Just some kind of gut-level reactions/analysis from finally getting to play Monsterhearts (yay) at Fractured Realities (yay). I'm putting them here instead of email because I figure a bunch of other people at said con also just played the game, so they might have other opinions or other stuff that was cool/bad/weird.
So, point form.
* Hot really, really seemed to dominate the game, both in terms of being awesome and also how much it got used. Strings are the killer app, and Hot feeds into the only basic move that can create strings.
* We had some Shut Someone Down going on, but it was never in response to the presence of Strings and in fact it was never used against anyone who incidentally happened to have Strings on the PC.
* I am also a bit uncertain about the interaction between Shutting Someone Down and Turning Someone On -- is the intention that these will be used back and forth in the fiction, as a kind of direct/immediate counter? This didn't come up in the game at all, just something that occured to me.
* The 7-9 result on Turn Someone On is pretty fantastic. Probably this was moreso in the convention environment, where generally it helps to have a mechanical excuse/prompt if you want your character to just like, suddenly jump somebody's bones (or vice versa.)
* Overall there seemed to be far too many moves where I was getting Hold (exciting!) and then spending all of it to avoid bad stuff, instead of get good stuff (deflating!) I know this is kind of a favourite trope in a lot of hacks/new moves (because it's so fun to have a list that implies both good and bad possibilities) but I am really, really not convinced it is actually good design for the system in general, or Monsterhearts in particular. (Think about how many moves in the original game are like this -- basically none; even the ones that have similar effects are not phrased in that way, they just flat out say 'you get this, but it's not perfect in this other way' as part of a single choice.)
* This was particularly noticeable when Gazing Into the Abyss, though there is so much ambiguity in the things I am choosing that I am not sure it was intentional (see below.) But it really felt like I had to spend 2 moves (which is almost all of my resources on a 10+ hit) just to get a truthful, relevant answer -- and that's really, really frustrating.
* It's possible that 'it tells you what you want' is supposed to be like 'reality bends so that the answer to your question is what you hoped it was' -- but if so that is super-terrible in a completely different way, since it runs counter to the underlying fiction-first ethic of the game. Similarly, I really wasn't sure what 'it could be worse' meant -- if it's the meta-fiction counterpart to 'tells you what you want' then see above -- but my initial read was that it referred to the experience of gazing into the abyss itself. (As in, 'it's not super-traumatizing to do the move this time.') That kind of works, though it's a bit hard to tell as a player what that is going to actually do, at least until you see how the MC deals with it a few times.
* Really, the more I think about it, the less I understand why this move doesn't just work exactly like Open Your Brain, with more or less useful/bizarre visions depending on your hit. It seems like you're making it a lot more complicated with no benefit? I mean, do you see this move as serving a different function than OYB (which is basically an information dump or a 'I dunno what to do next' button wrapped up in awesome colour?)
* Need more hexes! I started making a list during play but got distracted (probably a good sign). Maybe some kind of counterspell thing, or a hex that makes Moves backfire? A hex that gives the Witch strings in a cool way would also be nice (like, say, every time they turn someone on, the Witch also gets a string?)
* I didn't really see the Fey sheet, but it felt like the player playing the Fey was struggling a bit to figure out how to get promises out of people, or how to use his promise-related moves. (Maybe he's around here and will chime in, I forget his name.)
* I really, really wanted to use 'lash out at someone' to lash out emotionally at someone. Every single PC in our game had Volatile highlighted, and it was rolled I think 4 times -- 3 of which were to get out of a situation. And none of those situations were necessarily violent -- it was all stuff like 'avoid detection' or 'postpone consequences'. I know that the source material does have inevitable periods of real physical conflict, so maybe it was just our game that never went there, but somehow I feel like this stat could do double-duty. I think I mentioned this to you and you said that 'shut somebody down' was meant to be the social/emotional equivalent of lashing out -- I can see that, on one level. But on the other level there is no way I pick a stat line with a high 'cold' if I want to lash out at people emotionally -- I pick a high 'volatile', and not just because I see 'lash out' next to it on the character sheet. So this might just be a labelling issue, but I don't know.
It seems to me there's two fictionally distinct ways of hurting someone emotionally at work here: one, by shutting them down or cutting them out or making them feel alone; the other, by overloading them with negative emotions, mocking them aggressively, etc. Like I can call somebody fat in a cold way, where it's like 'why would I even interact with somebody like you?', or I can do it in a volatile way, where it's like 'you are so fucking fat -- how can you look at yourself in the mirror? you disgust me' sort of way. It may just be my predilection for focusing on emotional/social damage in all HS environments, but I think both of those deserve their own stat, and should achieve noticeably different effects.
More as they come to mind.