicated.

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Heliotrope posted:

I asked Jackson Tegu what that move was about and what it represented in the fiction a while ago and he replied with:

I have to disagree with A Little Bird Told Me being unnecessary. It's not needed in this edition because you can give Conditions to people without them being around if you use a String, this represents you poo poo-talking them to everyone else. But in 1e, you didn't have that option - you still had to do it to them in person. You could Shut Them Down, and Feathers would let you shift the consequences of a 7-9 onto the person...but do you really want to mock and insult someone like the Werewolf to their face? So this let you apply a Condition to someone without having to do it directly to them and its the person you're pretending to be deal who has to deal with the fallout.

Fair enough, I can see how it did matter in 1e.

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Leraika posted:

Unicorn was the appealing and I was kind of unsure about Cuckoo. I like the idea of playing a character with very fierce beliefs that are almost absolutely going to get them in quite a lot of trouble, and I like the support for other players angle. Cuckoo didn't really gel for me, I guess?

e: I'm also glad the unicorn can be about what it's about and also not be weird about virginity yes

Yeah that sex move change was pretty big, sometimes you gotta know when to fold 'em when it comes to 'technically this fits the lore but there's no way to implement it without being really horrible'.

Cuckoo is definitely the Skin that least gels as a 'monster' to me. Like the original one's Move names make me think it might have actually started as some kind of changeling. The Skin definitely functions cohesively, but it kind of feels like they came up with the mechanics and then tried to build around that.

Feinne fucked around with this message at 03:12 on Nov 3, 2019

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

SunAndSpring posted:

I always get a little weirded out about games where you absolutely have to be a teen, but I think that's just because I didn't have a good time at all in those years. I guess I just feel I can't convincingly act like a teen when I want to separate myself from it all. Feel bad about being knee-jerk angry at this game before though, it seems like it does its best to simulate the whole young adult novel genre thing it's got going on here.

There is a pretty decent section in the last chapters on how to adapt the game for adult characters, sadly way too much of the adult world still kind of works like high school after all, and not nearly enough grown adults have the Growing Up Moves.

I will also say while this version de-emphasizes such, the game can absolutely work if the player characters are generally on the same side united against external threats with the internal tensions on simmer rather than boil most of the time. The Small Towns provided generally provide enough hooks that in practice I'm pretty sure you'd kind of end up there with most groups if you used them, especially since this version's extremely de-emphasized combat mechanics make it less interesting for people who just want an excuse to do a bunch of PvP. That also matches the structure of a lot of the source material, honestly, because it's always more fun to watch people who don't necessarily like each other have to cooperate than to just watch them gently caress each other up and the story's over.

jakodee posted:

The only skin I remember from Second Skins is the Wyrm. So far Iím thinking thatís because all of the other skins are kind of ???. I guess most of the good material was taken

The Selkie's pretty interesting mechanically (and also a free download one, so it's technically sort of part of the normal bonus skins) but has some minor yikes as to what it's 'about', the Neighbor is the Nega-Mortal, and The Heir is mechanically well executed but boy are you playing as the Yikesest person.

Feinne fucked around with this message at 04:09 on Nov 3, 2019

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Heliotrope posted:

I'm not sure about that. One of the principals to the MC is specifically to set them against one another by using NPCs with differing motives and relationships. The Chosen is unusual because it has you create an NPC that everyone teams up against - that's not the default in Monsterhearts. And even with less moves for violence, there's still PvP. The Queen who uses their social power to dominate and humiliate you, the Cuckoo who pretends to be you and does what they can to ruin your reputation, the Witch who steals tokens and hexes you, the Unicorn who steps in and uses their power of Prophecies to try to make you fail at something they think you shouldn't be doing - they're all engaging in PvP without being violent. And the moves encourage this, until the PCs gain access to the Growing Up moves

Yeah I think my terminology was just a bit indistinct, it's just somewhat harder for a session to turn into the last act of Hamlet (mechanically). There are plenty of Moves that will consistently be used for PvP, it'll just usually be more social PvP unless one of you is the Werewolf.

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Monsterhearts 2: The Heir

More Monsterhearts, one of these Second Skins was always going to be on its own and it might as well be the one that takes up the most pages, The Heir.

The Heir:


Your family has strong traditions. Youíve heard stories about your late aunts and uncles: they were like you and your siblings. You all have little gifts. Maybe your parents even have a speech about it, saying that if oneís inheritance isnít appreciated, it should be seized instead by someone more fit for success in the Real World.
They have an expectation that, by adulthood, youíll be an only child. Either that or one of your siblings will be.

The Heir shares some DNA with The Serpentine, in that your family is a major part of things. Youíre the heir of a family with seven children (and, well, think of the general symbolism involved, the whole seventh son thing). While that was about being valued only for how your actions reclaim what your family has lost, this is about family that meets none of the needs family is supposed to. Itís about abusive parents making their children compete for what little affection they dole out and playing obvious favorites, except thereís also dark magic involved too. The Heirís stat spreads are Volatile 2/Dark 1 (violent person who craves secrets) or Cold 2/Volatile 1 (calculating person who will time their strikes). The original Heir was Volatile/Dark.

So, before we get to Moves, The Heir has a really complicated character creation process compared to everyone else. The Skin is more like a booklet than a sheet, because each of the name options they give then has a list of names you need to choose from for your Siblings as well. You need to give all six of them names and ages, theyíre actually very important mechanically.

You start with the Moves Old Family Friend and Inheritance of the Eldest, and choose one more.

An Old Family Friend: You do not interact with the normal mechanics for escaping death. When you die, the literal Grim Reaper shows up for you. But, as long as you still have alive siblings, you can instead have him take one of them instead. You also choose one of the following materials: Oxhorn, Applewood, Obsidian. If youíre killed with that, welp, youíre dead and your oldest sibling inherits anything you had. Youíre also dead if thereís no other siblings to take the death for you. You are explicitly forbidden to take the Ghoulís Short Rest for the Wicked. This core mechanic is unchanged over the versions.

Inheritance of the Eldest: Your siblings each have a Birthright (weíll cover those later). Should they die, that Birthright is now yours. The means donít matter, it can be an accident, it can be your death transferred by An Old Family Friend, or you can just shank them. Very flavorful, and unchanged from the previous. You need to balance the fact that itís useful for your siblings to still be alive with the fact that you will get more powerful as they die.

Family Portrait: When you show a sibling how dangerous you are to remind them whoís in charge, choose one: Gain a String on them, or take one Forward to confronting non-siblings. The game encourages you to continue the cycles of abuse your parents are inflicting on you by bullying your siblings into compliance. This has actually been reworded a bit since the first edition, which only required you to show them who was in charge. There are lots of ways of doing that and they didnít have to be as negative as this. This definitely refines the flavor.

Firstborn: When you get someone to attend to your needs, like combing your hair or getting you a glass of water, take a String on them. This is really loving strong! Getting Strings for innocuous requests is huge and as long as you can justify that something you spent a String on someone to tempt them to do was Ďattending to your needsí you get to refund that String. This is unchanged.

Or Else: Spend a String on a blood sibling, then flashback to you telling them what to do in the situation at hand. If itís something a kid could reasonably do, theyíre doing it. If itís not, or something that would leave them worse off than the worst they would imagine youíd do to them, theyíre not. As long as youíre smart about it, this makes your siblings VERY useful in that theyíre NPCs you donít even need to worry about having to worry about what theyíll want when you ask them to do things. Also unchanged.

Letís go to the Birthrights.

Pluralize: If a Condition youíre handing out could apply to two people present, give it to both of them. Great when Shutting People Down (or responding to failed attempts at such), amazing with other Moves that throw around Conditions from other Skins. Take the Ghostís Unresolved Trauma and Projected Blame, then whenever someone brings up the sibling that died for you to give you this Birthright you can give someone else who knows the story Traumatized with you, then Blame everyone around for what happened!

Puppets: Siblings that you specify move their bodies exactly as you move until you let them stop. This is pretty powerful, but remember that your sibling canít actually risk hurting YOU with this, because youíll just send Death at them instead. Itís great for you if youíve got it, though.

Youíre All the Same: You can spend Strings on siblings interchangeably. Super useful, since you donít have to worry about maintaining Strings on all of them. And you can have the sibling that still likes you get you coffee every morning, then use the Strings generated by Firstborn on the people who think youíre a monster to manipulate them with Or Else!

Echo in Here: Spend a String on a sibling to have them parrot back something you told them to remember. An interesting one, with lots of tricky uses. Like making someone respond in a specific way after a specific question, or say admit to something they didnít do because you made them say it. Thereís less awful things to do with it but letís be real this is not a Skin about doing things that are not awful.

An Inclusive Family: Characters with the Like a Sibling to Me Condition count as your siblings. So, inflict that Condition with a Move then add to the list of people you can bully. And, uh, that also probably means you can send Death at them. Iíd let Main Characters avoid death as normal in that case, because itís explicitly you who canít. Fortunately there is no special Move for inflicting this, or it might be even ruder. But, well, stay tunedÖ

Brief Candles: Mark experience when you kill someone. One of the more explicitly violent things in the game. This is a really, really violent Skin.

Your Backstory is lovely. Youíve taken revenge on someone, give them two Strings. Youíre also afraid of someone. Give them two Strings. You donít specifically start with any Strings on your siblings, you should probably get to that. You donít have any special Advances, and your Gang is your Cousins.

Hereís your Sex Move:


After sex with someone, tell them about the things that are stressing you out. If they donít offer to help with at least one of those things, give them a Condition.

Yes, this can mark someone as Like a Sibling to You, meaning they literally count as one if youíve got that Birthright. And I think I need an extra shower just thinking about that lovely conversation. This has changed substantially, the original one had you telling them about your secret weakness or a peaceful time you shared with a sibling at which point they would tell you about their relationship with death. Thatís more flavorful but has zero mechanical anything, which is probably why they changed it. As for the Darkest Self:


Treason. Youíve just this instant put the pieces together, and not a moment too soon. Those whoíve feigned kindness to you didnít count on your survivorís instinct. Quickly, cleverly, before those false friends can mount their defenses, you must strike them down unerringly. You escape your Darkest Self when your paranoia is revealed to be unfounded, or when you push away those who care about you the most.

A paranoid rampage is pretty much the only way this could be, and is unchanged between versions. This is a really well thought-through Skin but I kinda feel like itíd be toxic as gently caress to actually be at the table with it.

Next time, the last two Skins: The Neighbor and The Selkie.

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Monsterhearts 2: The Neighbor and The Selkie

Our final two Skins from Second Skins are in this update.

The Neighbor:


Sometimes when you watch scary movies you wonder if monsters and creatures and things from beyond the grave are really real. It freaks you out pretty bad. But then you just snuggle down onto the couch with all your friends and know that everything is going to be alright.

The Neighbor joins the Mortal in being explicitly just a normal person. But unlike the Mortal, youíre not a normal person who is pulled into the supernatural after falling in love with an effervescent zombie. Youíre half overly nosy neighbor and half Xander, honestly. You are the person who gets the funny syphilis, the person who gets spooked, the person love never seems to find due to comic mishap. The Neighbor is an almost slapstick Skin, and that is kind of amazing given how serious the tone of some of these Skins is. Your stat options are Hot 2/Volatile 1 (sweetheart with your heart on their sleeve whoís always losing their bank card) and Volatile 2/Cold 1 (always running from something, usually because you said something to deserve it). The original Neighbor was Hot/Volatile.

Choose three Moves from the list. In general these Moves involve a lot of communicating with the other players whatís going on, because theyíll be prompted to do things, make choices, and just in general should know what awkward poo poo your Moves will generate.

Mixed Messages: When youíre alone with someone, decide if youíre attracted to them. If you are, tell them why you canít be together and roll to Shut Them Down with +1 to the roll. IF you arenít, tell them all the things theyíve got going for them so they wonít feel bad and roll to Turn Them On with +1 to the roll. This is unchanged from the first version, and is a great example of the slapstick way these Moves work.

Two Eyes: When you take your glasses off, your Hot increases to 3. But you absolutely need your glasses to see, so subtract 2 from any roll where vision would matter. If you were the sort of person whoíd take advantage of this by getting contacts, you wouldnít be The Neighbor (though thatís not in the rules, strictly speaking). This used to be +1 Hot without your glasses but -1 to the relevant rolls, but that was with the previous single Hot/Volatile build. Since you can not be inherently Hot now, it needs to just set you to max Hot to really sell the Ďfeelí theyíre going for.

Lucky I Guess: When you remain oblivious to troubling or supernatural occurrences, take one Forward. Just Mister Magoo your way through poo poo, possibly literally if you took Two Eyes. Consistent ability to add one to rolls is actually really powerful, especially since it makes it way easier to run away after youíve stumbled into what should be an obviously haunted house or something. Unchanged from the previous version.

All the Wrong Places: When you help someone youíre sweet on look for love elsewhere, choose one: they take one Forward to realizing that love, or you both gain Strings on each other. More slapstick romantic comedy stuff. Unchanged.

Precarious: Offer someone a String on you in exchange for a favour, gift, or second chance. So, you kind of get the option to go Strings negative on someone to get the manipulative benefit of spending a String on them. Thatís pretty cool, I guess. The original version was a bit different, in that it was reordered. If someone gave you a gift or second chance, they got a String on you. I like the new one a lot better, since itís something you seek out.

Spooked: When you run into someoneís arms, they choose one: you mark experience, or they become their Darkest Self. Slapstick horror stuff, straight up, people can basically jump scare you if they want to. Super love it. There used to be NPC rules that let them make a Hard Move (the old equivalent of a Reaction), thatís no longer here and thatís probably good.

Self-Deprecating: When you talk poo poo about yourself to someone, they choose: argue and give you a String, or let it slide and Shut You Down. This is an interesting Move, make them give you a String or risk a Condition. Again the first version had an NPC rule that let them make a Reaction, which isnít the case anymore.

Home Life: When a monster sees what a normal life you have, they choose: they gain the Condition Monstrous, you gain the Condition Delicious, you take one Forward to making them feel human. This is super fun and again generates some interesting choices. Conditions are very double-edged, after all. Itís unchanged from the original.

Nap Fan: As soon as you fall asleep somewhere, choose two for the MC to detail when you wake: Something was left for you, Someoneís there, Someoneís been trying to contact you, Somethingís been broken, You had a nice dream. This is pretty great, and is a decent mechanism to drive some drama as well. The original had a few more things you could pick, something being canceled and something having happened at home. They probably didnít need to be there.

There was a Move in the original that was removed, Last One Picked. If someone special overlooked you, you could either give them a Condition or take a String on them. I kind of like the idea of this, but the feel of the actual effects doesnít quite fit. It probably should have been take a String or they give you a Condition, or something. But honestly it probably is fine not existing at all. Just roleplay out the chain of events and so some normal Moves, itís fine.

Your Backstory is pretty funny. You live next to someone, and your bedroom windows face each other. You leave your blinds up. Each of you gain 2 Strings on the other. You made out with someone a while ago. Gain a String on them and give them 2 on you. The original was slightly different. You had two choices as to your backstory with your neighbor. One was what was presented, the other was that you watch them through your blinds and theyíve noticed, so you exchange a single String. Probably fine to just have the one. You donít have any weird Advances and your Gang is Lots of Exes.

Your Sex Move is appropriately awkward:


When you have sex with someone, tell them something you donít want them to know.

This is changed, actually, you used to be able to scream out someoneís name during sex and gain a String on them. It did not say it had to be the person in question. Which is also awkward, but I like this one more. Your Darkest Self is super fun:


You feel... you feel like a monster. What kind of monster do you feel like? A werewolf, a vampire, a ghost, a queen... it can be anything you can think of. Tell the MC, and theyíll hand you that Skin or the closest thing
to it. It can be different each time. Read their Darkest Self: you are drowning in metaphor. Choking on it. Your body isnít supernatural, but youíre gonna take it right to the line. You become that Darkest Self.

So yeah, you just go full melodrama and take on the role of an actual monster in spite of being a normal-rear end human. I really like this, just tilt out acting like youíre a werewolf or whatever when youíre just kinda mussed. To me I think itíd be just as important to, no matter how seriously youíre taking it, have all the horrible things that would happen as a result of an actual Monsterís Darkest Self just end up as something super embarrassing for you.

The Selkie:


The weight and crash of the water was your first home. You were born beneath the waves, with an outer pelt you can remove. When you wear it you look just like a seal. And when you take it off, you feel raw and beautiful.
Youíre living on land now, far away from everything youíve known. Shocked by newness, enticed by possibility, burdened by homesickness. The air moves fast over you. What do they call it?
Ah, wind.

The Selkie is, first and foremost, exactly what it is. You are a seal who can turn into a person by taking off your pelt. You are also a confused and homesick foreigner, one whom can be exploited by those who know your weakness. Someone whoís got your pelt holds over you your ability to return home, itís almost like itís a metaphor for the ability of people to be held hostage by those who control their identity documents or something. Your stat choices are Hot 2/Dark 1 (enchanting outsider with secrets) or Cold 2/ Dark 1 (introspective stranger who doesnít put up with anyoneís poo poo). Cold/Dark is the original spread.

You start with the Moves Outer Skin and Keep Away, and one more.

Outer Skin: Wear your pelt to look like a seal, breathe underwater, and swim very fast. You are from the Deep Kingdom, and can return there if you have your pelt. If you do, you can never return and must create a new character.

Keep Away: People can steal your pelt, but it canít be destroyed. When you pursue a task the person who currently holds it asks of you, add 1 to rolls. If the person doesnít give you your pelt back after you finish their task, gain a String on them and add 1 to rolls against them until they give you a new task. The bonus to rolls against them until they give you a new task is new to this version. This is very flavorful to the whole idea of the Selkie, both actual Selkies and the sort of archetype theyíre representing. Itís actually pretty powerful in some regards to have someone else have your pelt, since youíre adding one to a lot of rolls. Use that bonus in-between tasks to twist whatever theyíre up to around such that youíre the one who really benefits if you can.

Body of Water: When you go a day without submerging yourself in water, take one Harm. If you submerge yourself in water and can relax, remove one Harm and a Condition. While this is a bit dangerous, this also makes you super durable given it breaks the rather slow healing rate over your knee. Thereís a fun synergy with the Ghostís move to take on the Harm of other people, if youíre feeling like these horrible landwalkers deserve it.

Catch of the Day: Whenever you donít understand whatís going on or what someone means and it gets you into trouble or leads you to make unwise choices, mark experience. This encourages you to go full Starfire, and if you do it right this could be some much-needed comic relief.

Siren Song: When youíre soaking wet, you can sing a haunting song. Those who can hear you give you their full attention, and you choose one additional effect on them: They stumble entranced toward you (but stop before it would inflict harm on them), or they connect with the songís emotions and start crying. This is pretty drat powerful, you can defuse a lot of situations for one because thereís no rolling here. Itís just a thing you do. The original version made you roll with Cold, could inflict the Dazed Condition, and could actually potentially cause them to suffer Harm before it broke if you rolled well. I kind of think the new one is way more powerful despite that, because it just happens.

Oceanís Breath: When you feel really homesick, choose one for the MC to detail: The ocean brings forth something that it thinks will make you feel better, or the ocean takes away something that it thinks is bothering you. The ocean is not a human, it does not understand the world of humans, and there is a good chance this will cause some serious and unexplainable damage in the progress. Super fun move, donít lie and say youíve never wanted to narrate a school bully being eaten by a kraken. You used to have to roll with Cold, and the damage would happen on a 7-9. Now you donít have to roll, but itís probably always coming with some consequences. I like the new version more, it feels more right.

There was a Move called Salt in the first version that is no longer around. When you cried into water, you could roll Dark and think of someone you want to see. On any hit theyíd show up, on a 7-9 theyíd have the Drained Condition and bring trouble with them when they did. Most Skins lost their Moves that made other people do things, so losing this makes sense.

In your Backstory, you watched someone swimming and gain a String on them. You also start the game with someone having stolen your pelt, and having figured out how important it is to you. They said theyíll give it back if you do something for them. Each of you gain a String on each other. You have a ready-made conflict either with another player or an NPC, this is pretty great. Your Advance are normal, your Gang are Strange Fishermen.

Your Sex Move is as follows:


When you have sex with someone, it counts as submerging yourself in water. Since all oceans tell you their secrets, gain a String on someone else theyíve had sex with.

Itís definitely super interesting. For one, you get to heal a Harm and remove a Condition if youíve got Body of Water. You also get some interesting leverage on someone totally unrelated. Now for your Darkest Self:


People have mistreated you and made you an outcast here. Itís time to show them how it feels to be lost at sea, to be apart from the things you have loved, to have parts of your self stolen from you. So you will flood the Earth. You will destroy what they cherish. And you will take their pelts. You escape your Darkest Self when this place reminds you of home, or when you recognize what you came here for.

I like this, we circle back around to the point of the Selkie quite nicely.

Weíve got some more book left for next time, on making the game our own and taking inspiration. After that, Iíll probably do an update on character builds to do silly poo poo.

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Monsterhearts 2: Final Chapters

Back to Monsterhearts, with the final chapters of the book.

Chapter 6: Making it Your Own

They start the chapter by noting that while you can and definitely should change things up, the Skins were balanced around providing a certain play experience and you should make sure you get how the pieces fit together before you add or change any of them.

The next bit is on the most obvious change, doing something other than a high-school game. They lay out the sorts of notes you want to try and hit with a different sort of game, that at some level things should echo a lot of the emotional realities of high school in order to really hit the feel of the game. But I mean alienation and petty social politics work just about anywhere if you do it right. Make sure you come up with an appropriate version of the seating chart, itís an important element of getting the story going.

They next move to the idea of messing with the core mechanics like basic Moves. This is definitely something that requires a lot of thought, because the flow of the game and resources will be substantially altered if you do it. They give a good example of how the balance of options could change radically if you eliminated the rules for Skirting Death, by making things that inflict Harm much more powerful and giving characters who are good at it much more leverage.

They next give a general formula for writing Moves. Come up with a trigger, then what happens. They also lay out some things to think about when adding rolls and choices to avoid making Moves too complicated.

They have a section briefly discussing the Skins, and how each is built around a different sort of economy some of which are shared and some of which are specific to the Skin. This is building, obviously, on the idea that you really should know how the Skins are supposed to work before you change them. They also lay out the individual pieces of a Skin, which is important in the event you want to create your own. Because why wouldnít you? They have a list of questions to consider when doing so. They also note that you should keep watch on whether some new Skin youíre creating has really similar economies to one that exists, because you might just be able to reskin and change some things like the Darkest Self and Sex Move around and save yourself some effort.

For changing the MC toolkit, they note that itís going to make the game feel a bit different and if thatís what you want then go for it.

Chapter 7: Taking Inspiration

They start with a long play example that builds on the prior examples theyíd been giving throughout the book.

They then give a very specific set of media inspirations to watch and listen to, should you desire. Itís solid.

Thatís the book. So, thereís still some stuff left! Iím going to go through and talk about some Move synergies and builds and such, talk about some of the crazy rude poo poo you can get your character doing. Iím also going to talk about the Small Towns they provide as ready-made settings in a post.

But first, weíll do The Cerberus.

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Monsterhearts 2: The Cerberus

Sorry, been a bit too busy to do daily posts recently.

There was an extra Skin released, letís talk about it.

The Cerberus:


It used to be simple: there was a river of fire, another of pain, and you kept watch at the gate. It was obvious who was doomed. Your claws were sharp, your eyes able to peer in every direction simultaneously.
The threshold was unbroken for a very long time. If only it could have stayed that way: the wretched in one place, the innocent somewhere else. You still guard the threshold. You always will. Itís just the world thatís changed.

The Cerberus is about standing at the boundary between worlds, and ensuring things donít cross between them. What those Ďworldsí are is nebulous, and depends on you. I donít think the creator thought this one through, Iím going to be honest. I like the mechanics a lot, but the concept feels like itís almost guaranteed to appeal to some really lovely people. Your stat options are Cold 2/Volatile 1 (harsh and exacting) and Dark 2/Cold 1 (brooding and bitter).

You start with the Move Watch Dog, and one more.

Watch Dog: You exist in the liminal state between two communities, one bathed in light and one damned to shadow. Mark experience when you weed out someone on the wrong side and put them in their place. Okay. So to me 100% of this Skinís viability is really enforcing how this is laid out. Otherwise youíll have some chucklefuck wanting to be the Cerberus who protects the resplendent Gamers from the shadowy SJWs and someoneís gonna die at the table.

Arbiter: When you give someone a Condition, mark experience. This Skin is all about Conditions, and this is an obvious inclusion.

Dig Deeper: When you Gaze Into the Abyss to dig up dirt on someone, add 1 to the roll. On a 10+ the owner of that character will tell you a secret, and you may give them a Condition to reflect what you have learned. Big fan of this, the Skin is all about Conditions and this is a great way to inflict them.

Loyal: Whoever currently has the most Strings on you is your Master. When you take action to protect or help your Master, add 1 to your roll and they gain a String on you. When you become your Darkest Self, your current Master loses all Strings on you. This is a pretty cool one, it encourages you to play along with someone while also giving a ready mechanism for that to change.

Bark, then Bite: When you take advantage of a Condition that you inflicted on someone, add 2 to the roll instead of 1. Super strong, and obviously goes along with everything else in your kit. Dig Deeper up a Condition on someone your Master wants hosed up, then do it with plus FOUR to the roll.

Doomed Outsider: When trying to drive others away from you or escaping the care of others, you can take advantage of your own Conditions. Pretty cool, and if itís somehow a Condition you inflicted on yourself then you could even take a +2.

Hot Take: When you uncover an injustice that has been long hidden, add 1 to your rolls to bring it to light. This is okay, and again can work well with the rest of your Moves.

Your Backstory has you marking someone as a damned soul who slipped past you and is hiding among the pure. Gain two Strings on them. You donít fit in, though, so give yourself a Condition.

Your Sex Move is also about your outsider nature.


When you have sex with someone, tell them why you donít belong in their world. If they agree, give yourself a Condition to reflect. If they disagree, you gain a String on them.

Why not take the Hollowís move that lets you burn a Condition for +1 to a roll where you act it out, too? And your Darkest Self:


You do your best to be a good boy, but you come from a very bad place. Letís face it: youíre a mangy, unloveable beast from hell. You were born to snarl and to bite. Anyone whoís gotten close to you needs to be driven away, violently if necessary. You must return to the shadows, dragging the damned back down there with you. You escape your Darkest Self when disrupted by a virtuous hero, or when the power of true love tempers your resolve.
The especially fun thing is how this interacts with other Skins and Loyal. For example youíre a great Lover for the Mortal right up until you have sex, at which point youíll become Loyal to someone else and probably gently caress up some of their Moves as well because theyíve lost their Strings on you. It also makes Sympathetic Tokens on you better, because theyíre both Strings and not Strings.

Going to try and do a post on Skin Move combinations next.

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

I heard tell romantic fantasy was being discussed and happen to have in my hands a pdf that is quite appropriate. Fresh from digital pre-order to your page, itís time for

Thirsty Sword Lesbians

Alright so youíre probably asking at this point what the gently caress youíre getting into here. So itís pretty much exactly what it says on the tin, and itís cool as hell.

The first thing to be said is that this game has the core DNA of something like Apocalypse World of Monsterhearts (indeed the Monsterhearts creator is credited as a development consultant and they directly credit a superhero game called Masks that is also clearly a branch of PBtA). Since Iíve talked about Monsterhearts 2.0 and have a copy in front of me as well, thatís what Iíll be comparing it to most directly when it's relevant.

So this is a game about angsty disaster lesbians going around having awesome sword duels and fighting against the forces of toxic oppression. Letís quote exactly from the game what you do:

+ Change the world for the better by acting with integrity and compassion
+ Fight when something is worth fighting for
+ Redeem or seduce adversaries
+ Make out, dance, and carouse
+ Solve problems with courage, wit, and style
+ Deliver zingers and bon mots
+ Make lasting friends and enemies

And if any of that sounds incredible, then this is definitely for you.

Weíve got some important stuff before we get to any rules. First, the playerís agenda: Bring the Action, Feel Deeply and Powerfully and Often, Be Excited About the Other PCs and Shared Stories, and Stand for Justice and Liberation. I feel like those directives kind of speak for themselves.

So, we now get a section on flirting and zingers, and namely that you do not in fact have to actually be good at those things for your character to be. The book reminds you that this is a collaboration between the players and GM, so you should feel free to call upon the table to come up with some good ideas. They also have a simply darling list of ideas that is best read for yourself (buy this game it owns). Thereís some further discussion on this coming up, so letís move on.

Now for the Safety and Consent section, again and vitally before the rules. So their first emphasis is that the rules can only tell you what circumstances your character faces, never what they do. Second, itís noted that the mechanics also work well as a substitute when things are uncomfortable. For example, sometimes your character needs to flirt and you just want to roll a Move for it because playing it out isnít something youíre feeling up to. Finally, they bring up the idea of Safety Tools. Weíll go into some details of what they suggest but one key thing is that everyone gets an XP if anyone uses a safety tool (even if itís just making sure everyone is comfortable or if anyone needs a break).

Before the discussion of specific safety tools, Iím just going to share the next header: No Fascists or Bigots Allowed. A hard rule that more games could use.

They give a link to a good core safety toolkit, which I will provide here: The first concept they present is that of the palette, a set of concepts you want to include and specifically exclude from the game. This is done as a group before the first session, to make sure everyoneís on the same page. This is both to get an idea what people are excited to do, and to get an idea what people absolutely do not want to have in their game. The list should be able to be added to anonymously and people should be able to change it as they think of new things.

The second tool is the Check-In Card, something you can use to pause play and make sure everyoneís doing okay. Whether someone seems uncomfortable, a subject is getting sensitive, or itís just been a while since people had a break this is something you can use to indicate it. Simple and easy.

The X Card is something I distinctly remember from Monsterheartsí suggested Safety Tools, and is something you can pull out to hard stop on something going on. Thereís some additional nuance suggested to this clarifying of boundaries, where something can be a Line, Veil, or Condition. So for example you might just need something not to be in the story at all, while something else can be present but not something you deal with directly. They make it clear you never need to justify or explain why you want something gone, and in general that the goal is to keep players comfortable.

Thus ends the preamble, which leads us to the core mechanics. This will again be familiar if youíre familiar with PBtA games. When you Make a Move, you roll 2D6 and apply whatever modifiers come into play (usually adding a stat, for example). Thereís three possible outcomes once the dice come into play:

Up Beat: On a 10+, thatís called an Up Beat. You achieve what you want without serious complication, or possibly discover a useful positive fact or opportunity. Many moves will further clarify the mechanical effects of an Up Beat.

Mixed Beat: On a 7-9, you succeed but at some cost or complication. You might also discover a risky opportunity. Again, many moves will have some specifics of what happens mechanically when you have a Mixed Beat.

Down Beat: On a 6-, the GM takes over narration and adds a complication by making a GM Move. So one thing they note here is that you pointedly do not necessarily fail at the action you set out to do just because you rolled a Down Beat. Sometimes for example you succeed, it just doesnít work out the way you thought it was going to. You also mark experience when you roll a Down Beat, so thereís plenty of reason to throw dice down even when youíre using a low stat.

The Stats, by the way, are:

+ Daring: Skill at arms and forcefulness
+ Grace: Elegance, poise, and agility
+ Heart: Emotional awareness and expression
+ Wit: Cleverness and knowledge
+ Spirit: Metaphysical power and integrity

The mechanic of taking a number forward, basically getting a bonus to your next roll within a context, remains a thing. Similar persistent effects are noted as +x ongoing.

Okay, so health is actually very different in this than something like Apocalypse World or Monsterhearts. Because you donít have a health track, strictly speaking. Instead, there are five core Conditions, each of which corresponds to a core Move. These Conditions are Angry, Frightened, Guilty, Hopeless, and Insecure. Each gives a -2 ongoing penalty to the Move theyíre tied to if you have them, and if you would take a sixth Condition when youíve got all five youíre Defeated and unable to act further for the scene for whatever reason. When the scene ends youíll still have all five Conditions, but youíll no longer be Defeated at least. Weíll talk about which Move corresponds with which Condition when we cover the Moves.

Clearing Conditions can be done in a few ways. Moves can help you do so, though generally not from yourself. Thereís even a generic Move, Emotional Support, that is mostly for this purpose. The other way to deal with Conditions is to take a Destructive Action. If you do undertake the appropriate action, you clear the Condition at the end of the scene. Each Condition has its own:

+ Angry: Break something important to you or someone you care about
+ Frightened: Run away and leave something important behind
+ Guilty: Sacrifice something important to you just to hurt yourself
+ Hopeless: Lose yourself in escapism when you should be doing something important
+ Insecure: Take rash action to confront the object of your jealousy or prove your worth

These are all pointedly lovely things to do and not even as effective as getting help from others, and yes thatís on purpose.

NPCs are also Defeated by taking Conditions. The GM decides how many Conditions it takes to Defeat an enemy, depending on how powerful they are. They also introduce an idea here that weíll talk about in more detail in the GM section that particularly powerful enemies might trigger a GM Move when they take a Condition.

Strings are a thing, similar to Monsterhearts. They represent emotional influence over a character, and come into play in certain Moves. Further, if you ever have four Strings on someone you learn something important about them that even they donít know. Their player comes up with something and shares it with you, then you clear all but one of your Strings and gain 2 XP. This is called a String Advance. The GM also gets one generic String for each PC to use on their own Moves. NPCs can also earn Strings, which are treated as normal except that they donít get String Advances.

PCs receive XP from a number of sources. As mentioned rolling a Down Beat, getting a String Advance, and using safety tools are sources of XP. Moves can also let a PC mark XP, though this only happens once per Move per scene. Advances cost 5 XP if youíre running an ongoing game, and 3 XP for single-session games. When you fill up the XP you just get it, no need to hold off. Your first five Advances come from a set list of choices, with two each of ĎTake another move from your playbookí, ĎTake a move from any playbookí, and ĎAdd 1 to a stat (max of 3)í. Your sixth Advance philosophically comes with your character either resolving the emotional conflict of their playbook and Living Happily After or having that conflict be eclipsed by a new conflict and Switching to a New Playbook. The first retires that character from play. In the second you essentially start over as a new playbook, keeping your Strings, Conditions, any narrative elements that make sense, and one of your old playbookís Moves.

Weíll pick this up next time with a discussion of TSL's Basic Moves.

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Tsilkani posted:

The Conditions as health is an innovation from Masks, and I think it's a great hack for genres like this, where your feelings are more important than your hitpoints.

Yeah I'm a big fan of it, especially with some of the other stuff the game does with it later on. For one thing, it lets moves essentially use health as a resource more often because players are going to be less worried about being Defeated than they would be about dying in a game with traditional health.

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Thirsty Sword Lesbians

Weíll start here with the Basic Moves, which all playbooks have access to.

Danger Moves:

Fight: The move for doing Violence on someone. Roll +Daring or +Grace. Take a -2 if youíre Frightened. We get a set of options here:

+ Flirt with or provoke your opponent and gain a String on them
+ Through violence or cutting words inflict a Condition
+ Create an opportunity for an ally
+ Take an object from your opponent or seize a superior position

On a 10+ you choose three (no repeats) and the opponent chooses one in response. On a 7-9 you choose two and the opponent one. This is intentionally set up so that resorting to violence is always going to take some kind of toll on you.

So one key thing they bring up here is that there are other Moves that might be more appropriate even if youíre in principle in a fight. Think about what youíre actually trying to do before you decide what Move to roll. They also note that Ďtaking somethingí isnít abstract or philosophical, itís a thingy. And itís equally never a PCís sword unless thereís a GM move involved or theyíre Defeated, because thatís just rude (thatís literally the reasoning given). They remind you to keep in mind what all the options actually are here and use that to make things more interesting than just rolling Fight a few times to slug it out with an enemy.

At this point they bring up PvP (itís been mentioned before as a thing that might happen but we get some more detail here) and make it clear that if PCs are going to be using this Move on each other you need to be careful both to ensure one of them isnít trying to kill the otherís character, that another Move might not be more appropriate, and that this isnít something where the players are taking an out of game dispute into the game where maybe this needs to be resolved by them talking it out. With how the rules work itís not at all unlikely both PCs will be Defeated by the same Fight action since you both get to resolve your choices even if one of you would be Defeated.

They also mention here that thereís optional expanded Fight Move rules, Iíll cover the optional rules much later but the essence is to give every stat a Fight Move so as to make everyone a bit better at it.

The book also gives lots of examples of play which are all darling and you should buy it for them.

Defy Disaster: The move for doing crazy things not covered by some other move or to avert imminent danger. You start by saying what youíre willing to sacrifice and then pick an approach, which determines which of the five stats you add. If you have the Hopeless Condition, you then subtract 2. On a 10+, you succeed with style. The GM can decide to give you some new information, a new opportunity, or a String. On a 7-9, youíre offered a hard choice or success with sacrifice.

This is intended as a catchall move for situations where thereís a lot of tension and everyone decides a dice roll should actually happen. A lot of the text of the description of this is actually pointing out that part of the point of the game is that the PCs are pretty badass and mostly donít need to roll dice to do cool poo poo. This isnít a Move for swinging on a chandelier as part of your cool description or racing your horses to stop a wedding, that poo poo just happens because itís BORING if you fail at the stuff that links the fun parts together. But if youíre swinging across that chandelier over a fire pit to get away from archers? Now weíre talking.

When choosing the stat to use for this use some sense, GM gets a veto if itís a bit too bullshit. You can Defy Disaster for someone else but only between Moves, you canít use it to bail someone out of a bad roll until the direct results of that roll have happened. They note for the GM as much as players here that the existence of this move means the GM can announce looming disaster, so as to give players the chance to Defy it by rolling this.

They give some guidance on what to do on a mixed beat, noting that you should obviously start with the inspiration of what they were willing to sacrifice but equally reminding that 7-9 is a success so at some level the sacrifice should be lesser than the danger that was averted. Having an NPC who sucks get a String on them is one option presented.

They also suggest that if thereís a specific sort of Disaster that you expect players might have to Defy on a repeated basis in your campaign thatís the sort of thing you might want to make a custom move to represent, so as to give it a bit more of a clear mechanic you can consistently apply.

Stagger (Reactive Move): This Move triggers when you suffer a staggering physical or emotional blow. Depending on how many Conditions you have marked, you choose from one of two lists.

4-5 Conditions:
+ Youíre rendered helpless for the scene.
+ Youíre utterly humiliated and the news will spread.
+ Choose 2 from the 0-3 Conditions list.

0-3 Conditions:
+ You lash out at someone whose regard matters to you: provoke them to do something foolish or harmful and take advantage of a String on them if you have one
+ You hesitate or stumble and the opposition gains an opportunity
+ You grin and bear the blow, mark two Conditions

While this is a player-facing Move, itís generally going to be triggered by a GM move. It doesnít have to be, though, if you think something would seriously shake your characterís well-being you can invoke this yourself.

Heartstring Moves:

Entice: When you appeal to someoneís physical or emotional sensibilities, roll +Heart. Subtract 2 if youíre Insecure. On a 10+, you gain a String on them and they have to choose from the list below, on a 7-9 they either give you a String or choose one.

+ Get flustered and awkward
+ Promise something they think you want
+ Give in to desire

This is the easiest way to get Strings on characters. They note that itís totally within scope for someone else at the table to suggest you roll this whether you intended to Entice them or not because their character would react that way to what you just described. I refer you to a thesis on this, I Didnít Mean to Turn You On.

Equally if youíre actively trying to Entice someone and what you described doesnít work for the other party, they give a few options. One is to talk through what would work and rewind, another is to just abandon the move and do something else, and the third is to let the moveís core mechanic work but essentially out of awkwardness or embarrassment. Itís also noted that the fact that choices are always in the hands of the enticee acts as a safety tool here.

They also note that while this is the primary move for gaining Strings and influencing people, there are others as well that might be more appropriate depending on the situation so keep them in mind. In fact letís get to one of those.

Figure Out a Person: When you try to understand a person, roll +Wit. You can spend a String on them to add 3, and you subtract 2 if youíre Angry. Consult the following list of questions:

+ What are your feelings towards x?
+ What do you hope to get from x?
+ How could I get you to x?
+ What do you love most?
+ How would you feel if I x?

On a 10+ you get to ask 2 of these at some point during the scene. One a 7-9 you still get to ask the two questions, but they get one back at you. This can trigger from talking with or observing someone, and doesnít necessarily involve your character literally just asking this poo poo. If you canít come up with a good reason you could observe or ask the question, just assume itís intuition. Again, your characters are kinda badass like that.

There are special rules for using this in a fight. If you do, you gain access to two additional choices depending on your playbook. You get to automatically ask one of them for free no matter what you roll, and you can spend one of your other choices on the second. Weíll cover those when we get to the playbooks.

Influence With a String: At any time you can spend a String on someone to do one of the following:

+ Offer them an XP to do something. The String is only spent if they do it.
+ Find out what it will take to get them to do what you want (and for an NPC this is potentially essentially enough)
+ Add 1 to a roll against them, after rolling
+ Add or subtract 1 from a roll they make (after rolling)

You can only spend one String per roll. Hereís the primary way Strings come into play. So one thing they note here is that Strings are kind of always emotionally manipulative if youíre spending them, and you should keep that in mind.

They contrast using a String to influence an NPC vs Figuring Them Out as being a question of whether youíre cashing in some leverage on them vs determining what they actually value and want.

Smitten: This is another special move, not tied to dice or anything. Choose to become Smitten with someone, say why, give them a String on you, then answer a question connected to your playbook (again Iíll go over these playbook by playbook but itís things like ĎWhy would your romance never last?í and always speaks to the emotional core of the book).

The purpose as noted is both to signal to the table that this is something important to what your character is feeling while also describing what would make the romance fraught and interesting. Thereís absolutely no mechanical trigger to this and you can declare youíre no longer Smitten at any time. While you can also declare it at any time, if a scene has action you wait until the end of the scene to actually apply the mechanics.

Finally Kiss, in a Dangerous Situation: When people finally kiss after a period of tension, each takes +1 ongoing to get to safety and protect the other for the scene. This can apply to more than just two people but everyone has to be consenting. Simple and pretty perfect for the sort of stories this game is about.

Recovery Moves:

Emotional Support: When you offer someone support in a way that could be meaningful to them, roll +Heart or +Spirit. Add 3 if you spend a String on them, and subtract 2 if youíre Guilty. So hereís the possible benefits:

+ Clear a Condition
+ Mark XP
+ +1 Forward
+ Gain insight from the GM about an obstacle facing one of you

On a 10+, if they open up to you they choose 1 and then you either choose 1 or take a String on them. On a 7-9 they choose 1, again if they open up to you. If theyíre Smitten with you, they get to choose an additional option. But, if youíre Smitten with them and they wonít open up to you, you have to mark a Condition. This is your primary way of helping other players recover from Conditions and itís pretty cool. It does also work on NPCs, who will generally open up if they have a Condition as long as you arenít to blame for it.

Special Moves:

Call on a Toxic Power: When you parley with a Toxic Power, ask your question and roll + Spirit. On a 10+ you get your answer and can take +1 forward to act on it. On a 7-9 you get your answer, but the GM chooses one:

+ It takes something from you.
+ You mark a Condition.
+ It gains a String on you.

Toxic Powers are things like evil gods, corporations, the Space Pope, whatever. Theyíll generally be something that you come up with as a group when envisioning your setting. Itís very in-flavor for the sort of stories that this game tells to have high-risk options like this.

End of Session: At the end of every session, each player marks XP if:

+ Any PC confessed their love.
+ Any PC struck a blow against oppression or de-escalated a violent situation.
+ Any PC leapt into danger with daring and panache.
+ Any player used a safety practice.

Each PC marks for each condition met, so all PCs mark the same amount. They suggest you interpret this broadly rather than try to be a stickler just to deny the XP.

So letís look at these in comparison to their corresponding Monsterhearts Moves, and equally look at what Moves donít exist at all in one of the games. Note that Iím using Monsterhearts Second Edition, because that is what I have in front of me.

Turn Someone On and Entice are essentially the same Move. They both have the same outcomes, and the same caveats. Shut Someone Down, on the other hand, has no equivalent in Thirsty Sword Lesbians. Thereís no generic Move here for being a jerk and clearing Strings, and Conditions are much more codified here so inflicting generic ones would add confusion. Keep Your Cool is also not directly equivalent to any Move here. It and Gaze Into the Abyss both have similar systems to Call on a Toxic Power, though neither is quite the same in tone. Lash Out Physically is quite different than Fight. Fight always has some kind of negative outcome for the player but Lash Out Physically can get really ugly really fast if you roll 7-9 in ways Fight really canít. Both fit pretty well with the tone of their games in how they fill the role of ĎMove for fightingí. Run Away is somewhat equivalent to Defy Disaster in how it works, just a more heroic reskin of it. The options you can get from spending Strings are also a bit different to match the changes in core rules. Healing is a bit more systematized with Emotional Support vs the simple Healing Move. Skirting Death isnít really transmissible to TSL. Similarly, thereís no real equivalent for Stagger, Figure Out a Person, or Finally Kissing. As for Smitten, thatís getting more into the specific playbook rules but itís mostly unique to TSL.

Next time weíll start on the Playbooks after some brief character creation stuff. So stay tuned for The Beast and The Chosen!

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

megane posted:

I'm leery of Defy Danger and its ilk at the best of times, and "choose your stat!" is a serious red flag. Run Away uses one specific stat and is clearly for fleeing from a problem, not overcoming it. That's a critical difference in my mind, because the core problem with Defy Danger is that it has no clear boundaries or limits - pretty much any action can be phrased as "defying" some sort of "danger" if you're willing to stretch the definitions of "defy" and "danger" enough, so it's a game of Mother May I every time you use it. Mother may I defy the danger of being embarrassed at this party by my lack of knowledge of elven etiquette? Oh, and I'm doing it by, uhhhhh showing off my muscles to all the elves so I get to roll Strength right

I dunno, maybe this is some inherent flaw of the PbtA system; the short list of cleanly-defined moves that Do This and Nothing Else leaves people itching for generic Do Other Stuff moves to cover dodging a cannonball or whatever, situations that seem to call for dice but aren't on the list. Scratching that itch doesn't fell like a great solution to me, though.

Yeah I think the best way the game squares the circle is by being up front in the default answer to the question 'what do I roll for this?' is 'you don't need to roll to do that' (I don't know if I really captured that in the Defy Disaster description) and to legit only roll Defy Disaster when that descriptor sounds right for what you're doing and it's not the sort of thing you'd expect very competent characters to just be able to do.

I will say that the game actually gives specific but slightly wordy descriptions of when each stat could apply that I left out because I was lazy, here they are:

+Might, endurance, or courage +Daring
+Swiftness or elegance +Grace
+Charm or social insight +Heart
+Cleverness or knowledge +Wit
+Willpower or metaphysical skill +Spirit

It's still not perfect of course and can feel a bit GM May I? but the game's instructions to the GM lean very heavily to try and get them on board with letting the players loving live a little (like many of the playbooks basically don't even work if the GM's going to just be a weird funhating dipshit). This is extremely not a game for GMs who want to show you their Magical Realm.

Also honestly I might not even make you roll to flex your way out of an awkward party situation that's amazing.

Feinne fucked around with this message at 22:55 on Apr 11, 2021

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Joe Slowboat posted:

The issue for me is less 'GM May I' but rather that a PBTA game lives or dies by its genre structure, and so actually it requires the GM to be more restrictive or authoritative and say 'no, you can't Defy Danger like that' whenever it would inflect out of the genre framework.

If you don't have that, the game becomes tepid - Thirsty Sword Lesbians has a very strong sense of its genre, and then gives players a genre-ambivalent method of resolving problems, and that's a problem to my eyes.

So one of the reasons for that I think is that the game is designed to accommodate a lot of different settings. There's a bit more expectation than might be normal in a PBtA game to make your own Moves if there's something players are going to be doing a lot that needs well-defined expectations rather than rely on Defy Disaster and there's a fair number of such in the provided example settings.

I'll agree it's probably just an inherent weakness to the system that sometimes people are going to want to do something and it's hard to fit it exactly into what any Move does but you all agree a dice roll is appropriate.

EDIT: So the play example actually emphasizes another element of Defy Disaster I wasn't really sure how to even explain, one of the key ways they intend it to be used is to increase your future options to use Moves in situations where you would otherwise be limited. In the play example someone's encountering a former friend who's there for a fight, and in order to get to the point of being able to use a Move other than Fight they need to Defy Disaster first.

I think also Defy Disaster is something where the game's emphasis on the fact that a Down Beat doesn't necessarily mean you failed to do the action earlier comes into play, in the example they roll a six but still get the outcome they desired at the cost of getting an appropriate Condition. A Down Beat here is much more that you lose the option of backing out when you see what it'll cost to move forward with your choice.

Feinne fucked around with this message at 00:18 on Apr 12, 2021

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Thirsty Sword Lesbians:

Alright, we start with the standard PBtA setup, pass the playbooks around, everyone chooses one, Highlander rules. Take your playbook, record your name and pronouns, choose a column of stats (each provides two sets of options) and then add +1 to two stats of your choice. Circle an option from each of the Aesthetics categories provided, then read over any special rules and make all the decisions prompted including choosing additional Moves from your playbook options. Go around the table once everyoneís done and introduce yourselves, sharing as much as you want the other players to know about your character. You then fill out the Relationships Worksheet, which has three questions for each playbook. Take turns proposing relationships between PCs based on these questions or others if you donít really like those much. You then decide to give zero, one, or two Strings to each other PC based on what makes sense to you. This is a bit more freeform than usual, in that it doesnít really hard specify what your relationships should be and a mechanical value for them. Now for the Playbooks, which are if you want to play along at home available for free at

The Beast:

The Beast is someone who doesnít fit in with civilized society. Their conflict is trying to live their truth in spite of this. The Beast always has +1 Daring, and then has either +1 Heart but -1 Wit or +1 Grace and -1 Heart. Youíre always good in a Fight, but youíre either a bit dense or a bit cold.

Your special mechanic is that you are Feral. You have a Feral stat that varies from 0-4 and starts at 1. If it should ever hit 4, you Transform. If it drops to 0, you lose access to your Beast playbook moves until itís at least 1. Increase Feral when you express yourself in a shocking way through your appearance or display intense emotion society would rather you concealed. Decrease it when you feel youíve hurt someone with your bestial nature, or you go along with an uncomfortable interaction to fit in.

Moves: Start with Transform, then pick two more.

Transform: You can turn into a beast of some kind. This happens automatically if you hit Feral 4, but can be done at will (at which point you increase your Feral to 4). Roll +Daring. On a 10+ you choose two options from the below list, on a 7-9 you choose one.

+ You are in harmony with your beast and may clear a Condition.
+ Little escapes your notice and you gain leverage or an opportunity with a monster.
+ Pain is nothing to you, and you ignore the next time you would Stagger while transformed.
+ You can move in ways no ordinary person would.

Revert to normal when Feral drops below 4. You can mark a Condition rather than reduce Feral while Transformed.

This is a nice and flavorful move that makes you super durable since you can self-clear a Condition and avoid Staggering. Self-clearing is quite rare and would be worth a move on its own. Itís also got a lot of fun alternative upside. Do note that it doesnít impact your actual stats.

Big Dyke Energy: When you make it clear to foes that youíre the biggest threat, activate this for the rest of the scene. Whenever you roll a 10+ while active, you may choose someone to be impressed or intrigued by you. Once during the scene, when you gain a String on someone, gain an additional String on someone else who considers you an enemy.

Pretty fun, free Strings on enemies is nice and lots of fun roleplaying implications. Getting attention to yourself is pretty solid, since you can relatively easily get rid of Conditions. Also the name is great.

Ferocious: When you Fight, you may mark a Condition to choose an additional option. This works even if you rolled a 6-.

Very powerful in principle, this can for example let you pick the whole set of options on a 10+. Itís double-edged of course and can potentially leave you Defeated very quickly if you donít have Support. It pointedly does not let you inflict two Conditions, weíll see in a later playbook that it would specify if this was the case.

Shameless: When you say aloud what you want from an NPC, you may give them a String on you to ask a question about them from the Figure Out a Person move.

This is again super fun and flavorful, and pretty nice. NPCs having Strings on you is pretty normal in this and not a huge deal compared to the information this can give you.

Tenacious Purpose: When you commit yourself to a goal, you may ask the GM once per scene how you could advance it in a way that violates civilized norms. Take +1 forward to act on that answer. If you refrain, you reduce your Feral by 1 and must mark a Condition.

Very powerful but risky, taking one forward is pretty strong but youíre definitely putting yourself at some risk. This Move would super not work in any game with weaker safety tools, thereís way too much room for GM abuse here.

Tracker: When you investigate someoneís living space, camp, trail, or an object important to them, roll +Heart instead of +Wit to Figure Them Out (even if theyíre not present). You can ask the question ďWhere did they go?Ē as an additional option. On a 7-9 they take a String on you instead of asking a question back. Say why.

Love this one, itís a very nice and niche Move that fits well with the Beastís, well, Beastlyness. Figure Them Out is a really important Move in practical terms, because itís one of your primary ways to deal with enemies that youíre not wanting to Fight.

In addition, the following applies to the Beast:

Smitten Kitten: When you become Smitten with someone, say why, give them a String, and answer this question: What have you done that you are sure they view as inappropriate?

The Bloody Truth: When you Figure Out a Person in physical conflict, you may additionally ask one of these questions (even on a 6-):
+ What awakens the beast inside you?
+ How could I get you to kiss me?

We close each section with a discussion of what the playbook is about. The Beast is meant to celebrate those who are treated as less than human by society because they donít fall within the confines of acceptability, and the conflict is the pressure to assimilate and abandon your truth. Youíll want to make sure youíre working with the GM when establishing the setting at the start of the game to square your visions of the society you donít fit in with.

The Chosen:

The Chosen has special status, but crushing expectations to match it. Their conflict is that between their inner truth and the destiny society expects from them. The Chosen always has +1 Grace, and then either has +1 Heart and +1 Daring or +1 Wit and -1 Spirit. Youíre always elegant but not necessarily that strong or able to stand up to toxic authority.

Your special mechanic is your Destiny. You keep getting told you have one, but itís not what you really want. They give some examples, like marrying a lovely prince, being sacrificed, etc. You choose two Heroic Aspects and two Tragic Aspects from a pair of lists. For example, you might have many Prominent Suitors and be the Helper of the Masses, but you Lose Those You Love and have a Bitter Rival. When you act in accordance with one of these Aspects, you check it off and take +1 forward. If it was a Tragic Aspect you also mark XP. When all four have been checked off you describe how your Destiny draws ever closer and then erase the marks and start anew. Itís possible youíll either fulfill or fully reject your destiny in-play, which deserves a suitably climactic scene and potentially the wrath of those who want your destiny fulfilled if you reject it. Afterwards you either choose a new Destiny, adopt a new playbook, or live happily ever after.

Moves: Start with The Fated Day Approaches and two others.

The Fated Day Approaches: Whenever you miss an opportunity to make progress towards your destiny, choose 1:

+Someone with power over you makes an uncomfortable demand in furtherance of your Detiny, backed by a threat
+The PC you care about the most receives bad news or has an accident serious enough to make them Stagger

The GM will detail it, inspired by your destiny, and it might take some time for the actual consequences to fire.

This is pretty interesting because itís entirely Ďnegativeí in a gameplay sense, but a positive in storytelling. Bad poo poo is going to constantly be happening around you if you try to thwart your destiny, which you likely are going to try to do at times because thatís the core conflict of your playbook. Importantly, often that bad poo poo is going to fall not on you but on your comrades. Extremely the Good poo poo.

Donít You Know Who I Am? When you meet someone who knows you by reputation (which is your decision), roll +Heart. On a 10+, say two things theyíve heard about you. On a 7-9, you say one and the GM says one.

This is one of those things that is incredibly powerful if you think about ways to use it, it gives you lots of room for anyone you run into to have reason to help you by default and just in general for getting your group out of some of the jams that youíll be getting them into as The Fated Day Approaches.

Entourage: You have a group of attendants. Name three of them who accompany you and choose one of the following traits: Dangerous, Fanatical, Resourceful, Charming. Then choose a basic move. The entourage grants you a +1 to rolls for this move if theyíre present. If youíd Stagger, youíre allowed to choose one of your named Entourage to die instead. If you do, your Entourage gains a String on you.

The Thirsty Sword Lesbians equivalent of having a Gang, this is pretty fun and quite strong. The bonus is good and the ability to avoid Staggering is strong but at massive drama cost. It also fits super well with The Fated Day Approaches, with the Chosen either sacrificing themselves or harming those around them.

Gossip: When you seek insight about a person by spending some time gossiping with those who know them, roll +Wit. On a 10+, you learn a dangerous secret and gain a String on the target. You also get to ask one question from the Figure Out a Person move. On a 7-9, you just as one question. If youíre speaking to someone who is dangerous to you, they also get to ask one question back.

This is another very interesting one, because the last bit suggests for example being in a situation where youíre among enemies who arenít able to directly harm you because of your status. Indirect information gathering is great in this, especially since it lets you set the stage for future events in interesting ways.

Guidance From Above: When you petition a superior for guidance, they give you instructions and useful information. Mark XP or clear a Condition if you do as commanded. They gain a String on you if you do otherwise.

This is sort of its own special Call Upon a Toxic Power to me. Thereís a lot of carrot to acting on the guidance but itís fair to assume the advice is going to be a bit more focused on your destiny than what you really want.

Help Me~~!: Youíre a magnet for trouble and hunted by nefarious forces. Others mark XP when they Defy Disaster that would otherwise befall you. In addition, whenever youíre captured, your captor reveals something they hope to achieve; gain a String on them and mark XP.

Continuing on the trend of causing trouble for your companions, this actually gives them some mechanical benefit for the drama youíre causing. The second half is funny as hell too, essentially enforced Bond villain monologues if youíre captured (and letís be real if you take this Move youíre saying you expect to get captured by the enemy on a regular basis).

Know Your Place!: When someone dares insult you and you deliver a scathing retort, roll +Wit. On a 10+, word spreads of your sharp wit and you take +1 forward. Then on any success they choose one:

+Back down
+Make a fool of themselves
+Attack you

With this move your verbal sparring is pretty potent, any of those choices is pretty much a win in a social situation in some regard. And thereís a decent chance youíre going to generate a reason for one of your friends to Defy Disaster for you when the Space Pope tries to throw down on you or something.

You also get the following:

Love Is Not My Destiny: When you become Smitten with someone, say why, give them a String, then answer this question: How do our respective stations make it impossible to be together?

Inescapable Conclusions: When you Figure Out a Person during a physical conflict, your bonus question list is:
+What do you hope for your future?
+What do you fear is your destiny?

People constantly want things from the Chosen, and rarely care what they want for themselves. Youíre a powerful and influential character in the world and as a player often have quite a bit of say in worldbuilding as you lay out who all is invested in your Destiny, though obviously the GM has final say.

Next time two more playbooks: The Devoted and The Infamous

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Nessus posted:

I suspect I don't fully get the fictional exemplars for this class, however it would seem that an interesting choice fork at some point will be what to do when you are no longer shocking. However, this may be something the character would deal with when they are 27 or something, and the game does not seem to focus on such periods in one's life.

Well remember, you pointedly either switch to a different playbook with a different conflict or retire your character when you've gotten past the conflict of your playbook.

megane posted:

I get that that's the intent, but "I get power by doing whatever I want, but NPCs might disapprove" just feels like an uninteresting angle to me. I'm not saying the catgirl should never tell the king to gently caress off, I'm saying that when she refrains because it makes sense for the story, she shouldn't be punished. For the Beast's character arc to have any sort of weight to it, we need to occasionally have scenes where the Beast grits her teeth and plays by society's rules for a while. Otherwise the Beast is just a superhero that NPCs don't like, and who doesn't give the slightest poo poo that they don't like her unless they can force her to, the end, no moral. So we reward the player for making those scenes happen occasionally. If every mechanic tells her to slam the gently caress Society button and hold it down... she'll probably just do it, scene 1, session 1, and never look back? And/or be pissed because she's not allowed to. Rewarding her for letting up on the button by letting her hit it even harder later is good for the story and more fun for everyone.

Just compare it with the Chosen right below it. It has actual tension built into it! You have a Destiny that you don't like, and you're rewarded both for going along with it and for fighting it! When you do stuff your character might not like, but which makes up a key part of the story, you get XP! And if you decide to kick over the table and immediately tell Destiny to go gently caress itself, fine, but then you switch playbooks because the tension was the whole point!

The thing about the Beast's conflict and the mechanism to stop her slamming the gently caress Society button at all times is that while she doesn't care about what society thinks she absolutely cares about how her actions impact her friends. The Beast wants to go downtown dressed as a powerful sorceress but is worried if she gets poo poo for it it'll spill over onto her friends.

Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

megane posted:

Yes, again, I understand the intent. I'm saying this is a poor implementation of that intent, because all of the conflict is in the description, not the mechanics. The fluff tells the player "you worry that society won't approve of your bestial nature!" and then zero of the mechanics reflect that; it's entirely rewards for breaking taboo and punishment for not. So if the player is, in fact, on-board with what the description suggests - willing to play out the arc where she slowly learns to open up and be herself, willing to explore both sides of the argument we told her her playbook was about, willing to bite her tongue sometimes because it benefits the other PCs - then the playbook punishes her for being interesting and nuanced and a team player by taking away all her moves and not letting her transform. These things should leave the character feeling frustrated, but the player should feel rewarded.

I mean it's very pointed that what makes you special is also what makes you not fit in with society and you pointedly are fitting in with society when you're at 0 Feral. It's not like it's difficult to get back up to 1 if you need to do your stuff. You finally get sick of putting up with whatever bullshit is going on and shout gently caress THIS poo poo on the crowded street, there you go you've expressed your emotions in a way society doesn't approve of and you're ready to go.

So I think you're not seeing the ideal way to be using Transform. You don't actually want to stay at 4 Feral, because when you're there you're just Transformed and are unable to get the primary benefit of the move which is clearing a Condition as you do it. What you want to do is hang around at 1-3 (remember that you can just Transform whenever you want when you're in that range) and Transform when you either have a Condition to heal, feel like you might need the Stagger immune or narratively need the movement abilities then let yourself go back down to 3 unless there's an extremely good reason to take that Condition to stay at 4.

Feinne fucked around with this message at 20:49 on Apr 14, 2021


Oct 9, 2007

When you fall, get right back up again.

Tsilkani posted:

It's a game by queer authors about queer themes, they are never, ever, ever going to make denying who you are a source of power. Denying yourself to fit in being a punishment is the point. If they're at Feral 0 and they need to transform, they just need to embrace who they are again and display that in front of people and they have everything back.

It is not about exploring both sides of the argument. One of the sides of the argument is wrong, and destroys what it means to be yourself. There is no power in conformity beyond not sticking out. The Beast is about the journey to learn that, and when they finally do, and embrace themselves, they have fulfilled their conflict and should switch to another playbook like the rules suggest.

Conforming to society is the Bad End

Thank you absolutely this.

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