Con of the North 2015, part 5: InSpectres

Cover of InSpectres gameMy first game of Sunday, and well worth getting up a little early for. I was in one of Heather’s InSpectres games last year, so I was enthusiastic about getting another chance to play.

Heather again did a great job of GMing. The story seed was that a family’s domestic bliss was being disrupted by some nasty hauntings. I don’t think she had much of a story planned out beyond that; most of the rest was determined by her skillful ability to weave player improvisation into a hilarious, dramatic whole.

Pretty early on, I directly asked Heather what level of realism and narrative control we were operating at. She made it clear that the level of realism was basically, well, pretty realistic — our game was set in Richfield, if that tells you anything — but Heather also made it clear that we players had a ton of narrative control. This helped a lot.

InSpectres has a ‘confessional’ mechanic, drawn from ‘reality TV’ shows, where one PC gets to step out of the action and reveal an additional wrinkle to the plot. In last year’s game, this barely got used at all. This year, though, I think three of us ended up using it, and all to good effect. I used mine to save two of the team from potential breaking and entering charges by having a mummy burst through a window instead.

The game ended up being about a pretty average family who’d buried emotional conflicts about their long-lost child in dangerous eldritch magic and ancient relics. Also featured: a CareBear turned into an electrical tape mummy, an iPhone app to communicate with ghosts, the Book of the Dead as wallpaper, a Groupon for cult training, and performance reviews. We finally confronted the 3½’ mummy, who turned out to be the family’s long-lost son. Domestic bliss was preserved, the day was saved, the franchise managed to avoid prosecution for any felonies!

This session, like the Hârn game, also had a large number of players: I think there were eight of us. But Heather encouraged us to work together, and appreciated and reinforced player inventiveness. Also, it didn’t hurt that the overwhelming majority of us players were women; players didn’t get talked over or ignored nearly so much as in that Hârn game. So even with a large table of players, I think we all felt like we got to contribute and share the spotlight, and like we had a good time. I know I did.

Overall, this was a great way to start my Sunday. I highly recommend playing in one of Heather’s InSpectres games, if you get the chance.

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