Myself, Alberto Muti and James Graham met up on Saturday to experiment with MC-less gaming of Monsterhearts.

Myself, Alberto Muti and James Graham met up on Saturday to experiment with MC-less gaming of Monsterhearts.

Originally shared by Richard Williams (Epistolary Richard)

Myself, Alberto Muti and James Graham met up on Saturday to experiment with MC-less gaming of Monsterhearts. I’ve written up my take on the approach we ended up following for general interest. It’s a one page Reference Sheet designed to be used alongside the MH Player Reference Sheet (and replace the MC sheet). It’s not complete as it doesn’t mention Threats/Menaces (which could be subsequently added to a second page to make it a booklet). We discussed some ideas about those, but I don’t feel experienced enough to set anything in stone. Also, I had some problem with the MH font with its ‘o’s so they look pretty funny in this doc.

32 thoughts on “Myself, Alberto Muti and James Graham met up on Saturday to experiment with MC-less gaming of Monsterhearts.”

  1. I didn’t know there were notes on a GMless AW… Where can I find them?

    Anyway, Paolo Bosi, I feel this rule set is more than workable for a one shot game. I have a few ideas on how to manage threats and menaces, but I’ll have to test them.

  2. Richard Williams: I will try to write down some thoughts about menaces and threats this week. As Alberto suggested, there may be some stuff from Apocalypse World fronts that are worth reincorporating.

    I also quite like the “web of secrets” section that Joe used in the Blood of Misty Harbour – in fact I used that format for my own notes in the game I just ran.

  3. What surprised me was how few changes we ended up making to have it work. I came into it thinking that the absence of the mc would invalidate hard moves and thereby all dice rolling. However co-opting the ‘Penny’ mechanic for Hard Moves and questions to the mc led us to good (ie storyful) places while keeping the Monsterhearts mechanics as written.

    The clear advantage for me was that there was no player “zoning out” when their PCs were not in the scene. You’re always engaged as you always have a role to play.

    One note of caution though is that I was at a table of players who had experience as Monsterhearts MCs. Not to say that is a basic requirement, rather that I think lumpley’s advice to go for mcless if two players have mced AW before holds some weight. Contrarily, perhaps mcless is a good way for MH players to get more comfortable with the mc toolset so they can become mcs in the future.

  4. I’d agree with that. I’d be inclined to try it with my existing group because we have 3 people on it with GM/MC experience, everyone has played Fiasco before and we’re all familiar with the system. I don’t think I’d suggest MCless Monsterhearts for people without similar experience.

  5. Some more commentary: I should mention that we didn’t try out the Story Moves. They’re my attempt to better permission/structure the Principles for mcless play. The Play Advice is my attempt to write down the ‘unspoken’ rules that we were using.

  6. One difference of opinion we had at the table was around ownership of NPCs and ergo Menaces/Threats. One approach, in line with lumpley’s advice, is to have clear single ownership of them (either by having one player do everything for them or using Archipelago-style aspect ownership). My inclination, which is reflected in this doc, is the reverse and to diffuse control and development as much as possible around the group (almost Microscope style). I see theoretical pros and cons both ways but I have no experience with Menaces/Threats so I look forward to others’ insight!

  7. The compromise I thought we’d come up with I think works: i.e. if an NPC isn’t assigned to a specific menace then it should be shared; if it is assigned to one then an individual should have control.

    That’s kind of backed up by Lumley’s advice, which is to share the home front.

  8. Yeah, basically this way you get two tiers of NPCs: “fixed” ones, who are connected to threats and played consistently by a player, and are like rivals, villains and recurring characters in a tv series, and “extras”, that anybody can pick up, and are more like extras, or recurring characters with only little plot importance.

    The way I see this, except for a few exceptions (like a Chosen’s Enemy or an Infernal’s Dark Power), all NPCs start as “extras” and get promoted to “fixed” when somebody claims them as part of a threat. Adding a simple motivation, in a sentence, to extras helps keep a certain consistency even as more people pick them up.

    The principle of treating NPCs like stolen car is not superseded by all of this: you get exclusive ownership of an NPC because you use it to advance a threat, not to get attached to it and advocate for it.

  9. Yeah, that very much hits the nail on the head of my concern – that players “fall for” their Menaces. With single ownership, no other player can touch them. If one player has a Menace (and thereby the ability to ‘hold’ NPCs) it won’t take long for the other players to pick up Menaces as well. With x PCs and x Menaces the social dynamic might change to domething like Polaris where you are the clearly identified opposition to another player.

    It reminds me of Remember Tomorrow where you get to hold a character exclusively. Except there you can only hold one at a time.

    The key problem that I see with my shared approach is that – while it’s easy to create mystery – players are far less willing to settle on an explanation. I had a game of Forsooth that never really got going because we had a mysterious castle, but no one was willing to determine the truth behind it. So we spent 3 acts tiptoeing around it, asking lots of questions that didn’t have answers.

  10. Also, Marco Andreetto and Anna Koprantzelas, if you want to do a single session, I’d definitely be up for it, even though I can’t commit to a full season just yet.

  11. Richard Williams: I agree that’s the essential dilemma but, to be honest, it’s no bigger a problem than with an MC and arguably less so because the authority is more widely distributed; so if one person is not abiding by the principles there’s a good chance the others are.

  12. Whilst I’m been toying with the idea of creating a Apocalypse World engined game where each player plays both a character plus, effectively, a separate front or threat, I do think the ideas here sound like they’d be better with a shared responsibility. If an NPC acts in a way that seems to contradict previous actions, well, there’s intrigue in that. As long as the players remain in the heads of their individual characters and treat the NPCs as  external and not entirely known quantities there seems to be more chance of an unexpected story surprising the characters. If someone is going to get precious about the cool NPCs you’ve created you might as well run with an MC. If you run without I imagine it’s actually easier to stick with the ‘treat your NPCs like stolen cars’ ethic.

  13. Just catching up on this, and the document is VERY nice. The play advice and Story Moves are fantastic.

    I’m curious why NPCs must be shared, and the focus on Menaces in this thread. Surely a good Monsterhearts game can be had without overt Menaces? Hard Moves, consequences, and conditional acceptance (i.e. the Principles and Story Moves) seem like they would be sufficient for a game, to me.

    Is this the latest version?

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