Friday, June 8, 2007

Game Review: InSpectres

My gaming group has some dead time coming up, as our current campaign draws to a close and the next GM in line is out of town. That leaves us with 2 or 3 empty weeks - plenty of time for a game of InSpectres.

My first experience running InSpectres was a little over a year ago. I'd never GMed before, and none of us were familiar with the rules. Thankfully, InSpectres is really easy to pick up, and even easier to GM.

The game's premise is essentially Ghostbusters. The party is a group of paranormal investigators for hire. The starter rules are only 3 pages, covering character creation, game flow, and the core check mechanic.

Each character has 4 base stats: Academics, Athletics, Technology, and Contact. In addition, each character also has a Talent, a special ability that grants them a bonus on checks under certain circumstances. This can be pretty much anything - subject to the GM's approval, of course. For example, my character had the Occultist talent, which granted an extra die to my check rolls having to do with the Occult: this included casting spells and identifying entities (say that three times fast).

In stressful situations, the GM can call for a Stress check. If you fail, you take penalties to your stats. These can be repaired by spending Franchise dice at the end of each job, on a one-to-one basis.

Franchise dice are the currency of InSpectres, and are used to upgrade the party's equipment. Each job has a dice rating, and the job isn't over until the party earns that many Franchise dice during the job. Players earn Franchise dice by rolling 5 or 6 on check rolls - except Stress checks. A 6 there lets you repair stat penalties from earlier Stress checks, or gives you a Cool point, which is essentially a point of immunity from stat penalties. Cool points can be used for other things, much like Action Points in D20 Modern or Eberron.

One last thing: the Confessional. Once per scene, a player may "step into the Confessional" to narrate something about the scene. For example, say the party is sneaking up on a ghost they've never seen before, and one player decides to use the Confessional: "What we didn't realize at the time was that this particular ghost had humongous ears. We must've sounded like a herd of elephants to it." The mechanism is a fun way to add twists to the scene, or add detail to a character, or just about anything else. "It turns out that we weren't chasing a ghost, but a baby albino elephant the zoo had lost in transit that morning."

The system is simple to get the hang of, and doesn't need much preparation time. The Ghostbusters genre is zany and random, so if you play with a group like mine, it'll probably almost run itself.

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