Wednesday, February 10, 2016

First "Episode" of Monsterhearts Complete

Yeah, alright, so it is kinda, sorta like this. So sue me...

So I just finished my first story arc of "Monsterhearts", my first foray into indie, STORY games. What follows are some of my thoughts.

It was a strange but fun experience for an OG (Old Gamer) like me. I had from old habit started bringing the mentality to the table of trying to do a bunch of prep, gathering tables and charts and such, and found very quickly that, in my opinion, the simulationist style approach that I'm used to DOES NOT WORK OR FIT IN THIS STYLE GAME. It felt much more "natural" and "real" to just "get in the moment" and start "Making Moves" (in game mechanics vocabulary), and let them set off "Chain Reactions" of other moves and see where it all went.

When I was running a solo D&D hexcrawl, I wanted to "live in the skin" of my character almost to the point of a "virtual reality" type experience, where I lived as much of the characters experience right down to the minutia of the weather, the terrain and scenery, overheard tavern and street conversations and so on.

As soon as I sat down to play this, I could see that approach wasn't going to work. With a design that is so STORY driven (and bordering on "cinematic") taking a more "TV or Movie" syle approach just felt right in terms of only "shooting" scenes where something INTERESTING was happening. (Whereas in the above example, EVERYTHING was interesting to me. I wanted to experience the whole WORLD).

Overall, it was an educational learning experience, but also an enjoyable one as well.

It was so loose and free flowing that it almost didn't feel like playing a game. It was (almost uncomfortably) close to "creative writing with dice" as some have called it. Still, there were JUST ENOUGH mechanical components to keep it within the realm of what constitutes a "game" by my standards, and I tried to let the Mythic GME and UNE Universal NPC Emulator run as much of the game as I could.

At first it felt like "cheating" until you realize that you're playing the game the way it was designed and doing what you're supposed to do: driving the narrative and story.

Which is not to say the GM emulator didn't provide me with plenty of twists & turns. Pretty much the entire story didn't unfold much of anything the way I expected.

It could be a fine line to walk with a game design like this between "just making it all up" and "playing the game", but I feel pretty good about the balance I achieved, and feel like now that I have a better grasp of how this type of game plays that I can do even better going forward.

ESPECIALLY if I'm more diligent about using the Mythic GME "by the book" insofar as actually filling out and using the sheets for "story threads", and filling out the worksheets for anther tool that I made some use of in these sessions that I was finally able to "click" with, and think really shone in this type of game: the Covetous Poets's Adventure Creator and Solo GM Guidebook.

I've been wont to use these tools in a fairly loose and free form manor in the past, but feel like a more organized, methodical approach will yield more depth of story and even better results.

One good sign is that I kept wanting to get back to it because, like a good book, I wanted to see "what was going to happen next". And even though I just finished one story arc, there were plenty of unresolved hooks just waiting to be continued, and I'm already anxious to get another session going and see what else develops.

1 comment: