I ran a game of Monsterhearts at the Geekmeet. Monsterhearts works really well in one-off format and is easy to run if you have watched a lot of oversexed teen (and not so teen) supernatural shows. I’m looking at you, True Blood!
I had four female players so I wanted to celebrate the occasion by doing a Catholic girl school story. Just as we established that, Jan (Barad) walked in and joined our game. Oho! We turned it into ‘the first year that boys are allowed in the former girls school’ (fun fact: Belgium was quite late to promote mixed schools. People in their thirties here still went to boys and girls schools).
We had a rich girl fae, a tough boy werewolf with a little sister to protect, a divinely saved ghoul, a judgmental Angel, and a punky witch. Between the Catholic girl school idea, the Angel and the divine fate of the ghoul, I was set for a very religiously themed game of Monsterhearts! Interesting. There was a lot of talking to Jesus (a lot of Belgian schools still have conventient Jesus statues hanging in every classroom), praying before first class of the day.. I thought I’d go all the way and make the bad guys satanists for good measure.
I spread out a lot of clues as to what was going on, but made sure they were divided across all the players. This caused some problems, as everyone was too busy being self-absorbed and cool to actually work together!
Fortunately, the Witch was a gung-ho sort of character who was dedicated to finding out what was going on. Yay! I gave her a bunch of clues and a cool ritual that would allow her to see all the other supernaturals in the boarding school. To use it, she needed tokens from two other supernaturals. Go bond, dammit!
This lead to one of the highlight of the game: the Angel and the Witch meeting in the chapel. She to get holy water for her ritual and he made her some. Then he invited her to pray, which she was happy to pretend to oblige in. At the Altar he opened himself to heaven. He saw the wooden vines of the altar come alive and bend towards her in a soothing gesture. She took advantage of his distraction to swipe a few hairs off of his shoulder. He caught her red handed. She tried to pass it off as a gesture of intimacy. He kissed her. They had delicate sex in the chapel. Afterwards, the witch took his ‘I love Jesus’ T-shirt as a token of his affection, kissed him on the forehead and walked out. He got us, and only then noticed they had been making love on the heart of the pentagram. As the Angel got up, all the Jesus statues in the Chapel turns their heads away in disgust.
(Because we are sexy liberal Europeans, I tend to ask “what kind of sex is it?” before fading to black. Here they just went with “you know, normal sex. Kind of sweet”, but I’ve had some surprising answers.)
Sweet! The witch went off to do the ritual and it failed, so I ruled that it gave all the supernaturals the ability to see all other supernaturals on the grounds! “Hellz yeah, I have them now! Now they’ll have to talk to each other!” I thought. This lead to a hilarious scene where all characters met up and all of them still refused to tell each other anything of note while the entire school was crushing down around them!
(teenagers too cool to care that the world is burning)
Eventually we arrived at the big bad fight (an old fallen-angel buddy of our own Angel). I get bored at regular combat, so I made it the demon could mostly be hurt by selfless acts. I thought that was a pretty neat idea, but my cool kids were not very prone to selflessness, so that didn’t work very well. Especially when he started triggering people’s darkest selves!
Then, eventually, the demon started whipping out bigger attacks, and he shot his detachable claws at the Angel. The Ghoul jumped in front of him, and the claws still shot through her and almost raked his face. She fell to the ground, nearly dead. But the Angel had a miracle up his sleeve and restored the Ghoul back to life.
I stared at the Angel player who was grinning triumphantly. The Ghoul player was erased her boxes and said “So I’m back at 4 health, then”. Me and the Angel player both said “No. No, you’re alive. Not a Ghoul. Alive!”. She got handed the Mortal sheet and we continued play.
The demon was near-death around that time, and wrap-up consisted of people trying to get their friends out their Darkest Selves, ending with everyone trying to talk the Witch out of cursing everyone with unending periods. Good times!
The game went well, but it was hard to get everyone in there equally. Always a problem with one-offs, but it seems very common in Monsterhearts. Especially the Rich Girl Fae didn’t get enough playtime, that skin is also a lot more suited for slow play than the speed of a one-off. Especially their Darkest Self is very hard to play in the chaos that usually comes with Monsterhearts enders.
The Werewolf got a fair bit of play and a few very cute scenes with his kid sister (“Whaaa, I don’t like it when you turn into a stinky werewoooolf”), but I really should have set him up with a leading question about a romantic relationship. That tends to give the werewolf a lot more *bite*, so to speak.
All in all, I was very happy with the session!