[Monsterhearts] Playing scenes behind the MC's back!

edited February 2013 in Actual Play
Just a short anecdote from my game this evening, which I loved.

The characters had been split up: two were in the mall while the other two were in full on Breakfast Club mode serving out a Saturday detention.

I started off playing the scene with the mallrats, which involved the Fae attempting to gaze into the abyss by looking into a shop mirror, utterly fluffing her roll and walking out with a new minidress (but I digress). While I was playing out this scene however, the detention kids were secretly passing notes to each other. This exchange of notes ended up quite extensive (and hilarious, at least to us).

Overall, it was totally unexpected, showed great player initiative and worked brilliantly. And it sped up the whole narrative as we were effectively playing two scenes simultaneously.

It worked for me anyway!

Comments

  • Very cool! Way to recreate the high school vibe... at the game table.
    utterly fluffing her roll and walking out with a new minidress (but I digress)
    You can't just leave it at that!

  • Well, the way she gazes into the abyss is to look into a mirror, but she thought she do it by pretending to go clothes shopping.

    The character is a little vain however, and got a little more distracted by the dress than she bargained for. It was a nice little character moment.
  • I was also thinking about that. If there are two characters having a conversation you can just prompt one to Mini-MC for the Scene and you deal with other people.
    Would work a bit better in Apocalypse World i think but you can do something like that. You, as the MC don't have to know everyting that is going on.
  • Well, in this case, there wasn't a mini-MC as much as they just improvised a scene between themselves (without my knowledge or permission, not that I'm complaining). But more generally, yes, I can certainly see the case for the occasional "second unit director".

    In terms of my own gameplay, I'm increasingly interested in GM-less play which, in single sessions at least, tends to result in better stories in my experience. I think for my next game, I might suggest a rotating GM/MC/whatevs.
  • I feel so conflicted about scenes like this! I like that you can have multiple scenes going on at the same time so no-one is sitting around waiting their turn or whatever, but as a player (and GM) I want to see all the scenes that are happening, and I get mad when I can't watch a cool scene cause I'm in a different one.
  • Well, in this case, it was done by written notes being passed between each other, so we all got to see the scene afterwards!
  • edited February 2013
    Holy cow, I'm totally doing this in my next game. Thanks for sharing this tidbit, James.

    Oh wait, you can text! Of course! You just have to write it down and pass it back and forth. Please use the same sheet of paper and make sure to make little bubbles like on a smartphone. Shutting someone Down is easy. Sext to Turn Someone On. Share with the other players and GM after they are done with the current scene.

    I don't think you need a mini-MC for texting. I think I agree with James' love for GM-less play. It's rough having to have all the information travel through the MC. I get bored sometimes during other peoples' scenes ('cause I'm a narcissist).

    The main problem I see is loss of active listening, like Kira pointed out. I have a lot of trouble with this already, as my mind wanders and I start thinking about what I can do with what is happening. "Texting" might be a way for me to stay engaged.

    Maybe I'd give myself a timer. After a scene has been going for five minutes, I can start "texting". I can pay careful attention while the other person is replying...

    Plus... there is this feeling that I associate with being a teenager. It's, like, wherever you are, you feel, like, there is something more relevant, important, and exciting somewhere else. When you, like, listen to music on the radio, you can barely let the song end for fear of what you are missing, like, on another station. Maybe "texting" would help recreate this anxiety, like, in a fun way.

    TL;DR: Notes could be texts!
  • Oh awesome! Yea that's pretty fun then.

    Our characters text all the time in game. In fact, it might be half our correspondence.
  • Do you mean actual, real life text messages, or a piece of paper, or just role-playing text messages being sent back and forth?
  • edited February 2013
    Do you mean actual, real life text messages, or a piece of paper, or just role-playing text messages being sent back and forth?
    Probably pros and cons for both, but I think using a sheet of paper and passing it back and forth is preferable. It is then easily shared with others. I feel like quickly jotting something down is faster than actual texting (for me at least). Plus the folks I play with might not have cell phones and definitely outlaw them during play.

  • I like Mathalus' idea about passing a piece of paper back and forth, that's fun.

    In our game, we just say it out loud. "So, Cassidy texts Rowan, and says "Um, hey, where are you. I've been waiting for an hour." And then we just talk it out like we were actually talking but we're actually texting. Then cue actual talking with people nearby too. It makes it fun to have a talk/text scene when one character in the scene has no idea what's going on in the text, but everyone ooc know's what's up. We like to play liberally with that fourth wall irony.
  • edited February 2013
    I like Mathalus' idea about passing a piece of paper back and forth, that's fun.

    In our game, we just say it out loud... We like to play liberally with that fourth wall irony.
    Oh yeah, this is the best when the spotlight is on you. Strong move, Kira. Do you ever not make eye contact with the person you are texting and just speak to no one? It has a weird effect, and you can totally mug and pantomime for everyone else while you are doing it. Comedy gold.
  • I tend to pantomime texty hands while talking to indicate a text. I've seen writing on a page used to indicate texts as well, and I like using that on occasion, when it seems like keeping the conversation to some *players* would add something interesting to the tension in the scene.
  • See, I find the fact that people don't do this to be odd. Our group always does stuff like this. While the MC is handling one scene the other players not involved might slip into a conversation off to the side which can, and does quite often develop into a whole nother scene. Usually we refrain from rolls due to the stakes and complications that could come about with a 6- or 7-9. But that's more so we do't have to interfere with what the MC is doing to ask him for adjudication of a roll.

    It's a great way to pass the "downtime" when the spotlight isn't on you and wither doesn't pertain to you or you want the scenes contents to be as much a surprise to you as to your character.
  • Do you ever not make eye contact with the person you are texting and just speak to no one? It has a weird effect, and you can totally mug and pantomime for everyone else while you are doing it. Comedy gold.
    Ooh, now, I like that.

    We just did the 'texty hands' thing Joe mentions, but that adds another layer to it in a really nice way.

  • I don't generally like doing the "cross-talking" scene, where players not in the scene just casually start their own. It feels disrespectful to me, like we're not giving one another our attention and celebration. If I play a cross-talking side scene, it feels like a specific technique that I'd better have a damn good reason for deploying.

    (This isn't a condemnation of your practice, just a reflection of how the social contract is different at the tables I tend to sit down at. Obviously we should each keep doing what works for us. And obviously what you're doing works for you. Props to having options and exploring them.)
  • I don't generally like doing the "cross-talking" scene, where players not in the scene just casually start their own. It feels disrespectful to me, like we're not giving one another our attention and celebration. If I play a cross-talking side scene, it feels like a specific technique that I'd better have a damn good reason for deploying.
    I see your point but it certainly wasn't taken like that by either myself or the other players. We enjoyed the meta-cheekiness of it.

    As an aside, texting isn't an option in our game as it is set in 1997, which results in endless arguments about whether the characters will have watched Buffy, whether X-Files had got shit by that point or not (it had), etc. :)

  • (Yeah, totally. I hear your joy over the meta-cheekiness of it all, and am glad it worked at your table, and at Ishnub's table too.)
  • I'm with Joe: as a member of the game in progress, I wouldn't want to "miss" any of the drama. I like to watch with glee as the action unfolds, and pay attention for details and items to reincorporate or build on later.
  • I'm pretty much the same as @Paul_T; I don't want to miss what's happening with the other characters and so usually don't like "cross-talking" scenes. Either as a player or a GM. As a GM, I like to know everything that's going on, and as a player I want to see them crash and burn. Although it's usually my characters that are in the middle of a flame out. ;)
  • Cell phones and texting plays a big part in my Monsterhearts game, too. Always remember to ask: "What's your ring tone?" or "Do you have a special ringtone for her?"
  • Always remember to ask: "What's your ring tone?" or "Do you have a special ringtone for her?"
    Golden.

  • Lilly was quite upset when she discovered that Caleb's ring tone for her was "That Girl is Poison."
  • edited February 2013
    "whats your ring tone?" What a golden question. I remember in our game my cell phone was seized as evidence by the police after a particularly grisly pentuple homicide involving "a bear... yeah... or a Mountain Lion or something... How was I sposed' to know I was hiding in a dark corner of the building at the time after having one those thugs guts splattered across me." It was crippling being out of touch with everyone and not being able to Google things. I ended up having to have sex with my therapist to get him to convince my mom to buy me a new one and un-ground me for sneaking out.
  • Always remember to ask: "What's your ring tone?" or "Do you have a special ringtone for her?"
    Yeah, those are brilliant questions. Consider them stolen. ;)
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