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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 211 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: [InSpectres] First try at Narrativism  (Read 12983 times)

Posts: 1557

« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2005, 10:32:42 AM »

Well, I was overstating the schlep thing as a matter of counter-balance against the Mossad agent and the notion of "but that conflicts with how cool my character is in my head!"

To follow up Jared's post, I guess my point is that your basic InSpectre is in a dot-com startup, but not especially because he or she cares or knows anything much about the occult or spirits or whatever.  It just seemed like a thing to get in on at the ground-floor.  These guys are, as I read it, a lot like the characters in Dilbert.  They're not losers, they're just ordinary folks.  Now, as it happens, their job takes them into truly bizarre situations, but for them that really isn't the point.  The point is that they are essentially consultants.

Remember when everybody was a consultant?  Especially management consultants?  These guys would have no experience whatever, be straight out of college, and would go through a quick training regimen in the firm's "approach," which they would then go ahead and preach as gospel to companies that made the mistake of hiring them.  The point being that these people didn't always really buy this approach, particularly; that was just the job.  And when a year later the company that hired them suddenly had some huge disaster, the consultants were long gone -- they finished the "job", you see, which was approached as a kind of crash-fix, with no long-term maintenance or responsibility.

Same thing with InSpectres.  They've got a shtick, and a niche market, and they don't really know what they're doing, but that's okay because they get paid, and they don't do too much damage (that anyone could sue over, anyway), and anyway it's just a job.

What makes this funny is that the "job" is getting rid of the slime-lord Prince Gargrakkar who's infesting the toilets.  Otherwise it would be desperately sad and cynical.

So when I say "schleps," I mean ordinary office workers doing what they hope will eventually become a 9-5 grind, then an 11-3 with break for 3-martini lunch.  Right now they're doing overtime a lot because if the company takes off, they will be on top and can rake in the bucks.  But what they aren't, basically, is cool, powerful, knowledgeable, or in any way really qualified for the particular nature of this job.  Furthermore, if they themselves do very well but the company tanks, they hope to be able to market their skills and experience, with padded resume, to a different consulting firm --- probably one that does HR consulting or something.  It's got nothing to do with fighting paranormal entities; that's just what this company does instead of HR or IT.

Hope that helps.  I was trying to counter-balance the "my character is cool" thing.  Your character isn't cool, except presumably in his own head.  Your character is an ordinary office worker, period.  I mean, sure, he's got a little cool equipment, and chases vampires and stuff, but that's not the point.  Mossad agents don't join InSpectres.  Used car salesmen who feel they're not getting enough percentage on commissions because their boss is a prick join InSpectres.

Chris Lehrich
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 10459

« Reply #16 on: February 10, 2005, 10:20:09 AM »

Yeah, I have to say that Seth is overstating the case. That is, I've found that even in a single session with players who understood the ramifications of the system that the effects of it were present, even without using those mechanics.

This is an interesting effect. One mechanic can inform play, even when it's not in use. Experience Points from D&D are a great example. You probably aren't rewarded them on the spot, but you know what you get them for, so you do that. When you get stress in play, I'd posit that players who know the system automatically "forsee" the trouble that it's going to cause ahead, and the premise remains intact throughout play.

That's not to say that it's not fun to play out the distribution of the paycheck in terms of PTO. It can be. But it's equally satisfying leaving it abstracted, I've found. The player getting shafted still gives the player deciding how many dice he gets an evil glare.

And play proceeds apace. So I don't think that it's neccessary for the system to hammer this home any more strongly than it does already. I think continued play and system familiarity (which takes like ten minutes for InSpectres) takes care of ensuring the premise works in play. Or, at least, it's always worked for me.

Selene, have you ever played Paranoia? There's a rule for GM conduct in the rulebook that says, "Kill the Bastards!" I'd suggest that you take a similarly cynical approach to the player's feelings about their characters here, and actually be gleeful when you hand out stress rolls. Like you're the player's adversary. Yes, be arbitrary, and be very unfair. Make it clear that you're being unfair, and that you have no intention of playing fair. Have fun being a complete bastard. Yes, this sounds like it goes counter to a lot of play styles, even ones we advocate here. But you aren't really going against the players, you're facilitating play by being the bad guy, and giving them something to gripe about.

One game, I was playing along, and got to the end of the job, and realized that I hadn't done a good job of handing out stress. So I decided that something small that one of the PCs did caused the whole house they were in to explode, causing, I dunno, 5 dice of stress to absolutely all of the characters. Just totally unfair. But they had to have that to react to. And it created feelings in the characters about the one who'd caused the explosion. Worked just fine as a last second save.

Hammer their PCs, make the results of failure funny, play the game, and it all works out.


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