Hellcats and Hockeysticks by Adnachiel
British Schoolgirls Behaving BadlyOriginal SA post
Here, have a triple post about magical boarding school games.
Hellcats and Hockeysticks: Intro: British Schoolgirls Behaving Badly
Hellcats and Hockeysticks is a Corone Design joint; written by one Andrew Peregrine, and released in 2009. Peregrine’s worked on a bunch of things , including some 7th Sea books and the Victorian Lost supplement for Changeling: The Lost , which isn’t listed on that site. Corone Design is his own imprint. Like WGA and Super Babes , it’s a game where all of the PCs are girls/women. Unlike WGA and Super Babes , it’s not a fetish game trying to pretend that it’s a wholesome genre definer… Assuming watching teenage girls be complete bitches to each other isn’t a fetish, that is. The narrator in this book is really into that idea. There’s also more references to a nebulous “daddy” than I’m comfortable with.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Here’s what Andrew himself has to say on the matter in the back of the book.
While I have you all gathered here, I wanted to take a moment to address anyone who might doubt my motives for creating a game like this. OK, you got me, to a certain extent a game about schoolgirls is going to do well in such a male dominated hobby as gaming. However, in truth I wrote this game for the girls, not the boys. This game is about young women taking control and deciding who they want to be, and what they want to do, and damn the consequences. Sure, the guys may look at the book and say 'whoa, she's hot' but I'm hoping the girls will also look at the book and say 'damn, she looks cool'. This is why I made a point of using women artists, so that the characters were powerful and attractive, but not just male fantasies.
Well, having a woman draw the pictures doesn’t really mean anything or prevent that. Some people will draw anything if you give them enough cash to do it. But I’ve skimmed your book, Mr. Peregrine. Your stuff seems sound and not full blown sleaze. I am willing to give you the benefit of the dou-
”Inspirations – Role-playing Games” posted:
“Excellent”? Seriously? Are you just namedropping the only magic school RPG for girls that you can think of, are you just an idiot, or is that code for “I thought it was shit and could do better, but I got to credit it anyway”? Because I wouldn’t call a game where at least 4 of the NPCs in the core are either illegal or unplayable due to bad editing, amongst many other things, “excellent”.
And the obvious answer to that last thought is to bet all on Lucinda. And then immediately realize that it’s useless to bet in this case since one of the parties is made up of overpowered Mary Sues and it would be a squash match.
Another notable thing that Peregrine claims is an inspiration for this game is Panty Explosion , a game where you play psychic Japanese schoolgirls who battle demons and the evils of the high school social scene. This game even uses one of the systems from PE , the Best Friends/Rivals system, which is special and only serves to create a bunch of pointless conflict among the PCs.
But the biggest inspiration for this game is the St. Trinian’s series of comics and movies, which, as Peregrine correctly points out, I have never heard of because I’m an American. For all you fellow “colonials”, as Peregrine puts it, who have never heard of this series either, read this , and then come back. This game is pretty much St. Trinian’s with the serial numbers filed off and magic, mad science, and demons thrown in, as far as I can tell. But you don’t really need to know anything about its inspiration to “get” this game.
But enough about that, back to the front of the book. The book’s layout is minimal: Black on white with no fancy borders, backgrounds, or fonts, and a smattering of black and white drawings throughout. The drawings are very same facey, but competent. Each chapter begins with a picture of a blackboard with some stick figures doing bad things drawn on them and two quotes. One from a well-known male historical figure, and another from a (usually) female pop icon that contrasts it. Chapter 1’s quotes are from Einstein and Cyndi Lauper.
Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.
When the working day is done, girls just wanna have fun.
The first chapter lays out the basic premise of the game via a scene with the headmistress of the game’s setting: St. Erisian’s. The unnamed headmistress is an old, crazy drunk who thinks gin is an anytime drink, that Anne Bonny and Lizzie Borden are proper role models, and that there’s nothing unusual about a bunch of sixth form students saving some younger ones from the piranhas in the swimming pool. As for general information: St. Erisian’s is a private boarding school for girls created out of an old manor house surrounded by rumors of witches and blood sacrifices (“But I’m sure we both know the sort of japes girls will get up to!”) and nestled somewhere in a part of the English countryside that’s secluded enough to not attract the attention of the rest of the country, but not enough to prevent them from visiting other schools and performing shenanigans in the local village. The building for the school, which dates back to sometime in the early 16th century, was bought on June 6, 1866 by the first headmistress, and the current one is the fourth. The school is named after Eris, the Greek goddess of chaos, as you probably already figured out, to give the students something to “inspire them”. The requirements for getting into the school aren’t strict; only whether or not the girl’s parents can pay the tuition fee.
For its curriculum, St. Erisian’s has a sort of Montessori style one, in that the teachers teach the girls anything they want to learn that’s even remotely related to the subject of the class, and they let them teach their fellow students, or they’ll probably get shivved in their sleep, I assume. Because of this and a lawsuit, the government will only let them offer their own diploma and not any standard qualification papers. But that doesn’t really matter because colleges and businesses honor the St. Erisian’s diploma anyway, according to the headmistress.
At this point, Peregrine steps in, puts the “old girl” to bed, and sends “daddy” on his way home. He points out that St. Erisian’s is the most dangerous girls’ school in the world, and new students to need to find allies by joining one of the various, you guessed it, cliques of the school if they want to survive. But fortunately, “we’ve never killed a new girl yet”.
The next section is the “What is this… roles playing?” section.
What? You think we're going to make it easy for you, new girl? If you don't know, ask one of the older girls or work it out for yourself. You ought to know anyway, having got this far. You could always ask one of the boys in the shop where you bought the game to tell you all about it. Tell one of them you're a girl who likes to play games and they'll be putty in your hands.
In H&H , the GM is called the Headmistress, and is given carte blanche to be an unfair asshole to the players and “smack them with a ruler”, if need be. “Remember, we don’t play fair. We play to win.” The book also uses the female pronouns exclusively for “obvious reasons”, and not to be “politically correct” like other games. “If you have to ask why, we’ll get the 1st years to set fire to you.”
Peregrine then points out that he asked a bunch of anonymous women who were assholes when they were teenagers to share their stories, which are scattered throughout the book. I suspect some of them are cases of Shit That Didn’t Happen, like the one after the content summary; the speaker set fire to her school’s bike shed by accidentally lighting some barrels with “flammable liquid” in them that the groundskeeper set by the shed for some reason with a cigarette.
Up next: Character Creation
Japanese exchange students get their own clique because anime.Original SA post
Hellcats and Hockeysticks: Character Creation: Japanese exchange students get their own clique because anime.
Mark Twain posted:
I've never let my school interfere with my education.
Gabriella Cilmi posted:
Sweet about me, nothing sweet about me, yeah.
Andrew Peregrine posted:
In this game, you play the part of one of the most terrifying creatures ever devised, a schoolgirl...
Characters in H&H are students of St. Erisian’s between 16 and 18 years old. There are no rules for playing younger characters, as they would be weak and trampled on by their older peers… or roaming the school grounds and living a tribal lifestyle. There are optional tweaks for playing guys, but they don’t affect a whole lot and come later in the book.
The first part of character creation is picking a clique. Cliques give a character a special ability and determine their 4 class “curriculum”, which influences how skill points are distributed. The cliques are
Fixers – The daughters of gangsters, mafia bosses, and other assorted criminal types. They specialize in getting items and making contacts. Their special ability lets them spend a Willpower point to call on a contact that owes them a favor. How that’s used is up to the player and HM.
Goth/Emo – Dark, creepy, and possibly into black magic. Goths, however, are not always depressed and morbid, and that’s the difference between the two groups, which are statistically the same. So if you want to play a perky goth, that’s cool. Their special ability lets them scare people by making eye contact and spending a Willpower point. The target gets scared if they fail a resistance roll.
Hockey Girl – The jocks. Want to play a combat oriented character? Pick this clique. Their special ability used to let them add a die to any Games (read: combat) skill roll, but this was errata’d to just adding “1 die when they are doing violence to people and things which makes more sense.”
Sweetheart – That girl who makes everyone think she is a sugary sweet girl-next-door type, even when she’s not. Sweethearts are the manipulators of the cliques. Their special ability (which is called “Butter wouldn’t melt”) lets them have a bonus die on rolls where they’re trying to prove their innocence and, optionally, when they’re trying to pin the blame for something they did on someone else.
Nerd/Geek - Smart girls who can hack into computers, are good at math, and “play the stock market for a hobby”. “[You] know how to strip down a computer and have probably read an awful lot of science fiction. You may well play a lot of those weird role-playing games as well.” Their special ability lets them add a die to any single action that requires them to use their smarts, such as “playing the stock market or hacking a computer network”. I would think that hacking into a network would be an extended action of some sort, but there you go.
Prefect – Natural leaders who specialize in herding the army of cats that is the St. Erisian’s student body. (Yes, the book makes that analogy.) Their special ability lets each party member pick a skill that they will be using to carry out a plan of the prefect’s devising. While they’re trying to fulfill that plan, they get a bonus die for rolls for that skill. If anyone deviates from the plan, everyone loses the bonus. In addition, prefects can summon a gang of 1st years to do their bidding, provided they’re on school grounds or a school trip. 1st years are the students aged 8 to 12 who haven’t joined the formal classes yet. As a result, they live on the school grounds in feral tribes, hunt wild animals and in grocery stores for food, and dress like American Indians… until they turn 13 and suddenly stop acting like that, I guess. Have you ever seen Recess ? They’re the kindergarteners. I’m not sure if I should complain about how dumb that is, or let it go since it kind of follows the game’s themes of chaos and anarchy
Anyway, 1st years will only follow a single one word command (Attack, Capture, Repair, Cook, etc.). How they interpret it is up to the HM.
Scientist – Nerds who work in labs instead of with computers. There’s some stuff about them gaining true knowledge from experimentation versus raw knowledge from books like the Nerds, but that’s what it pretty much boils down to. Their special ability lets them subtract 3 from the difficulty rating of any Fear test, since they’ve naturally seen some weird shit from messing with the laws of nature.
Coquette – “I’m a hot girl. Look at my boobs. You should do things for me because I’m a hot girl. Other girls are bitches to me, but that’s because they’re jealous of my good looks and fashion sense.” “Men are queuing up to take you to the best events and buy you the most expensive things. But really, your heart belongs to daddy, as soon as you decide who he is…” Their special ability is that they can make a single male character automatically fail a task once per scene. This can be extended to multiple men “if [the HM] is in a good mood”. (There’s no mention of lesbians or bisexual girls.)
Exchange Student – A student who has come to St. Erisian’s from another country… and by “another country”, I mean Japan. Want to play an exchange student from a country other than Japan? That’s fine. But you can’t take this clique. This clique is here because students from Glorious Nippon are extra special because anime. Exchange students are broken into two “sub-cliques”: Samurai, which are from rich families who didn’t do their research about what kind of school St. Erisian’s really is, and Ninja/Shinobi, which are from families that know damn well what kind of school St. Erisian’s is and sent their daughter there to finish her ninja training. There are seperate special abilities for both: Samurai get +2 dice to combat rolls using katanas and +1 to social rolls when defending her honor, even if the person has a reason to shame her, and Ninja get +2 to rolls involving stealth or escaping bonds. (It was originally 1, but errata’d to 2.)
In H&H , there’s only two crunch stats that you spend most of your time worrying about : Skill ranks and Willpower. Skills are represented as the different classes offered at St. Erisian’s, presuming that the character has taken those classes which she has points in at one point and learned something from them. Each character gets 20 points to spend on skills (one for one), 5 of which have to be spent on the character’s four curriculum skills before anything else. Skill ranks can go from 1 to 5, (1 is "Beginner", 3 is "Professional", 5 is "Master") but skills that are not part of the character’s curriculum are capped at 4. The book goes more in depth into what exactly the different skills represent in a later chapter. Willpower functions exactly like willpower does in real life and also serves as HP. All characters start with 10. Again, this chapter doesn’t go into how it works in depth.
Next is an optional rule for adding a Personality Trait to a character. These don’t do anything except help you come up with a character concept. So if you’ve got a character in mind already, this section is useless. Some highlights are Chav, Stoner, and “Foreign Affectation”:
You come from another country, usually a European one or from some uncivilised American colony, and you make it pretty obvious. Usually, this takes the form of very stereotypical national affectations and styles and very likely an outrageous accent.
So the Exchange Student clique without the stat bonuses and a smidge more racist and/or obnoxious, basically.
Up next is the Best Friends/Rivals system from Panty Explosion , which functions under the idea that, even when they like each other, girls will always find some way to hate the other girls that they hang out with.
But naturally, being girls, you all also hate each other.
Well, that’s a bit strong; you don’t actually loathe and despise each other, but you do loathe and despise something about each of the other characters. Jealousy is a bitch.
Every player picks a Best Friend and a Rival from the other PCs. Whether or not you or they keep these choices a secret is up to the players. If there’s only two PCs, each one decides if the other person is their Best Friend or Rival. These choices do not have to be mutual among the players.
Next, you pick something that you hate about every other PC , except the Best Friend character. The reason doesn’t have to make sense or even be true, your character’s warped teenage girl brain will find some way of justifying it. For the Best Friend, you pick something you particularly like. Optionally, you can also pick something you like from all of the other PCs. This is meant to just add some crazy drama among the PCs and doesn’t affect anything stat wise.
Next comes the Secret Fear. Each PC picks one, and only the HM is required to know what it is as it is used for Fear tests, which are explained in a later chapter and can be used to gain or lose Willpower. “You might have a fear of failure, drunks might remind you of daddy in one of his rages, you might be terrified that you'll be left alone…”
Finishing off the chapter is the reminder that you should flesh out your character’s backstory and personality and two list of names, one for regular students and one for exchange students, that you can use if you can’t think of a decent girl’s name for your character.
Up next: Gameplay rules, and lots of them.
The prettiest player wins ties.Original SA post
Hellcats and Hockeysticks: Skills and Skill Rolls: The prettiest player wins ties.
Because I forgot them, Chapter 2’s Real Tales of Delinquency involve a girl and her friend starting a riot at her 6th form Christmas party while dressed as a devil and an angel, respectively, and another who got revenge on the guy who kept calling the cops on her and her friends when they were hanging out by the local fish and chip shop by tearing up his neighbor’s lawn and leaving the shears they did it with on his doorstep, which lead to the neighbor punching the guy in the face.
Winston Churchill posted:
I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.
Queens of the Stone Age’s “No One Knows” posted:
We get some rules to follow. That and this, these and those. No one knows.
H&H uses D6s and only D6s. For skill rolls, the dice pool is whatever your rank in the applicable skill is + 1. Rolls will only ever use one skill, with the HM deciding or giving the player the choice of which to use if a task could feasibly fall under one or more skills. The book encourages players to be whiny rules lawyers about this.
You are also allowed to whine and cajole the Headmistress into letting you make use of one of your other skills, if you can make up a plausible reason why it might apply. In fact, instead of specifying a particular skill, the Headmistress might ask you to 'make her an offer' and suggest the skill you think suits the action best.
Either way, most rolls are tested against this difficulty chart:
If one or more dice comes up equal to or higher than the difficulty of the roll, you win. To even have a chance at succeeding at an “Absurd” or “Impossible” task, players can trade in dice from their pool to add 1 to the result of every die that they roll at a rate of 3 to 1. (So 3 dice for a +1 bonus and 6 for +2.) You can also spend a Willpower point to add a die to the pool at a rate of 1 for 1, with a maximum of 3 on a single roll.
So theoretically, assuming you have a 5 in the skill the roll is for, you burn all 3 Will points, and you spend the 6 dice to get the +2 for an Impossible roll, you still only have a 1 in 6 chance on 3 dice to succeed. I really don’t understand why those two difficulty ranks are there. They’re obviously for things that a character should not be able to do or that the HM does not want you doing. The book says that you can also use this mechanic to “perform easy and even tricky tasks with little difficulty", but I’m not sure how I’d feel taking from what is essentially my health bar to perform easy rolls.
For non-combat opposed rolls, the appropriate skill or skills is decided, the difficulty is decided, and whoever has the most successes wins. Of course, if that doesn’t do it, there is a specific set of actions you can do to figure this out.
If you need to know who does best in a contest, you add up the amount of dice that count as a success for each contestant, and the highest wins. If there is a tie, the highest skilled character wins. If there is still a tie, the prettiest one wins (of course it isn't fair, but let's face it, that's what happens.) If you can't decide who is prettiest (character or player) then you can either call it a tie and roll again or just roll 1 die each and the highest wins. Of course, if one of you failed and the other succeeded, the result should be obvious.
For some opposed rolls, the book points out that it would make more sense for one of the players to roll and set the difficulty. In this case, the number of dice that come up as a success for the defending player becomes the number to beat. If the opposing player rolls an equal amount, it’s an “almost” success. (e.g. They catch a glimpse of the hiding character.) If the roll comes up a draw, the HM just picks whoever they think has the most advantage.
We discovered in playtesting that sometimes both sides of an opposed roll might get the same number of successes reasonably often. When this happens a lot, it can drag on somewhat. So before the challenge commences the Headmistress should decide which side has 'the edge'. This edge might be because one side has better skill, or a home advantage or even better quality weapons. It might be anything that could give them the smallest advantage but isn't important enough to warrant extra dice. When a draw occurs the side who has 'the edge' wins that round.
If all the dice come up as a 1 (which only happens if you have 1 or 2 dice), the roll is a botch and all manner of horrible shit that the HM can think off happens because “your character basically becomes the Headmistress's bitch.”
For instances where the players want to attempt a failed roll again… the book just says that the HM can think of an appropriate penalty up. But the general accepted rule is to increase the roll difficulty by 1.
Next is detailed explanation of the various skills and what they do. As it has been noted, St. Erisian’s is not a normal school. So they can learn things that are vaguely related to the subject of the class in question that help turn the game into a more traditional RPG.
Art – Painting, sculpting, and making forgeries of paintings and sculptures that are much better than yours so you can sell them for money. Used by Fixers.
Biology – Knowledge of the natural world and how to corrupt it by making frankensteinian monsters and the like. Also, first aid. Used by Scientists.
Chemistry – Make drugs and explosives. Used by Scientists.
Computer Science – Use computers and be a leet haxxor. Used by Nerds. There’s a massive sidebar after the description about how your players might use this skill to get really creative with in-game solutions, since a lot of stuff is run by computers, and that you should put a limit on it if you need to.
Craft, Design, and Technology – Woodshop, autoshop, and anything involving mechanics skills. Used by Nerds and Scientists.
Current Affairs – Info gathering on anything from actual global politics to what color clothing some rich shithead is fixating on this week. Used by Fixers and Coquettes.
Drama – Acting and disguising one’s self. Used by Sweethearts.
Economics - Shopping, selling, haggling. Used by Fixers and both sets of exchange students.
Electronics – Used for repairing anything that it is not a computer or involves micro chips in some fashion, since the write up emphasizes the importance of knowing how they work. Used by Nerds.
English –Persuation as well as lying. Used by Sweethearts, Prefects, and Coquettes.
Games - Games is divided into 3 sub-skills: Team Sports, Track and Field, and Marksman. The first is the stat used for all forms of melee combat, including unarmed combat; the second is used for non-combat related physical abilities such as running, jumping, climbing, and stealth; and the last is used for ranged weapons, including thrown ones. All three are used by Hockeygirls, Track is used by Goths and Ninjas, and Team Sports is used by all exchange students.
Geography – Wilderness survival skills and the ability to track others, as well as weather forecasting and the standard knowing the capitals of countries stuff. It mentions that St. Erisian’s likes all of their students to have such training, which is probably why all of the younger girls live on the school grounds in tribes. No clique specializes in it.
History – Military and political (Michiavelli is specifically mentioned) history, as well as legal tactics because again, as long as it’s even vaguely related to the subject, St. Erisian’s students can learn it. Used by Prefects and Samurai.
Home Economics - "The kitchen is an underestimated place of wonder and delight to any girl. This is not because of the influence of Mrs. Beeton, but because kitchens contain both fire and knives." Covers the usual Home Ec. subjects plus potion and poison making. Used by Goths.
Languages – Speaking languages other than English. Every point after the first lets the character speak an additional language, with no restriction on which languages the player can pick. (The book suggests Klingon, as it is easy to swear in and intimidate someone with.) There is a sidebar concerning foreign students and their mastery of English. One can either just assume they speak English fluently, or have them have 1 point for heavily accented and possibly broken, but passable English skill, and 2 for fluentcy. Used by no one.
Leadership – Leadership skills as well as torture and interrogation tactics… and tying knots, because “we don’t want anyone getting away”. (This would work a lot better under Geography, but you know, game about girls being jerks…) The book recommends forcing players to spend Willpower if they ever get into performing “Jack Bauer’s fanatical little sister” levels of interrogation. Used by Prefects.
Maths - Covers the usual math topics as well as investment and betting techniques. Fun Fact: The school is mostly funded by a stock portfolio run by the 6th form students. (It would probably also work better under Economics…) Used by Nerds.
Music – Knowledge of music genres as well as composition. Also functions the same way as the Languages skill, except each point lets you play an instrument. Used by Goths.
Needlework – Sewing, lockpicking, and knowledge of the fashion world. Used by Fixers.
Observation – Not a class, but it’s here because Peregrine couldn’t think of a class subject to put this under. Used by Hockeygirls, Coquettes, and Exchange Students.
Physics – Build traps and design things that fall under the CDT class, as well as fuck with the laws of nature, including the Space-Time continuum. Used by Scientists.
Religious Studies – Knowledge of the occult. (“Demon summoning is tricky, as Satan really doesn’t like his boys hanging out with ‘those bloody girls’.”) Want to play a magic user? Dump points into this skill. Used by Goths.
Social Studies – Used to “read” people, as well as knowledge of psychology, detecting lies, and seducing people. Used by Sweethearts, Prefects, and Coquettes.
Veterinary – Animal training and care, as well as actual veterinary skills. The book notes that this skill can be used to heal human targets in place of Biology, but that the difficulty rating should be higher. Used by Swethearts.
Up next: Combat rules and taking damage.