Tabletop Game / Monster Hearts
is a game about the awkward and messy lives of teenage monsters who are filled with emotional issues. It is Powered by the Apocalypse
, i.e. an official hack of the Apocalypse World
rules, with its mechanics heavily influencing the feel and theme of its setting. In this game you are not in full control of your character, playing a teenager who is heavily influenced by the decisions of other players and your hormones. Rather than traditional stats, the system uses "Hot", "Cold", "Volatile", and "Dark" to represent the emotional strength and impact of moves. Characters gain "strings" on each other to represent their emotional hold over one another, and can spend those strings for bonuses. There are also Sex Moves, which offer a risk and/ or reward depending on the player's skin, and Darkest Self moves that show when somebody has gone way
off the deep end. The game runs mainly on Rule of Drama
, and encourages both the players and game master to keep the game interesting and "feral".
The different monster archetypes in Monsterhearts are called Skins. Ten are provided in the main game, which can be purchased at the official website here
. Several official bonus skins (the Serpentine, the Hollow, and the Angel) have been made and can be downloaded here
(near the bottom of the page). There was also a successful Kickstarter
to develop new skins. One, the Selkie, is available on the page. The other six have yet to be released to the public and for now are only available to those who backed the project. The second edition went to Kickstarter
on Halloween 2016.
This game provides examples of:
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: One of the signature traits of the Serpentine skin.
- The Chosen One: The Chosen, naturally.
- Conflicted Loyalty: The Serpentine is constantly torn between their family and the human world; their Darkest Self triggers when they decide enough is enough and pick a side.
- Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Hollows can arise from people who have mechanical parts, implying that the cybernetics have removed their sense of identity.
- Damage Reduction: Werewolves bathed in moonlight can have damage they take reduced.
- Deal with the Devil: The crux of the Infernal skin, who racks up debts with dark powers in exchange for what they desire.
- Emotion Eater: Ghouls, who can feed on fear, and ghosts, who can feed on sadness.
- Everyone Is Bi: It can come off this way since anyone can roll to turn on anyone else, regardless of gender.
- Game Master: The Master of Ceremonies (MC) fills this role.
- Girl Posse: The Queen skin centres on utilizing one to your advantage, though the actual gender is irrelevant.
- Grappling with Grappling Rules: Thankfully averted. In Monsterhearts grappling would just be resolved through a Volatile roll or two (and maybe a Hot roll or two as well...).
- Hit Points: Characters in Monsterhearts can take up to four harm and then die.
- Horror Hunger: Ghouls get hit by this, especially when they become their darkest self.
- Hybrid Overkill Avoidance: While an individual might only be able to possess a single skin characters can take moves from other skins to take on their traits, or you can use a season advance to fully change the character from one skin to another while still retaining the moves of their old skin.
- Jackass Genie: The dark power that the Infernal deals with is designed to be one.
- Mechanically Unusual Class: Each skin has variations on the basic template, such as the Infernal's bargains or the Fae's promises. The Angel takes the cake, though, as it has no Dark stat. Instead they have a sliding scale of Trespass and Forgiveness that shows how much they have fallen.
- Muggle: The Mortal skin, whose mechanics centre around falling in love and involving oneself in the lives of other supernatural creatures, is the quintessential one. The Queen counts as one as well, though depending on their origins they can also have a supernatural edge to their cliques. The Chosen can also be one if the character takes up the calling themselves rather than having it thrust upon them by destiny.
- Our Monsters Are Different: Every skin has some 'traditional" elements that factor in to how they're played and some that are ignored. The book suggests that players pick and choose which parts make things interesting and/or easier.
- Artificial Human: The Hollow skin is any manner of artificially created being, ranging from Homunculi to uplifted animals.
- The Fair Folk: The Fae skin, which focuses on extracting promises from others.
- Selkies and Wereseals: The Selkie skin, of course, which involves the classic trope of having one's skin stolen and working to get it back.
- Our Angels Are Different: The Angel skin invokes most of the classical tropes, and is played as either a Fallen Angel cast out of heaven or a Defector from Decadence who chose to leave themselves. They also play differently, replacing the Dark stat with a sliding scale of Trespass and Forgiveness that shows how much they have fallen.
- Our Dragons Are Different: Wyrms aren't giant reptiles with wings, they're collectors. They are people who hoard things and people, can trade Strings, and some can transform into beasts of talons and coils.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: They're designed to be played as vengeful spirits or creeping poltergeists. However, they are corporeal enough to attend school regularly without being noticed by others.
- Our Ghouls Are Creepier: Ghouls can hunger for different things rather than just eating people, some feed on fear or chaos, while others hunger for power. Their sex move also causes sex with their partner to count as something they hunger for, and What the Right Hand Wants can turn the ghoul from an undead into a monster that was constructed and feeds on something different.
- Our Vampires Are Different: Mainly draw upon the traditional sexual fears that surrounded them in the original folklore. The "Invited" move also brings up, well, the invitation element of the mythology.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: They have super senses in both forms, and also draw on spiritual connections between characters. They can also transform without a full moon, as their darkest self indicates.
- Wizards and Witches: The Witch skin, which is about judging others and casting cool spells.
- Paranormal Romance: Comes with the territory. The game evens tarted as a jokey send-up of the genre.
- Polyamory: Averted for Mortals, they are mechanically required to have just one "True Love", but practically required for Queens given their sex move that temporarily adds someone to their gang.
- Actually purposefully invoked with the Mortal as the section on "Queer Content" encourages players to pick a couple as their "True Love" to explore polyarmorous relationships.
- Super-Powered Evil Side: Each skin's Darkest Self, though technically it's still them - just at their worst.
- Splat: The various Skins.
- Teens Are Monsters:The game runs on this both in the metaphorical and literal sense. The game uses Rule of Drama to ensure the character's lives are kept messy and un-boring, and this often results in many teenage characters and NPCs getting into verbal, physical and emotional fights. The fact that most of them are also actual monsters only heightens the drama.
- Thicker Than Water: The Serpentine's family expects it of them. When they become their Darkest Self, they either are this, or go all the way in the other direction.
- Unconventional Alignment: Angels have a sliding scale of Trespass and Forgiveness instead of possessing a Dark stat. That goes closer to forgiveness when you do what other people tell you.
- Urban Fantasy: The default setting for Monsterhearts is a high school in the modern day, except there are monsters like vampires and unicorns living among us.
- White Mage: Unicorns are goody-two-shoes who can empower other people by giving blessings, ensure people succeed on tasks before they even happen, or changing a failure into success just through believing in the person.