I’m on a study project to improve my understanding of roleplaying games. To this end, I already have two reading projects, A Game Per Year and An Adventure Per Year. This is the third, with the goal of reading or playing 52 games made in the last few years. Originally I considered making this “A New RPG Per Week” and that’s where the number 52 comes from, even though a weekly schedule is probably not within my abilities.
And the Rockets Red Glare is an adventure for Kult: Divinity Lost. It has a rather unique setting: the last 72 hours of the Trump campaign just before the 2016 election night. The player characters are interns, worked to the bone for the campaign, coming face to face with the inhuman nature of the people they’re seeking to get elected.
In the discourse around Vampire: the Masquerade in recent years, a common argument has been that vampires shouldn’t be made responsible for human atrocities. The thinking is that this devalues and trivializes the human culpability for such actions. Because of this, vampires should not be the hidden masters of humanity but instead parasites who don’t really have anything to do with how human affairs develop.
This adventure has no time for such ideas. Donald Trump and Mike Pence are Lictors, supernatural beings who seek to rule over the U.S. to further their own agenda. Hillary Clinton is a similar creature, just with different goals.
Reading the adventure made me think how literal-minded the Vampire argument is. It makes sense if we take vampires at face value. If we understand these supernatural elements as metaphors or symbols, the picture changes. Our moral judgment of Trump is not made less by the fact that here he’s a Lictor because it’s not a compliment to be made into such.
The fun stuff in the adventure is all the everyday stress and drama of running a campaign for someone like Trump. My favorite scenes involve a player character in an elevator alone with either Eric Trump or Ivanka. These are truly charged social scenes for the ambitious young intern!
The adventure is structured as a series of similar scenes, pretty freeform in style, ending in a fateful scene in Trump’s office.