I started to feel that I didn’t know roleplaying games well enough so I came up with the plan to read a roleplaying game corebook for every year they have been published. Selection criteria is whatever I find interesting.
Kill Puppies For Satan is an early Forge game by D. Vincent Baker. The copy I have is the Gencon ’04 edition. I also read the supplement Cockroach Souffle.
You play evil assholes who gain superpowers by murdering innocent puppies in graphic style. The game is satirical. The mechanic where you kill puppies, gain Evil points and then use those to fuel superpowers makes me think the target is Vampire: the Masquerade in which you drink blood, gain blood points and use those as fuel.
From reading old Forge games and other materials from that period I’ve learned that it’s usually a safe bet to assume that criticism is always directed at Vampire, whether it’s mentioned by name or not.
Kill Puppies For Satan has an interesting writing style, combative, edgy and informal. The book has a clear authorial voice, one unusually concerned with players who cheat. Invective against them starts on page one.
Some of the clearest instructions on playstyle concern firearms. Kill Puppies For Satan exhorts a realistic depiction of guns, explaining that bullets ricochet all over the place and firefights are chaotic affairs. It laments that “there are no good gun mechanics in roleplaying”.
The core game features a sample adventure, Springing Gerald, in which the characters try to free their friend Gerald from a sinister mental institution. Here the evocative writing is at its best, infusing the horror with grimy everyday realism and humor.
The supplement Cockroach Souffle is a grab-bag of stuff, the most interesting piece being the hack BLOW JONATHAN TWEET’S HEAD OFF FOR PUPPIES ! ! ! ! !, by Jürgen Meyer. It inverts the concept of the basic game, making the characters righteous puppy owners who seek to murder the game designer Jonathan Tweet. It features Forge activists such as D. Vincent Baker himself and Ron Edwards as antagonists.
It’s certainly an unusual choice to include actual, real life game designers as enemies in a roleplaying game. Following the traditions of American roleplaying game publishing, the supplement comes with a disclaimer of sorts, below the copyright information:
well, it’s the eleventh hour and i’m having second thoughts about jürgen’s guest evil. fuck. it’s like, what, i’m comfortable making a crude mockery of lord god almighty but i have second thoughts about maybe accidentally offending jonathan tweet? the fuck? but then i’m like, oh yeah, i remember. a actually respect jonathan tweet. plus he, y’know, exists. [sic]
Kill Puppies For Satan is an interesting example of the type of edgy game design prominent in the Nineties. To me, it’s easiest to see it on the tail end of the same trend that produced The Whispering Vault and the numerous Black Dog books from White Wolf.