Actual Play – Newport High (5/31/2012)

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


This is our first play session of the game that started as Hillsdale High.

We had several changes before we got started.

Fee (my character) was removed. I was a little wigged out by having a character that was so close to another in concept (two musical ghouls burned to death by fire), so I elected to try something new, and from that was born Kendall Hurst, a sophomore that was incredibly popular, and student council president. Yes, a Queen.


Also, Scott moved our setting to something real(ish) and familiar:

Newport, Oregon. A town of a little under ten thousand, a bustling port, a really cool focal point (This massive bridge over the harbor) and a really weird high school with the middle school (prep academy) built right in and the athletic fields located blocks away. Lots of weirdness, and fictionalized a little bit to slightly reduce the population, it’s hard times in town these days just like all over.

There’s also:

  • The huge bridge over the harbor.
  • The Marine Science Center & Aquarium
  • Hillsdale High School
  • Samaritan Community Hospital
  • Eureka Cemetery
  • The Elks Lodge
  • The lighthouse (North of town on the peninsula)
  • The First Christian Church
  • Sharks Bar (Near the bridge)
  • The housing tracts (Dante’s house?) are on 7th Street near the Middle School
  • Tiffany’s haunted house may be over near the Eureka Cemetery East of school
  • Abraham may live in one of the homes near the water, 1124 SW Martin street or so?
  • Kendall just must live near school somewhere. Condo? Tract house? Not sure.
  • Oddly, The high school athletics fields are a few blocks away, particularly the softball/baseball field.


Play started with arriving at class the first day of school. We were sophomores and everyone had been there they day before except Abarahim, who had moved to town over the summer.

And the shit pretty much started from there.

Kendall had to shut a few people down right from the get go. Mark, who was hitting on her and Chloe, who wanted her seat from last year, which Kendall had taken. She was able pacify Mark, and even keep him paying attention, but there was no appeasing Chloe. She left the exchange with Chloe infuriated and Kendall looking like a bitch.

Abrahim entered and Jenny (Chloe’s friend) immediately pounced on him. “If you’re free later, I’ll show you around during lunch.” Abraham accepted her affections non-commitally. If that’s the way things are done, then he was amenable, but he was clearly keeping his options open.

Dante got in just before the teacher. He went and sat alone by the wall. He looked different, mysterious, and alone. Nobody really talked to him and he seemed to like it that way.

Roll call

The vice principal and new teacher came into the room after the bell ran. The VP announced we would have a new teacher this year, the old one, Mr. Drake.
Abrahim shot daggers at Mr. Drake. Drake worked for his father, a manservant, a lowly cretin. and now, Abrahim’s, watcher. Not pleased.

As with any new teacher, Mr. Drake had to be hazed. The moment the VP left the room, Jayson stood up “I’ve got to take a shit!” That got some stifled laughs from the class and a very upset response from the teacher, who wanted to know his name. Kendall covered for him, making up some line about students having “accidents” so a policy being put in place that anyone could grab a hall pass anytime they needed to use the restroom. It was a pretty week response, but enough to divert the attention away from Jayson.

In the hall Kendall and Jayson bullshitted for a bit (neither had to go to the bathroom) and Kendall convinced Jayson to help her get Chloe off her back in exchange for messing with Mr. Drake (by messing up the seat chart)

Inside, Jenny stole Kendall’s iPad and made sure the entire class knew she was fucking with her. Abraham was bemused. Chloe was delighted. Mark seemed annoyed. Dante made no response.

When Kendall returned noticed her missing iPad immediately (she was going to use it to create the seating chart). She tried to swallow the anger she felt, knowing someone stole it. After a few minutes she passed Dante a note “Do you know who took my iPdad?” His response “Yes, Kenny G, I do.” The had and exchange of “Not Cool!” which both left feeling soured (Kendall angry and Dante feeling guilty for not helping out).


During lunch, Kendall chased Chloe down and confronted her by the lockers. “Give it back!” (assuming Chloe had her iPad). Kendall had Jayson with her, his allegiance bought with a prank “C’mon Chloe, give it back.” When she laughed and revealied she didn’t have it, Kendall got angry. “Listen Chloe, get off my ass or I’m going to make your life miserable.” She turned to Jayson for support “Jayson, how does Homecoming King sound?” That was enough to tip him over from giving moral support, to full fledged peer pressure. “Chloe, you better shut your mouth, or I’m going to tell everyone about what happened this summer.” (As the players we know she had a threesome with Jayson and Mark). Chloe reddened, and she fled, embarrassed and terrified.

In other parts of school things got steamy. Jenny dragged Abrahim out to the bleachers to show him the iPad she had taken and see if he would throw it in the trash for her. He did, without mush reservation, and the proceeded to making out, which led to sex behind the bleachers.

We looked up the sex move for the Serpentine and it turns out anyone who has sex with them becomes part of the Failing Dynasty. After some discussion we decided that Jenny was now an “Egg Bearer”.

Both Dante and Mr. Drake were watching this whole affair going down, but for different reasons. Dante picked up the discarded iPad, now with a shattered screen, and pocketed it. Mr. Drake merely observed, making sure Abrahim saw him, before returning to the school. Father would not be pleased.

After her tiff with Chloe, Kendall went to the cafeteria to eat and noticed that Dante was sitting alone in the shade. He wasn’t eating but that isn’t what Kendall noticed. She noticed he wasn’t with anyone, and assumed he felt shunned. “Hey Dante, we need a DJ for homecoming. I think you’re music would rock. You up for it?” He didn’t buy it though, assumed she had something up her sleeve, or a hidden price, so he countered with “How about this Kenny G. I get you back your iPad, and you get me the gig?”

5th Period

Chloe returned, very upset. Abrahim was interested, like a predator investigating his prey. Eventually he got out of her that she was upset with Jayson and wanted Abrahim to beat him up.

Meanwhile Vanessa (Chloe’s older sister, senior, and member of student council) pulled Kendall out of class to show her how to use the PA room and make announcements. Kendall was sure Vanessa had something in mind, some kind of revenge to strike out at Kendall for her little sister, but it turned out to just be ruse to get her out of class so that Jenny could invite Abrahim to Sharks that night without Kendall seeing. Well played MC.

P.E. Class

Dodge ball. Yay, a legitimized excuse for kids to hit each other in the face with non-lethal force.

Kendall, who realized she had been so busy she hadn’t made social plans for the night, found Abrahim and asked him out. He was fine with taking her to Sharks, but had no intention of taking her alone, but rather as part of a growing harem.

The plans were broken, however, when Jenny yelled to Abrahim (who was clearly flirting with the boy she had sex with only an hour before) “Hey, Kendall, give me back the ball.” So she did, with prejudice. The ball flew across the court and cracked Jenny in the nose, giving her a nose bead and embarrassing her.

Abrahim could not abide by someone in his “family” being treated as such, and rebuked Kendall, and went to comfort Jenny, who gave Kendall a stratified smirk as Abrahim held her close to him.

Sarah approached Dante during gym and asked if he wanted to audition for the school play. And maybe do a little bit more than that. “No, Sarah. I don’t think that would work out.” Cold, cold as ice Dante.

Later, outside the showers, Dante confronted Abrahim about the iPad. “You broke this. You need to replace it.” Abrahim was confused at first, not even aware that his actions meant anything, and then dismayed that problems could be fixed with money. It seemed so cheap and pathetic that someone would accept money. Dante didn’t really care though, he just wanted a new iPad for Kendall. Abrahim opened his walled and pulled out $800 in cash, hundred dollar bills. Yeah…loaded.

After school

In the auditorium/gym, Kendall had to wait around for drama auditions to complete (she had the keys to lock up) and Dante joined her, notably not taking part in the auditions that Sarah was part of.

As everyone was leaving, he pulled out the cash and broken iPad. “Here’s your iPad. I didn’t break it. Here’s money to replace it and Ryan can get the data off your old one.”
It should have been straightforward like that. Kendall should have taken the money and thanked him for helping her. But Kendall believes in something fiercely. She wanted more than the iPad replaced, she wanted to justice. She wanted to know who took it and how it got broken.

Dante urged her to just accept the money but when she wouldn’t he finally used his powers of hypnotism to make her accept the money. Only Kendall wouldn’t look in his eyes. She was too busy ranting, and hearing her go on and on really set him off. Darkest Self kind of set off.

He looked at her again, fangs bared, and as her brain fought to make sense of it, he threw her down and began to feed. The way darkest self reads the vampire will drink until his victims are dead, but also likes to toy with them. So after he was satiated, Kendall bolted in terror. She fled to her car and drove off wide eyed and panicked.

Thoughts on the game

Jack wasn’t able to make it due to Skype/hardware hiccups, so it’s hard to know if the group dynamic will change. I think another woman, and a lively one at that, will add some energy to game.

We never saw Kendall’s clique. I think that is probably fine, they will show up sooner or later, and I’ll have to figure out what they know how to do.

Some of our post game discussion is here, added to the comments.

7 thoughts on “Actual Play – Newport High (5/31/2012)”

  1. I wish we could have stayed on after the game ended to talk about things. Maybe next game we can cut it off half an hour early so we can do post-game gab. Nevertheless, before things become foggy, I wanted to share some of my first impressions.

    I felt a little hemmed in by the mechanics. Not specifically the mechanics, but the constant use of them over the play or use of fiction. I know it was first time with the system for most of us, so I figure this is primarily due to the “shiny new toy” idea, wanting to get the mechanics out and play with them. But I found it, from a play perspective, unsatisfying. I need more talking to happen and less talking-as-a-setup-to-roll-next-move. It almost felt like a board game at times, which was not what I’d expected.

    Other than that, I think the characters we’ve dreamed up are interesting and I want to see where things go. I hope my feedback wasn’t too harsh.

  2. Yeah, I think I was guilty of pushing for the moves too hard. In part because just as you said I was like “ooh, moves, I want to try those” but also it was to excuse my behavior. I’m just not a manipulative guy, and I’m playing a manipulative character, so I find I’d much rather say “Kendall is trying to manipulate this NPC” and roll for it than to play it all out and feel like a complete douche.

    I’m actually trying really hard to make Kendall not a bitch. She is popular and has power, but has these noble (and psychotic) ideas of what to do with that. I specifically veered away from “the cheerleader” version of the Queen, because I wanted the character to have substance and I thought she would be too shallow if I made it so all she cared about was being popular. Sill, I worried about her being categorically called “the bitch”.

    Having thought about it, I think that will be Kendall’s “issue” (to borrow a little from PTA). She has the popularity, she is the president. What she wants if for people to actually like her, and of course, to rule the world.

    Back to your point though, I agree we rushed to the moves a lot, but I think that is because I was looking for them to “do” something, and they kept not. Like, both of my interactions with Dante I wanted him to see Kendall reaching out to him on a human level (first “hey will you DJ?”) and second “Dude, what the fuck is up with my ipad being stolen and broken?” and when she wasn’t making progress in those, I wanted a move, or something mechanical to help me with that. So, I think I’ll keep playing with that, and find the balance of how far we can get with just dialog before someone needs to go to the dice, and whether or night going to the dice will actually advance the scene forward.

    Also, I totally want Kendall to continue to be Dante’s prey. She’s going to be at school tomorrow, and if he’s still “Darkest Self” I want to see what happen when the see each other again. Or at Sharks if we end up being there.

  3. Agree about the moves, we did rush to them, and I actually caught myself cutting off a conversation a couple times to call for a move, which I totally shouldn’t do so much. By the end of the game I think I was slowing the moves down and starting to get closer to how it would better be.

    An interesting thing about the moves in this game is that they don’t actually resolve anything. They actually get you deeper into a situation by granting strings, advantages, creating problems and connections. Actually resolving a conflict w(Other than a lashing out physically move) will generally need to be done outside the moves. The moves are the maneuvering for position in a conflict, but not how it ends.

    At least that’s how I see it in theory.

    Other thoughts?

  4. I’m still really tired from the game… Not calling it quits at 2 am was a bad call, but I guess it says something that I *wanted* to keep playing. All I’ve figured out, is that strings seem to be how you win. Not sure what you win when you get strings (other than the ability to make other characters (P and NP alike) do the horrible, horrible things you want them to do. I’m really happy I got to roll hot a lot, because it seemed to cover for the fact that I kept rolling 5’s — but when it came time for me to assert a personality, I was high and dry because I was relying on rolls to make people do things. (Rolls which rarely strayed out of the 7-9 range)

    Sean: I totally don’t see Kendall as a bitch. Truth be told, I feel really bad for her thus far… I’d totally date that chick were I a high-school teenager. Abraham, on the other hand, is a complete, and merciless asshole. I apologize profusely for the horrible things he will do in sessions while I try and find a way to make him grow up.

    Rich: Dante’s quiet.

    One thing I noticed: I am immensely out of touch with my high-school self… I’m relying on very primitive motivations at the moment with Abraham, and I want him to have an organic growth (I guess) — which seems to fit. To be honest (and Scott, this isn’t a criticism of you, or anyone else at the table) I find the game itself a bit directionless… Is that just a first-session thing? Or is the game more character-driven?

  5. The game is (should be?) totally character driven, with an eventual appearance of a nemesis or threat of some sort (expedited if a chosen is among the PC’s but I don’t really like the chosen so much)

    There’s a bit of “getting to know the system” here as well as figuring out what we would like to get out of it.

    Like apocalypse world, Im not intended to write a story or anything for you to experience, just keep the characters lives not booring, make them feel unwanted and monstrous, and play to find out what happens.

    We’ll see where it goes, but we should definitely talk ABOUT the game as well as play it so we are sure to have an experience worthy of our time.

  6. Ironically, I was an actual student at Hillsdale High School, the *real* one, then worked for a short time with their Special Ed students a couple of years ago.

    It is much worse than you have depicted. Stay away from the basement. Where do you think I got my material for “The Giggler Strikes Again”?

    1. Ha! That is awesome. Now I’m sad we switched to Newport. Oh well, I guess we’ll leave your Giggler to himself 🙂

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