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Author Topic: [InSpectres] The knife of no death  (Read 2166 times)
Bryan Hansel
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« on: March 13, 2006, 01:07:44 PM »

I played InSpectres for the first time on Friday night, and although the session was fun and all the players said they enjoyed it, I have a few questions.  We used the startup edition, so maybe these questions are answered in the full edition, which I now plan to purchase.

Skill Roles:  The rules don't state if you set stakes or simply state I'm making a skill roll.  We tried it both ways and it worked both ways.  With the stakes, the player stated what they wanted to happen story-wise if they succeed, and I as a game master stated what would happen if they failed.  Using it as a skill roll, they rolled and then narrated the outcome based on the skill roll chart.  Which is the way that should be used or is used most often?

Story Direction:  I noticed that the story tended to develop some lose ends, so I found myself as the game master bringing up the lose ends to the players and not so much forcing them to be addressed, but asking what about this story element?  It seemed to tie up many loose ends and created what I'd call a rough draft of a good written story.  How do you handle the loose ends?  For example, they wanted to ignore the knife after it was brought into narration, but I said, "What about the knife you found?" And it turned out to be a big part of the story.

Game Mastering:  I found that my job as the GM was pretty slow and I felt a little left out compared to GMing other games.  I felt more as a facilitator in keeping the pace up and keeping the players engaged with creating story.  Is this how other GMs in InSpectres feel?

Job Dice: Both times that two job dice where gained with a roll of 6 and that roll should give the players a total success, they tended to narrate a complication into the narration.  I felt that they lost several chances to move the plot along, but I let them do it the way they wanted.  They seemed to hose themselves.  Is this normal?

The Players

Me: Years and years of D&D using AD&D classes and races.  Many other games, mostly homebrews or Space Gamer games like Battle Born and Barony.  Over the Edge. TMNT.  Almost never a player and almost always a GM or DM.  I played the game master in InSpectres.

Ilena: Her third time playing an RPG ever.  She played a tough jock.

Alyson: My 9 year old niece.  She played the "Face" a good looking ghost buster who likes to flirt to get info.

My Mom: 57 year old, first time she played an RPG.  She just had surgery, so she went to bed before we finished the game.  She played a researcher bookworm type.

The Game

The Set-up: The group meets up with Timothy McCloud a creepy looking caretaker of the graveyard who is wearing all black, has giant mutton chops, and spurs on his boots.  There the players learn that no one has died in the town for a month, and that the caretaker has just found an open grave and the body was gone.

Investigation: Alyson wants Tiimothy to have a knife with weird carvings and a story in a weird language that says "Take me by the Fire."  She gets it and a job dice.

Ilena takes a picture of the knife and later finds out that the picture disappeared off of her camera.

My mom investigates the grave and gets two job dice and communicates with a ghost who has no idea who removed him from the grave.  (I feel she lost an opportunity to move plot along, but I let her do it.)  Alyson say outloud, "Grandma that was creepy." Stress dice rolled!!!

The group hits the books and internet and discover:  Timothy is 275 years old.  The language on the knife is an old vampire language, they took some of the blood from the dagger and it is fresh and reptilian (loose end, never resolved).

They head back to the graveyard for interview number two: Alyson wins two job dice and makes up that Timothy says that the dug up person was his relative.  They search the job site and find footprints that match Timothy's shoes and then discover that Timothy dug up the grave.  Stress dice.

Ilena rolls, fails, and discovers that her character used to date Timothy in high school. (loose end, never resolved) Stress dice.

Alyson rolls and gains a job die, she figures out that the knife belonged to a powerful grandfather.  Timothy wanted it and dug it up.  When the knife is exposed and not buried, it causes all death in the world to end and only the person who holds the knfie can kill people.  Her narration turns Timothy into the main bad guy of the game.  Stress dice rolled.

Action: With only three job dice needed, Ilena manages to grab the knife but falls into the grave.  Alyson uses a ghost sucker gun and sucks up Timothy, but just as she does that the grave turns into a large human sucker and starts to suck up Ilena.  Stress dice all over the place.  Ilena uses the knife to climb out of the grave, and then they destroy the knife in fire.  The end.

Thanks for any thoughts,
Bryan
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2006, 04:50:49 AM »

Wow, what an age spread among your players!  Cool that you played with your family.  Can you talk a little bit about their reaction to the game?  It sounds like Alyson really took to it. 
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Bryan Hansel
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« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2006, 06:00:55 AM »

The reaction from everyone was very positive. 

I was mostly surprised by the additions and stories that came out of my mom.  I'd never seen anything like that coming from her before.  She never even made up stories for us when we were growing up.  I didn't get to ask her how she liked the game because she went to bed early and Ilena and I had to leave early in the town, but my mom was smiling. It just occured to me that my mom has played a game of Once Upon a Time before at a family gathering.

Alyson enjoyed the game and after she realized how to use the rules (about two rolls into the game), she found it easy to do so, offering to roll often and making up the story easily.  I was a little worried, because she was nine, but it seemed like she naturally took to play.  She didn't like the stress dice when they reduced her characters score, but when she overcame those by rolling high, it seemed to satisfy.  She didn't say anything, but she gave me one of those take-that faces.

Ilena said she had fun, and enjoyed this game more than the others that we've played.  For the first part of the game, she helped Alyson get the story moving and helped Alyson understand the dice.  Ilena is a K-8 teacher, so she's good at that stuff.  During the second part of the story when Alyson was kicking along, Ilena started to play her character more.  I did frustrate her once during the game.  She described this super heavy ghost catching machine and then grabs the dice, and I asked her what she wanted to roll the dice for, and she said to see if I can pick up this heavy ghost catching machine and carry it on my back.  I just said, no problem, you're a jock and tough so you can do it.  She said, but I wanted to roll to get job dice.  I said, I'm not letting you off that easily.
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Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2006, 06:56:56 AM »

OK, if you've followed other InSpectres threads, you probably know that this is a great "gateway drug" game, and you experience bears this out.  Time to get busy back home and round up some players!  If Ilena enjoyed it, you're half-way there - and she can teach the newbies the rules and maybe recruit if she's into it.  I really admire you for playing with your family - I'm not sure I could game with my mom.
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Nathan P.
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« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2006, 01:24:55 PM »

Heya Bryan, I just want to answer some of your direct questions, as no-one else has tackled em yet...

Skill Roles:  The rules don't state if you set stakes or simply state I'm making a skill roll.  We tried it both ways and it worked both ways.  With the stakes, the player stated what they wanted to happen story-wise if they succeed, and I as a game master stated what would happen if they failed.  Using it as a skill roll, they rolled and then narrated the outcome based on the skill roll chart.  Which is the way that should be used or is used most often?

I don't have my copy at hand, but how I play (and I'm pretty certain this is da rulez) is the second way you mention. The GM calls for the skill roll whenever its appropriate. Now, the skill roll itself tells you what amount of goodness/badness happens as a result of the roll, and who gets to say it. If a player is trying to climb a wall, and I tell him to roll Athletics, and he gets a 6 and narrates that as he's climbing he looks in the window and sees the ghoul that they've been chasing sitting in there munching on a leg, or something, rock on.

Quote
Story Direction:  I noticed that the story tended to develop some lose ends, so I found myself as the game master bringing up the lose ends to the players and not so much forcing them to be addressed, but asking what about this story element?  It seemed to tie up many loose ends and created what I'd call a rough draft of a good written story.  How do you handle the loose ends?  For example, they wanted to ignore the knife after it was brought into narration, but I said, "What about the knife you found?" And it turned out to be a big part of the story.

Sounds like a good method to me.

Quote
Game Mastering:  I found that my job as the GM was pretty slow and I felt a little left out compared to GMing other games.  I felt more as a facilitator in keeping the pace up and keeping the players engaged with creating story.  Is this how other GMs in InSpectres feel?

Yup. That's the big shock the first time you GM InSpectres, I think - oh, wow, I don't have to do very much!

Quote
Job Dice: Both times that two job dice where gained with a roll of 6 and that roll should give the players a total success, they tended to narrate a complication into the narration.  I felt that they lost several chances to move the plot along, but I let them do it the way they wanted.  They seemed to hose themselves.  Is this normal?

Depends on the players. I definitly don't think there's anything wrong with that.

Keep in mind that the GM does still have the power to introduce new characters and complications, as well as general scene framing powers. If the plot is dragging, I see no problem in having the characters receive a mysterious phone call, or frame an investigation scene ("Ok, you guys realize that you need to do some research. You're at the library. Make an Academics roll.") Just because the players get lots of narration and story-thing authority doesn't mean that the GM had none.

Sounds like the game went well! I hope some of that is helpful.
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Nathan P.
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Bryan Hansel
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« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2006, 06:37:38 AM »

Thanks Nathan.

Quote
Keep in mind that the GM does still have the power to introduce new characters and complications, as well as general scene framing powers. If the plot is dragging, I see no problem in having the characters receive a mysterious phone call, or frame an investigation scene ("Ok, you guys realize that you need to do some research. You're at the library. Make an Academics roll.") Just because the players get lots of narration and story-thing authority doesn't mean that the GM had none.

Our game didn't really drag a whole lot, but this is very helpful.  I don't think that it would have occurred to me to place the characters somewhere and make then do a roll, but it is a very effective way of moving the plot along.

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