Sunday, September 15, 2013

Monsterhearts: Episode One

Last night we played our first session of Monsterhearts (characters here). In keeping with the book's advice, I just followed the characters around on their first day and added some interesting bits that will lead to our Threats and Menaces.

The players really got into this game. They dove right into the high school plots and shenanigans, and fleshed out the world as we went. So!

It's Friday, October 13. The Homecoming game and dance is in two weeks (10/27), and of course it has a Halloween theme. The characters are all in homeroom - Cassie is on the Homecoming committee (as are her three clique members). The morning announcements happen; Genesis talks some shit about Homecoming and Rook and Cassie reach out to her, offering to take her out shopping and so on.

First period is a creative writing elective (Rook and Cassie), English (Genesis), and Geometry (Skylar and Dora). Rook and Cassie write something scary:

Rook: The man stood at the top of the stairs. How did he get into my house?

I just stood there as he started laughing. I heard the soft moans of my mother from her bedroom and the drumming of my fathers leg’s as he bled out.
The knife in the man’s hand still dripping the blood that runs through my veins, I turn and the world goes slow.
Like molasses, I move to the door, trying to escape, trying to leave, trying to break free.
I don’t ever turn around. I don’t even look back.
I can’t possibly leave the house in these shoes, but I must.


Cassie: 
Haunted house, black cat
Seeing my Grandma naked.
All these things scare me.

In English class, Ms. Downey assigned Interview With The Vampire, and Genesis winds up in a study group with Alyssa (one of Cassie's cronies) and Omar Diaz, one of the smartest people in the sophomore class (Genesis might have a little crush; this becomes important later). They talk about the Theater of Vampires and about predators fucking with their prey just because they can, and about whether other animals do that (cats, but what else?). 

In Geometry class, though, shit gets real. 

Skylar hasn't done his homework, and Mr. Piper asks why ("Zombies ate it"). Kevin Gable, one of the football team, makes a disparaging remark when Skylar answers a question, and winds up getting called up to the board (along with Dora and Skylar) to do a problem. Dora does hers no problem (it's math, it's not like it's culturally biased), Kevin has trouble, so Skylar does her problem and then does Kevin's (shutting him down). Keven is humiliated, and goes back to his seat. 

After class, though, Keven body-checks Skylar into a locker. Skylar responds by turning him on, pushing back and giving Kevin a little peck on the cheek. Kevin escalates the violence, but Dora casts a hex (binding). She gets in the way, though, so Kevin punches her in the face (aiming for Skylar). Genesis immediately calls out Kevin (shutting him down), and winds up giving him the ashamed Condition (he yells "dyke" over his shoulder, which winds up attaching as a Condition to Genesis). Cassie pops into a classroom and rats out Kevin to a teacher; said teacher helps Dora get to the nurse's office. Skylar cleans up Dora's blood with a handkerchief, and pockets it.

Rook gives Genesis a note, asking her to Homecoming. He also notices the janitor walking into a janitorial closet, and leaving behind a black, sticky footprint, which immediately starts to evaporate. Rook takes a picture with his smartphone before it vanishes.

Next period: Cassie and Rook have Biology with Mr. Scherick. They're dissecting cats, but their cat is missing. Cassie informs the teacher of this, and turns him on to avoid having to continue the dissection. This works, and Scherick gives Cassie a note to take to the principal, Mr. Miles. She reads the note immediately - "Tell Mike to stay out of my classroom." Mike is the janitor's name. Rook has already shown Cassie the photo he took. 

Dora's in the nurse's office. She gets some ice on her nose, and the principal visits with an incident report form. She tells him what happened, and he tells her that she can file a police report, but she doesn't have to. Dora immediately figures this is because Kevin is a football player, and the Perdido High Dolphins are 10-0 this season. A bit disgusted, she heads back to art class. 

Meanwhile, in art class, Skylar, Genesis and their classmates are told to "paint Halloween." Genesis tries to gaze into the abyss, but all she gets is a vision of the classroom filling with water, everyone drowning and floating away, and her stuck on the bottom, looking up, unable to float. 

Skylar, on the other hand, gazes into the abyss successfully, and paints. His painting is a picnic table with people eating meat, and black footprints leading up to the table. Unsure of what this means, she stares at the painting. The teacher, Mr. Glick, comes over to ask about it. Skylar responds hostility - he isn't sure what means, and lashes out, breaking the canvas and using his unresolved trauma move. Glick gains the blamed Condition, but Skylar can't speak for the rest of the scene. Genesis jumps in, talking about art and passion, and Glick kicks her out (she fails to hold steady). She wanders the halls, and bumps into Cassie. She's answered Rook's note, and hands it to Cassie, who is overjoyed to discover that Genesis said yes. 



Cassie, confused, takes the note to the principal's office, and hands it to the secretary, who puts it in the principal's mailbox next to his door. Cassie heads back to biology and gives Rook the note from Genesis...only to discover she's given the wrong note to the principal. There's nothing compromising in the note she gave to Miles, of course, and Rook is happy to hear that Genesis said yes.

Between classes, Cassie goes back to the principal's office and goes to switch the notes. Miles catches her in the act, but Cassie manipulates an NPC to get him to change the notes back without a hassle, which does (she contemplates seducing him, since her sex move allows her to read his mind, but she decides to save that for another episode).

Next class: American History. All the characters are together for this class, and it's taught by Coach Davis, who's not exactly well-suited. He's the football coach, and he gathers his players together (including Austin, who is in Cassie's clique) and gives the rest of the students worksheets (Dora writes "Fuck America" for every answer). They talk a bit about what's going on and the fact that Kevin Gable, who punched Dora earlier, recall, isn't in school - suspended? Fled? No one's sure.

Cassie can read Austin's mind, and she notes that he's nervous and fearful. During the class, the coach looks up and glares at Skylar and Dora - obviously blaming them for what happened with Kevin.

Class ends, fourth period starts (one of the things that occurred to us during this game was that the high school day just goes on forever). Dora, Skylar, and Cassie have gym class, while Genesis has a study hall and Rook has algebra II. In gym, the kids go out to play soccer. Dora sits on the sidelines and watches (injured, remembered), and Cassie plays. Skylar asks to be let out of playing, and since she has the drained Condition, which works in her favor, Coach Williams agrees, but tells Skylar to collect the dirty towels from the locker rooms.

In study hall, Genesis notices two football players get a text message, and ask Ms. Downer to be excused - coach needs them for an errand. Genesis asks to take a walk shortly thereafter. Austin sends Cassie a text message - "Keep an eye on Skylar." Cassie tries to strengthen her telepathic connection with Austin (effectively gazing into the abyss) but fails and takes a soccer ball to the head. She asks to go to the nurse, and Dora accompanies her in.

Skylar, while collecting towels, hears someone come in behind him. Four football players are there. Skylar tries to shut them down, but fails and gets knocked down and beaten. Cassie and Dora come in, and Cassie immediately shuts them down, giving them the ashamed Condition (but she winds up with the untrusted Condition). Dora helps Skylar up, and Skylar gives back the blood-stained hanky (meaning that Dora now has a sympathetic token for Skylar). The PCs leave, Dora goes back outside, Cassie heads to the nurse, and Skylar dissipates, slipping back into the locker. She finds Jason Maxwell, one of the football players, alone, and lashes out physically, knocking him down. Jason sees Skylar, though, with his eyes completely blacked out and pale like a ghost (and gains a String on Skylar).

Genesis, during this time, is wandering the halls, and cruises by Mr. Scherick's room. She hears him berating Mike, the janitor, telling him to stay out of the classroom, and that "we have to keep everything normal for two more weeks." Someone in the hall sees Genesis and yells "Dyke" at her; she responds and hears one of the teachers coming. She holds steady and realizes that Mike stole the dissected cat that Rook and Cassie were working with, and this twigs her (she gains the terrified Condition).

Lunchtime! Genesis approaches Dora and tries to explain what happened and what she heard. Dora, though, is sitting with some of the other Mexican students, and Genesis coming up to her and being all flustered isn't doing anyone's rep any favors. Genesis, frustrated with the brush-off, goes over to Omar Diaz (remember him?) and turns him on, sitting on his lap and kissing on him. She then stands up and says, "Who's the dyke, bitches?" and wanders off. Rook, seeing this, is hurt. Cassie tries to reassure him.

Meanwhile, Brandon Lacefield, another football player and Cassie's date for Homecoming, walks up and gives Cassie a note cancelling on her. This is pretty clearly related to what's going on with Dora and Skylar and so forth, and Cassie bounces back, but she's bummed.

Next period is Spanish for everyone; nothing of particular import happens in Senora Gonzalez' class. Dora asks to go to the nurse; her sanctum is in a disused closet there. She meditates, and gazes into the abyss, looking for clarity. She sees Principal Miles, Mr. Scherick, and Mike the janitor walking the halls, but their teeth are pointy and shark-like. And then she sees the door to the basement boiler room open, and black footprints leading to it - that's what she must do (and she carries +1 forward to help her with that).

Seventh period is Chemistry (Rook, Skylar, Genesis, Dora) and English (Cassie). Rook and Skylar wind up partnered, and they talk, awkwardly. Genesis explains that she just wanted to prove that she wasn't a dyke, and that doing that with Omar was better than with Rook because Omar didn't mean anything in particular to her. Rook wasn't especially OK with that (he wasn't keen on being part of her little social experiment), but didn't break it off.

Cassie and her clique, meanwhile, are in English, and talk. Turns out Kevin supposedly left school earlier; no one's seen him all day, and the principal was actually looking for him before.

Last period: Dora, Rook and Skylar are in English, while Cassie and Genesis are in Alegbra. Some problems at the board and so on, but nothing huge. There's talk about the bonfire party tonight on the beach, and Alyssa, one of Cassie's clique, suggests that Genesis come along. Cassie enthusiastically agrees, and offers to pick Genesis up. She says no; she lives near the beach. After class, Alyssa catches Cassie and says, "I didn't think there were any houses near the beach." Cassie responds, "There aren't."

After school, Cassie and her clique have the Homecoming meeting. Dora goes home, but plans to come back later and sneak into the basement. Rook and Skylar go to Pi, a pizza joint owned by Mr. Piper (he gives discounts to students who come there to study). Genesis goes to the beach.

The Homecoming meeting proceeds, and then someone brings up Kevin and the fight earlier. Someone else points out that his car is here. Cassie goes out to the parking lot and finds his car open and his phone on the seat. She scrolls through his messages, finds he's sent a bunch of bitchy texts about Skylar and Dora, and that the coach texted him earlier to say that he'd fix everything. Cassie takes the phone. Dora, coming back toward school, notes the car and Cassie getting out of it, but doesn't call attention to herself.

Skylar and Rook are at the pizza place when a bunch of football players come in. They start talking shit about Skylar, Dora and Cassie - Brandon is among them. Rook shuts them down, saying that Brandon doesn't deserve her anyway. He gains the ashamed Condition, but Rook gains the Condition next.

And on the beach, Genesis goes for a swim. She can't turn into a seal - Dora has her pelt - but she can swim better than a person. Below her, out of her reach, she sees a person's body, not floating, apparently weighted down. It's wearing a letter jacket.

Next episode: It's a bonfire.