[InSpectres] By Jove! It's the Case of the Peripatetic Pharaoh!

edited August 2008 in Actual Play
"... and snatched it from the claws of a Bengal Tiger. Stroppy blighters! Of course the Rajah was a fine fellow, and a passable fourth at bridge. This was in the autumn, before I led the Queen's rifles into the Khyber Pass..."
"By Jove, that reminds me of that curious affair we found ourselves in, the Matter of the Missing Mummy..."

We were planning on trying a new Geiger Counter scenario but we got off to a very late start and didn't want to ruin it with rushing, so instead we settled on a short game of InSpectres.

To get things moving I ramrod'ed a setting that had crossed my mind on the drive over: investigators as Sherlock Holmes'ian British gentlemen adventurers. The PCs are all retired British men-of-the-world, sitting around in the comfort of their club with their pipes and their snifters of brandy, boring each other to death with their long-winded tails of exploration in Darkest Africa and what not.

Their leisure is periodically disturbed by desperate individuals come seeking assistance in strange matters. As men of the world they can be counted upon for their rare insight and resourcefulness, and as respected men of society they can be counted upon for their discretion. The characters are all seasoned world travelers, but for the moment at least all the adventures take place in merry old London town, Sherlock Holmes style.

Without further ado, the exceptional gentlemen of the Royale Arms club:

Sir Arthur Winton Bramble Scott -- wears a monocle and dresses in comfortable tweed, a connoisseur of fine stained glass from all the cathedrals of England (Kevin)

Lord Reginald Wolcott ("Bingo" to his old University chums) -- favors his old safari togs, a whiz in the cricket circle (Ping). Ping disavowed any knowledge of cricket, so we encouraged her to make up any phrases she liked and we would consider them cricket gospel: "Devilish pitch on-sides, wot! I haven't seen such a wobbly-knobbler since Harcourt bowled Standish seven-zip-nill-all in a thrice-four bin!"

Colonel St John Blythe Stockton -- a portly gentlemen and dilettante lepidopterist, keeps his trusty service revolver handy when trouble's afoot (Jem)

We start with the gentlemen spinning yarns of their numerous adventures for the edification of their captive audience, their stoic butler Montegue, when one of them interrupts with a "That reminds me of that curious affair from a few years back, the case of the ..." and the GM busts in with the title for the mystery and the game proceeds. Since it's all a flashback, confessional seat moments are set back in the present day club. And since it's InSpectres, the GM has no idea what the solution to the mystery really is.


  • edited August 2008
    After a little chit-chat we reveal that today's adventure yarn is:

    The Matter of the Missing Mummy
    The Case of the Peripatetic Pharaoh

    The Director of the British Museum of Antiquities comes to them with his hat in his hand, in desperate need of help. They are due to open a much-anticipated exhibit of recently acquired Egyptian artifacts, but one of their mummies has gone missing! It could be a tremendous scandal to the museum if word got out, so the director is relying on them for their utmost discretion.

    We'd tried InSpectres before but not successfully -- our mysteries tended to fragment as players narrated new facts instead of coming together into a pleasing package. We were determined to not let that happen again, and during play we tried a few things to keep us on the straight and narrow:

    - we wrote each new revelation on the table to remind everyone following to build off of the established facts

    - I declared that at the halfway point of the franchise dice (aka mystery half solved) we would stage a pow-wow with all the gentlemen back together comparing notes (and building consensus in character) before moving on to the second act

    Minor changes, but they helped us drive towards a nice cohesive story instead of going a hundred different directions and then having no way to tie everyone's ideas together. After the usual bumps of the players switching mindsets from looking for the answer to realizing that they had to make up the answer, things went rather well.


    (yes, out of some whim we drew all the characters on the table instead of using character sheets)

    Sir Scott went to check out the museum, poking around the darkened marble halls and getting startled by an ominous basalt statue of Anubis (stress check, "Easy old man, just a statue...") and then getting snuck up on by a creepy Peter Lorre imitation ("it eez the guardian of zeh dead! Zeh weeyer of menz soulzzz!"). Scott wins a Contact contest to pump the stranger for information and narrates that the missing mummy was an accursed pharaoh, infamous for dabbling in dark arts and punished by the gods.

    The narration is wrapping up when I declare that they are interrupted by the sound of breaking glass from the depths of the museum. Scott springs into action and we cut scenes...

    Meanwhile Lord "Bingo" Wolcott and Col. Stockton glibly declare that the mummy only recently arrived by ship, so they head to the docks to check out the Lady Celeste (I let them have that bit of fact establishment without a roll). The fog is rolling thick off the Thames, and just as they find the ship a distant "Aiiiieeeehhh!" echoes from the ship.

    Jem: "there's a woman in trouble!"
    Me: "uh, that was a man"

    They dash to the rescue, and with a moderately successful Athletics check declare that they find the ship's captain dead and only catch a glimpse of his murderer, who in the shadows seems to be wearing anachronistic foreign garb and some gleaming necklace around his (or her) neck.

    Good, but creating more mystery rather than solving it. The players rethink and then follow up with a skill roll to search the ship for clues, winning and than narrating that a careful examination of the ship's log shows that the entries for the last trip were clearly faked: this ship never came from Egypt at all! Dum dum dum!

    Back at the museum Sir Scott finds a smashed exhibit case and winning an Academics check gets to narrate that what's missing are valuable scarabs from the same dynasty as the missing mummy, but then as a shadow falls on him he turns and sees... the mummy! With a bad stress check we declare he dashes away but slips and bonks his head.

    Half the franchise dice have been found, so we declare the mid-game pow-wow. Wolcott and Stockton have joined Scott in the museum director's office, where Scott is keeping ice on his aching head. Facts are shared and theories bandied about. The beauty is that the players can decide on whatever theory they want, and then to make it be the right one they just have to win the skill checks in the second half -- when they fail I get to muck things up for them.

    Jem puts forward the idea that the mummy is really a fake, that someone is using it to hide in the museum and steal precious artifacts. The dreaded Trojan Horse mummy! This is declared a winner and our seasoned gentlemen set about laying a trap, Scooby Doo style, to catch the faux pharaoh...

    After successfully getting word spread that the stolen artifacts were really fakes, and setting up a new obvious target in the middle of the museum and then lurking in hiding for the would-be thief to make his appearance, our heroes catch the mummy in the act and then catch both him and his accomplice the Assistant Director (the Peter Lorre clone) as they try to make their escape. It's a pull-off-the-rubber-mask-look-it's-Old-Man-Wiggins moment, and the museum's reputation is saved.

    Just another day's work for the exceptional gentlemen of the Royale Arms club. Now let me tell you about the time my regiment pushed up the unexplored banks of the Congo...
  • edited August 2008
    Notice how I, Ping of the pink dice, did NOT need to arrange my dice in some pagan ritual to Yahtzee-rah, the god of d6s (or chief rabbit of the dice bunnies, but I digress...) :D

    It was a ton of fun in just a couple of hours and writing on the battlemap got the ball rolling quickly, saved needless time with paper and allowed us to just write stuff down that everyone should know and the way we did it, that everyone could easily see.
  • I am more jealous than a proper gentleman should be. Rest assured that I shall instruct Rutherford to bring me only a half serving of warm milk when I retire this evening, as penance.
  • Excellent! This has me interested in restarting an old idea I had that I used Savage Worlds for, Inspectres would make it that much more fun though!
  • (yes, out of some whim we drew all the characters on the table instead of using character sheets)

    This is pure genius for my family - I can't keep my wife and daughters from drawing all along the edges of the mat anyways... And photographing it is a great way of documenting the game!
  • We've been doing it for our InSpectres in Spaaaace! games too and it's been working great.
  • That is very cool. I am going to have to try something like that.

  • edited October 2008
    Another InSpectres game summary from those gentlemen of the Royale Arms, The Case of the Vile Vial.

    We're still of course using the battlemap as seen in the picture. We had a new player to story gaming and Inspectres so we decided to go with Royale Arms rather than the more challenging InSpectres in Spaaaace! games. Short story games with character continuity is definitely a combination that works very well for me. I like playing a diverse set of games and trying new ones and I have a stack in my "waiting to play" box - but if I like my character, I mourn that I probably won't ever play them again and if there were a lot of bumps to understanding the new system, I want to try again soon from the beginning now that we know how to play.
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