Para Int’l and so many beetles

InSpectres! Real play, not just a convention one-off.

Here’s my preparation, in this case useful for discussion because I wrote content from play directly onto them.

  1. What I got: (i) weird (ii) city worker (iii) strange light (iv) public park or zoo [note as well the initial result of horny hospital worker, odd smell in store/office, which I didn’t like, so I rolled again]
  2. What I did with it: I decided the fellow was weird insofar as he was deeply enthused about beetles; I assigned a location, Humlegården, one of the public parks in Stockholm, which also features a statue of Linnaeus, hence, taxonomy, hence beetles.
    • This does not include anything about the beetles being weird or that Linnaeus has anything to do with the situation or even that there is anything kooky going on at all.
  3. What it acquired during play via the players’ rolls and narrations
    • You can see the characters themselves, written there as they were created during the session; the content of “what’s going on” as created by players’ narrations throughout; and the tally marks of the franchise dice gained by rolls.

The core content, or backstory, or “what the hell is going on,” of a given situation is not prepared. It is stated into play in bits and pieces whenever a player rolls 4, 5, or 6. The mystery, or potentially even showing it’s not a mystery, is cobbled together as we play. (As GM, I say, “So that’s what’s happening? Undead vikings in the hot tub? All right then, now I get to play undead vikings roaming about and I can say they attack you. Thanks!”)

In this case, teaching the procedures was very difficult because the players rolled an astonishing string of 5’s, so there were no contrasting results to showcase what would be played differently. Also, instead of a resolution roll for the first moment of play – when K.T. receives the call – I should have gone for a single Stress die instead, as the necessary narration was too jumbled between things I was supposed to tell her and things she was supposed to make up.

By the third video, you can see me realizing that they didn’t know this at all, because they were chatting about fun content with speculative table-talk without putting that content into play as rolls, as they were effectively waiting for me to get to the reveal. The fourth video shows my system course correction, as well as introducing the Confessional, and by the end of the session our collective table-understanding was in place.

Therefore, from my limited GM input about a weird park worker interested in beetles and worried about strange lights around the statue of Linnaeus, we developed a somewhat hurried account of centuries-old robotic beetles that the Father of Taxonomy had constructed.

here are the company and character sheets.

I saved them for the end of the post because they are marked up according to current Stress and the current franchise dice. The players chose to stay pretty stressed, which remains in place for the next adventure (case), emphasizing the company’s benefit from their service to the city.

Please enjoy the videos and ask any questions!

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5 responses to “Para Int’l and so many beetles”

  1. SESSION 2

    This time, I rolled a (i) frantic (ii) ghost/monster (iii) abnormal weather (iv) in the water. I actually wasn’t too thrilled with introducing supernatural things via the GM’s roll, as I really like the mundane/supernatural content to come from the players’ narrations, but I went ahead with it. I decided upon the ghost of a sailor, with a slight spin on the famous wreck of the Vasa, and some kind of water phenomenon in the complex coast/canals of Stockholm, with an impending monster wave at least according to the ghost.
    Direct link in the playlist
    We began with a review of the rules so that everyone understood content, Stress, Cool, and the company dice, and play itself accordingly swam along without a hitch. I hope you like it! Also, here’s what Stockholm’s waters look like about now.

    Pay attention to the company. The players chose to alleviate their (considerable) Stress with a lot of the dice they’d gained, and the company funds had taken a beating during the adventure, so right now, Para International is looking rough.

  2. Playing Inspecters for me is a great opportunity to train some things that don’t come natural to me. The usual entrance to play for me is to find out who my character is by interacting with the environment and with other characters (both PC and NPC). For Inspecters this is not the way play works. Here play develops from the characters interacting with the environment and how we describe the environment in accordance to the result of our dice rolls and to what has been established so far by the other players. All that in relation to my character or the others characters but not necessarily explored through my characters reaction to it. So I’m slowly developing the ability to describe circumstances and add the little extra that drives play forward without focusing on character interactions with each other. All that while immensely enjoying the game and the ideas of my fellow players.

    • That’s a really good point. I know exactly what you mean, that the backstory evolves, and the slapstick appears, but one’s character as such may remain solely a vehicle for those things. In playing InSpectres so many years ago, the events involving my character were funny … and from that point, he was merely a parody reference point for everyone else, so that I knew the only person who would care if he was actually a person was me. And it was even my fault to an extent, as I’d initially played up some caricature features, which were then amplified by others past the point of being funny for me.

      I think the characters in this game haven’t fallen into that fate, but now that you’ve brought this to light, I think I want to play a little cool for a while, not to be so concerned with one-case one-session, and to let the characters breathe so we can see who they are.

  3. Surprisingly fun little game for me.

    I have some background in running Call of Cthulhu and Delta Green so inSpectres hitting some of the same thematic points surrounding the unnatural makes for a wonderful time for me as a player (altough i could see myself running it aswell).

    Mechanically i like how it allows for anyone to step in and point the events in a new direction whithout taking away agency from the other players. Add in a built in goal for players to cooperate towards (improving the company) and you get some pretty fun time.

    • The company is the core, I think – not as an abstract “goal of the game” so much as a question mark. Do we, the characters, care enough about our collective effort to do a little good to weather the necessary stress? There’s potentially some horror, and very likely to be some comedy, but neither works without some real human concerns in place. That’s also why I think the collective content works well for the game, because ultimately, it’s not what the little team opposes (monsters, etc) that matters, it’s how they relate to one another as co-workers and co-owners of their little endeavor.

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