Jackson Tegu recently updated his seven Second Skins to align with Monsterhearts 2 rules and priorities. Here he reflects on one of those changes.
The Sasquatch has this move I really like called Icebreaker. The move’s conceit is that the Sasquatch’s awkwardness is so acute that people nearby get awkward and accidentally blurt their secrets while trying to make conversation.
In MH1, Icebreaker had a fussy trigger (which was: when someone speaks to break a silence or to start a new conversation) which was a cool experiment in pushing in-story interactions into the social space of the game table, but I began to feel that those pauses (when triggered due to player interaction, as opposed to descriptions of character interaction) interrupted the flow of conversation. It was more a disruption than a way to connect us to the fictional world.
MH2 is about simplicity, so I went as simple as I could when rewriting the trigger. The move’s about asking questions, so what if the move would trigger when you asked one of the listed questions? I hoped the rest of the move could be made to support that.
The MH1 version of Icebreaker was a roll move, which is to say that your success with the move was not guaranteed – it depended on the roll of the dice. The emphasis in MH2 has shifted away from roll moves so I took the dice away from Icebreaker to see what happened.
A roll move needs two success levels: a complete success at 10 up, and a partial success at 7-9. Icebreaker’s complete success result (which was: ask two questions from the included list) already caused trouble because the conversation of the game would be shaped by the first question and would move on, but then you’ve still got this second question which the player is entitled to, unasked. The partial success (which was: choose one question and during this conversation you both blurt out truthful answers to it) was much better, but still too complicated.
What if the character that Icebreaker targeted… just had to answer the question? Imagine me, grinning my head off for connecting “when you ask someone a question listed below,” with “they blurt a truthful answer.” Simplistic? Yes, and perfect. And in case they want to use it more than once in a scene, I remixed that MH1 partial success result: “If you want to ask another question in the same scene, first answer that earlier question yourself.”
Icebreaker’s a great move, and now I like it more than ever.
The Monsterhearts Second Skins are available right here.