Cinderbrush: A Monsterhearts Story

"Cinderbrush: A Monsterhearts Story"
One-shot episode
The Cinderbrush episode thumbnail, by Kendra Wells from "Cinderbrush: A Monsterhearts Story" (OSx36).[art 1]
Episode no.Episode 36
AirdateFebruary 14, 2020 19:00 PST
Running time4:35:56
Game systemMonsterhearts
Starring
Taliesin Jaffe as Jamie Wrenly
Erika Ishii as Sasha Murasaki
Ally Beardsley as Abigail "AF" Flowers
Ashley Johnson as Cameron Solomon
Matthew Mercer as Master of Ceremonies
Links and related articles
Episode chronology
Previous
"End of 2019 Fireside Chat" (Mx08)
Next
"DOOM Eternal One-Shot" (OSx37)
Airdate order
Previous
"Blessing in Disguise" (2x95)
Next
"Talks Machina #142: Blessing in Disguise" (TM2x95)
List of one-shots

"Cinderbrush: A Monsterhearts Story" (OSx36) is the thirty-sixth one-shot episode of Critical Role. Using the Powered by the Apocalypse gaming system, four teenagers take on the horrors of high school - hormones, social cliques, teen angst... Oh, and they're also monsters.

This one-shot uses Monsterhearts 2 game system.

Synopsis[edit | edit source]

Pre-Show[edit | edit source]

  • Monsterhearts was created by Avery Alder.
  • This is the first time that Ally Beardsley appears on Critical Role.
  • There is a new episode of Handbooker Helper that was previewed before the livestream explaining the rules of the Monsterhearts system.

Part I[edit | edit source]

Our story begins in the insular town of Cinderbrush Hills, a sleepy town in the middle of Nowhere, Arizona. Specifically, it begins in Cinderbrush High, where we meet our four protagonists: Sasha Murasaki, Cameron Solomon, Jamie Wrenly, and AF Flowers. Sasha is flanked by three other students, Cori Brooks, Lexi Wembles, and Jesse Zimmerman, who form The Hive, a group who never leaves Sasha's side. Sasha and Cameron, who have broken up over the summer, share a meaningful look. AF, the only new student, stumbles into homeroom late, having gotten lost twice already. They greet Cameron, whom they already know from outside of school. As AF sits down, Amanda Beltman, a horse girl type who sits next to them, begins to ask them about a rumor she's heard, but before she can finish her question, she is interrupted by the arrival of Jason Buckner, a member of the football team. Jason is sporting a poorly concealed black eye.

Mr. Kempler, the history teacher, enters the room as the bell rings and begins to take attendance. When he reaches AF's deadname on the attendance sheet, AF throws a book across the room before correcting him while pretending that there is a bird that they'd been throwing the book at. As Mr. Kempler finishes attendance and the room settles down, Amanda asks AF if they were the one to punch Jason. AF confirms that they were, claiming that they did it after getting the idea from watching prison documentaries that they should pick the biggest guy and fight him to establish respect in a new environment.

Once the lecture starts, most of the students zone out and being taking care of interpersonal concerns. Sasha expresses interest in AF after it's confirmed that they punched Jason, and tells Lexi to arrange an "entrance exam" with them at lunch. Aimee Reyes, a sweet loner type who sits in front of Cameron, gives him the homework that he's been paying her to do for him. Cameron asks Jason what he did to get punched and Jason claims the attack was completely unprovoked. AF checks on Mary Rajo, an extremely pacifistic type who sits in front of them, to make sure she wasn't scared by AF throwing their book. Mary asks if AF really hit Jason, and AF confirms. Mary expresses concern at AF having violent tendencies and AF reassures her that they are in youth anger management classes. Jamie texts Cameron to get confirmation that AF punched Jason and receives it; Sasha texts Jamie about the entrance exam at lunch.

The students have an uneventful biology class next, immediately followed by lunch. Cameron and AF catch up, discussing Cameron and Sasha's summer breakup. Sasha and her Hive swoop in on their conversation and invite AF to sit with them. Jamie joins them, and ends up staying with Cameron as Sasha and The Hive take AF with them.

Jamie and Cameron discuss AF punching Jason, with little sympathy for Jason. Jamie comments that they haven't seen Cameron "you know where" very much, and Cameron tells them that they haven't been able to make it out because his mom needed help over the weekend, and adds that his parents are being weird. Jamie and Cameron make plans to go "you know where" together that Friday.

Sasha and her Hive introduce themselves to AF and AF comes out to them as nonbinary. Sasha offers to help AF make their identity known to the rest of the school and AF reacts enthusiastically. They flirt briefly before the group is approached by Jason, who confronts AF about punching him unprovoked. AF repeats their claim about hitting him to establish respect. Terrence Michaels, a "dumb woke" member of the football team, approaches and attempts to deescalate the situation. Between him and Sasha, they are able to smooth the situation over. AF reveals to Sasha that they know Cameron, which surprises Sasha; AF then asks Sasha if she's single, and when Sasha reveals she is, immediately runs away.

Jamie heads back over to the Hive's table, and after pulling Sasha away from the rest of the Hive, has a tense conversation with her about her intentions surrounding AF and her breakup with Cameron. Jamie thinks Sasha has fucked with Cameron's head, but Sasha reveals that she has nothing to do with Cameron's current moodiness, and tells Jamie that she would never lie to them like she lies to everybody else. They arrange for Jamie to bring Sasha drugs in exchange for something personal belonging to Jason and part ways.

During English class, Aimee offers to tutor Cameron as an alternative to getting paid to do his homework, and Cameron agrees to meet up with her after school at his house. Several students, including Jamie and Cameron, receive a text from Suzie Moreno, a former student, inviting them to a rave that night. Amanda reads this text over Cameron's shoulder and immediately tells AF about it, and AF, Amanda, Jamie, and Cameron arrange to carpool to the party together in AF's truck. They all exchange numbers to keep in touch. Sasha notices Cameron and Aimee confirming their plans and tells Jesse to swing by Cameron's house later, checking on them. They part ways.

Around 3:00-3:30 PM, Jamie and Cameron visit Jamie's hideout in the Solomon Quarry, where Cameron confide about his past with AF. Cameron met them in a summer camp in middle school, sharing their first kiss together and making out under a canoe. Jamie promises to keep his secret.. unless he is offered something great in exchange for it. Jamie then starts assembling all the essential items in his pouch, but sound of tumbling rocks interrupts him — Evan Harris, who has taped them for the past five minutes, discloses his presence. Cameron punches three of his teeth, and Jamie takes their phone: unlocking it with FaceID feature, deleting the video, scanning his photos for something of interest. They unsuccessfully threaten Evan to keep this incident a secret. Jamie pulls out a lock of his hair to keep as a token and casts an illusion of attacking bats on Evan, scaring him off.

After school, AF and Amanda hop into AF's truck and drive to suppose to the Diamond Liquor store owned by Samuel Flowers (AF's dad). AF is supposed to work a shift there that overlaps with the rave party, but AF has a plan to convince Samuel that AF and Amanda have a massive project to work on, and AF has to miss their shift, staying at Amanda's house until tomorrow's evening. Samuel is persuaded to give AF time off work, determined to provide them space to adapt in the new town/school. When asked by AF, he also gives them $210 for the "school project". AF and Amanda are ashamed of lying to Samuel.

Aimee Reyes visits Cameron at the Solomon estate, tutoring him. The energy, previously tense, becomes flirtatious, Cameron invites her to got to the rave party with him. They kiss, captured on photo by Jesse luring in the bushes behind the window. Sasha gets the picture and posts it on Snapchat using an anonymous account, captioning it "Heartbroken boy takes advantage of lonely girl". Most of people who responded to the photo are convinced the photo is fake, and Sasha's follower numbers drop. One person responds: "Nice try, Sasha".

The group dress up, and gather at the Solomon estate. Just before AF and Amanda arrive at his door, Cameron hears whispers of a foreign tongue. Cameron offers AF drinks, they chat. Cameron asks AF, if they already like someone from the school. AF is into Mary Rajo, but sees her as peaceful person, making AF insecure about their rage around Mary. About that time, Jamie pulls over to the estate and hides their scooter in bushes. As the group is about to go, Hank Solomon enters the room and resentfully asks about their plans, demanding Cameron to return by 1:00 AM.

Sasha and her hive arrive to the rave party on Jesse's car and pass through the bouncer without a problem. AF drives up shortly thereafter, and when Jamie drops Suzie's name, the trio is admitted into the club, as well.

Part II[edit | edit source]

Rave party[edit | edit source]

They are welcomed by loud dance music by DJ Dark Star, and crowds of dancing bodies. AF and Amanda decide to venture for alcohol for the first time, vodka in particular, but Jamie tells them the place doesn't supply alcohol. However, they attempt to persuade Cameron that they are accustomed enough to alcohol. Jamie puts on the table his inventory of recreational drugs: "moon rock candy flip with a little bit of LSD", pot, acid, and mushrooms. Jamie then notices Sasha standing to the side of the dance floor with her hive and approached her, giving Sasha "everything she asked for, and a little something extra", getting a regular payment, and asking for a favor to dig up dirt on Evan Harris who learned the location of Jamie's hideout in the mines, but Sasha demands secrets in return. At first Jamie is hesitant. Sasha runs her finger into his harness and pulls up the ring, turning him on and provoking him to reveal Cameron's secret — his kiss with AF under a canoe. At that time, Aimee Reyes enters the club.

Jamie sells LSD (Doc) to AF, asking them to choose between "seven dwarfs" (Happy, Grumpy, Sleepy, Dopey, Sneezey, Bashful, or Doc), and AF shares it with Amanda and Cameron. Amanda and AF takes the LSD and start dancing in a "jellyfish-like" manner. Sasha flirts with Aimee, running her hands over her hips, which elicit confusion and surprise in Aimee, but she gives in to the touches. Sasha gives her a "little party favor", and consuming it, Aimee swiftly walks toward Cameron. Cameron pulls Aimee away from Sasha's intent line of sight, joining the dancing crowd.

Loosing the sight of her ex, Sasha and her hive go back to the jellyfishing duo, surprising Amanda with her arrival who seemed to be honored speaking with Sasha Murasaki herself. Sasha asks her to bring them some water from the back of the club, and Amanda readily obliges. Sasha again brings up the question she asked AF earlier — "What makes them happy?" — answering it for them that AF seeks people's validation, seeks somebody to figure out who they are for them. AF responds, Sasha's assumption resonates with them; they read on Tumblr that there people can many different identities at once, which gave them affirmation. While they speak, Cori and Lexi run their fingers along AF's shoulders, turning them on. When Amanda accomplished her task of bringing water, she found Sasha tilting AF's chin, mouth-on-mouth, just "drinking" AF.

Meanwhile, Jamie approaches Tyler, dropping off cash and earning a few hundred dollars, and both Jamie and Cameron notice the intimate moment between AF and Sasha, making their way toward the scene. Jamie interrupts them, saying they are personally invested in AF and Sasha successfully convinces her to back off. Jamie warns AF to stay away from Sasha for their own good. Still under the effect of LSD, AF appreciates Jamie's concern and starts to make out with them. Sasha goes back to Cameron, bringing him to talk outside. They discuss their break up, and Sasha gets gradually irritated that Cameron doesn't reveal his reason for breaking up with her, and unsuccessfully offers her help. They start to make out, stopping when Aimee catches them. They continue to argue about Cameron's reticence and their future relationship, then come back inside.

Screenshot of a cultist mask from "Cinderbrush: A Monsterhearts Story" (OSx36).[art 2]

The group reunites, realizing there is no sight of Amanda. A smoker outside points out that they saw Amanda half an hour ago walking with another person deeper into the refinery. They start slowly investigating each building. AF gazes into the abyss, empowered by a "nearly full moon", hyper activate they senses, but not sensing Amanda within a mile distance. Cameron speaks to his dark patron, Anukirai, demanding his help in figuring out the direction to Amanda. Anukirai gives him a brief vision of flashes: candles, black cloth, and a blade. Sasha is shocked, and Cameron promises to have a conversation about it, but later, also describing his vision. AF turns into a werewolf and bolts into the direction shown by Cameron, and the group follows. Arriving first, AF barges into the room lit by candles and sees several black-robbed figures, wearing golden masks and standing near table bearing Amanda. One of the holds a bloodied blade, who then strikes AF. The cultist prioritize escaping the scene. Taking the body of Amanda, they hastily drive away, but beforehand, two of them were clawed and marked by AF, one of whom dropped their blade. Sasha captures the car's number plate and sends it to Lexi to track down the owner. Jamie casts Hex on the abandoned blade, send the illusion of insects on them and hoping this person is the driver.

They jump into AF's truck, and Cameron drives them after the cultist's car, but they lose track and discuss their plans. It is 3:30 AM, Cameron pulls up and demands Anukirai to get him another vision of Amanda: "figures coming and lifting something out of a trunk" surrounded by broken rock. Cameron realizes the figures are at the Solomon Quarry, where they drive swiftly. As the first quarry shift starts, they find Amanda's body and check her pulse, figuring she is dead. Panicking they can be caught on the scene, the group drive up to the Cinderbrush High and agree to continue to live on as normal, promising to figure out who were the culprits. On their way, the party hears the sounds of police sirens.

Investigation[edit | edit source]

Sheriff Michael Dobbs comes into the school and brings up the news of Amanda's murder, saying they will appreciate any information connected with the murder and setting a citywide curfew of 9:00 PM as a precaution. When the sheriff leaves, Terrence started to be visibly nervous and asked the teacher to go to the nurse. Jamie gets suspicious, and with the first bells of the recess, they guide the rest of the group past the empty nurse office, and Cameron checks the bathroom, finding him inside one of the stalls. They rest come inside the bathroom and lock the door behind them. AF smells a familiar blood, one of the cultists they marked previously. Casting Ring of Lies on Terrence and turning into his "darkest self", Jamie and the company interrogate him. Terrence slowly reaches out to his gun, but Cameron and AF cut him off. AF threw the gun into the trash. He admits his connection to the black-robed individuals, saying Suzie promised him and they found a "book that could just really change the tides of luck for them", which told them to "find somebody nobody would miss". They stay in Saint's Path Church, including Damian, Jenna, but nobody else from school Terrence knows about. The group then free him, making Terrence promise to say nothing of their involvement.

They disperse to their homes in pairs: Cameron takes Sasha to the Solomon estate, when Jamie (remembering that his mother is at work) agrees to take AF to their house. Before they set off, the groups hears that police asks around for someone named "Jamie Wrenly", and Jamie decides to drive to his hideout in the quarry instead. The quarry is "swamped" with police, and Jamie and AF turned back heading out to the Saint's Path Church. One their way, Jamie reveals his dad hooked up with AF's dad and Jamie was present during the divorce court of AF's parents. The police sirens cuts off their conversation. They pull over, and Officer Baron inquires about the direction and goal of their car trip, apparently satisfied to hear AF brings Jamie to a youth group program at the local church.

Arriving at the Solomon estate, Cameron and Sasha notice a police car in the driveway. Hank reprimands Cameron for being missing at the same time when police discovers a dead body in their quarry. Sasha stands up for him, but Hank the policeman Jared Thara already agreed that Cameron will be brought to the police station for questioning. Cameron excuses himself, running into the house, saying he needs to take something from his room upstairs, but instead goes to fish out Hank's car keys. Sasha starts a conversation with Jared — tearfully explains her love for Cameron and asks to delay the questioning procedure, ending her argument with: "Isn't there anything they can do to convince him?". Recently divorced, the officer is turned on, and satisfied she is of age, he sets up a dinner with her and Cori Brooks. Cameron with Sasha drive the family's Barracuda to the church. Lexi tracked the owner of the car, which number plate Sasha sent her, and texts Sasha that the car is owned by Terrence Michaels.

The group see two vehicles in the parking lot. When they knock on the door, a man in a leather jacket appears in the door frame. They ask for Damien, saying that they "know how to party". The man says he recognizes them from the rave party and goes to one of the cars promising to fetch up Damien, knocking on the car door three times. After a moment passes, a person within the car shoots Sasha in the upper thigh. AF goes werewolf, breaks through the window, and lashes out on the person in a tank top with the gun, and Jamie hexes him with illusions of rats and snakes. However, the distracted gunman still manages to successfully shoot AF. AF takes his gun and picks him up, bringing him along. Cameron bandages Sasha with his t-shirt, and Sasha texts the address of the church to the hive. The man in the leather jacket flees toward the church, and the group follows him.

Climbing up the stairs toward the church, they are greeted by Suzie who expected Cameron to show, pointing out that they both have the same patron, Anukirai, and stating that Cameron was the one who woke them. She tells them that Terrence was the one who brought Amanda to the cultists, but doesn't regret the established circumstances, saying "there's a lot of unique things at their disposal now." Suzie snaps her fingers, and the man in the tank top goes limp, then suddenly wakes up with unusual dull green light in his eyes and bites into AF's neck. Cameron bargains with her patron, learning Suzie's secret desire to leave without rules. Sasha gets closer to Suzie and laments her fate, asking Suzie to give her more with a promise to do anything in return. Sasha intimately touches Suzie, turning her on, then kicks down the stairs towards AF, and AF slashes Suzie, but her wound seals up. Jamie makes a jump on the guy in the leather jacket, the guy shoots them in repose. They start to hear police sirens in the background. Sasha jumps on Suzie and whispers into her ear, shattering words breaking her resolve, which also shuts down the man in the leather jacket. Before the police arrives, AF hurts Cameron to revert in their normal form and the group lays on the ground and put their hands behind their head. The gunman does it too, agreeing with the group to put all blame on Suzie.

They spend days incarcerated and questioned, rumored to be the actual culprits blamed for for the death of Amanda, until "a thorough search is done on the cars involved, eye witnesses, blood found at the scene at refinery," and blood found in the trunk of a car owned by Suzie that match Amanda's. Suzie and her compatriots, including Terrence get a sentence, and the group are convicted of "delinquent behavior" and must attend public service.

Featured characters[edit | edit source]

The cast of Cinderbrush
Screenshot of Cinderbrush Highschool class seatings from "Cinderbrush: A Monsterhearts Story" (OSx36).[art 3]

NPCs[edit | edit source]

  • Aimee Reyes, classmate who occasionally helps Cameron with homework
  • Amanda Beltman, classmate and the AF's first friend at school
  • Anukirai (only voice), Cameron's patron
  • Officer Baron
  • Cori Brooks, part of Sasha's Hive
  • Damien, Suzie's associate
  • DJ Dark Star, relatively well-known DJ; DJed at the warehouse party
  • Evan Harris, classmate who caught Cameron and Jamie in Jamie's hideout
  • Jared Thara, officer who visited the Solomon estate
  • Jason Buckner, classmate
  • Jesse Zimmerman, part of Sasha's Hive
  • Hank Solomon, Cameron's father
  • Mr. Kempler, US history teacher
  • Laira Meyer, English teacher
  • Lexi Wembles, part of Sasha's Hive
  • Mary Rajo, classmate
  • Sheriff Michael Dobbs, police officer who visited the school after the incident
  • Neera Pater, biology teacher
  • Samual, AF's father and the owner of the Diamond Liquor
  • Suzie Moreno (The Infernalist), graduated student and the former associate of Sasha
  • Terrence Michaels, part of the football team
  • Theresa Solomon, Cameron's mother
  • Tyler Thorne, "pseudo-stoner DJ of the classroom"

Mentioned[edit | edit source]

  • Greg, Jamie's father
  • Jenna, Suzie's associate

Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

The players played a test game of Monsterhearts before streaming this episode.[1]

The opening title doodles are drawn by Stevie. The music used in the intro is "In the Basement" by Olly Vert from the album "The Best Of Guitar Scene, Vol 1" (available online here: https://smarturl.it/GuitarSceneVol1). Additionally the episode uses "Black Widow" by Olly Vert.

External links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Cinderbrush: A Monsterhearts Story" (OSx36) at 4:23:20.

Art:

  1. The Cinderbrush episode thumbnail, by Kendra Wells from "Cinderbrush: A Monsterhearts Story" (OSx36). This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.
  2. Screenshot of a cultist mask from "Cinderbrush: A Monsterhearts Story" (OSx36). This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.
  3. Screenshot of Cinderbrush Highschool class seatings from "Cinderbrush: A Monsterhearts Story" (OSx36). This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.