Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Richmond High : Monster Hearts

Richmond High

Monster Hearts

The Saturday group convened for a game and given we had concluded our epic Houses of the Blooded saga, this was going to be a chance to try something new.  A new player who had never ever played before was joining us, so to place everyone on the same boat, I opted to make this a Monster Hearts game.  That way, everyone had the chance to learn something new, and everyone would feel the freedom to ask questions and inquire about things.

So given Monster Hearts used the Apocalypse World system, it was familiar enough to try yet different enough to explore.  I printed out all (except the Infernal) sheets and gave the players a run down on the mechanics and Skins.  The new player literally never played any other kind of game before, so I kind of opted not to let her get the Infernal option lest is confuse or unnecessarily raise concern given the 700 Club and other religious groups' attempts to connect gaming to whatever cult activity they want.

In the end, the cast was composed of a Mortal, a Queen, a Fae, a Vampire and a Witch.

Mai chose the Vampire Skin.
She was Amanda, an aloof Korean vampire with dead-eyes.  She was many ages old and was Hot 1, Cold 2, Volatile -1 and Dark -1.  She was once saved by Veronica, the Queen.  She had the moves Hypnotic and The Feeding.

Arj chose the Witch Skin.
He portrayed Darius Patel, a guarded Indian man with calculating eyes.  He had just recently awoken,  with his Witch side awakening while playing World of Warcraft at home.   He was Hot 0, Cold 1, Volatile -1 and Dark 1 and had stolen Queen Victoria's Scarf and the Fae Aurora's pocket watch as sympathetic tokens.  However, the mortal Wendy once caught him rummaging through someone else's stuff.  He had the moves Sympathetic Tokens and Hex-casting, as well as Bide My Time.  He knew how to Wither and Bind people through Hexes.

Rocky chose the Queen Skin.
He decided to portray the Queen as Veronica, an icy blonde woman with calculating eyes.  Veronica never wears the same thing twice.  She was the firstborn of the hive mind and was Hot 1, Cold 1, Volatile -1 and Dark 0.  Her gang was composed of Marcy (who was seemingly always the last to notice things), Kayla (who was her closest friend), and Mitch (a big guy who acted as one of the girls).  She felt threatened by the Vampire Amanda.  She has the moves The Clique (they're connected) and Many Bodies.  This was his first time ever to play a female character.

Princess chose the Fae Skin.
She was Auroa, a girlish young woman short rainbow colored hair with dainty eyes.  She was fae born and had captured Darius' fancy. She was Hot 1, Cold -1, Volatile -1 and Dark 1.  She had the Moves Faery Contract and Guide.  Her parents were Mildred and Randolph of the Faerie Lands.

Matt chose the Mortal Skin.
He decided to portray the Mortal as Wendy, a beautiful girl with doe eyes.  She was the kid next door who happened to always perk up her boobs and suck on licorice sticks.  She was Hot 2, Cold -1, Volatile -1 and Dark 1.  She declared Amanda as her lover, even if Amanda cared nothing for the young girl.  She has the Moves True Love and Mess With Me, Mess With Him, and Excuses Are My Armour.

For this game, I opted to use a lot of lyric music, because I wanted to capture the feel of a teen show.  The story was to be set in Richmond High, an exclusive school in Boston, Massachusetts.  

(Bad Day by Daniel Powter)

Wendy notices that Amanda is not in class.  She stopped showing up in class ever since the former teacher, Professor Samuel, disappeared and the replacement teacher Professor Andy shifted the classes to a morning schedule.  Andy notices Wendy day dreaming and asks her to answer the question he just asked.  Clearly, Wendy could not.  Aurora notices Darius in the rear of the classroom, busy with what seems to be her missing Pocketwatch!  Veronica mistakes Aurora to be staring at her (when in truth, she was staring at Darius, who sat directly behind her) and throws her classmate a cold glare.  None of them are aware of each other's supernatural selves.

Andy questions Wendy on Amanda's whereabouts, and that's when Brad, the school jock, offers to call her and check why she wasn't in.  Veronica gasps upon seeing Brad, wanting to win him over. But Wendy is bothered that Brad has Amanda's phone number.  Or worse, that she usually hears from him.  Brad calls but no one answered.  He waits.

Elsewhere, Amanda opens her eyes.  It is still daylight out and she realizes she can hear her cellphone ringing.  Telepathically, her father reaches out and asks her to shut the device.  Amanda just tries to ignore it first til it stops.  But it doesn't.  And as she reaches out of her coffin to shut it off, she loses balance and falls to the ground.  That's when she sees it.  Sunlight.  Streams of light coming from the opened window.  And before she could react, a figure already in the room attempts to grab her!

Patel attempts to leave the room, but Aurora calls him out on having stolen her pocket watch.  The Professor  has him hand it over and to Aurora's shock inadvertently twists the pocket watch to "unlock".  Aurora recalls her mother in the Faerie lands warning her not to lose the watch.  Patel tries to leave, but Veronica and Wendy approach Brad to ask him about Amanda.  The argument heats up a bit, but the Professor demands they all leave and asks Patel to say.     Brad excuses himself, taps Veronica on the back twice, then quickly leaves, and the others opt to head off as well.

(A Girl Like You by Edwyn Collins)

Aurora, worried about the pocket watch, rushes off down the corridor to find a doorway to head home.  She walks down the hallway, greeting each and every person who meets her.  As she arrives at the ladies room, she finds the door locked.  Annoyed, she uses her Guide move to open a door to the Faerie Lands, and steps through.

He quickly makes her way to her mother, who warns her that the pocket watch contains Chronos, their grandfather, who should never be released.  When Mildred notices the pocket watch is already unlocked, she hurriedly calls for her husband to help hold back the old god!

Aurora fails to notice that she left the gateway to the Faerie Lands open.

(Fuck You by Lily Allen)

Veronica heads down the same hallway, intent on finding Brad to learn what he knows about Amanda.  She sends Kayla to find out ("using all necessary ways") if Wendy is Lesbian, as Veronica worried that Brad might be interested in Wendy.  She then sends Mitch to find out where Brad went.  As they walk down the hallway, they notice the strange lights that dance on the men's room door.  Veronica simply raises and eyebrow and both Marcy and Mitch jump in.  When the door suddenly vanishes, Veronica realizes Brad is suddenly just there by the door, surprised to see her outside.  He smiles, but as they talk, he seems to pat her twice again on the back, before heading down the hallway as he mumbles about worrying over Amanda.  Veronica is worried she's been friend-zoned by the hottest man in campus!

(Tubthumping by Chumbawamba)

Amanda shoves the guy away as she uses her speed to twist out of her attacker's grip!  But she accidentally lands within a ray of sunlight and feels the heat burn her skin!  As the attacker pauses, confused, Amanda focuses on his eyes and hypnotizes him to dance like a chicken.  Overwhelmed, the man starts to dance, and during this moment of respite, Amanda's father enters the room and pulls them both to the next room.  There, he worries aloud that their family may have to move, commands her daughter to return to school to find out who sent the hunter, and then gives her a salve to rub over herself to be able to walk under the sun.    She feeds on the man to heal her burns and heads off.  

Amanda, is attacked a second time, while enroute to school by two people, but once again Hyptonizes them to attack each other instead before stealing a bike to head to school faster.

(What's Up by 4 Non Blondes)

As she arrives in campus, she finds Wendy in the corridor, who smiles upon seeing her.  As Wendy tries to find out what's going on, Amanda totally ignores the young woman and senses something instead. There is a sharp scent of blood in the air.  She tries to track the smell, walking past a doting Wendy who is oblivious to having been ignored.  The two turn down the hallway into the corridor leading back towards the rooms, the very same corridor Veronica, Kayla and Brad are on as they walk back towards the room as well.

(Berlin Calling Album by Paul Kalkbrenner)

In the room, Darius stares at the teacher who starts talking to him about how "certain people" are just "wrong" and shouldn't be "allowed to roam around pretending to be... normal."  Darius senses something is definitely wrong but tries to play it cool.  But then, the door creaks open and the Janitor, Mister Sam steps inside.  As Darius considers what to do, the Professor tells the Janitor to "Do it" and the Janitor suddenly swings the mop at Darius!  It catches Darius by the chin, painfully snapping it out of place and this forces Darius to embrace his Darker Self.  The whole room spins into shadows as Darius howls at the Professor and his screams begin to make the old man wither and rot!

Back in the Faerie Lands, Marcy and Mitch scream in panic as they realize they've done something impossible!   A massive dragon in the sky breathes fire upon them, that shapes itself into a cage to keep them from moving.  Aurora rushes to their area, and tries to convince them that this is all just a dream, and she can guide them back out.  Marcy, however, questions Aurora's statements and when the Dragon mistakes Marcy's actions as a threat upon its mistress, the Dragon moves to chomp the student down.  But the Dragon dissipates into mist as Marcy questions the Dragon's existence, using logic to undo the monster's existence.  Aurora realizes the two are Dreamers, and as Dreamers, their very thoughts can shape the Faerie Lands like clay! That was why her mother always warned her NOT to bring friends over.

In the distance, the Faerie Castle exploded as a great gigantic Titan emerged in an intense battle with Aurora's father.  Aurora realized he had a way to stop the Titan Chronos and deal with the two wayward Dreamers at the same time.  She befriends Marcy, asking her to to trust her and when Marcy considers it, she suggests that Aurora join her and Mitch to start a new clique.  Aurora sneakily suggests that if Marcy deals with the problem out there (pointing to the castle), she would agree.  With a thought, the Titan Chronos is trapped once more in the pocket watch.  And with that the newly formed clique step through the door to return home.

Back in the campus, Kayla rushes towards Wendy and Amanda and gets to Wendy after Amanda steps through the glimmering door.  As Amanda sees the battle raging between Darius and the Janitor, Wendy feels Kayla's hands pull her close as the two fall down into a kiss.

In the darkness, Amanda sees Darius in his Darker Self.  She watches as Darius has some trouble against the  Janitor's mop, which was made of Birch and able to counter the Witch's Hexes.  Fire begins to rage in the room itself.  But when Amanda realizes Darius seems to be the ONLY target of the rotting Professor and the Janitor, she decides wisely to just leave before they notice her.

Outside, Brad and Veronica are impressed as Kayla and Wendy share that moment.  Kayla pulls back, a bit breathless, while Wendy turns towards the door to see Amanda step back out.  Brad admits that while the kiss was hot, he definitely was wondering what Amanda was thinking about it.  This solidifies to Veronica that Brad only saw her as his friend, and that his interest was solely aimed at the Vampire.

With the fire now spilling out of the room, Veronica ushers Kayla to leave with her.  She senses that Wendy is on the path of becoming one of her's, but that can wait for now.  As they leave, they see a pair of young freshmen who seem eagerly impressed by how Veronica and Kayla dress.  To Veronica's surprise, the freshmen are both named Marcy and Mitch.   There is promise here.

"As if," Veronica sneers.

Aurora, Marcy and Mitch emerge from the door to see the fire already spilling out to the hallway.  The three quickly exit as well, worried that they might get trapped in the blaze.  Mitch admits that she feels happy about this new group.  Aurora just feels happy to have new friends.  Both are impressed at how intelligent Marcy happens to be.  Her absent-mindedness all that time was actually more because she was always over-thinking everything while with the clique.

Amanda, Brad and Wendy make to leave as well, but Wendy asks the two to head out to grab something to eat.  Brad looks at Amanda, and when Amanda smiles back, Brad suggests to Wendy to head on home ahead of time and prep the house for a sleep over.  Wendy excitedly heads home.  Brad and Amanda enjoy a date, with Amanda telepathically reassuring her father that their secret remains safe.  As is well.

And Darius awakens naked in an alleyway, and with no recollection of how he got there.  He can see a pillar of dark smoke in the distance, in the direction of where his school should be.  He decides to hurry home and ponder on the events next time.

And finally, the phone rings at Wendy's house.  It is Amanda's number.

(Bad Day by Daniel Powter)

Wendy hears Brad's voice telling her that they've decided to do something else.
Wendy closes her eyes and tells herself, "Amanda remembered to tell me they weren't pushing through.  She really does care."

Brad never sees Amanda's fangs before he feels them.

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