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Author Topic: Getting up to speed with InSpectres  (Read 1449 times)
Seth L. Blumberg
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Posts: 303


« on: August 26, 2002, 09:29:32 AM »

Finally getting around to posting about the InSpectres game I ran a few weeks ago. I've been too busy until now.

Everybody enjoyed it, and agreed that they'd gladly play it again. So it was a success in the only meaningful sense. That said, we had a lot of trouble getting the game to work the way it's "supposed to work."

First of all, Stress was a serious problem. Bad dice-rolling on the part of one player meant that every one of his Stress rolls was a 1. By the end of the game, he was down to one die. Only one player ever managed to get a Cool die, despite my giving everyone several one- and two-die Stress rolls early on to give them a chance to build up Cool. On the only large Stress roll in the game, every single player rolled a 1. I didn't call for any Stress rolls after that--I was afraid to. Ultimately, the group wound up spending all the dice from the job on R&R, and still wasn't able to get back to full capability. The franchise started out with seven dice and wound up with three. Is this normal? Can it be avoided?

Second, the players rolled a lot of sixes on Skill rolls, meaning that franchise dice piled up at a furious rate. However, no one really had an idea of how to wrap up the plot by the time they'd gotten the necessary franchise dice, and I wasn't sure how to guide them to a satisfying conclusion without taking away their sense of authorship. Some guidance on this in the rules would be welcome.

Last, there were times when I couldn't think of any halfway-decent plot complication to narrate on a low Skill roll, especially when the players were struggling to wrap up the scenario already, but I felt like I would be "cheating" if I didn't hose them somehow.

Oh, and hardly anyone used Confessionals and those that did didn't use them effectively, but that seems to be normal for first-time InSpectres players.
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the gamer formerly known as Metal Fatigue
Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #1 on: August 27, 2002, 04:34:13 AM »

Quote from: Seth L. Blumberg
The franchise started out with seven dice and wound up with three. Is this normal? Can it be avoided?


Do you mean, ended up with 3 after the successful completion of the mission? Because remember, a 7-die Franchise should be getting 14-die jobs. Also, remember that you can get bonus dice from "Hazard Pay" missions and from using Characteristics during the game. Be sure to explain the rules for Taking 4 and for Teamwork. Very helpful when one player is running low on dice.

Quote
Second, the players rolled a lot of sixes on Skill rolls, meaning that franchise dice piled up at a furious rate. However, no one really had an idea of how to wrap up the plot by the time they'd gotten the necessary franchise dice, and I wasn't sure how to guide them to a satisfying conclusion without taking away their sense of authorship. Some guidance on this in the rules would be welcome.


There are two things you can do in this situation. The first is to complete the job but have it "link up" to another problem that tacks on another five Franchise Dice. But that's a bit sneaky...what I'd do is to keep the game going until it "felt" ready to end. Achieving your goal doesn't mean that you HAVE to end the mission, it just means you CAN end the mission.

Quote
Last, there were times when I couldn't think of any halfway-decent plot complication to narrate on a low Skill roll, especially when the players were struggling to wrap up the scenario already, but I felt like I would be "cheating" if I didn't hose them somehow.


Feel free to hand the players the controls, as it were, to hose themselves. I've done it and it seems to work well (players can get wicked masochistic in InSpectres games, it's weird).

Quote
Oh, and hardly anyone used Confessionals and those that did didn't use them effectively, but that seems to be normal for first-time InSpectres players.


Correct. Give 'em some time and talk about Confessionals before you play again. Emphasize that they can introduce complications, advantages, characteristics...and they can do it without rolling any dice (which is very helpful when the going gets tough).
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
Seth L. Blumberg
Member

Posts: 303


« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2002, 08:29:40 AM »

Quote from: Jared
Do you mean, ended up with 3 after the successful completion of the mission? Because remember, a 7-die Franchise should be getting 14-die jobs.

Yup, exactly. 14-die job, the franchise lost four dice on the deal, and the characters could have used about another two dice of R&R apiece. (I blessed my forethought in having had the client pay in cash, so that the agents could embezzle the payment and tell their boss that the client had disappeared mysteriously before he could pay them. It was a great in-game explanation for what happened to the franchise's dice pools.)

Quote from: Jared
Also, remember that you can get bonus dice from "Hazard Pay" missions and from using Characteristics during the game.

The Characteristics issue had occurred to me after the game, and I'll definitely point it out next time.

Quote from: Jared
Be sure to explain the rules for Taking 4 and for Teamwork.

Everybody got those immediately, and used them often.

Quote from: Jared
[W]hat I'd do is to keep the game going until it "felt" ready to end.

The problem was that the game felt ready, but with no single person "in charge" of the plot, the group couldn't figure out how to wrap up the scenario. Five heads were dumber than one. (We're mostly accustomed to Simulationist play, sometimes with a kicker of Vanilla Narrativism depending on the GM. Shared authorship is a new and difficult process.)
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the gamer formerly known as Metal Fatigue
Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2002, 08:36:44 AM »

Quote from: Seth L. Blumberg
The problem was that the game felt ready, but with no single person "in charge" of the plot, the group couldn't figure out how to wrap up the scenario. Five heads were dumber than one. (We're mostly accustomed to Simulationist play, sometimes with a kicker of Vanilla Narrativism depending on the GM. Shared authorship is a new and difficult process.)


Well, no single person should be "in charge" of the plot. What I sometimes do if things aren't coming together is to make up my mind and say, "Okay...here's the actual problem." Then it becomes more like a traditional RPG where the PC's are working to figure out how to overcome a GM-created obstacle. The thing is, if they roll well, their solution will be "the right one" and you can roll with their decisions.

- J
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2002, 09:14:51 AM »

Quote from: Jared A. Sorensen
The thing is, if they roll well, their solution will be "the right one" and you can roll with their decisions.


The InSpectres demo that I ran at the Con was of that type of ending. At one point, the players had the gel creature explode comically. They could have gone on from there, or stopped there, fairly simply. So I said, "Well, is that it? Or do you need to do something more?"

One guy actually decided to narrate burning up the little bits (which caused them to have to pay for a new paint job for the hotel). But that was just wrap up. At some point, just decide that, ironically, the last silly thing that they did was just the thing. Narrate how it worked better than they'd expected, or whatever. Then ask if they think that anything further needs doing. They'll feel the denoument, and work out a few ending rolls, or just narrrate to finish.

Mike
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2002, 11:53:51 AM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
At some point, just decide that, ironically, the last silly thing that they did was just the thing. Narrate how it worked better than they'd expected, or whatever. Then ask if they think that anything further needs doing. They'll feel the denoument, and work out a few ending rolls, or just narrrate to finish.Mike


Good advice.

Remember the source material: Ghostbusters, especially the end, when they cross the streams -- more importantly after being told that crossing the streams is very, very bad. That kind of wry, ironic humor is what InSpectres is all about. So a "That's it?" kind of ending is pretty on target...remember these guys aren't Buffy the Vampire Slayer, they're more like Sid the Bug Exterminator. It's just a job...

Oh, and for some inspiring quotes:
http://us.imdb.com/Quotes?0087332
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
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