Inactive: Robin Winthorpe
Game: Monsterhearts, Urban Shadows
Episodes Played: 12+
Theme Song: Light a Fire by Rachel Taylor, I'm Just a Shadow by Shel, Gasoline by Halsey
Keywords: Compassionate, self sacrificing, broken
My first Monsterhearts character, Robin is probably my favourite character I've ever played. She initially started at the Mortal playbook, just an ordinary human in a world full of monsters. Her lover was the Infernal, a boy named Vincent who had a demon on his side. Her best friend was an elder god shoved into the body of a girl. There was an angel who followed her around, a werewolf who stalked her, and a Mummy that was the resident jackass. If you're really bored, you can read all about Robin's adventures here.
That's right, I kept a diary as my character. It was a game about teen drama, and I felt Robin would be the kind of girl who kept diaries just so she could keep her head straight about all that had happened to her. Her story began with her moving to a new country after her brother's death had drove the family to seek a new home. Her mother got a job in Toronto, so off they went from New York. At her Scarborough high school, she met a bunch of supernaturals and fell in love hard and fast with the Infernal, Vincent.
Robin was initially played more as a Queen. I came to the table with the ideas of a displaced girl who had been living a very privileged life and felt annoyed they had moved to Canada. After the first episode, though, it was obvious Robin couldn't be the asshole in the story because there were already several other assholes in the game. So I softened her to make her the sweet one, the friendly one. She was reworked to be the caring mortal that helps every supernatural and tries to make others feel better at the expense of herself.
Right out the door one of the PCs wanted to date her and she said sure, but didn't want to. So she found a way to embarrass the guy so he'd leave her alone. His response was to threaten to kill her, or rather, attempt to kill her. The angel rescued her and the infernal kept her by his side. From there, Robin and Vincent, the infernal, were inseparable. Vincent kept doing bad things, Robin kept forgiving him. She was being harassed and stalked by a werewolf named Caleb. And the Angel kinda had a thing for her. As my friend said, it became a game of "everyone wants to sleep with Robin."
It created a lot of drama. Eventually, Robin and Vincent broke up when Vincent gave into his demon and stabbed Robin's mom. Robin lost herself a little. She went to a magical bookstore, found a book about becoming a hunter, and took her mom off of life support in order to make the sacrifice that was required by the book to become a hunter. It tore Robin apart but she did it. She needed power to stop her friends, to stop her now ex Vincent.
But the hunter powers weren't what she thought. They were more a compulsion than anything else, and she found herself feeling angry and enraged around her friends. It took so much control for her not to flat out kill those that she loved. Naturally this isolated Robin, even as she began to hook up with the stalker werewolf because at least someone still wanted her. It was a self damaging behaviour but she needed to feel something other than the rage. In a desperate moment, she made a deal with a fae and brought back her brother from the dead. Jack was her new focus. Keeping him safe was all that mattered.
The teen group of heroes came together to banish Samael, Vincent's demon. He became a fury, a psychic, and lost all of his memories. Robin kept an eye on him, and he began to become interested in her even though she tried to avoid him. Finally a huge fight broke out between factions, and Robin took on a troll. The troll smashed her through a wall and she went into a coma. That was the last I thought I'd ever play Robin, as it was a season finale.
Robin was a character that broke me. Her sad life, her constant struggle, and her isolation made her exhausting to play. Her active engagement in an abusive relationship, as well as the unrelenting "love me' from everyone else became a state of living for her that was whelming and somewhat unbearable. I loved the game, and I loved playing her, but she broke my. I successfully navigated moving from bitch queen style to the kind and loving Robin most people came to know. She was the girl who would always be there, and never give up, even if it killed her.
In a way, Robin was a predecessor for Trish. I knew I wanted the Mortal to be sympathetic, otherwise the moves wouldn't work well for the playbook. I was very successful at creating a character who was in the heart of drama, pulling everyone in different directions, and doing stuff that upset people without people wanting to come at me with physical vengeance. It's been awhile since I've seen that happen with another mortal, and I really dug the way I got into that skin. Overall she was a very successful, heartfelt character that took a lot out of me.
Naturally I chose to play the Hunter playbook as an adult Robin, who was in her final PhD year at Harvard for bio engineering. She wanted to reverse the changes in DNA that being supernatural caused in human DNA. She had always been smart and this was just another step towards showing she was a capable, adaptable woman despite her past.
Except Robin wasn't healthy. She was in group therapy for her violence and had a habit of picking fights with supernaturals. There was a tendency to kill first and ask questions later which lead to complications and heavy drinking in her life. Jack was still alive and in the same city as her, but she was relatively evasive of any sort of personal contact.
So what challenge did I want with a grown up Robin? I wanted to see her learn to trust again, to learn to possibly love, and to recover. I wanted to see Robin thrive despite what happened to her, and to retire from the life of a hunter. Because she wanted to retire, I also saw her as the kind of person who was trying to pull away from the life of violence that she lead. She didn't want to fight anymore. She wanted to finish her doctorate and go on her merry.
This was made complicated by her roommate and therapy parter, Curtis. Curtis was Rach's character from an Apocalypse World game both I and Rob had run at different points. Curtis was an oracle. He would regularly tell Robin where bad shit was gonna happen, get them involved, and Robin would eventually rescue them or kill whatever baddy was making life hard on people. Despite being her respite from the dark, he was also an enabler, the one who said keep going.
Boston got complicated when Merov, Rob's character, a dragon, began to awaken to his past lives. Merov was a warlord once, king of the Franks, and was immediately taking control of parts of the city he had no right to. Better yet, he was using Robin as a tool to do this. Naturally she didn't trust him, but Curtis seemed to, and things got out of hand quickly.
We didn't play a lot of episodes of this game. Most of the game for me was spent talking to Rach about Curtis and Robin. We eventually concluded that they loved each other, although in different ways. Robin didn't trust herself not to hurt Curtis and Curtis viewed love as standing by someone until circumstances dictated you couldn't. It was also messy and abusive, although less so than monsterhearts.
The story ended when Robin and Merov were sent to Hell for a year to fight the hordes of demons by their wizarding friend, Tenzin. As they made their way, fighting day in and day out, it was discovered that they were siblings from a past life, warrior brothers who were unstoppable. Robin found this shattering. Merov found it rejuvenating. Just as they were about to kill the King of Hell, Curtis appeared and ripped them out of the hell world. Only moments had passed in their original time, but Robin and Merov had become something more brutal and bloody than they had been before.
It was a moment of defining for Robin. She had worked hard to stop being a killer, to learn to walk away, and that had all been shattered by Tenzin. It was the last episode of the game. It was another moment of the character being broken, like when her mother had been stabbed, and I didn't have the heart to role play out broken and shattered Robin once more.
For weeks it was hard to shake the funk of having been Robin and having been devastated again. I had planned on switching to Veteran and retiring out. But that wasn't in the cards for Robin. Curtis left with Merov to go to Iceland leaving Robin to deal with her shit on her own. In her "inbetween" story, Robin had once lived rough on the street when her hunting compulsion had become too much. I didn't want to return to those days for her.
In my mind, Robin drank more, returned to being a bloodthirsty hunter, and finished her last month at Harvard. She didn't go to graduation. And when Curtis emailed, I think she eventually stopped. She loved him, but she was awful to him. Knowing that he had loved her gave her a renewed hope for a future. When and where Robin will appear again, I don't know.
With Robin, I successfully navigated the waters of being a badass hunter without her story being about being a badass hunter. Her story was about trying to recover, be a person, and not let what she could do define her. She didn't resort to violence unless she lost her cool or it was obvious she didn't have a choice, and then, killing upset her.
Overall I thought she was a compelling hunter archetype. There was an intimate and vulnerable sadness about her that made her evocative, while how broken she was kept most at bay. I know her Hell experience made her more terrifying, but I feel between Curtis and graduation, she felt something she hadn't in a long time, which was hope and love, and it was enough to keep her from losing herself to the kill. At least, for now.
Her final song was Hurts Like Hell by Fluerie.