Friday, March 1, 2013

Monsterhearts: Devil Falls, AK Episode 1

Because I still don't have a viable and agreeable setting for FATE Core, we decided jointly to finally give Monsterhearts a shot with my regular gaming group. Maybe playing Monsterhearts a week ago also had something to do with it.

Our game is set in the fictional town of Devil Falls, Alaska. It is located inland at the also completely fictional Lake Crescent. The eponymous waterfall flows into the lake at the northeastern end. The town is located to the south of the lake on a plain. At the western end of the lake lies the Hotel Crescent, a spa and wellness hotel. A small airport lies on the westside of town. Devil Falls High School is located in the northeastern corner of the city containing a hockey arena, a football field and a greenhouse.

Our cast so far consists of:

  • Annalee, a gifted witch
  • Baron, an infernal lackey of Kal'Thorag the Butcher
  • Cassidy, a werewolf born as a wolf and the only girl on the hockey team
  • Max, a homunculus hollow and another member of the hockey team

We meet them for the first time as their Tuesday homeroom class is about to start. Their elderly but strict teacher is Ms Chamberlain. On their way to class, Cassidy runs up to Mary-Jane, the star pupil, and asks her, if she could copy her homework. Mary-Jane agrees, but only if Cassidy gets back the lunch money that Veronica bullied from her the day before. Cassidy agrees and waits outside of class for Veronica. Veronica is quite a piece of work. She and Baron got expelled from their last school for suspected arson.

While Cassidy waits for Veronica, Paul tries to sell green pills to Annalee and Max. Max has latched on to Annalee quite firmly and takes his social clues from her to the point of twinning (at least that's how Cassidy sees it). Max just takes the drugs from Paul and then shuts him down. Annalee is a bit conflicted about the drug business and hasn't made up her mind yet how to feel about the pills.

When Baron and Veronica arrive, Cassidy tries to slug Veronica with a puck as she doesn't want to give the lunch money back. Veronica sidesteps Cassidy and slams her head into the railing on the gangway to the classroom. Cassidy is hurt. Baron tries to drag Veronica with him to the classroom, because they are already late. Cassidy observes the two and suddenly realizes that quiet, pyromanic, violent Veronica is very much into bad kid Baron. As Ms Chamberlain approaches and gives afterschool detention to all three, Cassidy tells Veronica that she will make sure Baron and Veronica get some time alone during detention, if Veronica hands back the lunch money.

In class, Ms Chamberlain announces that Erica, a popular girl and last year's homecoming queen, has been found dead near Lake Crescent. Apparently her body was mauled by a wild animal - probably a wolf. During the third hour a short memorial will be held in the auditorium. Baron uses this as an opportunity to mouth off to the teacher and even threatening her. After class, Ms Chamberlain walks Baron to the principal. There he threatens Principal Kate O'Rourke. She decides that she's had enough and calls the police to have Baron arrested as a potential homicidal maniac.

During the memorial for Erica, Cassidy tries to turn the planned party down at the lake into a memorial party instead of the year's welcoming party. Zack, a friend of Baron's, hears that, climbs on a chair and announces that Cassidy is inviting the whole school to a party at Lake Crescent. Max is furious at this display of inappropriate behavior and tackles Zack. Zack goes down and Principal O'Rourke notices the commotion. She orders detention for Cassidy, Max and Annalee (who is more or less innocent in all this). Cassidy tells her that she already has detention today and get O'Rourke to postpone the detention to Wednesday.

Meanwhile, at the police station, Baron has been placed in a cell. There he tries to gaze into the abyss and fails miserably. Instead, Kal'Thorag the Butcher appears to him and asks him to poison the beer keg at the party in the evening with the drug that comes as green pills. Baron agrees and Kal'thorag opens the cell door. Baron walks out of the police station without being noticed.

Back at school, lunch break has started. Max and Cassidy sit at the hockey team/cheerleader table, where Melissa announces that she will become homecoming queen this year as Erica is unable to compete. Max shuts her down in disgust. Annalee is also at the table flirting with Boyd, the arrogant goaltender that she secretly detests. Suddenly he kisses her squarely on the mouth (gives her want he thinks she wants). Breaking out in tears, she runs away.

Baron has arrived at school again and seeks out Paul in a dark corner to get the green pills from him. Paul spills that he hasn't them anymore, because Max took them from him. In the end, he tells Baron that he can have the pills, if he can take them from Max.

Baron arrives in the cafeteria just as Max hits Boyd for kissing Annalee. Then Max runs off to find her. Baron follows him. While searching Annalee, Baron tries to get the pills from Max. Max ends up hitting Baron on their way to greenhouse where they suspect Annalee is hiding.

Amidst all this commotion, Cassidy feels rather lonely and stares into her coke. There she gains a crystal clear vision while being exhausted from the events. She sees a large, reptilian shadow following Erica while she is jogging around the lake. As the shadowy monster suddenly attacks the blonde runner, a wolf hurls itself at the monster, preventing it from devouring Erica. The monster throws the wolf into the trees and slithers back into the lake. Cassidy realizes that she was the wolf and that she cannot remember any of this.

In the greenhouse, Annalee has her secret and sacred space. She gazes into the abyss and the abyss answers her. She also gets the vision that Cassidy gets and realizes that she needs the help of the wolf in order to fight the green-scaled monsters with the lanky black hair and the claws of iron. She calls her grandmother April, the only other witch in her family and asks for advice. Her granny asks her over for tea after school.

As she leaves the greenhouse, she runs into Baron and Max. Rather distraught she realizes that Baron is trying to get the drugs from Max. She urges Max to destroy the pills rather than give them to Baron. But Max refuses. When she tries to hit him as frustrated as she is, she stumbles and he catches her. Looking down, Annalee realizes in horror that she's stumbled in a large three toed footprint that resembles the claws of the green-scaled monster. Now completely sick, she asks Max to take her to the school nurse James.

Sixth hour has started. Annalee, Baron, Cassidy and Max are supposed to attend the English Literature class. But only Cassidy is in attendance as Coach Delgado starts the class. Mary-Jane is also there, remarking on the looks of Coach Delgado who is wearing a muscle shirt as usual. Cassidy is more interested in the actual lesson about an obscure poem attributed to William Blake that describes a hideous monster with green scales, black lanky hair and iron claws. Blake calls that monster a "merrow". Cassidy has a déja-vu. Max finally arrives, carrying a tardy slip for himself and Annalee. James has excused her from attending English Literature.

After school, Veronica and Cassidy start detention absent Baron who is meeting with Max. Max is attending hockey practice and meets with Baron. Baron finally gets his desperately needed drugs. Now he can set the diabolic plans of his infernal master into motion. Annalee visits her grandmother April and her aunts Mae and June. She drinks tea with them and is treated to a delicious cheesecake, but unfortunately not to any answers.

Later, Annalee makes her way to the party at the shores of Lake Crescent. Suddenly, she hears twigs and branches cracking behind her. She turns around, her eyes widen and she screams in fear. Unfortunately, the music from the party drowns out her scream...

TO BE CONTINUED

Notes:

  • Doing the homeroom seating chart was fun. I haven't even used a quarter of the awesome the players put in there.
  • The NPC sheet sucks for me. I need lines on that sheet.
  • Sketching Devil Falls on the community sheet was also not as rewarding as I thought. Going to redo that in MS Office Word.
  • The player most critical of the whole Monsterhearts told me afterwards it was fun and he'd like to play again.
  • I did a major goof-up with the scene at granny's house. I would have liked to dump some info regarding the werewolf on Annalee, but didn't realize how to do this. After having read this article on using gaze into the abyss as info dump/hitting the books, things have become much clearer. I should have let Annalee gaze into the abyss again (this time with the +1 forward for acting on the previous gaze into the abyss), this time with help from her grandmother. I am probably going to replay the scene at granny's home at the start of the next session with Annalee and have her roll +dark to find out about who the wolf in the vision is. After that we'll find out about Annalee's fate.
  • The story is coming nicely together. Baron will poison the beer keg (and mark XP for that). Annalee needs to find Cassidy. Cassidy knows what they are facing but has no idea what to do about the merrow. Max has become a willing accomplice in drugging an entire party.

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