First off, there’s a good review of InSpectres, here.
Now, a summary:
What Is It?
The game centers around a startup franchise dedicated to the task of exploring and dealing with the supernatural. Players create normal (but a bit strange) employees of this company. Case by case, the employees face a variety of challenges, and the franchise (and challenges) grow.
It’s Ghostbusters, MIB, The Real World and dot.com startups all rolled into one great game, with the best investigative/mystery solving mechanic, ever.
Ever. EVER. E-VER.
In the modern world of InSpectres, supernatural events are usually more annoying or just plain embarrassing occurrences (they can be morbid and creepifying, but they aren’t always that way).
Got a vampire infestation? Enter InSpectres, your one-stop source for paranormal deliverance!
Character creation is simple and relies on description and character as opposed to numbers or math. The first step is coming up with a character concept and name. Using that as your base, the next step is to distribute 9 points among four character skills ? Academics, Athletics, Technology, and Contacts. Finally, you choose one Talent for your character, something that makes him or her especially unique. Character advancement is also covered in this chapter.
It should be noted here that, while you *can* make a Buffy the Vampire… umm… Hunter… the *real* fun comes from making Hank, the ex-Plumber going through his mid-life crisis and seeking a new career.
Once you create their characters, it is time for them to come together and decide where they work — make the franchise. Basically, each franchise gets a number of dice to develop its various features. Those dice can be used to purchase cool equipment or research strength and other goodies in the form of Franchise Cards. The more dice the franchise gets during this step, the more challenging the missions will be for the startups.
Anytime an agent wishes to use a skill, the player rolls a number of 6-sided dice equal to that skill?s number. The highest result out of the roll is compared to a simple chart — the rest of the dice are ignored. A 6 or 5 is not only a success but grants the agent a franchise die. A 1 or 2 results in a possible dire situation for the agent. Overall, the mechanic is very simple. With enough successes, the agents continue toward their goal of solving the mission, recognized by earning franchise dice. (Each mission has a set goal of franchise dice accumulation required to ?solve? the case; each success opens up a new piece of evidence or plot by the investigators.)
Stress, in game, limits your character?s skill, representing real world difficulties (getting stuck in traffic), on the job issues (copier jams), and even moments of intense fear (your mailman’s face falls off and he starts moaning ‘brains‘). The more difficult the situation, the more stress you have.
Confessionals are taken from real world reality shows where characters take an aside to comment about the current scene. In InSpectres, as characters explore and uncover mysteries and family curses, characters can take confessionals, describing in past tense some piece of the puzzle that allowed their characters to survive the particular scene. This information is then granted as a new trait to a particular character, allowing them to immediately use it to solve the current situation. It’s a great, fun mechanic.
Apparently, the author made some demo sessions for Gencon a few years ago and had them run by someone who has never read the game before. And it WORKED. That’s how easy it is to learn this game. The way InSpectres is setup, GMs do not have to come to the table with an entire adventure mapped out — they just need the starting scene and the willingness to improv scenes. The players to create the thread of plot as the adventure evolves. Since the source material is ready knowledge for most gamers (who hasn’t seen Ghostbusters?), this game should be no problem for experienced or inexperienced groups.
InSpectres is a blast of a game where the focus is fun, some spookiness, and trying to keep your startup company’s head above water. It offers unique ideas that could be added any roleplaying game (I’m trying to figure out how to incorporate some of the investigative stuff already). Players have lots of power in determining the outcome and story of the mission.