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A tabletop game about the messy lives of teenage monsters, now entering its second edition. Evocative, groundbreaking, and queer.
A tabletop game about the messy lives of teenage monsters, now entering its second edition. Evocative, groundbreaking, and queer.
2,416 backers pledged CA$ 95,130 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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CA$ 95,130

2,416

Backers can download the "Trick-or-Treat Sneak Peak" of the game right away by clicking here.

(music by Purple Planet)

By the time they hit adolescence, most people have gotten over their fear of the dark. They spend their midnight hour on gushy phone calls, diary ramblings, and wet dreams. They fall asleep peacefully, assured that the shadows hold no monsters.  

But the shadows do hold monsters. You know because you’re one of them. Wickedness dwells within your heart, hunger courses through your veins. High school weighs on you and teen drama puts you on edge, but you have power. What do you do next?  

Monsterhearts 2 lets you and your friends create stories about sexy monsters, teenage angst, personal horror, and secret love triangles. You're all teenagers in a dark and stormy world, hiding the fact that you are secretly a monster. When you play, you explore the terror and confusion of having a body that is changing without your permission.  

This is a roleplaying game powered by the Apocalypse World engine. It draws inspiration from Twilight, True Blood, Buffy, Ginger Snaps, and The Craft. It's been featured on Shut Up & Sit DownAutostraddle, and Geek & Sundry. Perhaps my favourite review of the game is this one here. If you want to see the first edition in action, you can watch the Misscliks one-shot.

Monsterhearts 2 relies on a pair of six-sided dice, a cast of teen monster archetypes ("Skins"), and a list of principles to create stories that are turbulent, emotional, and unexpected. It's designed for 3-5 people to play around a kitchen table, for one session or a short campaign.

The crux of the mechanics is moves. You're telling a story together, improvising dialogue and narrating your actions, and then something you do triggers a move. Maybe you turn someone on with a glancing touch in the hallway. Maybe you gaze into abyss by staring up at the sickle moon on a cold night, while out walking in the woods. The fiction triggers a move, and so you reach for the dice. When those dice fall, the outcomes will steer you in new directions.

You play as a brooding teenager who is secretly a monster. You have to deal with high school betrayals, fledgling relationships, and the occasional full-moon transformation into a hulking beast of fur and fang. That sort of thing.

Unspoken power imbalances are a huge ephemeral part of the story. Monsterhearts 2 captures those dynamics with a mechanic called Strings. Strings are the power you have over people. You can spend them like a currency: to tempt, to tarnish, or to expose weakness. You can gain Strings in many ways, including leveraging attraction and desire.

The subject matter of Monsterhearts 2 is fraught! Teenage sexuality, hidden worlds of shame and monstrosity, queer uncertainties, and the risk of violence are all at play in the stories you'll tell. That's why Monsterhearts 2 dedicates a full chapter to talking about using tools and setting boundaries to make sure that everyone feels solid about the stories you're telling together.

"Monsterhearts is a fantastic game to play but on top of that it's my very favorite text in RPGs. The book is crystal clear, inspiring for play, and a real pleasure to read." -John Harper, author of Blades in the Dark

For more testimonials, visit here.

My name's Avery Alder, and I've been publishing tabletop games for a decade - including Monsterhearts, The Quiet Year, Ribbon Drive, and Dream Askew. I think stories have the power to help us grow, change, and reinvision the world.

I'm a queer trans woman. The first edition of Monsterhearts was all wrapped up in my coming out process, and so has huge significance for me on a personal level. This is the first game I ever wrote that was explicitly queer.  

I'm excited to be returning to games with this project. Over the past year or two, I've been attending to other dreams: going to school, starting a family, and doing important healing work to name a few. But the yearning to make things and write has returned with great gusto!

My work is available at Buried Without Ceremony.

Homecoming

Notice the "Homecoming PDF" and "Homecoming Book" rewards? I've made the game available at a discounted cost for queer teens (because this is a game about queer teens) and anybody living in poverty (because economic justice matters). Honour system. If you still can't afford it, message me!

PDF

You'll get a zipped folder containing a couple versions of the PDF (optimized for screen reading, optimized for low-ink printing) as well as all the handouts needed to play.

Book

You'll get a softcover copy of the book (measuring 5.5" x 8.5", running approximately 160 pages), as well as the PDF bundle mentioned above.

Dear Diary

In addition to the PDF and book, you'll receive a short zine titled Dear Diary. Expect it to be a hand-bound set of reflections about returning to games, my design goals, nuggets of wisdom learned along the way, and occasional clippings of cute monsters. I don't know what the end result is going to be like yet!

Clique Pack

Want to start up a new gaming group? Maybe you've got a circle of friends who already love Monsterhearts! This perk allows you to save on shipping by ordering four copies of the game. You'll also get the PDF to distribute amongst yourselves.

Cursed Retailer

This reward tier is intended for retailers. Nine copies of the game, sold at wholesale. If you want to work out a different order, please email me (alder.avery at gmail).

Gratitude

This is where the rewards get a little more personal. When you back the project at this level, you're helping make Monsterhearts 2 possible. And you'll be one of the thirteen people thanked in the back of the book, on a special page of gratitude. You'll receive the PDF, the Dear Diary zine, and a signed copy of the book.

Your New Skin

At this level, you're one of the two people who gets to have a say in expanding the Monsterhearts 2 canon. Via a short email exchange, we'll determine what sort of monster you'd like to see and some key features. I'll design a new Skin based on the specs we establish together.

I reserve the option to say, "hey, that particular idea won't work, but maybe we can come up with a different one!" This might come up if there are concerns about cultural appropriation, for example.

The Dark Power

If you're feeling indulgent, if you want to see your name exalted in print, this is the reward for you. The book will open with two dedications: one to Jackson Tegu, and the other to you. You'll get the PDF, the Dear Diary zine, a signed copy of the book, and a handwritten letter of thanks.

This reward is priced steep, but maybe in the dark recesses of your heart you can feel the temptation calling. Begging. Give in. ;)

Since Monsterhearts was first published in 2012, I've grown so much as a designer. The game's been played thousands of times and feedback has steadily flowed my way. I'm excited to rework and refine this game, and to build upon four years of knowledge.

The biggest changes being implemented for Monsterhearts 2 are:

  • streamlined MC tools
  • reworked basic moves
  • streamlined & better integrated rules for Strings
  • new cover art by Cecília Reis
  • a new chapter centred on boundaries and vulnerability, based on Safe Hearts (written 2014)
  • new sections on belonging, the nature of violence in the genre, sexuality, asexuality/non-attraction, and texting.
  • major revisions to The Ghoul and The Ghost, and some changes to the cast of characters included in the core game
  • new writing throughout

It's felt really good to return to this text with a critical eye and a chance to rework it. I'm so excited to show you all!

The Initial Goal

SUCCESS! Monsterhearts 2 will get published. It'll feature new cover art by Cecilia Reis.

Cecilia Reis is a diverse content creator working with design, illustration, literature and games. She lives in São Paulo, Brazil.

Writing Collaboration

Experiences of race & racism are woven through the high school story for so many people. Since Monsterhearts 2 is a game about alienation, shame, internalization, and magical externalization, race seems like a really important dimension of lived experience to explore. As a white writer, I'd prefer to give my platform to others when it comes to a topic like this.

The following POC collaborators will be working together on a two-page spread about experiences of race & racism, as they intersect with the other themes of Monsterhearts 2.

Ciel is a queer Black mixie artist and game designer making hidden doors, hoping to eventually crack through reality. Faerie is dead, long live Faerie. twitter cielsaintemarie // instagram cielsaintemarie

James Mendez Hodes studied classics, religion, dance, and literature at Swarthmore College and St. John's Graduate Institute. Learn more about his work as a writer, as a game designer, and as a professional game master for mobs of screaming kids here; and his Patreon for translating Homeric Greek into hip hop here.

Jeeyon Shim teaches wilderness survival and stewardship skills through LARPing to kids a full-time outdoor educator with Trackers Earth. She also freelances in illustration and fine art. She is also a practitioner of several kinds of witchcraft but we don't talk about that. Ever.

Stretch Goals: Towns & More!

Beyond that, there are stretch goals. I'm teaming up with an exciting slate of designers and writers to develop a series called Small Towns. Each town is a one-page quick-start guide for playing Monsterhearts 2 in a different setting and evoking a different vibe. Maybe you want to play in the cornfields of Ohio, an eerie New England mill town, or literal purgatory. We've got a host of amazing collaborators waiting in the wings. New stretch goals will be revealed as we move forward!

SUCCESS! Julia B. Ellingboe will write...

South Memphis, TN: A section of the second largest city in Tennessee, known for two boardings schools founded by rival families, Voodoo Village, and a thriving upper middle class African American community.

Julia B. Ellingboe is a game designer and publisher who writes independent role-playing games. She’s into bicycles and tattoos.

SUCCESS! Kira Magrann will write...

Springfield: A small rural town in Ohio, where conservative Christian values are the norm, skinhead nazi punks are in the majority, and cornfields surround collapsed barns and a disenfranchised middle America population. 

Kira Magrann creates jewelry at Anima Metals, organizes Indie Games on Demand, and creates sexy, feminist, queer and cyberpunk games. Some games she's recently designed are Strict Machine, Mobilize, RESISTOR, and Game of Thrones: Play the Cards. Follow her on G+ or twitter @kiranansi.

SUCCESS! Naomi Clark will write...

Potter's Neck: A beach town of insular vacation homes and fading amusement centers, just across the river from a suburb of middle-class immigrants.

Naomi Clark is an independent game designer, writer, and teacher in Brooklyn; she makes digital games (Sissyfight 2000) and card games (Consentacle) and teaches game design at the NYU Game Center.

 AND ALSO! Mark Diaz Truman and Marissa Kelly will write...

Los Ranchos: A southwestern suburb in which the foolish and the young cross decades-old lines of racism and xenophobia.

Marissa Kelly and Mark Diaz Truman are the co-founders of Magpie Games, huge fans of Powered by the Apocalypse games, and the authors of Epyllion and Urban Shadows, respectively. Marissa Kelly is also art director for John Wick Presents.

SUCCESS! anna anthropy will write...

Forbearance: They found gold in Forbearance, once. A few people got rich. Now there's a new economy -- silicon -- new money, and new gods: the cyber-born.

anna anthropy is a game designer, teacher, historian, and thirty-something teen witch.

SUCCESS! Jackson Tegu will write...

Allswell, British Columbia: The sinkhole at the heart of town has been widening for decades, gradually eating buildings and streets.

Jackson makes story games via Patreon and is making the Monsterhearts Second Skins, uh, still.

SUCCESS! Meguey Baker will write...

Gilberts Falls: A lovely little New England mill town with old ghosts, long memories, assorted rivalries, and new drug problems.

Meg is the game designer behind PsiRun, 1001 Nights and Playing Nature's Year, co-designer of Apocalypse World, and a textile conservation specialist in several small New England museums.

SUCCESS! Leigh Alexander will write...

Knickerbocker Heights: An industrial district wreathed in graffiti sunbursts where the raw heart of New York City's music scene beats riotously from behind hidden doors.

Leigh Alexander is a writer, author and presenter working at the intersection of technology and culture.

SUCCESS! Kieron Gillen will write...

Purgatory High: Jet black afterlife satire. Do you graduate to a white halo job, drop out to to the burning pit below or just deal with a double math class that actually does stretch on for eternity. High School isn't hell... but it's close.

Kieron writes comics. He is the co-creator of The Wicked + the Divine and Phonogram.

SUCCESS! John Harper will write...

Briarbrook: A riverside town on the frontier of of the Kingdom, where adventurers stop to equip themselves before heading into one of the nearby monster-infested ruins or trudging up the dark mountain to battle the local necromancer.

John Harper is a game designer and graphic artist in Seattle, Washington.

At $95,000 (CAD), Ciel Sainte-Marie will write...

Bateleur, Grenada: A paradise of a little resort town in the Caribbean islands where the night performances are so enchanting, many visitors never leave... Whole that is.

Ciel is an artist and game designer making hidden doors, hoping to eventually crack through reality. Faerie is dead, long live Faerie.

 

Risks and challenges

I have been publishing roleplaying games for a decade, with a number of successful releases to my name (Perfect, Perfect Unrevised, Monsterhearts, The Quiet Year, Ribbon Drive, and a number of digital titles). I have run crowdfunding campaigns before via IndieGoGo, and delivered rewards to backers right on schedule. I have a lot of confidence in my ability to complete this project.

That said, the biggest risk for this project is related to my health. I am chronically ill, and in the past year have had several bouts of diminished capacity. I've had to delay other projects to focus on family and recovery. I've padded my timeline to proactively account for this sort of thing, but it's hard to predict sometimes! Delays may occur.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge CA$ 8 or more About $6

    Homecoming PDF

    A discount copy of the PDF for queer teens & folks in poverty.

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    You get the PDF the moment it’s finished, in versions optimized for both screen and print.

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    Homecoming Book

    A discount copy of the finished book for queer teens & folks in poverty. Plus the PDF!

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    A copy of Monsterhearts 2 shipped to your door, and the PDF in your inbox.

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    Dear Diary

    A copy of Monsterhearts 2 sent along with a hand-bound zine about the revision process and the feelings that drove it along. PDF in your inbox!

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    Clique Pack

    Four copies of the book packaged up together, letting you and your friends save on shipping. PDF in your inbox, easy to share amongst yourselves.

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    Cursed Retailer

    Are you a retailer? This is for nine copies available at wholesale. You also get the PDF to distribute to those who buy the book from you.

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    The Clique With All The Gossip

    Four copies of the book packaged up together, as well as two copies of the Dear Diary zine, letting you and your friends save on shipping and get everything this campaign produces. PDF in your inbox, easy to share amongst yourselves.

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    Gratitude

    You’ll be one of the thirteen people who I thank at the back of the book, and your contribution will help make the second edition possible. I’ll sign your copy of the book and write you a short message. You also get the diary and PDF.

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    Sympathetic Token

    You know the Dear Diary zine that I'll be sending to some backers? You'll get the original, plus any scraps of writing that didn't make the final cut. I'll fill in additional marginalia where space permits, and send it along with a short hand-written letter. You'll also get the book and PDF.

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    Your New Skin

    I’ll design a new (or modified) skin for the game, based on a monster you specify. We’ll collaborate to determine some key features. You’ll get a signed copy of the book, along with the diary and PDF.

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    The Dark Power

    The book will open with two dedications: one to Jackson Tegu, and the other to you. You’ll get a signed copy, a handwritten letter, the diary and the PDF.

    Includes:
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    • Handwritten letter
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Funding period

- (30 days)