Monster of the Week

Urban fantasy for all ages. Monster of the Week (Evil Hat Productions), Magical Kitties Save the Day (Atlas Games)

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nemarsde
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Monster of the Week

Post by nemarsde »

Monster of the Week is Powered by the Apocalypse, the game system that originated in Apocalypse World but is best known in its Dungeon World guise.

This game is set on the island of Malta in the summer of 2023, about a week after the triumphant return of the Isle of MTV music festival.

The island is crowded even in the off-season, being the fourth most densely populated country in the world. During a busy tourist season it's rammed.

There's barely 1 sq mile of Malta that doesn't have a town or village on it, and the whole eastern side of the island is effectively one, uninterupted urban area.

If you want to read more about Malta, you'll find it has a colourful and ancient history, dating back to prehistoric times and even had its own island bestiary of giant swans and dwarf elephants. The island is home to some of the oldest existing ruins in the world, dating back to 4000 BC.

Your character is a monster hunter signed on with a scuzzbucket talent agent called Randy Liemann, who has an office in Walker's Court in Soho. It's unclear who hires Randy, but it is clear they want monsters dead and the truth buried.

Weirdly, they don't seem to care how much hoohah is caused, as long as the monsters' bodies are destroyed in the process.

It gets weirder. Randy is in the "skin trade" as he prefers to call it, or the adult entertainment business according to his card. You don't know if he has any performers on his books or if it's just a cover.

You do know that one time you took the old service lift up to his office. There's only a ground floor and first in the building, but the lift had eight floors and a basement. Figuring it was just a second-hand control panel, you pressed 8-Penthouse and ended up in a rickety apartment building in Wan Chai. That's Hong Kong's red light district. Freaking out, you got back in the lift and pressed 1. That got you to Randy's office and the lift has been out of order ever since. (I guess you weren't the only one who pressed 8-Penthouse!)

Yours is a world filled with magic, with aliens, maybe even magical aliens. But it is definitely a world with monsters in it.
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nemarsde
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The Monster Hunters

Post by nemarsde »

Our team of monster hunters, working for the Randy Lieman Agency, were created in the first hour of play. Who are they?

Cornelius Montague Forrester the Spell-slinger
Played by bigby

Trained as a wizard and in the secrets of tattoo magic by Fang Lo, an Afro-Chinese sorceress and Chiang-Ku dragon.

Jules the Monstrous
Played by rossi720

Infected by a Morphworm from the nightmare dimension of Wormwood.

Michah the Divine
Played by slill

One of the angelic beings that inhabited the First City, True Atlantis.

Nyx the Chosen
Played by Gypsy

Sole wielder of the rune sword, Clarent, driven by Uther Pendragon into an anvil and later drawn by Arthur. Used by Mordred to slay the King of Camelot, it bears the Latin word Adversarius on its blade.

Ofee the Spooky
Played by pchan

Born and raised in a Mindwerks lab in Germany, where she was subjected to experiments to awaken her psychic abilities.

What did we decide for their inter-related histories? With a group of five player characters, each character has five "outbound" histories and five "inbound" histories. One in each direction for every other character.

The only way to show this altogether is with a mind-melting map.

The Horror
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"How to play"

Post by nemarsde »

Most RPGs have that embarrassing, ambiguous chapter on "What is Role-Playing Gaming" but Powered by the Apocalypse games break it down into clear instructions for newbies. Old grognards like us can also benefit from the fresh perspective.

I've copied this from page 96 of Monster of the Week Revised. My comments are in [square brackets].
This is what you do when you are playing your hunter.

Hunter Agenda

When you’re playing your hunter:
  1. Act like you’re the hero in this story (because you are).
    [You are not the victim or the passive observer. You are the hunter.]
  2. Make your own destiny.
    [Chart your own path, always pushing your character's story forwards]
  3. Find the damn monsters and stop them.
    [Check your Basic Moves. These remind you what you should be doing in the game.]
  4. Play your hunter like they’re a real person.
    [Portray your character's emotions, fear, excitement, and always act with a motive.]
Think like your hunter would think. Do what your hunter would do.

Remember that you’re a badass: extremely dangerous, and good at what you do.

When you get into a fight, you might take a lot of harm, but hunters are lucky and heal quickly. Use Luck to avoid harm if you need to. Alternatively, you can hold on until the end of the fight and then take a break to rest up and heal. For the full harm and healing rules see page 110.

You need to work out what’s behind each situation. Then work out how to find it and what its weaknesses are. Then kill it.

The Game Is A Conversation

This is an improvisational game in which you create a story together.

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.

When deciding how to react, think like your hunter and keep your agenda in mind.
nemarsde
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The Mystery

Post by nemarsde »

What do you know so far?

Backstory

In 1956, two RN officers were killed in mysterious underwater accidents.

Lionel Crabb, a decorated frogman, died during clandestine reconnaissance of a Soviet warship docked in Portsmouth. His dismembered torso was later recovered. In Malta that same year, Jack Smedley, marine engineer, was killed in a suspected shark attack. His body was never found, despite RN frogmen mounting a major search. The Maltese PM blamed a Soviet minisub for the attack.1

Both officers were stationed in Malta in the 12 months prior to their deaths.

According to the official classified files, Crabb and Smedley worked on a top secret minisub project, Project Triton, based out of a grotto system in the cliffs of il-Munxar.

But you have access to the non-official files. You know the truth...

Project Triton was actually a magical experiment to create aquatic chimera: Weaponised magical beasts, mixing the physical traits of two or more animals.

It was overseen by a Lithuanian wizard called Nerijus Antinis, an expert in chimeras and the magical reagent, Spawn of Kothoga.

The autopsy on Crabb concluded he was killed by a large shark. There are no large, predatory sharks in British waters, let alone Portsmouth Bay.

After the deaths of Crabb and Smedley, the Admiralty shut the project down but all records of why have been lost.

60 years later, the land containing the grotto system was bought by a Serbian gangster, Jovan Glogovac.

The Current Situation

Two days ago, a Russian tech billionaire, Alfred Avdolyan, was killed in a suspected shark attack in St. George's Bay, Malta, not far from the beach. No body was recovered by Maltese Authorities.

Avdolyan had a monopoly over Russia's 5G network and was being surveilled by MI6. In the past month, Avdolyan and Glogovac had often been seen together in public, socialising. Glogovac was the last person to speak to Avdolyan at the beach on the day of his death.

According to news reports, witnesses saw a large shark drag Avdolyan under. Like most shark attacks, most media outlets carry the story but few, other than local reporters, follow-up.

Your Job

The Lieman Agency has been hired to investigate the killing of Avdolyan.

Under the guise of shooting a high-end skin flick aboard the superyacht Grand Ocean, you will dock in Valleta Harbour.

If Glogovac has somehow reactivated Project Triton, you are to stop him and kill the chimera.

Side Job: Glogovac's wife, Anastassia, a Greek ex-model/celeb, has not been seen in public in two weeks. Confirm her whereabouts.

1. This is a true story. Crabb and Smedley both died in these mysterious circumstances in 1956, having served on the island together, and the Maltese PM really did blame a Soviet minisub for Smedley's death, even though the friend he was swimming with at the time reported a large black fish, some 5 metres in length, dragged Smedley under.
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nemarsde
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The Monster

Post by nemarsde »

What do you know about the monster?
  1. It's a magical chimera, essentially the same as created by warlocks in ancient times
  2. Nerijus Antinus was a Lithuanian occultist famed for his work on creating magical chimera using Spawn of Kothogo as reagent. Urban legend has it that Antinus got high and accidentally turned himself in a beetle in 1966. (In fact, he turned himself into the Beatle, Paul McCartney.)
  3. Due to Antinis's involvement in Project Triton in 1956, Spawn of Kothoga was likely used to create the chimera
  4. Chimera created using Spawn of Kothoga will need to feed on a specific animal product. Brains, hearts, blood or bone marrow, for example, or even more specific like certain hormones. Without this key nutrient they will quickly die.
  5. When created, a chimera combines two or more animals in a magic ritual.
  6. According to the witnesses on the beach, they saw a large shark attack Avdolyan.
  7. But according to a sea creature (possible mermaid) also on the beach, it was not a shark.
  8. One of the largest great white sharks ever landed was in Malta, 1987, over 6 metres long. They are cosmopolitan in Malta's waters. It's likely one of the animals used to create the chimera was a great white shark.
  9. Although Avdolyan was not an enemy of the regime in Russia, he had acquired citizenship in Malta. According to MI6, the Russian regime wanted to break up Avdolyan's control of their 5G network.
  10. Glogovac gave Avdolyan a high-end Patek Philippe wristwatch minutes before the attack. It may have been used to mark Avdolyan as a target for the chimera.
Project Triton Chimera
Monster: Devourer (motivation: to consume people)


A giant, humanoid hybrid of a great white shark and a Serbian mobster's trophy wife, created using good old fashioned British engineering and dark magic.

Powers:
  • Shark Senses: Track by scent and see in darkness using electroreception.
  • Amphibious: Can breathe underwater and swim as capably as a shark but is clumsier on land.
  • Porker: Five-metres long with enormous physical strength and durability.
Attacks: Rending claws (2-harm hand); Shark bite (4-harm hand messy)

Armour: Shark skin: 1-armour

Harm Capacity: 12

Weaknesses:
  • Human inside: Trapped in the monster's body is the mind of Greek fashion model, Anastassia, who loves dogs, jewellery, and hates her husband, Glogovac.
  • Man-eater: Must consume human flesh every day or slip into shock and die.
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nemarsde
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Minions

Post by nemarsde »

Vampire Hit Squad
Minion: Assassin (motivation: to kill the hunters)


A team of vampires manipulated by a higher power into assassinating the hunters, armed with sick Versace threads and Glock machine pistols.

This multiethnic group rolls around in a LWB Range Ranger and hints at a Master Vampire in Southern Italy, preying upon the migrant community.

Powers:
  • Secondary Vampire: See in the dark, telepathic, twice as strong as a normal human, invulnerable to all attacks except from weaknesses.
Attacks:
[Boost attacks by 1-harm when attacking as a group]
  • Machine Pistol: 2-harm close area loud reload
  • Bite: 2-harm intimate vampiric
Armour: None

Harm Capacity: 15 (Each 3 points represents a single vampire)

Weaknesses:
  • The Five Elements: Can be harmed by fire, sunlight, running water, wood, silver, holy and magic weapons.
  • Ancient wards: Are repulsed by garlic and wolfsbane, and are terrified of the sign of Xy* or its shadow. Aka, crosshairs or crucifix. (*Correctly pronounced Hyah like in Hmong language.)
  • Bloodlust: Must subsist on a diet of human blood.
Villa Guards
Minion: Guardian (motivation: to protect Glogovac)


Glogovac's most trusted foot soldiers protect his il-Munxar estate. Obediant as hounds and roughly as intelligent, each area of the house is patrolled or otherwise occupied by around six guards dressed in leisurewear, curb chains and armed with fancy Czech pistols.

Powers:
  • Call Reinforcements
  • Serbian Gangsters: Suspicious of anyone who doesn't speak Serbian.
Attacks:
[Boost attacks by 1-harm when attacking as a group]
  • 9mm Pistol: 2-harm close loud
  • Brass Knuckles: 1-harm hand
Armour: None

Harm Capacity: 3 (Each 1 point represents two guards)

Weaknesses:
  • These minions are plain humans.
nemarsde
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The Rifts Connection

Post by nemarsde »

Through the course of play I started to lean on Palladium Books' Rifts for off-the-cuff inspiration.

This was useful because of Rifts' all in, balls out approach to sci-fantasy. In Rifts Earth, the modern world ended with the Great Cataclysm: WW3 caused an eruption of psychic energy that tore open dimensional portals and flooded the planet with magic. Aliens, demons, creatures of myth and legend and everything in between invaded, humanity teetered on the brink of exinction and civilisation fell.

Rifts itself has a prequel game, Beyond The Supernatural, that is a stereotypical urban fantasy/supernatural detective setting.

Pretending this was the future of our Monster of Week world encouraged me not to play coy, be willing to discard any Masquerade and rock the established order. In our urban fantasy, the fantasy would not have to be discreet or be put back in the bottle.

Apart from the Rifts elements we worked into the player characters, we also created wider plot arcs:
  • Aerihman, an archangel amongst the True Atlanteans, is plotting to betray his bethren and sell-out Earth to an alien intelligence (Splynncryth) before the planet can "ascend" in the Great Cataclysm. His emissary, Eae, attempted to recruit Micah into their faction but failed, and is courting their buyer by demonstrating Earth's magic potential.
  • A Master Vampire is building a mafia in Southern Italy amongst the migrant population.
  • The Lieman Agency's employer is a alien intelligence, Zazshan, resident on Earth since the Time of Atlantis, that is intent to seeing out the Great Cataclysm and claiming the planet for itself.
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