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Author Topic: [InSpectres] Explain it to me, please  (Read 5726 times)
Georgios Panagiotidis
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« on: February 09, 2005, 08:41:21 AM »

Hello everybody,

I've read a few AP threads on InSpectres and the comments made by Ron Edwards and Jared Sorensen have shown me that I *really* don't get this game. None of the sessions I've played have come even close to developing the kind of game dynamic that they seem to be talking about. In fact I have trouble visualizing just how this game is supposed to work.

The games I've played all ended up in some kind of absurdist, slapsticky action-adventure genre; while still operating like a fairly standard RPG. Albeit with very lenient rules as far as player participation goes.

This is not meant as a criticism, I really want to comprehend the kind of gaming experience InSpectres is aimed to support. I'm simply too thick to grasp it, which - considering my other posts on this board - seems to be some kind of personal theme.

Anybody care to enlighten me?
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Paganini
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« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2005, 09:22:25 AM »

I've only played InSpectres a couple of times, and I don't own the rules. But I'd like to suggest a course of action to you. Head on over to the Actual Play forum and write about your game. Not just what the characters did, but what the players are doing. When do you use the mechanics? Who's saying what? Who's grooving on this or that? You don't have to be long winded, or anything. Just look at your last session (or whichever session you feel highlights your dissconnect the most) and write about what you feel are its most prominent features.
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Bankuei
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« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2005, 10:06:16 AM »

Hi Joe,

I understand what you mean by slapstick fun- that's basically what happens when you don't have or really apply the Stress rules.  And that is a fun option to play with, but misses the nasty kick that comes hidden during the whole affair.

See, after everyone has been hosed, and built up Stress- then you have to decide how hand out vacation time and what extra equipment is getting bought, etc.  In other words- all the responsibility issues kick in, and then it becomes a thing about how well you as players playing characters in messed up situations handle negotiating responsibility.  This is also where it can turn ugly.

Imagine most jobs- you have a boss who has power over how things get run, and their decisions might be good or bad, based on practical reasons or completely arbitrary and petty ones like favoritism and ego games.  Now put that whole dynamic on your group.

Scary isn't it?

But ultimately these issues of responsibility and power are the same issues you're dealing with family, roommates, bosses in real life.

Inspectres hoses you so that you have to make tough choices.  There never will be enough dice to go around, and people have to figure how to make do with not enough.  How and why you make those choices as a group says a lot about you.

Chris
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Georgios Panagiotidis
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« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2005, 10:55:56 AM »

Thanks for the replies.

It seems to me that InSpectres is intended to be played with a certain type of humour in mind. Not the broad strokes of something like Scary Movie, but more along the lines of The Office.

More character-based embarrassment and off-the-wall freakishness, and less farce and loud and obnoxious jokes. Is that correct?

There also seems to be a certain dark edge to the whole thing. Or am I just reading this wrong?

Another thing, in what way are the players supposed to interact with one another? Are they competing for getting the most laughs by hosing their own characters the hardest? Hosing other characters? Is solving the mission the main objective? Or is it about interacting with other characters?
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Five tons of flax!
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2005, 11:03:54 AM »

Quote from: Joe Dizzy
Thanks for the replies.

It seems to me that InSpectres is intended to be played with a certain type of humour in mind. Not the broad strokes of something like Scary Movie, but more along the lines of The Office.

More character-based embarrassment and off-the-wall freakishness, and less farce and loud and obnoxious jokes. Is that correct?

There also seems to be a certain dark edge to the whole thing. Or am I just reading this wrong?



Sounds like you're reading it spot-on. It's scary, dangerous work...but that doesn't mean it can't also be fun, or boring, or interesting, or icky work. I never saw them back then when I released the game, but I'd definitely put down The Office or Scrubs in the inspiration section.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2005, 11:11:55 AM »

Hello,

You mentioned that you'd read some comments of mine in the forums, but I'm not sure whether you've seen this thread (referenced in a recent one): [InSpectres] Winger Paranormal, or winging InSpectres. I pretty much lay out my thoughts on the game there. You can see how the author's game went after that discussion by following the other links in [InSpectres] First try at Narrativism, or for a wider look, just run an InSpectres search specified to the Actual Play forum.

And yeah, I agree with your post just now, about "what it's like" or "what to do." Your references and descriptions are spot on.

I'll qualify that, though, by adding if that's what you and the other folks want. Since you chose the GNS forum to bring this up in, I'm assuming that you really want to focus on the game in terms of Creative Agenda ("what is fun," "why do we play anyway," or the excellent term Gaming on Purpose). If I'm right about that, then I gotta say straight up - it won't happen unless you and the others all want it to, On Purpose. If you do, then applying the Stress rules diligently (much as described in the recent thread, or in many other Actual Play threads) will help lots! If you don't, then bag it - just run the game for mild and probably not-specially-great laughs, if at all.

Best,
Ron
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Georgios Panagiotidis
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« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2005, 11:17:47 AM »

Quote from: Jared A. Sorensen
I never saw them back then when I released the game, but I'd definitely put down The Office or Scrubs in the inspiration section.


Scrubs. I have to admit you mentioning this both makes sense and surprises me a little as far as InSpectres is concerned. I can see the work-related comedy aspect. But the two shows seem to differ quite dramatically in tone.

I'm not sure if the stress dice and lack of franchise dice doesn't run the risk of putting a mean streak to it all. The ability to differentiate between IC and OOC usually stops when it comes to awarding characters for something. At least among most of the players I know.
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Five tons of flax!
I started a theory blog in German. Whatever will I think of next?
Georgios Panagiotidis
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« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2005, 11:24:42 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards

I'll qualify that, though, by adding if that's what you and the other folks want. Since you chose the GNS forum to bring this up in, I'm assuming that you really want to focus on the game in terms of Creative Agenda ("what is fun," "why do we play anyway," or the excellent term Gaming on Purpose). If I'm right about that, then I gotta say straight up - it won't happen unless you and the others all want it to, On Purpose. If you do, then applying the Stress rules diligently (much as described in the recent thread, or in many other Actual Play threads) will help lots! If you don't, then bag it - just run the game for mild and probably not-specially-great laughs, if at all.


Since I usually end up GMing, and introducing players to games I will have to give them some explanation of what this game is supposed to be played, i.e. how the InSpectres gaming experience differs from the Shadowrun GE or the Primetime Adventures GE.

I just realized that I wasn't aware just what kind of game InSpectres could do, and was therefore a bit confused. I'm looking for pointers - or better yet explanations - that display what happens when InSpectres 'shines' as somebody put it in another post.

Or in other words, I'm not sure what I want from this game until I have an idea what I can get out of it.

Now I'm off to reading some more IS-related threads.
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Five tons of flax!
I started a theory blog in German. Whatever will I think of next?
Georgios Panagiotidis
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« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2005, 05:00:58 AM »

So, having read through the AP reports linked here and having fought my way through the Narrativism essay... I think I'm starting to get a grasp of how InSpectres is supposed to work.

The effects of Stress rolls should be always be seen as a prompt for character interaction, right? That is to say, when stress causes a character to lose dice it should be considered as part of the development of the scene. It should be something to react to in-character. Something like prompting in acting, or picking up a suggestion in improv.

It shouldn't be considered the equivalent to a loss of hit points, i.e. (potential) loss of player control over his characters (de-protagonizing?).

The same goes for relieving stress at the end of the mission. This isn't the equivalent to healing, but the decisions that go into distributing Franchise Dice should be viewed through the eyes of the character. This would at least limit the risk of the game turning ugly and petty among the players, which is my main worry. If this distinction is not clearly established before-hand... some players I know will take offense.  

If that's correct, then we just picked up on the "goony parody" use of InSpectres without noticing the more "subtle" aspects of the game.
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Five tons of flax!
I started a theory blog in German. Whatever will I think of next?
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2005, 06:11:34 AM »

Spot on target so far, Joe.

I think the most fun I've had with InSpectres comes from seeing people either respond to outrageous stress with ridiculously normal reactions, or respond to a tiny bit of humdrum stress (after having gained a bunch due to weird stuff) by flipping out.

In our game at Origins 2002, I was playing Shmuel Livitz, a very nice young fellow who mainly fetched coffee. And was a werewolf. At one point, a failed roll led me to decide that Shmuel "smelled evil" on an FBI agent who was inspecting the facilities, leading him to transform (first time in play) and rend the poor bastard limb from limb. Since the roll was failed, that means of course that the agent was a perfectly normal guy.

Anyway, the boss of the franchise (another PC, played by Jason Blair) was just coming out of his office door, with a bunch of irritating faxes to deal with, and he was instantly spattered, or semi-drenched, with blood. Stress Check! And Jason rolled a 6, earning a Cool.

He gave me a look, the perfect boss to well-meaning but fuckup gofer look. Then he said (in character, weary exasperation, but no real heat; think Barney Miller), "Shmuel!"

In this case, it was the office interaction that mattered, and the combination of (a) the resolution rules which allow for "insert detail" narration, (b) the Stress rules, and (c) the longer-term commitment on our part that within-company interactions were the real meat of the game.

Best,
Ron
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2005, 06:17:24 AM »

Huh. Meat. Huh. Funny.

:)

Best moment of the game was unintentional -- the San Deigo office hadn't gotten its sign finished so the only visible part spelled out "INS" -- and the team wondered why business was slow?

Clinton pointed out during the Lacuna Part I. game I ran at Dreamation that I really like to focus on office politics in my games. I don't know why that is, but it's true.
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Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2005, 11:10:46 AM »

Quote from: Joe Dizzy
Quote from: Jared A. Sorensen
I never saw them back then when I released the game, but I'd definitely put down The Office or Scrubs in the inspiration section.


Scrubs. I have to admit you mentioning this both makes sense and surprises me a little as far as InSpectres is concerned. I can see the work-related comedy aspect. But the two shows seem to differ quite dramatically in tone.



I totally forgot about the old fan supplements for the first version of InSpectres -- Nightwatch and ward13. One was Broadcast News with ghosts, the other was a haunted hospital drama, ala The Kingdom (or more accurately, ER + the supernatural).
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