IN SHORT… INS / MV was a bit of an iconic game for me. I “missed” it in the 90s when I started playing and was largely consumed by other games. I recently discovered that a 5th edition, with a lighter setting and ruleset than prior editions, had been published in 2015. I decided to try it out as a one-shot with a few folks (with whom I regularly play). The challenge was to convey the key points of the setting from on a French-only core book and rules to a group of non-French-speaking players… But we managed! It resulted in a pretty fun game, action driven and cinematic.
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We ended up running a 4-hour game, with 4 players — 3 of which I had played with multiple times. Voice on Discord. VTT on Let’s role.
I had typed up a quick summary of the setting, to seed the general ideal for the players.
Things used to be simple in the times of the Great Game. Heavens vs. Hell. God vs. Satan. Angels vs. Demons.
We had structure. Orders would come from above, and we would carry them on. Usually, it would entail destroying each other on Earth. But not always. Sometimes, things were not subtle. Like “Project 0” – releasing a global virus to wipe humanity back to its population of Anno 0. I’m not sure which side sponsored this… Sometimes, they were more subtle. Like “Project pope-in-the-hole” – saving the future pope from falling into a manhole while visiting New York. Again, not sure if it was us or them.
There were rules. Don’t let yourself be caught by humans, or clean up the mess. Serve your Lord. Obey the hierarchy. Don’t expose the Great Game to humans. Evangelize your creed. Destroy your enemies. We had a boss, and there was no messing around. We had to carry out the orders…
There were affinities though. I was a demon. My boss was Vapula. Scary dude. We were into the tech side of things. I wasn’t there when he nudged the guy who invented the gunpowder. But I was the guardian demon of Mark Zuckerberg during his time at Harvard. Good guy. Love what he has done.
A few years ago, everything changed. There must have been a reboot of the systems. All of us, angels and demons alike, lost our connection to the hierarchy. More annoyingly we lost our awareness as angels and demons, and started living a lull inside our human physical incarnation. Little by little, we reclaimed our true nature and regained some of our memories and powers. We found a few of our own and formed groups. There are rumors of some of the old bosses making contact. In the meantime, we do what we can to advance our agenda. And we try to avoid raising attention – demons, angels or humans, some exterminators are aware of what we are, and when we step outside the lines, destruction rains on us…
The worst thing is : we no longer know for sure that we go back home when we die on Earth…
We are the lost generation of Heavens and Hell.
The characters were quickly done, and yet quite diverse and interesting. An angel using his wealth to fight the Devil, while enjoying the finer things money can buy on Earth. A janitor treating all animals on Earth — humans and cockroaches alike — as creatures of God to protect. A psychiatric nurse using his profession and access to mental institutions to find demons to exercise. And a military officer hunting down them more aggressively, one bullet at a time.
I ran a published scenario of INS / MV 5th edition : “La ruée vers l’ordure” — a pun on the gold rush being a garbage rush. In short, the players had to stop the inauguration of a chemical factory whose director, a demon, had plans to unload toxic waste through the water system of a small city. Further, the demons had managed to set suspicions on two powerful angels, on site for different reasons, and get them to attack each other, with the group of players in the middle, as diversion
The story was very investigative in nature, with a 1h infiltration and final fight scene at the factory at the end, and an epilogue hinting to a higher order villain in the background.
What I think was a very INS / MV scene occurred when the group had to defuse the tension between the two powerful angels, going at each other throat. (The players, at that point, wrongly suspected both of them to be demons.) A powerful angel punched a player’s character through the wall in a very comic-like cinematic scene, before the police arrived to arrest folks and pick up the broken body of the character (who was already starting to regenerate).
The INS / MV 5E system is quite intuitive. Roll 3d6 and count success against the characteristic level for 1, 2 or 3 successes. (111 is God’s intervention and 666 is Satan’s, but unfortunately neither occurred.) I did have to make, on the fly, some rules for group and extended rolls, which weren’t specified in the core rule. I always find it a bit odd when these very typical resolution problems are not explicitly addressed in the core book.