mr_orgue (mr_orgue) wrote in gametime,

[AP] Kill Puppies For Satan

At Kapcon's Games on Demand, I facilitated three games: Moldvay D&D by-the-book, Metal Opera, and Kill Puppies for Satan. All three were boy's clubs. This was unusual for me - it is rare that I run a game with only guys around the table (exception: D&D, as will surprise no-one).

Kill Puppies was selected when the four people left needing a game were all facilitators: Aaron, Gregor and Simon. I was pleased but also somewhat intimidated, because KPFS has fascinated me thanks to the mythology that has grown up surrounding its play; and, I think, because of my gut feeling that there was something really strong in there, that KPFS is in its own way just as much a morality play as Dogs In The Vineyard.

Aaron's and Simon's protagonists were the classic broken youth of Kill Puppies, while Gregor opted for an older guy, 40-something and flatmate/Satanic mentor to the younger guys. I had each of them describe their "first kill" that delivered their starting Evil, and we were right into the unpleasantness, with a cat being drowned in a washbasin, a puppy being killed then cooked up and served to its owner, and (most memorably) a whale being dynamited in the blowhole.

Then I followed Vincent's advice in the annotations and just had the people who hated the characters come knocking. Specifically, the football jock boyfriend of Aaron's character's crush arrived with teammates to warn the freaks away. Instant violence broke out, and here I wonder that I was too lenient with how I set the attributes of the jocks, because the protagonists didn't have too much trouble holding their own physically. It seems more archetypal for the jocks to soundly beat the crap out the freaks, but the numbers I was picking as reasonable didn't deliver that outcome at all. Hmmm.

After that initial round of events, things spiralled out of control pretty quickly. Aaron's character ended up in police custody in hospital, burning all his Evil power to effect an escape. Simon's and Gregor's characters avoided those events, went shopping, caught a bus, and went to the zoo. There Simon's character brought his plan to a conclusion and poisoned a baby elephant. There was more running about as whale-lovers identified Gregor's character and chased him, and finally things spiralled back to where they began, with Simon's character burning all his Evil to gain a moment of romantic/sexual connection with Aaron's character's crush, and various other events happening that I can't even remember too clearly now.

The bits I remember best from this game, a few weeks on, were all to do with Simon's character. Simon was channelling the resentful, nasty worldview of a classic Kill Puppies punk, and his vitriol was forthcoming at the slightest provocation. I kept laying out setpieces for him to vent at, without even considering them. The security guard in the store and the checkout girl both received an earful; the little old lady needing a seat on the bus more so, and the guy who intervened to tell him to be polite came off worst of all. Every time Simon opened his mouth it was to issue forth the exact kind of invective you'd expect from such a damaged person. And it got to me a bit, because I knew people like that in my teenage years. They're pitiable, as they flail around damaging everything around them because they hate themselves so damn much.

So the GM decision I remember with the greatest clarity in this game, which otherwise pretty much ran itself with me just throwing in complications and responses to player-initiated actions, was deciding that Simon's character needed to have a scene with his mum. She had been off-camera the whole game but a few things had come through - that she was raising him alone, that she had a boyfriend, that she wasn't coping with him. I knew I couldn't let the game end without giving those two characters a moment. So as the game came close to time I had Simon's character's cellphone ring as his mother called him. Of course the call was answered, and the conversation that came next went far beyond black humour and was just straight-out black emotion. The way Simon portrayed the character's treatment of his mother was chilling, but it almost made sense of everything that had come before, not just in terms of Simon's characterization work, but in the game session as a whole. At the end of that scene I felt like I had got the moment I was seeking from this game.

We did a bit of debrief at the end, just talking about the events, reconnecting as human beings who weren't delusional little s.o.b's. There was a hell of a lot in the game that was funny, some of it downright hilarious, but the darkness at the character's hearts was impossible to escape and cast a shadow over everything.

I think this was the highlight of the con for me. It was a moment both disturbing and real, an intense emotional punch that I can still feel weeks afterwards. It wasn't fun, not in any sense of the word 'fun' that I can bring myself to use. But I'll say it was good. It was a good moment to experience. Still, I don't know that I'll ever play Kill Puppies again. I think that my reaction after the phone call scene was accurate - I've got what I was looking for, and it's not the kind of thing I particularly want a second time.

(Also: describing the death of the baby elephant by poison was really unnerving for me. I think I upset myself with it; I still have the visual of my description very clearly in my head.)

Did you check out Stephanie's writeup of her Kapcon game, a live-ish meditation on death and mourning called Sitting Shiva?
Tags: actual play, horror, kapcon
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