[InSpectres] Rifts gaming group tries InSpectres. Success!

Started by Jacob Arntson, January 14, 2011, 04:31:14 PM

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Jacob Arntson

I game mastered InSpectres for the first time.  I run a bi-weekly Rifts game in Tokyo and play in a D&D 4E campaign.  I'd like our group to get to Burning Wheel at some point in the future so I ran a game of InSpectres.  It was such a fun game and I couldn't believe how animated everyone got.  Well, here's the write up.

InSpectres with the Rifts Friday Tokyo Group
Only two players showed up out of the scheduled four.  I explained all of the rules and setting in detail for about 20 minutes and then we started the game.  I also explained that I wanted a confessional at least once every scene and the players got the hang of it immediately.  I think they got it before I did and I read the rules about three or four times!  The players immediately gave each other cool characteristics and it worked really well and they gained the appropriate franchise dice.

Character and Franchise Creation
One was a P.E. teacher based on a real life person.  He had a 4 in athletics and did a lot of physical stuff in the game.  The other was a nerd ex-accountant.  The P.E. teacher's name was Sue and the accountant's alias was MoFo.

This all went so smoothly.  I asked a lot of questions using the book and trying to get personality down.  Getting the gear was the most fun.  Some of they stuff was so cool.  The accountant made a jPad.  A futuristic iPad with holograms and crazy fast internet.  Unfortunately it was hosed every time it was used, so it broke eventually.

First Interview
I had a member from the media confront them on the parking lot on their way to the bar after work.  We were still operating in the standard GM and player dynamic so it was very much like a normal roleplaying experience.

Meeting the Client
The players decided the receptionist was a bulimic and was constantly away from the desk.  This never impacted the story, but I thought it was a strange twist.  The client was a calm beautiful woman from a part of town ruled by Asian gangs.  The setting was loosely based off of Seattle, so there was a bit of local humor thrown in later.

The woman reported her grandfather and son had gone missing from her living room.  She thought the TV had something to do with it.

One was a P.E. teacher based on a real life person.  He had a 4 in athletics and did a lot of physical stuff in the game.  The other was a nerd ex-accountant.

Research / Investigation
Sue, the inept ex-PE teacher tried to help Sue with his jPad device.  He managed to spill beer on the Internet router and completely hose network.  They had to leave the office and go to the local library.  There they found that there were Mayan images of people being sucked into TV-like boxes.

They called the head Inspectres office in California to see if any other information about this TV-like people eating box could be found.  They, by coincidence, got the president of the company and he mistakenly thought they were their highest revenue earning agents from Chicago.  He explained that there were cases of Mayan glyphs related to death cults and underground tombs with ancient demons. 

Suiting Up
They went to the head office.  The group was in a decrepit satellite branch that only consisted of one room and a table.  They obtained a jackhammer and a TV de-ghosting kit (Whatever the hell that is.  They explained it, but I still don't know what they were going on about.  Must have been the booze talking!)

This is where the game started to really shine.  The players were driving to the apartment where the disappearance had taken place and stopped at a coffee shop.  They were in an Asian gang controlled neighborhood so a really ugly modded car pulled up playing intimidating gangsta rap.  The players had already breezed through some stress rolls so I had them roll two dice.  They rolled almost all 1s.  It was amazing.  The sight of the televisions mounted on the spoiler and the terrible spinning rims caused the accountant to lose his shit.  His mind almost collapsed in on itself.  The terrible sight angered the ex-PE teacher so badly that he couldn't even think straight.  Basically the sight of an extreme rice rocket almost put the whole group of the edge.  This was all on the way to the sight of the haunting.

In the apartment they found the TV.  When Sue picked it up black goo splashed everywhere further ruining the party's skills.  They luckily found a business card where the grandfather and son were being held.  Unfortunately, the ex-accountant MoFo, had his face lacerated by the glass and then covered it with bandaids to make a grotesque pink mask.

They hopped into their pimp ride.  I should explain their vehicle now - it is a Daewoo with hot rod paint and luxury spinning rims.  They zoomed over to the address.  It was a tour for the underground city.  The city had burnt down in the 30s (I used Seattle as a model) and this is where the people were being held.

They broke in, got some flashlights and descended into the underground.  There was a security guard in the dark with a Mayan tattoo on his neck.  They quickly subdued him and made him talk.  He pointed towards an underground chapel where people were being held to fuel the dark demon.

The players then made it to the door of the chapel.  It was made of flesh.  The players lost their minds.  A mouth sprang of the door and bit into the arm of Sue.  Blood sprayed out of the iris of one of the various eyes of the door onto MoFo and injured him.  In my enthusiasm as a GM making spraying gestures I managed to punch myself in the face.  Real blood started streaming down my mouth.  I think it added to the moment.

The players burst in.  They used a confessional to set up the jack hammer being perfectly shaped for throwing into the demon's mouth.  The ex-PE teacher used to be basketball coach so he threw a perfect three point shot into the demon's mouth spraying everyone in gore and freeing the captive humans.

Clean up / Vacation
I must have called for too many stress rolls.  The players were really messed up.  They both took 4 dice of vacation and then pumped the rest back into the franchise.  The franchise grew from a 5 dice start up to a 7 dice sturdy satellite branch. 

Impressions of the game
This was my first experience GMing InSpectres and the players had never played a shared narrative type of RPG before.  The player playing the ex-PE player kept looking at me strangely and asking, "I thought you were supposed to be the game master!  What am I doing coming up with everything!?"  I asked him how he felt afterwards and he said, "I'm not a game master man.  I'm exhausted.  I had to use so much creative energy."  He later said it was the best role-playing session he's ever had.  I guess that is a great compliment.

My other friend, who played the ex-accountant, loved InSpectres.  He said that didn't want to play it every week, but it would be a good game to pull out every once a while.  He definitely wanted to continue the character and franchise. 

I enjoyed game mastering and really had a good time with the game system.  I loved the moment when the players realized that they were controlling the narrative and changing the direction of the story. 

It was strange not to make a single die roll or mark any hit points.  I also was very happy I planned for the game as much as I did.  I found with a skeleton plot and a few cool scenes in mind the action never let up.  I felt like there was always something interesting happening and always some direction for the characters to go.  I think a lot of the feeling has to do with the way the events are sequenced.  I made clear divisions between them and took 5 minute breaks when necessary for beer and sushi.

*Here are the notes I wrote for the game ahead of time. 

GM Notes for the InSpectres game, January 15th 2011

Background - The year is 2040 and the city is Godhand, it's between Seattle and New York. The world hasn't changed very much except that there are smaller computers, better smart phones and a new set of awful Star Wars movies that take place in between the third and forth trilogy, all directed by George Lucas' illegitimate Thai son.

1. Franchise creation - let the players choose between established and new. Tell them about weird agents and give them the option to play one - and make them aware of the downsides.
2. First Interview - Tie the interview with the story, have a reporter come and ask them about the recent outbreak of hauntings in the city. From here determine what kind of spirit is haunting them.
3. The scenario - In the city of Godhand there have been recent cases of ghosts attacking people in their homes.
4. The client - a woman whose child and grandfather have disappeared. She last saw them in front of her small TV watching the news. She heard some ghostly sounds and and when she ran into the room they were gone and there was a thick black goo covering the couch and the floor. She desperately wants her family back and the TV destroyed. She's afraid to go into her living room.

More Inpectres notes  written at work the day of the game

-One confessional per phase. Explain how they work and what happens. There will be a special indicator that only the person doing the confessional can talk and it will affect the game.
-Make characters then the franchise as a group.
-Roll on the Client Table to get the personality - maybe do it right before the players meet her.
-Make a list of names

-Suiting Up - this is the preparation time and if the players want to buy or obtain anything special while gaining franchise dice.

Special Planned Scenes

The apartment building notes:
-There is a security guard with prison tats on his neck. Maybe a cultist.
-There is a basement under the building, part of Underground Seattle and infested with things.
-There is a heat vent right behind the TV that is covered in goo.
-Something old and ancient is living in Underground Seattle.

Final Scene - a mansion burnt and in pieces, horrible sounds emanating from within. People are in tubes and their life force is being drained to fuel the dark beast in bathtub. Players fight the beast.

-Jacob Arntson

Jared A. Sorensen

Great write-up! Physical injury is always a treat in RPGs when it actually happens to the players.

Sounds like you gave them just enough stress. Every job die placed back into the franchise should be an agonizing decision!
jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com

Jacob Arntson

The InSpectres book was very well written.  It was easy to get the big picture of how the mechanics worked.

The players got to the goal of 10 franchise dice at the end of the suiting up phase.  It seems very hard for a group not to reach the goal of 2x their total franchise number.  Have you ever seen a franchise go bankrupt? 

At the end of this session one player still have 2 stress remaining and the total franchise dice is now 7 which is cool.  I feel like they could be an established franchise after their next case and eventually, after four or five cases, get to be a big franchise and ride off into the sunset.

I'd also like to game master with more than two players next time. 

Thanks for the awesome game!!

Jared A. Sorensen

I haven't but bankruptcy is kind of like a TPK in D&D... possible but not really desirable.
jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com

Jacob Arntson

Awesome. I'll threaten the party with the idea of losing franchise.

I'm going to start the next game in te campaign off with a faculty meeting where they discuss improvements to the branch based on their 2 die increase. I'm thinking of bringing in an outside financial advisor NPC. If the campaign goes on 4 or 5 sessions this new NPC could be a demon and the players may have to go investigate inside the organization!