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Independent Game Forums => lumpley games => Topic started by: ethan_greer on August 26, 2004, 10:39:01 AM

Title: kpfs: Prep advice, please
Post by: ethan_greer on August 26, 2004, 10:39:01 AM
Hey, a lumpley forum.  Cool.

So, I want to run kpfs for my game group (that's "kill puppies for satan" to you unenlightened types), but I'm a little lost on the best way to start.

This is all predicated on my dissatisfaction with the default "spring Gerald" scenario. It's just too "normal game" for my tastes, I guess. But then again, if people want to weigh in with how much that scenario rocks, I could theoretically be convinced to use it.

So, I was thinking of doing something like this: Basically, the group starts off with nothing to do in someone's basement, just hanging out, doing the loser thing. Someone (and we'll choose one of the characters in the group to be that someone) up and says, "Hey, I'm bored. Let's go kill some pets and then fuck shit up, Evil-style." Everyone agrees to this course of action, and that's where play begins, with the group on its way out the door to go do some ruckus.

I'm thinking setting will be 'burbs, with a mini-mall in walking distance. I'll have a relationship map prepared with some weird fucked up shit that's involving a few of the residents of the neighborhood, and the first pet they come across, that pet will belong to someone in the relationship map.

From there, I can work the map and nudge the characters along as needed. No planned outcome, but a game structure in which the characters can push levers and pull buttons, and I can riff on their cues.

For you experienced puppies runners out there, does this sound like a good approach?

Title: kpfs: Prep advice, please
Post by: bluegargantua on August 26, 2004, 10:59:51 AM

  As I'm sure Vincent will tell you, this game practically runs itself.  Especially once you start applying Murphy's Law in spades to whatever the PCs do.

  That said, if the players don't quite "get" the game, it can be helpful to have some sort of MacGuffin for them to go after.  I've constructed a simple scenario around a bunch of PCs who get called up by the S man himself to go ruin Christmas for a neighborhood.  Once you get them moving, you'll find that players start to pick up on the game and just get themselves into more and more trouble.

  The other point I've found from my play is that it's helpful to have some sort of closing event.  The PCs will just rattle on and on and on unless you've got some event you can use to finish off the scenario and clearly indicate that play can stop.  Ideally it's something not terribly location-specific so if the PCs range far afield, you can plop it down when things need to wrap up.  In my sample scenario, eventually St. Nick shows up to kick the PCs asses (and because he's Saint Nick, you know this won't be too hard).

  It doesn't take much structure, but something to get them started and something to finally stop them up are real useful to have on hand.


Title: kpfs: Prep advice, please
Post by: lumpley on August 26, 2004, 01:11:03 PM
Have your players make up a bunch of NPCs of various sorts too, especially the people who hate them, and hand them over to you.  Yes, one player might be hated by a ghost, a sorcerer and a space alien; that's sweet.  Take those as cues for where the players want the game to go.  At every lull, have one of those NPCs the players created come after the PCs, in whatever form that would naturally take.

Be very up front about it, like "also make the people who hate you as NPCs, any kind of NPC out of either book, and make 'em as powerful as you want - I'm'a hose you with them bad."  

I was personally surprised - and totally pleased - by how powerful my players made their characters' enemies.  Using my players' own creations took the sting out of the heavy GM fiat you have to bring into the game's adversity and resolution.


Title: kpfs: Prep advice, please
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 26, 2004, 03:09:05 PM

I suggest that kpfs relies on GM-provided adversity. It really doesn't provide much engine in terms of player0input, vastly unlike Dogs or Otherkind - if the GM isn't willing to ramrod "this is the story, go here and do this," then not much is going to happen that can become a story.

In our game, I finally had to introduce a demon, Hoccchthulius, who literally forced one of the characters to participate in a particular fashion. This was a classic case of the GM fucking with the player in order to "make things happen," which in kpfs is kind of a running joke anyway. I wouldn't like or want to do it in nearly any GMing situation, but here it kinda made a weird sort of sense.

Even if you don't go that far, I do suggest that having a bevy of un-ignorable NPCs, all of whom are in the player-characters' faces, is a crucial part of getting this game to be fun.


Title: kpfs: Prep advice, please
Post by: Eero Tuovinen on August 26, 2004, 03:55:14 PM
Let me tell you shortly about my play experience, as it just might include a kernel of successful preparation. Make of it what you will.

We started by making characters. I was the GM. No preparation beforehand, two players. I set the game in the city of Tampere in Finland, mainly because they have a big aquarium with delfins there. Ultimately the players grokked to this only after leaving for Rumania, but that's life.

So, the two players and me, we planned some characters. One was a cubicle dweller with a lotto addiction; other was a totally nondescript (literally; I couldn't tell you anything about him if you threatened me with a dead puppy) loser who bunked with the cubicle dweller by virtue of blackmail and mutual satanism. Mutual satanism is something I won't tell about in public.

Now, I really had no adventure prepared at all. I'm a bad GM and a worse person like that, no work ethic at all. Instead I have the gift of inspiration, and it didn't exactly take a genius to get the ball rolling: the lotto fiend, he would leave lotto tickets lying around. Let's say that a friend of the blackmailer stops by and out of cleptomanic tendency takes one of the (hundreds of) tickets. Let's say it's the ticket with this week's big price, two million euros.

Really simple, right? Am I ashamed of it? Nah. The game isn't exactly rocket science. Just give the players something to go by when they aren't doing something stupid.

All is well and good, as surely the lotto fiend wouldn't notice anything. Except that the cleptomaniac friend comes back when he's not around and gives the money to the blackmailer. The Mormons are after him, you see, and he'll escape them to Lapland while the blackmailer keeps "this packet" safe for him. Exactly three seconds after he leaves the blackmailer opens the packet, finds the money, stuffs it in a briefcase and starts planning for a trip to Rumania.

Why Rumania, you ask? It came to our attention that the cubicle dweller has a big collection of old, sticky celebrity magazines in his WC. The blackmailer doesn't exactly share his perversions, but he has read those magazines for a long time now, and has come to the conclusion that Rumania is heaven on earth: you see, in the '70s Finns used to travel quite a bit in the eastern block countries, and the Black Sea coasts were one of the fine (in a gruppy middle class way) resort options. Our simpleminded satanist of course believes everything he reads in those old advertisements.

Here's the key point: I kicked the ball by giving out the lottery win, but after that it runneth quite easily on it's own. The Rumania thing came up naturally from random kibbitzing and humorous, mutual development of our loser characters. The rest of the game was largely a pinball game of strange situations, as the characters reacted in weird ways that were predicated on whimsy and their defined nature.

So, Rumania it was. Now the cubicle dweller came home, and lo and behold, he already knew about the theft of "his" lottery win. No other hobbies than counting his lottery tickets, you see. With murder in his eyes the cubicle dweller examined his partner in satanism and found out that the culprit had escaped to Rumania with the money. Luckily, the blackmailer had "life savings" with which they both could go there to investigate.

The game rolled on from there: the characters flew to Helsinki, noticed that they had forgotten their passports, got stuck in a hotel with CoC larp in the premises and so on. High points included nearly getting shipped to America for Mormon burial and christening (after using the false death power) and losing the money to a third player character (came on in the middle) who hid it in a mattress. Never got to Rumania, though.

My interpretation of game preparation: the only thing you really need is a volatile element; put in something that finds reaction, and see Spot run. After I decided on the lottery win, it was quite obvious that I could just let the game run and throw my own stuff in the mix when I felt like it. A big sum of money just cannot be a stable element, someone will want to take it from losers like kpfs characters whatever happens. This is probably the simplest way to prepare, and leaves intact maximal player freedom to enact the character nature.

So, to prepare for the game, I suggest just taking an obvious character trait and hooking that. The players will understand to take the game lightly enough, and simply go along. Then, prepare a couple of recurring themes to give the play some unity; in my game such themes were the goody-good clueless Mormon missionaries and the larpers, which both stumbled on the characters constantly. Then just throw in unlikely situations whenever the players have nothing they want to do.

IMO the characters should in kpfs know each other quite well, as otherwise their only common point is satanism. Consequently the better they know each other, the less satanist material you have to introduce. If the characters are unknown to each other you'll quickly have to resort to a common event, pointing to all satanists in general, to cover the bases.

Title: kpfs: Prep advice, please
Post by: ethan_greer on August 27, 2004, 06:21:39 AM
The relationship map I mentioned? That will be populated exclusively with unignorable NPCs. That's a recurring theme I'm noticing in all the responses: Throw something at the characters. Coupled with Vincent's suggestion that I have the players make some adversary NPCs as well, that base will be well covered. Thanks.

Now, do you think my setup will be sufficient? i.e. the first pet they kill will get an unignorable NPC from the r-map breathing down their necks? Or do you think I need more than that to get things cooking?

Title: kpfs: Prep advice, please
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 27, 2004, 07:06:15 AM
Hi Ethan,

That's a strong start and may well be sufficient. If more is needed, just bring in more NPCs via this (and other NPCs), and as you go, grading up the ecosystem of any or all of these: societal wealth and power, ruthlessness, and occult significance.