Game report: Monster of the Week [g+ backpost]

I played Monster of the Week! It was super fun. A bunch of us have been hanging at the house of some friends in Wales, bedding in for the end of the world with some meditation, movies and munchies. We made characters one nights, and then played out the  mystery over the next two. I’m the only regular gamer, and three of the four others had never played before. It was nice to see how easily people got to grips with it. Some poor rolls at the beginning put the game in a bit of a slapstick mode, and we discussed after how the failure rate for the game felt a little high, with futzed magic rolls leading to mess, explosions and helplessness in scene after scene. I do recognise that I could have pushed the use of luck, which was deployed more later in the game; this happened to give a nice failure-to-success arc that made the last session feel gratifying.

As the Keeper, I felt the game looked after me really well. Mystery advice was generally useful, although I think I was making things hard for myself for trying to pull all the character backstory (which really emerged in early play) and feed it into the mystery, as I knew this was likely to be a one-shot and wanted to maximise the pay-offs.

My only area I struggled on was magic. My sense from the rules was that there is no division of playbooks into magic-users and non-magic users, and so in play all but one player elected to Use Magic during the game, generally in high-stakes fight-or-flight situations.  At times the use of magic felt like a get-out-of-jail free card, pulling off tricks that were otherwise impossible to do. I knew that I could counter that by upping the criteria involved in the magic, but that tended to feel arbitrary, a form of stomping on the player’s ideas. Yeah, the Expert can dispel the magic that is holding everyone in the air as the police are converging on the room… but it will take several minutes / a rare ingredient to do so. So I generally just acceded to the requests. Demanding an ingredient (sacrificing something alive) at one point led to a flubbed preparedness role by the Expert that nearly killed the momentum of the climactic sequence. In the end it became incredibly cool when the player decided to amputate their finger and get rid of that, but there was a cold moment where no-one wanted to let go of the idea  but felt stuck on how to execute it.

The team bested an attempt to reincarnate Y Mab Darogan, the Red Hand of Wales, a saviour predicted to crush the Anglo Saxons, manifested as, yes, a giant red hand. It was a fun finish in the Welsh Millenium Dome, the Spooky tk’ing cables to power up a speaker rig that the Flake ported ‘God Save the Queen’ through to paralyse the Red Hand with its former defeats ‘rung by the horns of the Saxons’, the Expert opening up a dimensional gate for the Summoned to fling it through, with the fallout of trapping forever the Expert’s enlimbo’d lover from her swinging 60’s dark past. The highlight of the game for me was an earlier attempt by the Summoned to cast big magic to find the lair of the Boggart minions, which I stipulated required a boggart skull to do so. The Summoned bulldozes through police lines to the location of their Boggart fight, to snatch a skull and run…. only at that point we all remember how that player beat me into agreement that his final blow in that fight ‘made the monster’s head explode clean off’. Cut back to Summoned laying down defensive fire while scrabbling for pieces of skull fragment embedded in the floor and walls…

Dec 2012

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