Monsterhearts: Strings Attached Move

[JOSH, if you're reading this, you probably shouldn't be reading more of it yet, but I'll deal if you have. For any Josh who doesn't know why you shouldn't read this, you're not the Josh I'm addressing.]

Anyone ever have the Infernal ask for something you cannot have the Dark Power give them?

I have a plan (ish) for my specific case, but am curious about how others handle this. We're in our second season -- we played one season, took a break, played other things, exactly as it says. For second season, one person switched characters (the Fae retired, and a Ghost was born), two switched skins but kept the same character (Queen to Serpentine, Werewolf to Infernal), and one kept the same character and skin (Witch -- I have a goal of getting them to go Darkest Self).

Last season, we established a gang and its leader. And I kept not being able to play the leader as anything other than the nicest gang leader (partly me, partly the PCs being exactly the right combination of respectful and confident), so when I needed a fresh plotline, and the obvious one involved a demon (for Reasons), I realized that had to be the gang leader. He helped the Werewolf murder the woman who killed her wolf mother -- basically made the opportunity and let her take advantage of it -- and we agreed it was logical she'd have shifted skins between seasons.

The Witch wants the Dark Power gone, and was initially relieved that at least the DP wasn't at school any more. The Infernal told the DP:

* I miss you. I want you to come back to school.
* Also, it's stupid that you and the Witch aren't friends. You should be friends.

I'd already established that the DP can appear differently to different people, but the PCs are an exception, so, hey, there's a new coach at school! (I could decide that just because the PCs have always recognized the DP doesn't mean they always will, but that feels like a big stretch -- at the very least, I'd want to check in with everyone before doing that.)

But, I cannot make the Witch be the DP's friend. This isn't the sort of game where it would fit to pull out mind control. Okay, technically, I could put a Condition on the Witch, but... *shrug* It doesn't click for me.

This doesn't mean it won't happen. The Witch may well at some point decide that the DP isn't bad. The Witch likes the DP's style. There are others doing worse stuff than the DP is known to have done recently, and DP is going to likely be on the Witch's side for at least some of this.

Heck, for a highly amusing Strings Attached, maybe becoming the Witch's friend is possible if the DP gives up being a demon -- you know, plain stops becoming the DP, becomes an ordinary human being. And maybe this leads to the Infernal retiring and becoming the new demon / DP.

Maybe the fact that this is one thing the DP cannot make happen is a weakness that the Witch and anyone else trying to defang the DP can exploit.

I have plenty of options. The Infernal's player hasn't invoked Strings Attached for this, and is currently in Darkest Self, with 4 strings or an Even Scarier Dark Power to go. So, this isn't a "help solve my problem".

But I'm curious -- how would others handle this? Have you ever had an Infernal make a String Attached move where you felt you couldn't deliver, even with a twist? What sort of demands would make you say, "No, that's something I can't make happen as an MC"?


  • My off the cuff answer is that the Dark Power can be the Witch's "friend"--by helping them out even when they don't ask for it. I mean, think about it--the Dark Power frames everything as a transaction, right? (That's at least what's baked into the Infernal sheet.)

    So okay, the DP starts to do stuff to help the witch. Little things--their rival runs out of gas driving to the prom; someone gets sick and now you have the lead part in the play; what do you know, they gave me extra fudge on this sundae! This can ramp up pretty quickly--huh, that hex seemed to REALLY work well this time.

    Get the Witch used to things just working better. Then start coming after the Witch and the Infernal for strings--"I helped out Witchy, Infy, but I think you owe me something for that?" "Hey Witch, I can show you how to do a ritual, all I ask is a little bit of a favor..."

    Your problem is mutualism, that's where you're tripping up :) But the Dark Power doesn't have friends, it has people it does favors for and expects stuff in return; those people are "friends."

    Me, ultimately I'd be steering the witch toward accepting the Infernal moves, but that's for more advanced discussions :)
  • An excellent suggestion; I’ll add this:

    Give a thought to what the Dark Power’s idea of “friendship” might be, and put that into practice.

    If you wanted to force someone to be your friend, and you had a limited understanding of real affection, unlimited power, or some sort of bizarre obsessions of various sorts... what kind of friendship would you envision?

    And, of course, as Aviatrix says, ultimately a friendship with the Dark Power should take the form of an infernal compact of some sort, so that would be the endpoint (Monsterhearts doesn’t have Fronts or Grim Portents, but this should plant a seed and put things in motion).
  • There's also the question of what the Infernal considers friendship to be. I should have the Dark Power to ask. I suspect she'll talk about being in the same pack.
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