InSpectres was written by Jared A Sorensen and is published by Memento Mori Theatricks. The game is quite honest about its blatant adoption of ideas from the GhostBuster movies. In the game, the characters set up an InSpectres franchise that specializes in “Battling the Forces of Darkness So You Don’t Have To.” The setting is modern day San Francisco with the exception that ghosts and spooks are common, everyday pests. The characters (agents) are exterminators.
Stories are strictly structured: A client contacts the franchise to deal with some paranormal menace; the agents investigate the problem through interviews and other research; the characters beg, borrow, or otherwise acquire the gear needed to defeat the bad guys before heading out into the field; the agents wrangle with the nasties, defeating them in whatever fashion presents itself; the franchise collects its fee; and the characters take a vacation until the next client shows up.
InSpectres noticeably lacks any form of Hit Points. Characters simply cannot die from their ordeals unless a player decides that his character’s death would be entertaining. So, players are free to hose their characters in any variety of comical ways.
One unique concept in InSpectres is known as a “Confessional.” This is a point where a player has his character talk directly to the other players. Not the other characters, mind you, the other players. It is equivalent to an actor in a movie looking directly to the camera and addressing the audience. The Confessional allows a player to foreshadow events that he would like to see in upcoming scenes or to introduce new information or plot twists that the players, but not necessarily the characters know about: “As the crew fled from the cackling banshee down isle four of the FoodMart, little did we realize how crucial pickled eggs would be to our salvation.”
Attribute, Dice Pool, Endgame, Faction (Heroes vs. spooks), Game Master, Narrative Reward, Negotiated Contest, Point Spend Gauge, Resource, Shared Gauge (“Library Card,” “Gym Card,” “Credit Card,” “Bank”), Shared Power, Structured Story, Traits, Trauma Gauge (stress reduces the effectiveness of attributes)
InSpectres characters have four primary attributes: “Academics,” “Athletics,” “Technology,” and “Contact.” “Normal” characters (i.e., humans) are given 9 dice to distribute to these four attributes, but all must lie in the range of 1 to 4. “Weird” characters (i.e., werewolves, vampires, etc.) are given 10 dice to spend, with each attribute value falling into the range of 0 to 10. The game allows only one weird agent per game.
There are two additional attributes of “Current Stress” and “Current Cool.” Cool has a range of 0 to 3 for “Normal” characters, but is unlimited for “Weird” characters.
Each “Normal” character is given a unique trait (“Talent”) by his player that makes him special. These can be as wide ranging as “Airplane Mechanic,” “Baseball Card Collector,” “Trivial Pursuit guru,” “Green Beret,” or “Dr. Who Fan.” “Weird” characters lack this benefit. They do, however, get “Powers.” (A vampire might be able to turn into a bat, for example.)
One other very important aspect of the character makeup is not actually part of the character at all. The InSpectres franchise has its own attributes that are shared among all of the franchise members. These are: Library Card, Gym Card, and Credit Card. These can be used by any of the franchise members to augment rolls dealing with Academics, Athletics, and Technology, respectively. Beginning franchises start with 5 dice to distribute among the three cards. Any leftovers go into the Bank attribute. Dice in the bank can be used to augment any roll, but are sometimes inaccessible.
Franchise cards are really the only attributes in the game that improve with time. As the franchise prospers, all of its agents prosper along with it. As the franchise wanes, so too do its employees.
All conflicts use a number of d6s equal to the value of whatever attribute is most pertinent. So, if the conflict requires physical exertion, a character’s Athletics attribute would most likely be the pertinent score. The dice are rolled and the highest single number rolled on any dice is used in a table lookup to determine the outcome. In general, the higher the outcome, the more control the player has over describing the outcome. Low rolls give the game master narrative control. If the highest number is a 5 or 6, the group earns franchise dice, which pushes the story closer to the endgame. Also, note that the conflict roll does not pit the player characters’ skills against those of the monsters. Monster capabilities don’t really enter into the picture in any mechanical way.
The conflict roll can be augmented with dice from the Bank or from the franchise cards, whichever is pertinent to the task at hand. These dice are “spent.” But, depending on the roll of the actual Bank dice (which are distinguished by a different color), you may actually get the dice back, lose an additional die, lose all of the remaining dice in the Bank, or even earn more dice to add to the Bank. The result is determined by a table lookup.
Characters can assist one another in conflicts. To do so, they must first state that they are assisting a comrade prior to rolling any dice for their own actions. Once the dice are rolled, the assisting player must hand over one of the dice he rolled to the player he is helping.
Anytime the game master deems it appropriate, he can call for a “Stress Roll.” This is a special kind of conflict roll where the player rolls a number of d6, takes the lowest number, and performs a table lookup to determine the mechanical effects. Cool points mitigate the effects of stress. For every point of Cool, a character ignores one dice in any Stress Roll after the dice are rolled. So, a character with 2 points of Cool only has to consider the “best” die in any 3 dice Stress Roll. Franchise cards and other players are unable to assist Stress Rolls. Possible outcomes include gaining a point of Cool, suffering penalties on future conflict rolls, or losing points from various attributes. The causes of these mechanical effects are up to the players themselves. Lost trait points are regained at the end of each mission (when the character takes a vacation) or by spending Cool points.
InSpectres has no explicit rules governing the order in which players take turns. The conflict resolution system is set up in such a way that this isn’t really necessary. A high conflict roll allows the player to describe what he’d like to see while a low roll indicates the game master gets that pleasure.
The game rewards players with “Franchise Dice,” which also works as an Endgame mechanic. At the beginning of every mission, the game master decides on how many franchise dice the story is worth. (The rulebook provides guidelines on what is reasonable.) Throughout the adventure, players earn these franchise dice through conflict rolls. When the pre-specified number of franchise dice has been earned, the game master declares victory and gives the dice to the franchise. Franchise dice augment the group’s Library Card, Gym Card, Credit Card, and Bank attributes. The episode ends with the characters taking a well-earned vacation.