The Hall of Legends #007 – Kharis the Mummy
Dates: September 5th, 2013; September 12th, 2013; September 25th, 2013; October 2nd, 2013
Players: Derek Grimm Daniel Lewis Alex Camacho Ferrell Riley and myself
A lot of people tend to pre-judge Monsterhearts. They see a game about sexy (and sexually confused) teenage monsters, and they immediately think Twilight. Of course, anyone who has played it knows it is much more than that.
At its most basic, Monsterhearts is a metaphor for the teenage experience. At that age, your hormones are going crazy and you’re trying to stake out (no pun intended) an identity for yourself. You don’t have a lot of control over your body or your emotions. Neither do werewolves, as it turns out, and that is what makes the game so sticky (‘sticky’ being a good thing, meaning a game that really pulls you in and sticks with you).
One of the things I love about MH is that it gives you permission to be naughty. Moves like Lash Out Physically and Turn Someone On signal as much, as does the fact that each of the characters has a powerful ‘Sex Move.’ Gameplay is essentially PvP, and involves gaining emotional and physical control over the other PCs. And each character has a state called Darkest Self, during which their monstrous nature is dangerous and unstoppable (except in the case of the emotionally fucked-up Ghost, who actually fades from view in Darkest Self and can only be brought back via seance).
This idea of monstrous teens behaving badly was on full display with Derek’s Mummy, Kharis. To start, the Mummy character is a delightful contradiction: he remembers a time when he was an all-powerful god-king, but he is presently a teenager, subject to the rules and whims of adults and other authority figures. This contradiction was on full display with Kharis. He constantly craved power, and wanted nothing more than to subjugate his classmates and force them to worship him, but he was also kind of a loser. When he failed to become quarterback of the football team, for example, he instead went out for captain of the cheerleading squad, believing this to be a position of power from which to re-build his kingdom. He lobbied to have the school’s colors changed to purple and gold, which he believed to be more regal, and therefore more appropriate for him to be seen in. He was also heavily-involved in the school’s miniatures wargaming club, as it reminded him of his former life commanding great armies (his favorite game, btw, was Fantasy Hammer; look it up). In a lot of ways, Kharis reminded me of Tracy Flick, with his constant need to be in charge of everything.
One of the more interesting aspects of Kharis was his odd home life. He lived alone in a huge mansion with just a single servant to look after him. Eventually, though, he made servants of several of his friends from school. These initiations into his service were usually preceded by a creepy formal dinner in which everyone had to stand while he ate, and engage in ritual praises of him at certain points during the meal. It was during one of these strange dinners that we saw Kharis at the height of his madness. Fully engulfed in Darkest Self, and encouraged by his homeroom teacher (who was also his sorcerous mother in his previous life), he gathered a number of his close friends and servants at his home to witness the ritual sacrifice of his rival, a thug from school who had beaten him up. Wearing nothing but a kilt (Kharis was a euro-pagan mummy) and brandishing a massive, two-handed sword, he cut off his rival’s head and collected the blood in a chalice. He then drank the blood and commanded everyone present to engage in an orgy (including his mother/teacher, who was pleasuring herself in the corner as he committed the grotesque act). This scene was actually the end of our MH campaign, and it was a pretty bonkers one. But it felt like a natural ending for a character who, despite being in high school, believed himself to be a god, suffuse with the power of life and death.
I don’t mean to downplay the other characters that were in that MH game. In fact, there were a lot of really terrific moments all around. But Kharis was definitely the highlight for me. The character fully embodied what Monsterhearts is all about: strange and frightening monsters who just happen to be dealing with all the bullshit teenagers have to deal with. He was unforgettable, and so he’s going into the Hall of Legends. *