A Monster Lurks in the Shadows…
Most people don’t believe in monsters, but you know the truth. They’re real, and it’s your task to bring them down.
Maybe you’re a group of friends that came together by freak coincidence at the local high school. Maybe each of you possess a spark of the supernatural and are sponsored by a secretive government agency. Or maybe you and your brother were born to a legacy of monster hunting…
Monster of the Week
In the vein of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hellboy, or Supernatural, Monster of the Week from Evil Had Productions brings a group together each session to investigate a legend or other supernatural event centered around some monster. This is the central plot, the mystery that the Hunters (your players) will investigate, contend with, and likely fight. The Keeper (or Keeper of Monsters and Mysteries as the rulebook denotes) plans this mystery, its monster, and the details for each session.
Lucky for me, my friend Rich Brownell (whom you may recall from my Ten Candles article) again wanted to run some games for us. He first mentioned it in January, back before all of this began. He said it’d be like Buffy, Fringe, Supernatural, X-Files… and I was in. He actually got enough interest that he’s run two separate games of people! I’m not surprised considering his creative nature while game mastering. I was thrilled to have some more gaming to enjoy, especially with a group video chat over Discord as we continue to stay home to limit virus spread. I love me some modern horror and/or supernatural, so I relished the opportunity to read through anything Rich could provide us.
Monster of the Week is Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA). That’s the roll two six-sided dice, add them together, and add some modifier. In this case there was Charm for your ability to manipulate someone, Cool to act under pressure or help someone, Sharp to investigate those mysteries and read a bad situation, Tough to kick some ass or protect others, and Weird for the use of magic. One guess what I focused on… In order to figure out what they are you have to choose a Playbook like the below descriptions from the rulebook Rich teased us with:
- The Chosen: 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. E.g. Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- The Crooked: a criminal turned monster hunter, haunted by their past and enemies. The Crooked is good in social situations and has a lot of contacts. E.g. Anna Valmont from The Dresden Files, Peter Bishop from Fringe.
- The Divine: an agent of a higher power, with a mission to fulfill. The Divine is very tough and has been granted holy powers. E.g. Castiel from Supernatural; Michael Carpenter from The Dresden Files.
Like other PbtA games there’s a way to gain experience, increasing those modifiers or choosing other abilities besides the ones you get at the beginning. There’s health to track and also a Luck resource as well, though using Luck can have various ramifications.
The Keeper on the other hand doesn’t have to track scores to roll. They’ll have an understanding of creature abilities and health, sure, but it’s more about having the Hunters declare what they’re doing and having them roll to determine the outcome. Rich was sure to get us a Reference sheet to make clear how various moves worked like Using Magic, Investigating a Mystery, or Kicking Some Ass.
There were four of us. I chose the Hex pictured first. Krysten chose the Gumshoe pictured next. The Sidekick above was played by Erin. Our dear friend John chose the Summoned below. The example Hex mentions Dark Willow from Buffy season 6, but I played it a bit more Daimon Hellstrom from Marvel Comics, a bit smarmy and used to manipulating hellfire and the dark forces to Burn Everything and heal others but with some pain (This Might Sting). The Gumshoe Leonora was a dedicated investigator my character Vance had worked with in the past. The innocent Sidekick Maddie adored the Gumshoe; I’d saved her life from a messed up cult. While we didn’t get to it yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if that cult worshiped the mythology around John’s Summoned, named Ozinof or Ozzy for short. I’d noticed a series of disasters were a pattern foretelling doom and they led me right to him.
While we didn’t always travel together, my Hex teleported in when the need arose and Ozzy arrived in a majestic old Chevy. Of course Leonora and Maddie came together. Turns out there’d been some odd goings on at one of the hospitals where a friend of Leonora worked. It was the day before Halloween and he’d been bit! We thought maybe some dark creatures had gotten out nearby but it turned out to be tumors awakened to a disturbing sentience with a hunger for blood, which made them grow.
In classic fashion of something akin to Monster of the Week, it turned out not to be some arcanist Doctor or strange spatial anomaly but an innocent young girl working to save her mom. We destroyed all the monsters, despite quite a few bites, and helped the girl’s mother to win the day! It was easy to get started as well as fun and heart warming, yet still touched with modern horror.
There are many interesting games out there, let alone those built on Powered by the Apocalypse like Monster Hearts 2 or this Monster of the Week game. Now is a great time to get online with some friends and try some of these games. Should you have any interest in trying Monster of the Week or any other game, join our Discord server and check the looking-for-game channel!
And I also want to hear what you’re Investing In! Leave me a comment below about what games, modules, systems, products, people, live streams, etc you enjoy! You can also hit me up on social media as silentinfinity. I want to hear what excites you and what you’re passionate about. There’s so much wonderful content, people, groups (I could go on) in this community of ours that the more we invest in and share, the better it becomes!
About Investing In
I wasn’t quite sure what to name my article series when I first started but the idea of showcasing or discussing things that make me excited, that I find new and interesting, or maybe I’m otherwise passionate about seemed to fit with the idea of Investing In something like the Pathfinder 2E mechanic. To use some magic items you have to give that little bit of yourself, which helps make these things even better. I like the metaphor of the community growing and being strengthened in the same way!
Banner – Monster of the Week cover, Evil Hat Productions