Monsterhearts with no GM

In What Are Your Favorite GMless Collaborative Story Games?
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I'll add that with a good group, Monsterhearts runs extremely well with no GM, as long as you can agree on structure.
@Tore_V, can you tell us how this works? What structure are you using?

Comments

  • Yeah. I'm *super* interested in this!!
  • Me too. Sounds challenging to me...
  • I'm planning on running Monsterhearts and would really like to do this as a GMless game. I know the 2-page Monsterheartless for GMless Monsterhearts advice. Still, I'd like to hear personal experiences.
  • What we did was discuss the general direction of the session, basically what we wanted it to be headed towards, such as "today, I'd like to get the situation with Lucy resolved". Mind you, we didn't pre-resolve it, so the end result was always a surprise.
    We took turns setting scenes (with input from around the table allowed and encouraged) and tried playing the same npc's when possible. It wasn't always, but it worked.
    Fronts were created jointly after a session or two. We wanted to explore first, then see what popped up as a credible threat. In our case, demonic hipster coffee shop chain and a demonic dance-school.
    Setting, also, was created jointly and in very broad stroked. We wanted a college town near the ocean, and we voted on the name. Subsequent locations were created on the fly as needed and fleshed out as needed as well.
    Sometimes two players would set a scene for the third players character, or a player would ask for a scene to be set, very much like Fiasco (which some of us had read, but none of us ever played).
    It helps, of course, that we're three close friends who've played Monsterhearts since it was in beta, always with me as GM, and who've been part of the Nordic LARP scene since before the term was coined.
  • Where can 'Monsterheartless' be found?
  • Is there something about Monsterhearts that facilitates this kind of GMful play, or is this a technique that would apply to a lot of different games? (I assume it'd apply poorly to traditional games like D&D where either there's more of an adversarial GM-player relationship or hidden information is more vital to the experience.)
  • edited December 2016
    I have no idea what version of the text this is (how updated/complete, etc), but:

    Monsterheartless:
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9aDy3dv5nWvc3M0Qzk0UGxfMWs/edit?usp=sharing

    I think @EpistolaryRichard originated the project? (Or one strand of it?)
  • edited December 2016
    To the best of my knowledge, there isn't anything Monsterhearts-specific, except perhaps the lack of "adventure plot" in the game's structure and inter-PC conflict present in the genre. Both of those features apply to a great many games, however.

    (Edit: The play advice and "Story Moves" in your link are fantastic! Great stuff. Otherwise, it's interesting that it uses character viewpoint scene framing rather than GM-led scene framing- I would have gone the other way for Monsterhearts, I think. [If that sounds obscure to you, what I mean is that, in Fiasco terms, you most often get to Establish for your character.])
  • I have no idea what version of the text this is (how updated/complete, etc), but:

    Monsterheartless:
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9aDy3dv5nWvc3M0Qzk0UGxfMWs/edit?usp=sharing

    I think @EpistolaryRichard originated the project? (Or one strand of it?)
    Has anyone ran this "Monsterheartless" GMless version? If so, how did it turn out?
  • I have. It worked just fine with experienced story-gamers.
  • @Adam_Dray,
    In Monsterhearts and other AW hacks, the gm is not adversarial. The GM's role is to make interesting things happen (make their lives not boring) and then to see what happens, reacting to player actions. The GM has to be a fan of the characters and make sure their individual stories and actions matter. Not to control a plot, there isn't one, but in all the campaigns I've run, a plot and an enemy emerged in the second or third session and was slowly fleshed out through play. Often the antagonist arose as just a minor encounter that just happened to be interesting enough that the players sought it out.
    As GM, you do something to the PC's. Have one of them mugged. Have a classmate killed. See how they react and respond accordingly. Do not plan. At all.
  • I have. It worked just fine with experienced story-gamers.
    Cool, thanks Tore_V :)
  • edited December 2016
    I can actually pretty well imagine bringing in some aspects of Archipelago into it:

    1. Archipelago phrases ("Try a different way", "That might not be quite so easy", ...)

    2. Fate Cards ("An area on the map is threatened. An attack by enemies, a natural disaster, a change from within or similar", ...)

    3. Ownership ("Some players have ownership of certain elements of the action – such as magic, geography and culture.")

    I use a similar concept to ownership in one of my games. Besides ownership for certain elements, it includes giving some players the job of a Secret Keeper. A mystery question is stated, the player responsible gets to provide the answers or clues for this secret over time.

  • edited January 2017
    I have been playing a lot of PBTA games "GM-less" only by doing a few things.

    Choose one main Gm for each scene responsible for the flow of combat and the one if needed can keep the story moving. I rotate this after each scene.
    Never set up your own scene. Need to rephrase
    Never contradict what someone else has created. Twist it, build on it, but never delete.
    Never talk to your character in a way that needs a response.

    That's really it.
  • Those are really good guidelines.

    One that we generally think should apply: The person who sets up an implicit (or explicit) question with a scene or situation should not be the person who answers it. I think that may be a variant of "never set up your own scene", correct?
  • I find it interesting that revel911's guideline is "never set up your own scene", whereas Monsterheartless is explicitly the opposite (on your turn, you set up a scene for your own character). I'd lean towards the former, myself.

    What are the strong arguments for one over the other? Has anyone tried both and come to conclusions in either direction?
  • edited January 2017
    I find it interesting that revel911's guideline is "never set up your own scene", whereas Monsterheartless is explicitly the opposite (on your turn, you set up a scene for your own character). I'd lean towards the former, myself.

    What are the strong arguments for one over the other? Has anyone tried both and come to conclusions in either direction?
    I probably should rephrase what I said because I do not mind what Monsterheartless is doing. More so, never answer your own questions. Initialize the framing so the response is open ended for the others.
  • Not surprisingly, you could find a lot of good ideas on how to run Monsterhearts MCfully by reading Dream Askew.

    Individual ownership of threats/themes, for example, seems like a good borrow from Dream Askew; though as mentioned above, in MH you will probably not want to define the threats/themes up-front. Not only will you not necessarily know what the relevant threats/themes will be right away, but you also won't know which PCs are likely to be most involved with which threats, which is important to avoid players having to make MC-judgments for their own PC's actions.

    The new edition of MH also explicitly presents the Agenda of the game as a collective player responsibility, rather than guidance specifically for the MC. Extending this to the other Principles, or dividing the Principles up among the players, is an interesting avenue to explore.
  • We did occasionally set up scenes for our own characters, but a lightly. Such as "I'd like to see a scene where my character confronts her father" and let the others work out the details.
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