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InSpectres = The Fun

Okay, so in my last post I wrote how, in my experience, a lot of character design processes in RPGs are about creating something that feels more like a custom-built toy and giving you rules so you and your friends can play toy wars, testing each other's toys to breaking. Thing is, RPGs seem to mix Trying To Do Other Stuff in with the Toy Wars, which means people looking for Toy Wars get bored with all the other stuff they have to trudge through, and people wanting to just explore or "play a character" get bored with all the stuff that gives the Toy Wars tactical depth and meaning.

So what's the opposite of that for me?

On Monday, I asked Vickie if she'd like to play some Primetime Adventures in the next couple of weeks. I'd been indulging in some more RPG porn, you see, reading the accounts of a group that had created a series called Dungeon Majesty and, as people who've played a Primetime Adventures game tend to, were waxing poetical about how god-damned cool the game is. (If you ever wonder why I proselytise about this game so much, it's simply because Primetime Adventures has the most consistently good Internet word-of-mouth, not to mention most consistently good accounts of actual play, that I've ever read for an RPG.)

However, although Vickie said okay, she didn't seem particularly keen on the idea. I asked her about it, and she said that her experiences with Primetime Adventures - namely, the pitch sessions Vickie, Gav, Salidar and I did for what became Stars on the Move - had been more complex than she prefers. Instead, she suggested InSpectres.

Now, I was a bit narked about that in the beginning, being on a big PtA kick at the time. But I swallowed it, figuring I was being a jerk, and sent an e-mail out to Simon, Cristel and one of the guys who was interested in the Starship Troopers session, asking whether they'd be interested. Since then I've started reading InSpectres again, going over rules and thinking about how to run a session.

As such, I've also started thinking about the previous games of InSpectres I've run. Now I have, I will admit, only ran InSpectres twice and have never played. (The two sessions were the playtest of That Scottish Play for Con*Descending 03, and the single session I ran.) However, I will say this: those two sessions stand out as the most straight-up fun I've ever had as a participant in a roleplaying game. Even though I have a tendency to remember the bad parts of life better than the good, I can remember not only laughing with my players in both games, but also the parts of the game we were laughing at; moments that we'd come up with together. Yes, we weren't laughing at a geek culture reference made in break-from-game chat, the game itself was providing fuel for fun and we were gleefully lighting matches. I can see why Vickie would want another game, and why I want one, too!

Heck, how about the rest of you folks who sat around the gaming table either at Fraser Road for the playtest or at Con*Descending that day? What do you remember about it?

Also, on reflection, I can see Vickie's point about Primetime Adventures. The pitch session was shaky, in part because of some chat connectivity problems, but also I think that as Producer I should have been pushing a churn of ideas until we got something that produced the "Click" moment people who get good PtA pitches keep talking about. The pitch session is also fairtly un-structured, which works great for those who succumb to the world-building urge (like me, sometimes; see my various attempts to get Lexicon games off the ground), but indulging world-builders doesn't work so great for the Pitch, because a show concept usually doesn't need a great deal of complexity.

I'm starting to think InSpectres would be a great game to introduce new people to what gets me going about the hobby, moving on to Primetime Adventures if / when people want to do something other than busting ghosts.

Footnote: In addition to auctioning off CyberGeneration, I'm also tempted to get rid of Feng Shui - the main thing stopping me, aside from nostalgia, is that I find it easier to imagine a game group having fun with Feng Shui and more importantly, me having fun GMing it for them.

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