King Kong Cthulhu

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Howard
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King Kong Cthulhu

Post by Howard » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:20 pm

We all know the story: a group of Filmmakers(Investigators)go to an uncharted island shrouded in fog. They encounter ancient structures, sacrificial alters, idols and a race of unknown humans. They return to their ship only to have a member taken by the islanders. Attempting a rescue, the party is lured to their doom when the natives summon their, "Dagon-sized" deity who destroys them all. That would have been the horror version, instead we got the pulp version. Posting in Dr.Gerard's Cthulhu Dark pbp game here on the forums had me thinking that the line between Pulp & Horror is fine. Seeing a Yeti, or Kong, and dying or being scared would be horror, and seeing them and wanting to capture or kill them would be pulp. (?)Right? Do Keepers have to often keep players in the "Horror" mindset as opposed to the "Pulp" mindset? Or is it all in the character? Indiana Jones would be Pulp, his father(Sean Connery-Last Crusade)would be an investigator, more suited for horror. Just thoughts. :)

Keeper Jon
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Re: King Kong Cthulhu

Post by Keeper Jon » Wed Feb 27, 2013 10:39 pm

Yes, the line between Pulp and Horror is a fine line. A fine thin line of blood.

It has been my experience that most gamers want a CoC game that has lots of moody investigation and touches of unseen horror as the story of the game unfolds, but once the apex of the game is reached, they want to go full throttle pulp all over its ass. :mrgreen:

It is difficult, at times, to reign players in to keep a horror mood, I think. Which is why I'm totally okay with delving into the pulp if that is what the mood of the table wants.

Wordcraftian
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Re: King Kong Cthulhu

Post by Wordcraftian » Wed Feb 27, 2013 10:59 pm

I like the idea of shifting from one mindset to the other based on preference. But can't that be a little abrasive? How does the transition work?
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Eibon
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Re: King Kong Cthulhu

Post by Eibon » Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:19 pm

Howard wrote:Seeing a Yeti, or Kong, and dying or being scared would be horror, and seeing them and wanting to capture or kill them would be pulp. (?)Right? Do Keepers have to often keep players in the "Horror" mindset as opposed to the "Pulp" mindset? Or is it all in the character? Indiana Jones would be Pulp, his father(Sean Connery-Last Crusade)would be an investigator, more suited for horror. Just thoughts. :)
I don't think it's that clear cut. The great Nigel Kneale wrote a TV play called "The Creature" which Hammer later re-filmed as "The Abominable Snowman" about a man who wanted to capture a Yeti, yet it is not even remotely Pulp. The man's obsession and his destruction of a sentient life-form in the name of being famous kept it well away from Pulp. Likewise Kong, at least in his original version, has as much horror as it does heroics. And the related film, The Most Dangerous Game likewise treads both (people stranded on an island and hunted like animals, against a hero who saves the girl from a wicked villain). CoC expects most adventures to end in a Pulp fashion because we expect our players to defeat the forces of Cthulhu, while a true horror story would have the "heroes" fail.

I'm also unsure that Jones Senior is much less Pulp than Indie? He often bumblingly succeeds. If someone threw a bucket of waste from a window while Jones Senior was walking past, it would hit the man walking next to him. If it was horror it would hit him!

I must admit keeping things horror is difficult. Players will often see their characters as heroes and therefore have a Pulp mindset. Horror aggressively pursued can also be less entertaining, which has to be an issue. If every adventure ends in all the characters dying, or sinking helplessly into a nightmare, then your players will become frustrated. I once played a game where the Keeper gave away nothing! The authorities knew everything we did. The villains gave us no way in to their secrets, and all lines of enquiry were closed down without results (to the extent that the Keeper hinted that we should want the several hundred video tapes of porn we found in a cultists house, so we did -- at the end of the process we discovered that it was homemade porn, something we'd gathered from viewing one of the tapes). When my character was taken out (not killed, but arrested by the police for taking an illegal gun from a disturbed patent and holding on to it -- I was a doctor), I was hugely frustrated to find that my replacement character knew more about what was really going on than any of the players after months of investigation! That group broke up shortly after. You need the players to feel they are getting somewhere, even if where they are getting to is not where they think they are going.

Also, grim humour is part of horror as well. Certainly much of the best fiction will mix dark humour with horror, the one becoming the other as the players learn more. There is also an element of unbelief which will effect the horror. A man who thinks he's hunted by vampires is comical, after all vampires don't exist, until his bloodless body turns up. Then there's the question: was he killed by real, supernatural vampires, or by humans deluded into acting like vampires? Each step changes one's attitude to the situation, but the situation itself doesn't change (the death of a man). It is the mindset of the players which is the thing which is changing.

Like you, just thoughts, rather than a developed theory.

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Re: King Kong Cthulhu

Post by AshtonRCClarke » Tue May 21, 2013 3:44 pm

Eibon wrote:I don't think it's that clear cut. The great Nigel Kneale wrote a TV play called "The Creature" which Hammer later re-filmed as "The Abominable Snowman" about a man who wanted to capture a Yeti, yet it is not even remotely Pulp. The man's obsession and his destruction of a sentient life-form in the name of being famous kept it well away from Pulp.
Good point, and I also don't see 'pulp' as the opposite of 'horror'. Pulp fiction can belong to any genre, and a lot of cosmic horror and weird menace stories (Lovecraft's included) can be included in this category without that making them any less 'horror'. The 'pulp' distinction is more to do with the style of writing and the build-up to the climax of the story.

The resolution of the story (death from the threat versus prevailing against the threat) does not determine whether the story is 'pulp' or 'horror'. You can have a horror story in which the menace is defeated, or all the characters survive, but discover a yet vaster menace behind what they were fighting, etc.

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