[Monsterhearts] Holding Steady and Conditions

edited February 2013 in Play Advice
So I have a question about the hold steady move in Monsterhearts. Maybe not a question exactly, but more just wondering about something. On the 7-9 result, a player has the option to choose something from the 10 up list but gain the Condition terrified. Is that always the appropriate Condition though?

I mean, in scary situations yes. Terrified is the perfect Condition. But it seems to me as if the hold steady move is similar to AW's act under fire, or DW's defy danger. Meaning that hold steady is the "go to" move when the fiction needs to be resolved with a move, but none of the other moves are appropriate.

For example, on page 154 of the book, in The Long Example chapter, one of the characters has to hold steady when attempting to swipe a bottle out of another character's hands. They get a 7 on their roll, grab the bottle with no ill effects, and play continues. But what if the player had chosen to take a 10 up option? The situation didn't seem to be all that terrifying, just tense.

Of course the answer is simply "Give out whatever Condition seems appropriate for the situation." I'm just curious what other Conditions MCs have handed out as a result of hold steady moves.


  • I'm interested in what others do, too- this is one of the problems I have with Hold Steady. The other is that 7-9 result where nothing changes. Other than accomplishing what you set out to do, which counts from a certain point of view. But, for me overall, the move doesn't sing like some of the others do.
  • I don't use hold steady like Defy Danger or AoU, but that is just me.
  • @Cneph I think I'm one of those people who sees "doing something despite it being scary or tense" as the situation changing. But I understand what you mean. Some of the other moves generate fiction regardless of their outcome.

    Can you elaborate a bit, @Praion? If you don't use hold steady like defy danger or act under fire, then how do you use it? Only when the character attempts to do something when fear would possibly hold them back?

    I'm not saying that hold steady is identical to it's sister moves from Apocalypse World or Dungeon World. I'm much more inclined to just let things happen in Monsterhearts, provided the action makes fictional sense. But there are times when I feel actions shouldn't be resolved simply with player or MC narration. Like there was a part in our last session that chafed me a bit.
    Cage is lying on the bed when January comes out again. She pauses, then throws the wadded up clothes at his head and jumps on him. Pinning his wrists down. Knees on either side of his hips. She leans down towards his face, and that’s when Cage sees her change. Just for a split second. Her eyes go completely black and her twists up into horns. Exactly the way Vivian had told him she looked when January was in the car with Lance before. Somehow Cage flips January. He’s on top of her now. Pinning her down.
    Cage flipping January over was simply narrated by the other player and honestly I felt a little cheated as January's player. I started to complain, but then just let it go. I didn't want to be that guy. But I feel that something more was needed to represent that Cage's player didn't have complete control of the situation. There was another player character directly at odds with what he was attempting to do.

    Just got me thinking about whether hold steady should apply in more situations.
  • @Hyvemynd, I agree with you, and the use of "hold steady" in the Long Example in the book appears to be exactly as you describe: it's not quite like "act under fire", but it is used in an uncertain situation to add some uncertainty to the way things are going.

    I haven't run into it yet, but I think I wouldn't hesitate to give a Condition other than "terrified", if it was appropriate. I don't think that's an unwelcome change to the rules: Conditions are mechanically interchangeable, after all. I think "terrified" is just a default in this case.

    As for the "nothing happens" 7-9 option, I've been wondering about that too, over in the "writing Monsterhearts" thread. It seems like a weird bit of design which I'm not sure how to harness at the table.

  • @HyveMind i think the question in hold steady is different then in AuF.

    AuF is, can i do this without something bad happening to me.
    Hold Steady is, can i keep it together while bad things are happening.

    It's much more internal. AuF is doing something while HS is keeping it together. AuF can be HS some times (when you get manipulated ie) but mostof the times it isn't
  • edited March 2013
    That whole flipping over thing, if I were MC, really would've been lashing out. That said, string to make Cage hold steady would've been appropriate.

    Otherwise, what Praion said. Its less about the thing you're accomplishing (if indeed you're accomplishing a thing) and more about how fucking uncontrollable your emotions are in the face of holy-crap-wtf-I-don't-even?!

    Additionally, whenever someone takes the "you keep your cool" version, I embrace my whole "make them feel unaccepted" vibe and call them out for being too chicken to really find out what's going on, hiding I'm themselves rather than facing the truth, whatever, because what's really there would terrify them if they'd only ask (take terrified to ask a question). After all, they're looking to me to find out what happens and that's when I make my move, right. I just do it nice and soft-like, 'cause it's not like they failed a roll or nothing.
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