Tabletop Game / Monster of the Week

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/monster_of_the_week_rpg.jpg
Monster of the Week is a Tabletop RPG designed by Michael Sands and Steve Hickey in 2012 and published on paper by Evil Hat Productions in 2015. The game is Powered by the Apocalypse and, as the title suggests, inspired by various Monster of the Week series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Supernatural, Fringe, The Dresden Files, and The X-Files. It is meant to be played episodically, with a group of monster hunter archetypes (a.k.a. playbooks) going after a new boogieman every session.

See also the official website. Compare Delta Green.


The game contains examples of following tropes:

  • Arch-Enemy: The Wronged's mark, as well as the Chosen's "Nemesis" (if they pick one), make for good Myth Arc threats.
  • Beginner's Luck: Quite literally: new Hunters start out with seven Luck points, and each one allows them to succeed against impossible odds and survive things that would kill a regular human. The rule book even explicitly encourages the Keeper to go extra hard on the players in the first session because they still have "Luck to spare".
  • Came Back Wrong: It is possible to resurrect a fallen Hunter with a major magic ritual, but there is always a risk of them coming back not quite right—and the higher their Weird score was before death, the higher the chances of that occurring.
  • Cast Speciation: The rules enforce this, requiring each player to play a different playbook (archetype), which not only gives them different abilities, but also different perspectives on the hunt. In the event a Hunter is Killed Off for Real, that playbook is permanently removed from the campaign, and their player must pick a different one if they want to continue.
  • Class Change Level Reset: All characters can take the Advanced Improvement to switch to a different playbook, but doing so will cost them some of the moves and gear that aren't "intrinsic" to them (the Keeper and the players must come to an agreement on which moves are and aren't "intrinsic").
  • The Confidant: The confidante-type allies are NPCs whose purpose in the story is to hear you out and to give you advice.
  • Conspiracy Redemption: The rules suggest a possible Myth Arc where the Professional's Agency or the Initiate's Sect turn out to have a sinister purpose for hunting monsters.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Played straight for monstrous beings who remain at full combat capacity until their harm track exceeds their max, but averted for all human characters, including the PCs: each human can take 7 points of harm before dying, but every single attack that inflicts non-zero harm can impose penalties on their later rolls at the Keeper's discretion, while taking more than 3 harm total makes their wounds unstable, allowing the Keeper to inflict more harm to them at any time and make them Act Under Pressure in situations where they normally wouldn't have to. In short, getting injured at all is a very, very bad thing in this game.
  • Damage Reduction: Armor works by reducing incoming harm by a fixed amount of points.
  • Distress Ball: The Mundane's special moves reward them for grabbing the Idiot Ball (and thus moving the plot along).
  • Evil Plan: For each mystery, the Keeper prepares a "Countdown"—a sequence of six increasingly evil acts the monster will carry out if the Hunters do not intervene.
  • Experienced Protagonist: The general assumption is that every playbook has had some experience in hunting monsters together prior to their first play session.
  • Experience Meter: Each playbook comes with a line of five XP boxes, which are checked every time you get an experience point. Check all five, and you get to select an advancement (resetting the meter).
  • Expy: Each playbook is an obvious expy of one or more popular characters from Monster of the Week shows. Additional playbooks made by fans are also expies, notably The Exile (Giles Redferne from Warlock) and The Meddling Kid (go on, guess).
  • The Five Stats: Charm (people skills), Cool (keeping your composure under duress), Sharp (smarts), Tough (combat prowess), and Weird (use magic).
  • Game Master: Downplayed. The GM, called "the Keeper of Monsters and Mysteries" or simply "the Keeper" in this game, does not have absolute power, but is restricted in what they can do to the player characters and when by the rules.
  • Game System: The game is "Powered by the Apocalypse", which is a fancy way of saying that it uses a system derived from Apocalypse World.
  • Healing Magic Is the Hardest: Magical healing moves are barely better than regular first aid, healing at most 2 harm, whereas most monster attacks and the Spell-slinger's combat magic can inflict 4-5 harm at a time.
  • Heroic Bystander: Bystanders of the Helper subtype are motivated to join the Hunters on their job. However, they are still considered a threat by the game, since the Hunters now also have to protect them, too, as the way they are played according to the Keeper's rules really does make them more of a liability than a help. Their role is not to fight the monster, but to be beaten, abducted, and murdered.
  • Hit Points: Each Player Character has 7 "harm" points, although upon losing 4 or more, they become Unstable and can die if not treated immediately, averting Critical Existence Failure.
  • Luck Manipulation Mechanic: All Hunters begin their careers with seven "Luck Points", which they can spend to replace a botched skill roll with an automatic success (or cancel out all harm taken from a single source). However, there is almost no way to ever gain them back (only the Crooked, the Divine, and the Spell-Slinger can gain one point back as an Advanced Improvement, while the Mundane can do so four times), and a Hunter who expends all points is "just out of luck" (in gameplay terms, the Keeper is then allowed to subject them to "hard moves" without a warning that they are entitled to normally).
  • Monster of the Week: Narratively, each playing session is centered around the party investigating and pursuing some kind of monstrous being. The game provides the Keeper with little predefined materials, but a toolset to develop their own monsters.
  • Myth Arc: There are guidelines for running a campaign with an overarching threat, but the rules subtly discourage long-runners, as all Hunters run out of luck eventually, leaving them too vulnerable to continue playing.
  • Non-Combat EXP: The most common source of XP is botched skill rolls. Some playbooks also get XP in specific situations.
  • Player Headquarters: The Expert's Haven functions as this for them and, by extension, for other Hunters. The Flake can also get one upon leveling up.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: One of the advanced improvements available to every Hunter (after level 5) is "Retire to safety", which essentially takes them out of the campaign, but on their own terms, knowing that whatever happens, they will be safe from now on.
  • Story-Driven Invulnerability: Each monster is required to have a weakness or two that the Hunters have to identify and exploit before they can put it down for good—meaning that no matter how much harm they do, it'll always regenerate/escape/come back from the dead/etc. unless they specifically hit its weak spot.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: Regular mysteries begin with a Hook, which is usually the first or the second step on the mystery's Countdown, meaning that the heroes usually arrive at the scene when the monster's Evil Plan is well underway.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/TabletopGame/MonsterOfTheWeek