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Overview of Directing

xxxxxEverything you ever wanted to know about running stories with Monsters is on this page. We begin with the Director.

What is a Director?

xxxxxSome games call them Judges, or Storytellers, or Game Masters, or Keepers, or... Essentially, the person who oversees a scene, arbitrates the rules and dice rolls, and plays the Monster is called the Director. A Director must have a strong grasp of the RPG System (dice, stats, etc.) and be able to juggle multiple things at once from a number of players, all while narrating the scene and playing the Monster. It's stressful at times, chaotic at others, but it's what makes the game move along.

xxxxxTo sum up, a Director is someone certified by Staff to be qualified to handle the job reasonably and fairly. Directors may be on Staff (like Showgirls) or players who are certified to Direct.

How Do I Become One?

xxxxxYou get certified. Attending a Workshop on the System is a good start and a great way to learn the system hands-on. You can read a Workshop log here if you haven't been able to attend a Workshop. Attending is highly recommended but not required.

xxxxxWhat IS required is a solid understanding of the RPG System we use - a modified version of Slasher Flick. Read the System page. Read it again. Study the Cheat Sheet. The Cheat Sheet is your biggest and best tool. Be in some scenes if you can and watch a Director in action. What do they do that you like? What could they do better? Learn from them.

xxxxxYou'll also want to study the Monsters 101 section below as Monster-making will be a part of certification.

xxxxxWhen you feel you have a handle on the RPG System, let Staff know you'd like to be certified. You'll be quizzed on the system, asked to make a quick Monster (existing horror movie monsters are fine), and given an audition where you will Direct a test scene with another Director as the player. If they find you to be competent, friendly under stress, and well-suited to the juggling act that is Directing, you'll be certified. Certification does not come with a Staffbit, and Directing doesn't require you be on Staff. Joining Staff as a Director is entirely separate, and we usually invite you if we need more on Staff. If you aren't invited, it's nothing personal. We may just not need more Staff Directors at that time.

Directing 101

xxxxxA major part of being a Director is knowing how to write and tell stories. We can't teach you that. What we can teach you is how to Direct scenes, or at least tell you how we'd like to see it done. What follows in this section is our philosophy on Directing and things we want you to think about.

Story Over Dice

xxxxxWe're here to tell stories and play characters, not throw a bunch of dice around. There are other MU*s and game systems that go into a LOT more depth on stats, realism, combat, and so on. Games where you have much more defined character sheets, can do all kinds of combat tactics and fighting styles, use powers, and have more control over everything your character does. Many of them are PvP to varying degrees, and PCs often throw down and even kill each other. They have dozens of books with tons of rules, and Staff have to keep them all straight and constantly work to balance the game so no one gets too powerful. Running combat can be an hours-long activity that takes only seconds in IC time.

xxxxxWe are not those games.

xxxxxStory comes first here, and it's the PCs vs the Monsters, not each other. If something comes up that would be more interesting than what the dice or rules say, we often do it instead. Yes, there are rules (though they're pretty damn simple), and yes, Directors need to know them. But perhaps the biggest part of Directing is knowing when to bend, fudge, or chuck the rules altogether and do what makes the most sense for the story and characters. Note we said characters and not players.

Character Development

xxxxxDrama, conflict, it all really comes down to ways to push a character, challenge them and make them grow and change. Character development. It's why we're here, and it's what makes a story interesting. Always look at the wikis of the characters you're Directing for beforehand. Who are they? What things from their past or present can you use? Add in some character-tailored elements and players will LOVE you. Make them a part of the story and not just characters that happen to be in it and they'll come back for more.

xxxxxThere will be times when you might pull a punch to let a character live, not because you shouldn't kill characters - you can and will - but because it's more interesting to let the character live with their scars. They've changed, evolved, and it would be a waste to just kill them off right after. Don't be afraid to let someone else do something to chip a few of the Survival points lost down so they can save someone. Don't let a really good or bad, random roll dictate what happens. Do what's best for the story.

Character Death

xxxxxOn the other hand, characters will die. Sometimes they'll deserve it, bringing it on themselves, and a lot of times they won't deserve it, but it'll happen anyway. This is a horror game. If the characters insist on staying and fighting a Monster they know they have no real chance of killing, let the consequences follow. If someone is determined to try and be a hero, let them try. You should never feel guilty for or hesitate to kill a character because that's the consequences of their actions. We mentioned above a random, fluke roll of the dice, and that's different. So is doing something IC that's 'dumb' but in-genre (and likely earning them a Genre point). Hurt them, or scare them, but don't necessarily kill them.

xxxxxHere we're talking about a character doing something that in just about any horror movie would get them killed. Let it kill them. Let them be an example to the other characters (again, characters, not players - a Director should NEVER punish a player) of what really can happen if they think they're invincible. Let them instill in others a sense of survival instinct. It's okay. This is a horror game.

xxxxxIf a player gets upset about a character dying, try to listen and be understanding, and if you think it's IC to let another save them, let them try. We've built Stabilizing 'dead' characters into the game for a reason, so dead isn't always dead. Not instantly. But don't feel that you have to go out of your way to let their character survive. If all else fails, give them an ambiguous death and let them take it up with Staff. They'll make the final call so you don't have to.

xxxxxIt shouldn't need to be said, but a Director should NEVER set out to kill characters, and anyone who seems excited to do so will not be allowed to Direct. Kill Scenes aren't for Directors to get their kicks at the players' expense.

Playing a Monster

xxxxxIt can be hard, but it can also be a blast. Always keep in mind that you have a character in the scene - the Monster. It's part of the job to get into character and play that Monster the best you can. Don't be afraid to be creepy, scary, disgusting or disturbing IC as the Monster. The players are expecting it. Some of them are even looking forward to it. This is an adult game, so don't hold back on the Evil (except where sexual content is concerned). Sometimes it's fitting for a Monster to be a bit campy, but don't make every Monster campy. It should be rare. Monsters should mostly be frightening.

Playing in a Scene You Direct

xxxxxIf we never let Directors have characters in scenes they run, some players would never get to play their character in Directed scenes. The simple truth of this hobby is that many more people want to play than want to Direct. Many games die off for this very reason, and it's why we make Plots-in-a-Box, so that it's easier for people who don't normally run stories to do so and take some pressure off.

xxxxxIt's also why we have this rule and DO allow Directors to have a character in scenes they Direct.

xxxxxThat doesn't mean they get to be in anything and everything they Direct, but if their character's group or team or friends are all there, then why shouldn't they be, too?

xxxxxThere are guidelines for this, however. A Director should NEVER write or Direct a scene or story in which their character is the primary focus. Get another Director to do it. If your PC is the star, you can't Direct.

xxxxxDon't make your PC the star, either. Don't let your PC think of things before others do, especially if it's not in their wheelhouse to begin with. Don't find all the clues or have all the info. Don't be the hero. It's fine for your PC to be there and join in, but keep your OOC knowledge of the plot separate.

xxxxxAny Directors that we find cannot walk that tightrope - and we get it, it can be hard! - will not be allowed to have a PC in future scenes or stories they Direct.

Monsters 101

xxxxxAs we mentioned elsewhere on the wiki, Monsters don't have Stats like characters do. So if they don't have Stats, how do you make one and get it approved to use in a story? Glad you asked!

Motivation: History and Backstory

xxxxxThe first thing your Monster needs is a story. Your Monster probably wasn't always a Monster. They were a person once, and maybe they still are - not every Monster is supernatural in nature. Ghostface in Scream isn't. You begin by writing up a history or backstory for your Monster that tells us who they were, what happened to them, and what it made them become. It can be just a few short paragraphs, we don't want anything terribly long as it'll slow down the approval process. We just need to know the quick and dirty version of what motivates them.

xxxxxSo let's make a Monster! We're going to go through making Jason from Friday the 13th as an example, and his background is pretty short and sweet: he was just a kid at Summer camp (some say he had special needs) who drowned (or died in a number of other ways) because the camp counselors that were supposed to be keeping an eye on the kids were too busy drinking and fornicating and smoking the devil's lettuce. He rose years later, fully grown as a hulking mountain of a man in a hockey mask and wielding a machete, hunting and killing all those horrible, immoral teen counselors like the ones that let him die.

Components of a Monster

xxxxxWhat Monsters get instead of Stats are Components, the things that make them a Monster. More like Qualities, these are key words or phrases that sum up things about them. They can be unique to your Monster, like Hates Lefties (left-handed characters get -1 on all rolls against him), or something more common, like Passed Along (Vampires and Werewolves that bite a person pass along the condition to the victim). We'll continue with Jason.

xxxxxJason is definitely hard to kill, but unlike Monsters that can take seemingly endless damage, Jason is often 'killed', only to get back up again ten minutes later. So rather than giving him a huge Damage Threshold (the one 'stat' all Monsters have), we give him Won't Stay Dead (surpassing Jason's Damage Threshold of 6 only puts him into a dormant state. The PCs will think he's dead, but he's not. When they aren't looking he'll disappear and be gone when they look back.). So 'killing' Jason is impossible by Damage Threshold. You just put him down for a bit.

xxxxxJason also never runs, but always seems to catch up to you. We give him Always Behind You (characters running from Jason can never get an Exceptional success on running away, no matter how good they roll. The bastard is always catching up without breaking a sweat.).

xxxxxJason kills in a bunch of ways - it's one of the things we watch for, all the crazy ways he manages to kill - but his machete is his trademark, so we give him Favored Weapon: Machete (Jason makes targets -1 on Checks to avoid his machete.).

xxxxxAnother major staple is that he loves killing people who are drinking, having sex, and doing drugs. So we give him Punish the Immoral (characters who have been drinking, doing drugs, or had sex in the last 24 hours are -1 on all rolls against Jason.).

xxxxxThere! Those are some good Components! But like Qualities, we should give him a few bad ones, too.

xxxxxJason is not the fastest or most athletic of Monsters, so we give him Lumbering (When a character uses an obstruction or obstacle to put distance between themselves and Jason, they get an extra Survival point on all successful rolls.).

xxxxxLastly, Jason is not a rocket scientist. Let's give him Simple (Any efforts or actions to confuse or trick Jason get +1 dice.).

The Weakness

xxxxxSo if Jason keeps getting back up, how do the PCs defeat him? Every Monster has at least one Major Weakness that defeats them and ends the story, and some have Minor Weakness that slow or hurt them, and sometimes even combine to defeat them. We'll use both in our Jason example to show you the difference.

xxxxxMajor Weakness: Drowning. If you can discover where at camp Jason drowned as a child and manage to drown him there again (a chain around his neck, tethered to something heavy that sinks to the bottom, for example), he will stay dead.

xxxxxMinor Weakness: Pamela's Sweater. Jason had a crush on a girl named Pamela and has kept her sweater all these years. If you manage to find it and have a female character wear it, Jason will be stunned and weakened momentarily in her presence. Anyone else that attacks him while stunned gets +2 dice.

xxxxxMinor Weakness: His Own Weapon. If you manage to get Jason's machete away from him (like while he's playing dead), you can use it against him. All damage tokens dealt to Jason are doubled if from his machete.

xxxxxSpecial Note: Combining the above two Minor Weaknesses can kill Jason for good. Having a female wearing Pamela's Sweater stun him and then having someone else attack him with his own machete while stunned will kill him for good on a successful attack.

xxxxxThe players have to figure these things out IC, but they should be given chances to.

xxxxxOnce you've given them a way to be defeated, you're done!