Story Games Seattle Message Board What We Played › Helter Skelter (Monsterhearts)

Helter Skelter (Monsterhearts)

Martin
user 10655881
Seattle, WA
Post #: 17
Characters:
Cage (Terry) - The Ghoul - She was dead for 35 years and then was sent back to Earth for reasons she doesn't understand, but they seem to involve a constant urge to spread chaos. Also a big Beatles fan.
Xander (Joe) - The Fae - A carefree stud who just wants everyone to get along (and make out with him)
Petra (Sarah) - The Werewolf - she was born a wolf, and was turned into a human as a result of crossing the wrong fairy. She's adapted well, considering.
Carla (Morgan) - The Mortal - Moody and drawn to the dark. She's got a thing for girls who might murder her.
and the MC (Martin)

Setting- an exclusive Catholic boarding school

Act 1
Sister Augustine makes all the students share their family histories in groups of three. This is awkward for Cage and Petra, who don't have family histories to speak of. Carla is crushing on Cage, and tries to use this as a way to learn more about her. Cage has nothing to share, which Carla sees as a rejection- she flees the room crying. Cage follows her and they hide in the library and reconcile. Petra, with innocent curiosity, eavesdrops.

It looks like a fight may be brewing when C&C catch Petra snooping, but Xander tries to interject himself and calm things down. Werewolves are not easy to calm down- Petra snaps when he touches her and throws him to the floor.

Act 2
Cage walks Xander to the school nurse, but really she's using this as an excuse to avoid class and slip into the school office while no one is looking. She was hoping to find something to use as fuel for chaos, but she didn't get that far- she saw a photo of the school principal as a young man, and realized with a sudden certainty that he was the one who killed her. Just then he came back into the office, and she ran away, terrified.

Everyone in school was talking about Petra attacking Xander. Even class outcast Smelly Kelly got in on it, and tried to make herself look good by teasing Petra about it. Petra followed her instincts and punched Smelly Kelly in the face, and was promptly summoned to the Principal's office. Carla had always wanted to punch Kelly, and was filled with sudden admiration, declaring that she was in love with Petra now instead of Cage, and that she was going to tag along to the office. Xander came too, for reasons I don't think he totally understood.

Principal Stein was predictably furious, but Petra began to sense that he was really more afraid than angry. He soon came to his real point- he wanted to know about anything unusual Cage did, and agreed to let the three off with detention if they would inform on her.

Act 3
Cage was freaked out. She brought Petra (her only real friend) along to the spot where she was buried, to try and understand what really happened. Xander once again tagged along in the hopes that it would somehow get him laid. Cage sat on the edge of her grave and gazed into the Abyss, and it showed her: Stein repeats his seduction and murder of a girl every year, and buries them all in this field, and something prevents anyone from wondering what became of them. Trembling and wearied by this vision, Cage swears to make him pay.

Carla was the only one of the characters to actually serve detention, and is highly upset that the others abandoned her. She went to sit alone by the lake, bringing an old pendant she found somewhere with a mysterious symbol to it. It proved to contain fairy magic- the pendant plus her sorrow drew Xander irresistibly to her (with Cage and Petra following nervously) and when he reached her, it opened a door into the fairy kingdom which drew all four of them in. [Carla took the Selkie's "Salt" maneuver and the Fae's "Guide" to do this.]

The fairy kingdom is not, as it turns out, a welcoming place, especially for Xander, whose family was banished from it. But Carla has no idea how they got there and thus no idea how to get them back. Xander says that the only way home will be for one of them to sacrifice themselves in exchange for the aid of the Queen of Fairy. Cage agrees immediately, but only if the other three will swear to bring down the Principal for her. They agree, and are instantly returned to the lake. Cage appears a moment later, her head full of half-remembered dreams of oaths sworn to the terrible Queen, and a tattoo of a ivy in a band surrounding her left wrist.

My impression

This game went really really well, I thought. We had a nice combination of active and reactive characters- the cold, driven Ghoul and the melodramatic, passionate Mortal made sure the story was always going somewhere, and the bristling unsubtle Werewolf and charming unguarded Fae made the scenes feel more alive by responding strongly to every event. There were so many hooks that we didn't really have time to engage all of them- no one had sex or became their darkest self, the Ghoul never fed, no one made a promise to the Fae, etc.- but that's because everyone was coming up with too many other cool things to do.

I also thought the boarding school location worked well for us. There were fewer people and places to worry about than there would be if the characters all went home and interacted with their parents, and the fact that you're living with these people 24/7 adds to the high school as a trap feeling.
Terry F.
user 27520232
Seattle, WA
Post #: 17
"Helter Skelter" nice.

I always feel in these short games that narrowing the scope of the story/themes makes the game more enjoyable.

I would really like to play one of these games to their natural conclusions...
Morgan
Mathalus
Olympia, WA
Post #: 23
Great write up, Martin. And great job MCing for the first time. How did you come up with the family history group time idea? I thought it was clever.

Everyone brought to this game. I loved Petra's difficulties fitting and Xander's inflated sense of self. Cage was great fun as well and I was excited when everyone made it to fairy.
Martin
user 10655881
Seattle, WA
Post #: 18
I just noticed that the first scene is really awkward a lot of the time, because you're sitting in class but we don't care what the teacher is saying. So "group time" was a way to get the teacher to shut up and let the players start making decisions. The "family history" part was just about making the topic the most uncomfortable thing possible for (two of) the characters.
Terry F.
user 27520232
Seattle, WA
Post #: 19
"Family history" was great - it was an automatic conflict generator.
Jay L.
Coxcomb333
Bellevue, WA
Post #: 11
Hey, Martin, can you talk more about the family history setup? How did you frame it? How did you use it to introduce NPCs (if you did)?
Martin
user 10655881
Seattle, WA
Post #: 20
The (history) teacher in their homeroom told the students that family history is the most important kind of history, and instructed the students to form groups of three to talk about their families as far back as they know, and how that has made them who they are today. We did this after populating the classroom, but before any actual introduction.

I told the players that they had a momentary window to grab whoever they wanted in their group before the teacher assigned them, and let them go to it. Since we already had the seating chart, the people sitting near you were the obvious choices, so there weren't overwhelming options. The only NPC reaction I described was one of the popular boys ostentatiously crossing the room to avoid being grouped with Petra. The PCs pretty rapidly made two PC-PC-NPC groups with Jason [Xander's roommate, a slow-thinking footballer] and Annie [the sweet kid who no one dislikes but everyone ignores]. They had both been connected to at least one PC in the homeroom setup phase.

The NPCs and the PCs with actual families (Xander and Carla) said a few words about their backgrounds and we let the rest be implied. Petra was officially an orphan and was constantly teased about being "raised by wolves", and when her turn came she stammered something about not really having a family history and tried to change the subject. She failed to Hold Steady to avoid showing how upset she was, and Annie got all inappropriately sympathetic and pressed her for more details. [This was a plot hook that came to nothing in the end]. Meanwhile Carla used this as an opportunity to interrogate broody-and-mysterious Cage, and Jason noted how weird it was that her parents never came to parent-teacher events [because they're long gone because Cage is dead]. Carla tried to get invited home to meet Cage's folks, and Cage turned her down, tersely and repeatedly. Carla felt rejected and fled the room in tears, Cage followed her, Petra used it as an excuse to change the subject, and that was end scene.

Jay L.
Coxcomb333
Bellevue, WA
Post #: 12
Thanks! That sounds like a great idea.
Morgan
Mathalus
Olympia, WA
Post #: 24
It was a great idea, for our characters specifically. We had established weird family stuff right off the bat, so it worked out great. Martin did a great job of MCing, because he was paying attention so closely to what we said. And then twisting it and throwing it in our faces.
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