The game is about goals, relationship and power, in the backdrop of a modern day Japan in the midst of a secret ninja clan cold war. 3-5 competent shinobi characters aim to take control of an object of power, meanwhile they pursue unique hidden goals that may lead them to cooperate or compete with each other. Often there is an antagonist non-player character with monstrous goals that must be stopped (though even as they do so, the cooperation and competition between the shinobi continues). Forming relationships puts you at risk but also opens you up to learn more secrets and information. Everyone’s secret goal is unique and often puts the characters into conflict with some of the others, or perhaps drives them to protect or love others.
Last night we played an Alpha version of the new translation of the Japanese RPG Shinobigami.The dynamic online was hard work - a lot of interruptions and mic noise., and a general unfamiliarity with the rules led to distraction for the first half.
As we grew to understand the rules better, we eventually became more comfortable and the game flowed in what seemed the prescribed structure.
It was fun! A light-hearted anime-themed PvP. The group seemed to agree at the end that the game was mechanically heavy and therefore had the tendency to lapse in to a more boardgamey style. I would say 'mechanically-heavy' rather than 'rules-heavy' as it's not the number of rules but the way the mechanics are so overt and constant.
The story felt quite railroaded, in that there were a number of exposition scenes leading to the final battle, in which all the PCs fight each other. This is perfectly normal for this genre, however it was a little unsatisfying knowing that everything I did had so little consequence leading into the final battle.
Some of the mechanics were quite fun, even if they did not lead us to a style of play I am used to. I think if we played this game again we'd be able to use the mechanics at the anime-battle-pace they feel like they could go, which would help the feel.
One thing I noticed is that the amount of mechanical movements meant that there was simply not enough time to narrate or explain how each mechanical part coloured the fiction or affected the characters, above the mechanical effect. This is probably the greatest divergence from the games I'm currently used to; one roll changes the fiction, by design, but we take time to move the fiction around it, rather than rolling and then moving on. I think the rules try to get the GM to push the players to describe things in this way but that would slow the game down so much if we were to stick to it.
Got a bit flustered when trying to work out how to private message one of the players, while framing a scene, and stumbled a bunch of times, lost my place. Rambled semi-coherently, becoming more and more self-aware.
Eventually I opened our Slack channel to try and message them there, but was by then running a few trains of thought simultaneously, overanalysing my behaviour, not finishing sentences (in reality this probably only lasted a few seconds).
I looked at the Slack chat and the last message on there was,
"He's faffing about with it too much"
Oh my god, they're talking about my MCing in chat, they think I'm doing a terrible job. They're right about it, but now i'm hyper-self-aware. - i'm pretty much having a minor panic attack now.
I'm Playing To Find Out What Happens (When You Have Tunnel Vision).
I'm carrying on. I think we're all pretending everything's ok, just so we can get to a point where they can leave politely.
An hour of this pretence and the session ends, and I breath out for what seems like the first time in over 60minutes. We wrap up quietly and leave Hangouts.
I check Slack and the same message is still there, timestamped 17:53. Two hours before the game started. It was a valid point in a conversation about a completely unrelated topic, hours before.
uuggghhh. what a stupid brain. I feel sick for making myself sick.
And I can't believe i've built trust with these people only to distrust them as soon as I start to feel insecure.
The players are all really nice. And all played openly and well! It was all only inside my head and I expect they would be surprised to read this.
Leap to the worst possible conclusion
Trigger their Darkest Self
Herald the abyss
This is an account of the events from the first session of Monsterhearts - Cold Cheer High.
I have tried for an approach wherein I describe the main action, and the players fill in their characters' experiences, thoughts and feelings. I think this could work as a format, but I need to keep the players engaged.
The pulp-trash style in which it is written was not purposeful, it's just my trashy writing. But it works really well for this game.
This was written in part because we have a new player joining for session 2 and it would help them adjust to the story.
Monsterhearts is a game about the messy lives of teenage monsters.
I chose to run it as my first game because I feel close to the subject matter and I love the design of the game.