The Inspector Speaks! Part 2

4. Forever Twilight

On an alien world where the sun doesn’t move the time travellers have to make a dangerous journey into the night side to rescue innocent people. In the dark they discover that monsters really do exist.

Inspector: This was a very intriguing Sci Fi concept and reminded me of Amtrak Wars just a little. More the feel than any specific plot device admittedly.

This was a more straightforward monster story but one that genuinely felt full of jeopardy. There were moments when I felt whatever I did as a character I would end up sacrificing lives. The GM can be a little cruel when it comes to those elements and he often throws in impossible challenges just so our mistakes can temper our game play.

I don’t know whether this is deliberate but depending on how well drawn the characters are and how resonant they are during gameplay I often experience an emotional response to their parting. This makes the game interesting from an emotional standpoint but it also makes me hate the GM for making me take these decisions.

It makes for a really in-depth RPG experience. I end up making genuinely impassioned speeches and get right into the swing of the adventure. The other guys probably think I’m nuts.

I am just a madman with a box.

GM: Jeopardy is certainly an important part of the game. If there aren’t any stakes then nothing the players do matters. The draw back is that unless the players understand that you are creating a story then they can blame the GM for the bad things that happen.

Part of have jeopardy is that there have to be consequences. The player characters were told that there was a time limit to how long they could stay in the night side which they choose to ignore. As a result more people died than needed to.

The Inspector’s comments show that having well developed NPCs is vital in getting an emotional response from the players. They have to feel that they are people who have lives, who will be missed if they were to die.

I did find that using children was particularly effective in this area, as they feature in several of my games. They are helpless and vulnerable and only the coldest of players would not feel compelled to help them.

5. Time Lost

1580, Sweden. A time fissure strands the Inspector and Phillipa in the distant past. Luckily they are given shelter by famed astrologer Tycho Brahe. Along with his psychic jester Jepp they discover a secret from Gallifrey’s past and encounter a chronovore.

Inspector: This adventure felt a little like the GM was deliberately removing the TARDIS in order to make us move through the story in a more linear manner. It did sag in the middle but when we finally got to the cave the adventure for me really began.

The dwarf characters fate genuinely moved me but in many ways I felt there were no choices which could have saved everyone. It does seem to be a cruel streak in the GM’s character.

GM: This was indeed an attempt to keep the TARDIS out of reach for the duration of the adventure. I think that the plot would still have run just the same without this inconvenience. The important thing was that the chronovore was causing a rift in time. The fact that the TARDIS was in danger was supposed to add peril to the situation but was apparently missed by the players.

This was a quite frustrating adventure to run as the players weren’t able to see where the plot was going even though several time related phenomena had been presented to them. They just couldn’t see how a rift in time,  Jepp being able to see the future and the wrong stars in the sky fit together.

I’m glad that Jepp’s fate touched the Inspector. I think part of this was how I roleplayed him. I used a quiet voice, made myself as small as possible and played him as someone who had no self confidence.

I may seem cruel in having Jepp sacrifice himself but Dr Who is often like that. At least in this case Jepp wasn’t truly dying, more that he was transforming into what he was supposed to be.   

6. Year Without Summer

1816, New York. The Inspector and Phillipa discover that the unseasonally cold weather is due to the interference of the Ice Warriors. Saving the world they fail to prevent the death of an innocent little girl.

Inspector: This was an odd adventure. We realised the Ice Warrior involvement in the story very early on. We even realised what they were up to very early on as well. The trouble is the adventure felt unfocussed. Everything we did just seemed to make matters worse.

There was also a moment where this strange cloud of death was approaching this little girl and due to a miscommunication and description of the events as they occurred the girl was killed. I genuinely thought the cloud was between the Girl, Phillippa and I.

The GM absolutely denied that there was ever a problem with his description but both Phillipa and I felt the same at the end of the adventure.

This was another time where I felt slightly let down by the deaths of characters which at the time seemed unpreventable.

GM: The point where things seemed to go wrong with this adventure was the initial meeting with Colonel White. They first thought that Colonel White was unaware of what the Ice Warriors planned and then tried to convince him that they wouldn’t uphold their end of the bargain, which they were. When this failed they went on a fiery rampage, burning down everything in their path.

Certainly I didn’t intend or plan for everything they did to make matters worse. It just seemed that in every situation they choose the worst possible action to take. The longer it went the more they compounded the error.

Again they ignored warnings about using the TARDIS, making the situation worse. They’d ignored the fact that the Ice Warriors had sent the Red Death to kill Caitlin until it was far too late.

There was indeed confusion in that final scene, with the location of the red cloud. Was it a lack of attention that caused them to miss the verbal clues to how it was moving through the room? It certainly didn’t help that they’d set fire to the room, making it even more difficult to reach Caitlin.

Interesting that the Inspector found it unfocused when they’d established what the villains were up to early on. I believe this means that it wasn’t clear to them what they were supposed to do.

I typically leave several options available to the players. The Inspectors comments could indicate that sometimes having too many options can panic indecisive players. Fewer options allow them to ‘focus’ on just carrying out the limited actions available to them.

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