Below is some information to get a sense of the setting, a general understanding of the Monster of the Week mechanics, and what playbooks (character archetypes) will be available.
All the characters will begin in a fictional Oregon coastal town called Dark Falls. It typically seems like a quiet and quaint place surrounded by a deep forest of douglas-firs, with a smattering of red alders and hemlocks. It's two major industries are the Boyd Logging Company and the Proctor Fishing Company, however it is also well known for the prestigious Miskatonic University, West Campus (MU) established there. However, like any other place, it has its own myths and legends. They stem from the Native American Diroc tribe, which only has a few surviving families today, and from the tragedy that always arises from logging deep in the forest ("There were some weird lights out there just dancin' around.") or fishing in the vast, cold ocean ("I saw something big that went underneath the boat. Some THING!").
Originally, the concept for this campaign was for a group of teenagers that were centrally located around Dark Falls High School (DFHS). However, after just general discussions with everyone, I want to expand that out to predominately college-aged characters who are still centered inside Dark Falls. The group will eventually branch out from the town, but the general assumption will be that everyone pretty much has plans in the immediate future for staying there. Also, each character must have or must have had family in Dark Falls (this to be discussed more with each person), and will know or know of each character (this to be discussed during official character creation).
StyleThis is an improvisational game in which you and the Keeper create a story together. The Keeper initially designs the creature and the timeline of events that would have transpired if the characters had not intervened, but beyond that there really isn't very much planning. The story emerges from a conversation between the players, with the Keeper describing the initial situation and the rest of the players describing what their hunters do in response. This leads into an ongoing back-and-forth between the Keeper and hunters. The Keeper will ask you questions and describe how the inhabitants of the game’s world react, based on your answers.
The Keeper will also present you with situations and crises to do with the monster you’re hunting and its potential victims. These require new decisions from you about what happens next: you’ll describe what your hunter does, and make moves when they’re called for. Each of your decisions and actions will lead to new situations.
Below is a general explanation of how the rules of MotW work.
Moves cover situations when the game rules step in to help you determine what happens. If your hunter wants to do something that any normal person can do, then it just happens. Moves are used to determine what happens in cases where your hunter tries to do:
- Something normal people can’t do, such as casting a magic spell
- Something dangerous, such as getting into a fight with a monster
- Something that’s more exciting if we don’t just decide the outcome on our own. For example, seeing if your hunter’s lie to a monster-attack victim has any repercussions.
Each move is triggered when a particular situation happens in the game. Look at when the move says it happens, and follow the instructions when you do it.
For example, you need to use the move protect someone to save another hunter from a bone puppet’s attack. The move says when you protect someone from harm, roll +Cool, so you roll the dice and get a two and a five. That’s seven, plus your hunter has Cool +1 for a total of eight. The move’s instructions say that on a 7-9, you protect the target okay but you may suffer some or all of the harm instead.
After you’ve recognized the move’s trigger, it will tell you want to do next. Moves can:
- Ask you to roll the dice (2d6), with the results of the roll determining what happens next
- Grant you a special ability that you can use whenever you want
- Give you a bonus to certain rolls
- Give you extra options to use in certain situations.
All the hunters have a set of moves that allow them to investigate and deal with monsters. These are called the "basic moves". There are eight basic moves (a more detailed list of the moves can be found here):
Act Under Pressure
Used for any difficult or dangerous action that isn’t covered by another move.
Used to help another hunter do something. If you succeed, you’ll give them a bonus on their task.
Investigate a Mystery
Used to work out what kind of monster you are dealing with, what it can do, and what it’s planning.
Kick Some Ass
Used for fighting. Fighting monsters, mainly.
Used to try and get someone to do something for you, after you give them some kind of reason.
Used to save someone from danger.
Read a Bad Situation
Used to work out what dangers are immediately threatening you. For instance, if you think you are walking into a trap, or want to do some tactical analysis.
Used to cast magic spells or use enchanted items.
In addition, each hunter playbook has its own set of moves. These are called "playbook moves".
Your hunter has ratings that describe how good they are in certain areas that are important when hunting monsters. The ratings add to (or subtract from) your dice total when you roll for a move.
Is how calm and collected you are. It is added to your die roll for the act under pressure and help out basic moves.
Is how strong and mean you are in a fight. It is added to your die roll for the kick some ass and protect someone basic moves.
Is how pleasant and persuasive you are. It is added to your die roll for the manipulate someone basic move.
Is how observant you are. It is added to your die roll for the investigate a mystery and read a bad situation basic moves.
Is how attuned to the supernatural you are. It is added to your die roll for the use magic basic move.
The ratings range from -1 to +3:
- -1 is bad
- 0 is average
- +1 is good
- +2 is really good
- +3 is phenomenal
After rolling 2d6 and adding the appropriate rating, your final total determines the outcome. Each move has its own specific results, but generally speaking:
On a 10+ you do what you meant and a bonus
On a 7-9 you do what you meant but there's some drawback
Something really bad happens
The following playbooks are available for play, however some options will be unavailable to reflect the tone of the storyline. Also, some aspects of a playbook will be developed during gameplay. Be sure to note that only one of any playbook is allowed. Under the "Gear" sections for each playbook, some heavy duty weapons are not immediately available unless if fits their setting somehow. Lastly, unless otherwise discussed, all characters have had no real dealings with the supernatural (a copy of all the playbooks is available here).
A once-ordinary person who discovered they have a special destiny, and who has been given the power to accomplish it. The Chosen is good in a fight, with some weird powers.
- Note: Destiny and powers to be discovered through gameplay. Also, they are technically considered A Chosen, not THE Chosen.
- Moves: The Big Entrance is not available
A criminal turned monster hunter, haunted by their past and enemies. The Crooked is good in social situations and has a lot of contacts.
- Backgrounds: Fixer, Assassin, and Charlatan are not available
- Moves: Crew, Made, Home Ground, and Notorious are not available
The Divine An agent of a higher power, with a mission to fulfill. The Divine is very tough and has been granted holy powers.
The hunter who knows all about monsters and magic. The Expert knows a lot of hidden secrets and how to find out more, and also has a well-supplied base to work from.
- Note: this knowledge is based on information they have researched, not actual first hand encounters with the supernatural
- Haven: must be mobile, such as an RV or camping trailer; Oubliette applies to items and keeping creatures out only
A conspiracy theorist. The Flake is great at finding things out and seeing how the events of separate mysteries are connected.
- No changes
The Initiate A member of an ancient monster-slaying Sect, trained to fight and use magic. The Initiate is good with magic, and their Sect provides help (and sometimes problems).
The Monstrous A monster fighting for the good guys. The Monstrous is very weird, and can have a variety of different powers based on what monster breed they are.
Just a normal regular person, especially good at dealing with regular people you meet and have to save, and at getting captured by monsters (which can be more useful than you might expect).
- No changes
You work for an agency
that hunts monsters. The Professional is good in a fight, and a good team player.
- Limited availability: subject to discussion, most likely limited to mundane agencies such as ex-military, ex-government agent, etc.
A trained wizard, wielding powerful magic in their crusade against evil. The Spell-Slinger’s arcane training gives them an advantage when dealing with eldritch secrets.
- Note: a Spell-Slinger's abilities will be discovered and developed through gameplay
- Moves: Arcane Reputation is not available
The Spooky (Taken)
Has psychic or magical powers. These powers are strange and sinister ... and not completely under the Spooky’s control.
- Note: as the Spell-Slinger, the Spooky's abilities will be developed through gameplay.
The Wronged (Taken)
Revenge-driven, and really tough. The Wronged is all about killing a specific breed of monster and protecting others as you do it.
- Moves: I Know My Prey to be developed during gameplay