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Digital Subscriptions > Tabletop Gaming > September 2018 (#22) > How We Made

How We Made

Avery Alder’s coming-of-age RPG might star the supernatural, but its frank exploration of adolescence, sexuality and identity is as real as it comes. Puberty has never seemed quite so terrifying…

MONSTERHEARTS

From the tentacled horrors of Call of Cthulhu to the bloodsucking predators of Vampire: The Masquerade, roleplaying games have a long history of letting players confront – or become – monsters. Whether you’re in search of explosive kaiju action or creepy tales of eldritch horror, the hobby has you spoiled for choice.

But one game above all others looks deep into the concept of monstrosity, using fantastical creatures to explore powerful realworld themes. Monsterhearts, by Canadian designer Avery Alder, casts players as teenage vampires, witches and werewolves navigating a world of sex, drugs, social cliques, nightmarish supernatural entities and sadistic levels of homework.

We caught up with Alder to learn about her story-focused approach to game design, and how she created her brilliant distillation of adolescent fear and confusion.

INDEPENDENT THOUGHT

Avery Alder had a typical introduction to roleplaying.

“My entry point was Dungeons & Dragons,” she says. “I was playing with a group of fellow teen rookies, we played the 3.5 edition, and we really struggled with the game. Our rules interpretations and aesthetic sensibilities clashed, and nobody stayed dungeon master for very long. I came out of that scene knowing that roleplaying games were full of exciting potential, but that I hadn’t experienced it yet.”

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