Actual Play – Hillsdale High (5/18/2012)

GM: Scott White
Players: Sean Nittner, Rich Rogers, Jack Nolan, Adam Robichaud
System: Monsterhearts

Well, I couldn’t make the EndGame Monster Party, which made me very sad, but I was happy to be playing a Monsterhearts game of my own. Scott White and Rich Rogers (who I play PTA with) recruited me into the game, and I was very excited to get my angst on.

The first session was character and setting creation. It was also the players getting to know each other. I had never gamed with Adam or Jack so we spent a lot of time dong the dance of “this is how I play. I want to make sure you’re down with playing in a compatible way, without coming out and telling you ‘you must do this thing'”. I think we all got some buy into playing teenage angst and our characters digging their proverbial (and perhaps literal) teeth into each other.

What I’m still very dubious about though is play style. Jack and I have characters that are nearly identical (teenage female ghoul musicians who died in fires… I know, crazy), but we have very different approach to secrets in game. I’m super hippie-indie “lets all talk about our character secrets so we can frame cool scenes around pushing on them.” Jack, is old school and has character secrets that are shared between him and Scott only. I was pretty heavy handed about saying “I want us all to collaborate” and in fact talked a lot more about my character than I expected to at first, to show that doing so is safe, but I think Jack has very different sensibilities than I do. So we’ll see how it plays out in game.

Seating Chart

Character Roster

Fee was born in 1970 in the Prypiat (Ukraine) and in 1986 was incinerated during the Chernobyl disaster.  Buy she didn’t die, or she died and came back, she really didn’t know. Either way, she came back, physically untouched but mentally and emotionally vacant. She has been wandering the world for over 20 years lost and empty, until recently she found something that makes her feel alive again. Spreading the chaos that caused her death. Still with the emotional maturity of a 16 year old girl, she seeks through music to incite the same longing she feels into others… to burn it down, burn it all down.

“We all know it. The universe is expanding and moving to a state of greater entropy. All I’m trying to do is help it along. It’s like watching a tiny bird almost ready to take flight, all it needs it a little nudge to push it out of the next and set it free.” –Fee

Fee is of course short for Phoenix Levitski, but her real name is lost to her. Something like Elena no doubt. She currently lives, as a foreign exchange student with the Browns. They have one (biological) son named Doug who is 15 and would have had a daughter that was Fee’s age if not for a miscarriage.  The browns never got over their first loss and are always terrified they will lose Doug as well, so they are incredibly protective of him, terrified of anything that might put him in danger. Not surprisingly the browns are not delighted with Fee. She’s super goth, she makes a lot of noise, she doesn’t play by the rules, but worse of all, when scolded, she just looks at them with these dead eyes, oblivious to the threats they make. The truth is she always has dead eyes, it’s just only in times of anger that they notice.  Fee is terrified of them trying to send her back.

Dante is a misunderstood kid with no right to be as angsty as he is. His family loves him and they are good people. His brothers and sisters are well adjusted, and his parents have noticed how distant he is, tried to help, but haven’t been able to figure out what is wrong, let alone how to fix it.

Music speaks to him though. He mixes it, remakes, and turns it into something. He’s found a mixing service that allows users to do re-mixes online and has begun connecting with the DJ community, specifically the owner of the site, who has become his patron. Really. His effing dark patron!

Now Dante gets help from the owner Brom Silva (whose real name he doesn’t know), in exchange of course for doing things that are in their mutual interest.

Abraham was groomed to be great. He’s a Serpentine and was told by his parents, specifically his father. Brom Silva, that if he followed in their footsteps, power would all but be given to him. Yeah, but what teenager wants to do what his “father knows best” father tells him? So he’s taken his inherent knack for getting his way, a household servant and a modicum of the family’s wealth (which is still quite a lot) to Hilldale. Unfortunately, there are always strings (get it, strings?) attached. His “servant” is more of a watcher than anything else. He’s gotten a job at the Hilldale highschool and now teaches History and Homeroom. Yay for our new homeroom teacher Mr. Drake!

Abraham has a posh apartment that overlooks the Hillsdale docks and next door is Mr. Drake… who has a key to Abraham’s place. Yay. His father has let Abraham go on his walkabout but holds him on a leash both with the presence of Mr. Drake and tight control over Abraham’s accounts.

Tiffany Darrens is a girl in search of who she is, or what happened to her. She lives in an abandoned house that is rumored to be haunted. She is a classic rock chick, a singer, and dressed the part. Tiffany has a reputation for being vengeful and wicked.

She is a ghoul who was burned to death in a fire. Unlike Fee, however, she ages, and when she was killed in 1990, was only a young child.


After going over the character concepts, we did strings and figured out how we all had hooks into each other.

Dante – Abraham likes his music, Tiffany hates it. Fee saw him stealing Tiffany’s amp but didn’t say anything about it.

Abraham – Knows where Tiffany lives (in the “haunted” house). His father Brom, also holds his purse strings and has Mr. Drake watching over him.

Tiffany – Dante reminds of her of what love means and she’s drawn to him (which sets up some awesome tension give that have such a contentious relationship otherwise). Fee saw Tiffany die and be reborn so many years ago, and is fascinated with her. Are the they same?

Fee – Fee sees the power running through Abrahams veins and she is drawn to him like moth to a flame. She wonders how someone can be so “alive”. Abraham has agreed to mentor Fee in history. Just before the game starts, Fee caused an accident at the docks. She made a cargo container fall from a lift. It crushed her underneath it and after she died, she burst into flames and started a fire on the dock. Tiffany saw it all.


Hillsdale is a small town in Oregon, near enough to the music scene to have aspiring musicians but far enough away for anything real to happen. It has some interesting features.

The abandoned house on the hill. Supposedly haunted.

Dudley’s Diner – Run by Mack Dudley (the chef) and his cougar wife that hits on every attractive boy or man who walks in the door.

A fishing port that primarily has locally owned and operated trawlers, but occasionally a massive commercial vessel will come into harbor. As mentioned above a big fire just broke out at the docks. Big enough that it is in the newspaper.

Mr. Drake is our Homeroom and History teacher.

Thoughts on this game

I think we created a rich set of characters and setting. It should give us plenty of fuel to start our own funeral pyre.

I was disheartened that we didn’t get to actually “play”. It took almost four hours just to create characters and the town/school were were in. Part of that was because of doing it online, with all the complications that creates.

I’m concerned about having very different play styles. We’ll see how that works out in game.



  1. Tore Vange

    Monsterhearts is great! I do worry a bit that you spent 4 hours setting up. For my groups it usually takes 45 minutes tops. We establish a lot of the world in-game, such as favourite hangouts, bars that can be persuaded to serve underage customers and such, jobs after school, etc. We don’t really do much background before we start playing, because a detailed background might sound good, but interfere with actual play.

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