[Panty Explosion] Actual Play

edited April 2007 in Story Games
The Psychic Cosplay Catgirl Demon Adventure!

Last Sunday while at Gamestorm I had a chance to facilitate what turned out to be the best stand alone game of Panty Explosion I’ve ever played in. My players were Karen, who took the role of the popular girl, Tim, who played the girl who wanted to stand up for herself, Anna-Marie, who decided that her character had a strange voyeuristic relationship with her older brother, Pol, whose athletic and aggressive student was an unmanifested psychic, and Glen, who took the role of Karen’s student’s younger psychc sister. I had intended to use pre-made Students for this game but someone at the con walked off with them! Instead, our 4-hour time slot started with a quick round of character creation. I was really pleased to see that the players took time to choose agendas and traits that tied them together. Karen had decided that her Agenda would be to kill the psychic that caused the fire that killed her parents. The twist? That psychic was her own sister, Glen’s character! The extra twist? Karen actually set the fire herself, but she still blames her sister!

This was a pretty standard game of Panty Explosion content wise, with the girls starting off at school, going home for study group, sneaking back into the school at night to investigate a friends mysterious death and confronting a horrible demon in the girls shower. It was the players who took this standard plot and made it something special! By tying their Agendas together the players created a rich environment to play in that forced them to play together instead of going off in their own directions. Pol decided that his student’s Agenda was to hunt down and punish the creepy man who had been spying on girls from just outside the school grounds. But this was actually Anne-Maries lecherous older brother, and she decide that she had to keep Pol’s character from discovering this fact! Glen’s Agenda to have his student survive with her mind intact was directly opposed to Karen’s goal of killing her in revenge for the death of their parents! Having this kind of closely bound group meant that I was mostly able to step back as Superintendent and get out of their way. Of course, this is the way Panty Explosion is supposed to be played, with the players driving the game forward and the Superintendent providing facilitation and input only where needed.

The game really took off when we entered into our first real conflict. After hearing about the death of one of their classmates, most of the students wanted to ditch their cram session and head back over to the school to investigate. Tim decided that he really didn’t want to do this, and would focus on his Agenda to have his character stand up for herself by refusing to go. But that was only part of it! Glen, Anne-Marie and Karen decided that if they were going out then all the girls should get dressed up in revealing catgirl cosplay costumes. Both Pol and Tim’s characters protested, and the conflict became a matter of convincing the girls to dress up and convincing Tim to come along! This is where we broke out the dice for our first extended conflict. Panty explosion uses limited dice pools to represent the options players have to solve conflicts. You may start out using air dice to talk reasonably or earth dice to remain stubborn, but as you run out of those dice you’ll have to resort to other options if you want to prevail . Maybe you’ll resort to aggression and physical violence with fire dice, or break down crying with water dice. The players understood very quickly that the game is more fun when you are running out of dice and are forced to solve your problems in unconventional or difficult ways. They decided that instead of going for a quick resolution they would stretch this (and following) conflicts out as much as possible! This was great fun, and the descriptions of the girls successes and failures were both hilarious and effective. The conflict ended with Tim’s girl resolving to escape from her friends as soon as possible and all 5 girls dressed in really outrageous cosplay, mildly drunk and heading off to investigate the mystery of their dead classmate!

The final scene with the game was a classic confrontation with a writhing, slimy, tentacled (by player request) demon. Again, the players recognized that the game is more fun when your characters are forced to use up dice and resort to more desperate and insane methods for solving their problems. The players decide to extend the conflict as long as possible, and at one point Karen even insisted that it wouldn’t be fun for her to get away from the monster, and that her successful roll should be described with a different result so that the conflict could stretch out even longer! Both Pol and Glen brought their student’s horrifying psychic powers into play, and the resulting descriptions were both gruesome and hilarious.

The great part about all this was that I was able to step back and limit myself to clarifying rules and adding in a little descriptive flair here and there. The players used the scene creation rules to move the game along with almost no coaxing on my part, and immediately grasped that when the described each other successes and failures they had an opportunity to move the scene along in new directions or to add interesting elements. To portray Anne-Marie’s student being mentally consumed by the demon one of the players described a dream like state where the student found herself sitting in an empty classroom with the demon possessed (and super good looking) teachers assistant who urged her to leap into a spiraling black vortex! Building and expanding scenes through the descriptions of success and failure is what Panty explosion is all about, and I’ve never scene a group of new players grab onto the idea and run with it like these did! It was great fun to watch!

In fact, the group was doing so well that I decided I would give them the responsibility of describing the demons successes and failures as well. Normally this is the Superintendents job, but the duty can be given to other players as well. When I rolled a success for the demon the players didn’t hesitate to describe how it grabbed onto Pol’s student and swallowed her whole! In Panty Explosion having really awful things happen to you is often more fun then winning, and this group realized that right away! The demon was defeated in an orgy of psychic energy, where (by player description) at least one girls panties actually did explode!

This was the first time I’ve ever played Panty explosion at a con, and I’m really, really pleased with how it went. A great group of players who were excited about the game and willing to immerse themselves in the genre made for one of the best game experiences I’ve had all year. Thanks guys!

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