Author Topic: Running Monsterhearts Once  (Read 4195 times)

hobbesque

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Running Monsterhearts Once
« on: March 20, 2012, 03:54:14 PM »
First: A friend ran this game for me and some friends, and it was glorious. So, thanks.

To the point: I want to pay it forward and run this game for some friends, but! Particularly for a friend in town only briefly, and another buried by schoolwork. The way schedules line up, we won't get more than one long session, or maybe two short ones.

This runs in to the obvious problem that Monsterhearts gets better with age. In the game I played, even though the MC was only in town for a week, we kept on trying to shoehorn in juust one more. Relationships develop, moves snowball, all that good stuff. I was struck, reading AW for the first time after, when it said something like "I don't consider it a real game until around six sessions."

So: advice? What do people do at Cons, or in similar set ups? How do you make things pop in a limited time, while keeping the story feral, i.e, not relying too much on MC prep?

mcdaldno

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Re: Running Monsterhearts Once
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2012, 07:28:15 PM »
First,

I think Monsterhearts hits its sweet spot much quicker than Apocalypse World does. Sessions 2 & 3 are where the gold is, as opposed to Apocalypse World's sessions 4 & 5 (in my experience).

That said, here's what you can do to get to the juicy drama right away:

1. Create a seating chart in advance. Maybe make it 5 desks by 4 desks, and fill about 14 of those desk (out of 20) with students. For each, just write something like "Felicia, total psycho, biker" or "Rodney, closet drag queen." The Seating Chart is where lots of prime drama gets its seed, but it also takes time to make. Making it in advance works, and all you need to do is say "Okay, PCs, where do you sit? What do you think of hte person next to you?" Done.

2. Consider pre-generated characters. It works best if you pick most of their stuff in advance, and let the player sit down and pick one or two final things. Pick their look, origin, stats, and most moves. Leave them to pick name & 1 move.

3. Finally, I'm writing a con scenario pack called The Blood of Misty Harbour, right now. It's a three-episode miniseries. Each episode plays out in 2-3 hours. Each episode has some new pre-generated characters and a set of opening scenes & guiding questions. It's like a story-gamified adventure module. I'd happily let you see the playtest copy, and you could run the first two episodes to see how it goes! DM me your email address if interested.

hobbesque

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Re: Running Monsterhearts Once
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2012, 09:23:47 PM »
Oh man, that would be awesome. Hit me up. I was looking at the AW premade, Hatchet City. It'll be interesting to compare what you have to that, given the very different milieus, and more mildly different design.

The first two sound useful, also. There's nothing in the seating chart that isn't fairly adaptable to whatever the players generate. I guess I was mostly looking for some kind of permission about pregens; they're a pretty obvious choice, and at the very least if I made anything up ahead of time I was going to try and present a smaller selection of skins so I could narrow down the list of themes I wanted to be prepared to call on.

What do you think of starting out with Letters from the MC, ala Hatchet City? I'm sufficiently taken with the idea in theory, but I think I might need to try it on something more concrete before I see if it pops.

mcdaldno

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Re: Running Monsterhearts Once
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2012, 09:44:32 PM »
I think writing a custom "Your Backstory" is more effective than love letters for a one-shot.

Alternately, I'd just put forward an index card with three options, and say "Pick one." The options could be "You were just bitten last week; Your maker just contacted you for the first time in decades; It turns out that the person you just killed and drank from is an old friend."

hobbesque

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Re: Running Monsterhearts Once
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2012, 02:24:14 AM »
I should be running the first two episodes, if not all three, this Saturday, and going through it with another pack of three in the nearish future. I'm excited, it looks really cool.

Have you ever used love letters or the like in a longer-term game?

mcdaldno

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Re: Running Monsterhearts Once
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2012, 03:54:10 AM »
I don't do many long-term games, but: I generally don't like love letters as Vincent implements them. I get that others are excited about them, but I think that between Fronts & set-up moves (in AW), there's no need for additional front-loading.

But then I've also noticed that I am well-trained at asking provocative questions, and so am adept at reaching the "love letter-like effects" with a few leading questions. Maybe that's harder for others, and so love letters form an important part of the toolkit.

Anyways, I've never used them in Monsterhearts and don't feel like they're the right choice. The action in MH is so internal (compared to AW) that they seem out of place to me. That said, I think it's cool if people like them and want to implement them!