Every year at Halloween, the Monsterville University kids have a bet. They break into the old Mansion on the edge of town and complete a dare. But in recent years, the Monster U kids who break in have been coming back… changed. Terrified. Horrifed. That doesn’t matter though. It’s Halloween night, and the Challenge is on…
Monsterville Mansion (named for town founder Pierre Monstre, nothing most sinister than that) has been designed by Alex Beck of Horizon Megagames as a homage to teen horror movies. Half the players were students at Monster U, and the other half were the inhuman “monsters” resident in the Mansion. Each side’s objectives were obscure to the other side, and no one on the human team had a clue what would happen when the clock struck midnight…
Abby, Party Kid from the Greek Council
Today, I was human.
As a member of the elite Greek Council, I was clearly one of the most popular kids in school, enhanced only by my constant ability to offer people sambuca (legit sambuca, I brought a bottle along as well as some red solo shot cups). Also on my team were Tim as our Dropout, Matty as our Jock, Jonathan as our Nerd and Michaela as our Last Girl. Obvs we were going to win the Halloween Challenge – the Detention Club and the Chosen didn’t stand a chance.
I had a number of objectives, ranging from public and shared to private and personal:
- tag 30 rooms in the Mansion with red spray paint to win the Halloween Challenge for the Greek Council
- find as many Yearbook pages as possible to be the best Party Kid
- become friends with the Party Kid from the Chosen and the Last Girl from the Greek Council
- date the Party Kid from the Detention Club
- meet a Vampire and join the ranks of the undead
I’ll let you work out which the private ones were.
(Note: I found out after the game there was an option to NOT become a Vampire and to stay pure and human. I literally didn’t see it on my character sheet until after the game…)
Around 6pm in the evening (10am real time), the kids arrived at the Mansion, ready for an evening of good-natured fun and hijinks. I rocked up to the top floor map with my bottle of sambuca, an outrageous American accent and plans to hold a party at five to midnight.
We got down to work quickly, splitting up completely. We had at most 10 turns to tag all 30 rooms. If we all succeeded perfectly, we would do it in plenty of time. But when do plans ever run smoothly at a megagame…
My very first turn, I ran into a Wraith who was desperate for the two peculiar bottles full of a blue vapour that I’d managed to come across in the Shower Room. He told me they were souls. I told him they were spirits, and that I planned to drink them… which the Harrowing Haunted Houses press team overheard, and asked if I’d do it live on air. I backtracked quickly, and then Tim came over to ask if he could smoke it…
This interaction was very typical of the sort of nonsense that went on throughout the game.
Anyway, the majority of us tagged our rooms in the first turn, and now it was Party Time!
The party was an opportunity for us to get cool stuff and mingle. I went straight for a general item, hoping to find more Yearbook Pages.
What I found instead was a way for me to hurt a fellow human in order to get corruption. I filed it away in my envelope, hoping I wouldn’t need to use it. Being a regular college kid, albeit one with a massive interest in vampires, I wasn’t a violent person. I’m sure I could be a veggie vampire.
Towards the end of the party, I ran into the Greek Council Nerd, who asked if I would be his bestie. I turned him down. I felt a bit bad, but as I said to him, “like, lots of people want to be my friend. Not all of them can be.”
Love in a hopeless place
Right from the start of freshman year, I’d been in love with Graham, the Party Kid from the Detention Club. He was just, like, so cool. I heard he got detention for throwing a party in the Principal’s Office. What a babe.
So during one party, I conjured up all my courage and asked him to be my boyfriend. I was over the moon when he said yes. We agreed to go for a romantic walk in the woods later in the evening.
I also managed to snag relationships with my two target besties – Greek Last Girl Michaela, and Chosen Party Kid Daphne.
Meeting with the vampire
A few turns into the game, and we’d tagged eight rooms on the top floor. I decided to branch out from my team a little more, and headed down a floor. It was there that I finally – FINALLY – ran into a Vampire, in the form of Johan the Everlasting.
As soon as I met him, I was hypnotised… well, actually I wasn’t, which was kind of an issue. In order to become a vampire, I had to be corrupted. And the vampire’s best way of corrupting me was through hypnotism. So it was actually pretty sucky (no pun intended) that his hypnotism was having precisely zero effect.
I had a couple of cards I could use to gain corruption myself, but they both required me to physically harm a human. And I didn’t want to do that! They were my fam! The Greeks were my team! We were all on the same side here!
When Matty, our Jock, came to the attention of the Dark Regent for refusing to kneel until She beat her at football, I originally said that the Dark Regent shouldn’t even SPEAK to or about someone from the Greek Council unless she was a member of Kappa Kappa Kappa Kappa Kappa.
On the top floor, I’d felt fairly safe. I ran into a Wraith, as mentioned, and then a few other peculiar beings, but they mostly seemed to be doing their own thing. The ground floor was a different situation entirely. The first room I stumbled into was owned by the Cultists, and they threatened me when they saw me spraying the Greek tag on their walls. Clearly they could do with a bit of colour.
However, it was in the next room that I ran into trouble. We’d heard rumours about rabid dogs running around, but when we ran into them it was pretty clear they were in fact werewolves. Luckily, I wasn’t alone.
As the creatures bore down on us, I closed my eyes and braced for the attack, but apparently Graham looked tastier than me. They tore his arms off! I was devastated. How could I get some sweet cuddles from my man if he was armless?
Vampires: good for flesh, bad for corruption
Luckily I’d earlier picked up some replacement flesh, or rather the mechanism to use flesh to heal members of the human team. The trouble was locating flesh. There’d been loads around earlier, but now it was in short supply.
In the meantime, the vampires were continuing to try to corrupt me, but the hypnotism still wasn’t working. I started a rumour that the vampires seemed infatuated with me and kept gazing into my eyes. But I quashed it when one of them raced over with some flesh – enough to patch Graham up.
He was grateful for my efforts, but in the intervening time he’d run into some Mad Scientists who had their own form of healing on hand – only it worked a little too well, and he’d grown two extra arms. I tried to look past this – said they’d be better for cuddling – but looking back that was the beginning of them end. I’d hoped that he would join the vampires with me, but it was clear that his preoccupation with the Mad Scientists was too strong.
“She FLIRTED with my BOYFRIEND”
Probably the phrase I said most at the game. Of course, when the vampires told me that Matty had betrayed me, I knew it didn’t have a shred of truth in it. But a) I wanted to get in with the vampires and b) I was playing as a highly hormonal teenager. Obviously I kicked up a stink.
First, I went to Graham. If he was cheating on me, I deserved to know. Apparently he hadn’t noticed anything out of order with how Matty had been speaking to him (whether that was because it wasn’t at all true, or because he’s such a sweetie devoted to me, WHO KNOWS).
I considered confronting Matty on the gameboard. But that wasn’t enough. She deserved humiliation. She deserved as much pain as I was currently pretending to experience. The only way I knew to deliver such a blow to her? Shame her live on social media.
Unfortunately the Hallowing Haunted Houses team had little interest in my petty squabbles – they wanted actual stories apparently. I took massive offense, seeing as I was a total BWOC (Big Woman On Campus). Luckily, one of them slipped the news that Matty was going to be interviewed on their next show. I seized the only opportunity that was available to me.
Humiliation live on air
Matty’s segment started with her complimenting the Greek Council. When asked how to defeat Werewolves, she said “have a great team.”
Well, I wouldn’t let her say any more of her TOTALLY UNDERSTANDABLE STUFF BECAUSE SHE HADN’T ACTUALLY BETRAYED ME. I stormed onto the set.
“HOW DARE YOU FLIRT WITH MY BOYFRIEND!” I screeched. And threw down a card that read “Enshadowed Blood”. It would damage her on a PL2 and give me some of that corruption that I desperately needed.
Naturally, she was completely confused. But then, what I hadn’t banked on…
“HOW DARE YOU DO THAT TO MY BOYFRIEND!” came a voice from behind me. It was… Daphne! She was my best friend, so surely she would defend me? Nope, she’s dating Matty. Ohhhh shit.
The broadcast broke down into screeches to rival the wraiths, and the HHH team quickly cut the feed. My attack on Matty hadn’t worked. And my boyfriend wasn’t defending me.
Alone but not afraid
Following the broadcast, I stormed up to Graham. He had no reasonable excuse as to why he’d let me be humiliated on air, and so I broke up with him. Then I started a rumour that he’d cheated on me with all four of his arms.
But hell, let’s put a positive spin on this! I was single and ready to mingle, and I had an eternity ahead of me. The vampires’ hypnotism was finally kicking in. My corruption was beginning to grow. And as the Greek Council completed tagging the second floor of the mansion and moved to the basement, I felt like we were in with a shot of winning this thing.
The end is in sight
A quick team time was all it took to make up with Matty, and I gave her a school mascot as a peace offering. It was like the outburst on livestream never happened.
We had two turns left to go, and 11 rooms left to tag. Unfortunately, we could each only tag one room per turn – so a max of 10 more before the end of the game – and that’s if we all succeeded on our tagging attempts.
I decided to head to the Larder for my penultimate turn. It hadn’t been tagged yet, and best of all it happened to have a Masquerade Ball where I could try to add to my own corruption. It seemed like a great pick. I wasn’t even perturbed by the arrival of a Wraith.
After a killer round when we all managed to tag our rooms, it felt too cruel that we would miss out on victory by a hair’s breath. That’s when I realised something I should have thought of much earlier. I had started the game with a card called “Run Away Screaming”, which I could use at any point during the turn. Surely I could use that to move to an adjacent untagged room partway through my turn and continue my action there?
There was just one hitch. I’d ditched Run Away Screaming in favour of Mastering the Dark Arts (which had allowed me to ferret away a bunch of the mansion’s secrets). Hope seemed to be lost again… when my eyes settled on April. She was the ground floor vampire, and she could be the answer to my prayers. I’d just had enough time to hand her the spray can and explain how to use it, well…
Terrors in the basement
Out of nowhere I heard an awful screeching. I was paralysed in fear… then I began to run. I ran all the way to the Dungeon (much safer than a Larder), then passed out with fright.
(Mechanically, the Wraith delivered two attacks which caused 12 terror damage, taking me up to a total of 16. I was forced to move three rooms away, and then couldn’t talk in-character to another player until the start of the next turn).
Mostly I skulked around, sending sad looks over to the Vampires who were understandably distraught by what happened to me. Johan the Everlasting tried to slap some sense into me, but since it only removed 4 terror it just wasn’t enough.
Eventually enough time passed (read, the turn ended) and I calmed down enough to talk. I told everyone of the horrors of the Wraiths; I was interviewed by the Harrowing Haunted Houses team; I made sure that on the next turn I went to a room control by their rivals, the Swamp Monsters, where it was rumoured they could not enter. And I was still teetering on the edge of panic. One more interaction with a monster could send me insane again.
Lightning totally strikes twice
Whether it’s true they hadn’t realised what happened to me the previous turn, or whether they saw me as an easy target, I’m not sure. But while I was meeting with the Dark Regent on the incorporeal plane, my body encountered some Swamp Monsters who drove me out of my mind a second time. My throat was starting to get sore from all that screaming.
Luckily, the rest of my team managed to liaise with Vampire April. I have no idea what they thought the deal was, but presumably they realised it couldn’t have been good. But it didn’t really matter at that point. In between my screams of panic, I managed to throw in some fistbumps and chants of “GREEK COUNCIL!” as we won the Halloween Challenge – a feat even the designer didn’t think any of the human teams would achieve.
Then, just as our jubilant cries reached a peak, a loud DONG rang out throughout the mansion. We fell silent. A second dong struck. And a third, and a fourth, and more and more. It was midnight. Who knew what hell was about to break loose?
“Will any human who has the requisite corruption and a suitable offering, please join their new team?”
Boos from the humans were drowned by cheers from the monsters, as about half a dozen humans made their way across the room. I was surprised that Graham didn’t join the Mad Scientists, although the Nerds from the Greek Council and the Detention Club did, and the Witches ended up with both of the Harrowing Haunted Houses presenters.
And of course, I headed over to the Vampires. I was welcomed with open fangs.
Honestly, this part of the game fell a bit flat for me. First there was a monster-off, with each monster team taking on their rivals. The mechanics surrounding this were totally opaque to me as I had no idea what most of the cards they had were or what resources they’d been building all game.
It was over in no time. The Vampires lost their fight against the Werewolves. My joining their team had certainly helped, but not enough.
The small mercy was that the Werewolves hadn’t won the overall monster battle – that title went to the Mad Scientists, with their four-armed geeky assistants.
Finally, there was one last showdown between the remaining humans and the Mad Scientists’ flesh golem. I’d kept some of the Mansion’s secrets away from my fellow humans, in a bid to help the Vampires if they’d triumphed (or rather, because I had no idea what would happen at midnight and they seemed like useful things to hang on to). But it didn’t matter. The humans defeated the Mad Scientists, and November 1st dawned clear and un-hellscape-like.
But then there was one LAST showdown between the Dark Regent and the Elder God who had been summoned. Honestly, by this point, I just wanted to find a cosy coffin to curl up in. It was very dramatic though. I needed some rest before returning to Monsterville Mansion – as a night school student, of course.
And just as a final note – I had technically completed every single one of my objectives – the Greek Council had won the Challenge (with just a tiny bit of cheating), I had 5 Yearbook Pages (more than the other Party Kids), I had gotten into all the relationships I wanted (even if they didn’t last), and I WAS A GODDAMN VAMPIRE.
If you want to hear even more, I was recently interviewed on the Megagame Assembly podcast about the game – head over to give it a listen!
I have a bumper three-weeks-in-a-row of megagames, starting tomorrow with Pennine Megagame‘s Who Will Watch Them?, next with True North Megagame‘s It Belongs In A Museum and finally Megagame Maker‘s Funeral Games. Will I see you any any of them?