Yesterday we had our first playtest session for Turmoil. I usually consider a playtest successful if it highlights problems that the rules create or can’t go around it. Given that it’s a campaign game, most of the problems will probably come out later. I asked the players if the game ran like Monstehearts. I received a yes, a no, and a non-committal shrug. It’s probably too early to know for sure.
We made the characters in chat before the actual hangout, where we created the backgrounds. We play in the pictoresque Lake Havasu City with Ivan the Queen, Alec the Chosen, and Morrigan the Ghoul.
Ivan has a clique of few trusted people who play in his own baseball team (interestingly it’s a mixed gender team). They can protect themselves (bats) but they are different from him: he is milky white with blond hair, while they have darker skins and hair. Ivan wants Morrigan in his clique very bad, while thinks Alec is a threat to his status.
Alec is a Chosen from a family of Chosen. They all are born in the same day, 21 of March. His father had an accident and now he’s in a wheelchair. He inherited the mantle of protector of the City. Alec has two friends who help with the slaughter: Willow and Terence (who was in Ivan’s clique before and went away because it was getting creepy). Alec also has someone who wants him dead: Vincent Bolton, the taxidermist (I came up with him).
Morrigan was one of the helpers of Alec’s family before dying in a bad fire, the same incident who caused Alec’s father to lose the use of his legs. Ivan and his clique disturbed her eternal sleep and now she’s back on earth craving fear and wanting to die for good. She thinks Alec smells like love.
So, we forgot to highlight the stats (of course) and we went on with the first scene. In the classroom, where they were seeing a bad wildfire prevention PSA from a long time before (jokes jokes jokes). The professor didn’t care what they did, so Morrigan tried to talk to Alec, who Shut her down. Hard. Like three times. First Morrigan was Hurt, then Alec failed. My move was to introduce Ashley, a wannabe cheerleader with a caustic tongue. She shut Morrigan down (note that this wasn’t a move with dice). Morrigan decided to enter her Darkest Self to clear her Hurt condition, and to Lash out, scaring the hell out of her, feeding and escaping her darkest self.
It was a very quick darkest self. I’m not sure if that’s how I intended it to work. Maybe change the escape condition to something like “When you feel ashamed of what you’ve done”?
Alec tried to intervene by grabbing Morrigan. Morrigan used her Ending move to talk about her death, making him Uneasy. Alec decided to flee. Ivan and Morrigan were left alone and started Shutting themselves down and making themselves Angry. They couldn’t flee because of the condition. Morrigan punched Ivan in the face. She failed. I said that Ivan received a punch, and was Hurt. In the meantime I introduced the professor Wolf, who thundered to Morrigan to go to the Principal. Morrigan removed the Angry condition.
It was a very weak move. I sent her to the principal but then I didn’t follow up on it.
We followed Alec going home at night. I introduced a threat in the shape of a tall shadow monster, who vanished when he boldly threathened him. He went home to Gaze into the abyss to get info about it.
Ivan was at a training session. He was still Angry, so I said that he probably wasn’t performing so well. The coach said to him to go home. He Manipulated him with a promise convincing him he’ll win the match. The coach said ok, but you’ll have to show some control in the session. He bottled the anger and managed to do well.
I was thinking about this. There’s no Keep your Cool move or Act Under Fire, so I wasn’t sure how to handle this. And I still don’t know.
Morrigan decided to visit Caleb, who didn’t know she was back from the dead. He greeted her with a loaded shotgun, but didn’t shoot when she came closer talking about her death and activating the Ending move. He was scared, though, and it showed. She decided to change tactic and she kissed him Making a Move on him. He started crying saying it was all his fault, that he didn’t try his best to save her. He told her she’d better go away.
I wanted to see some Alec and willow action, so I framed a scene at Willow’s home, at dinner. Willow’s mom is shipping the two of them, but they only talked about how to drive the LongShadow out of town. They resolved to seek out a witch.
There weren’t moves in this scene, and sometimes it’s alright.
So, in conclusion, to me as an MC it worked pretty much like a standard Monsterhearts first session. Meet the teen monsters, have them fool around a bit, meet the npcs, set up for greater drama.
Let’s hope future sessions will show something more of the emergent mechanics.