Investigative play in Risus

Over the last two years I have branched out and played many story games and one of the ones that really has stuck with me is inSpectres. In this game, the players literally create the world around them through play, essentially creating the entire world without too much input from the GM. At first I had no faith that this could work, but after seeing inSpectres in play (and a few other story games such as Fiasco), I am confident that allowing players to have input and great leeway actually creates a better gaming experience.

My current gaming group is a small group of four (including myself) of very story orientated persons that are much more interested in creating diverse and engaging stories (games) rather than focusing on their particular character “winning”. I would say without a doubt, that this current group has certainly created some very interesting and unique characters. This, I feel, will only be amped up when we cut loose the binds and let the players run with their creativity.  As such, I give you the following.

I subscribe to the risustalk yahoo group and recently the following session report was posted by Kurt and I have to say I am highly impressed:

The players decided they liked the idea of contributing to the story, so generally if they beat a conflict during an investigation, they’d get to add a fact. Generally these were opposed rolls or target number rolls, but we had a few that were full on combat. Specifically, the first full on combat was two players vs the Creepy Bridge Out of Town (4) that seemed to be where the victim fell/jumped/was thrown into the river. Others were interrogations (or friendly prodding for information, depending on your point of view). When the coroner examined the body, I had her roll her Medical Examiner Fresh Out of Rehab(4) cliche and said she’d get to add one fact about the body/method of death for every multiple of 5 she got. She got a 15, and threw in several twists. Pretty fun, but a little hard to keep track of all the new facts being added. Although the benefit of that is that the players remember and build on the facts that they found most interesting or intriguing.

My Blackwood setting is intended to be a Sherlockian-Lovecraft adventure where the players are presented with a mystery they must solve that will frequently veer into unknown, and hopefully, unpredictable territory. In my experience, giving players this creative leeway is a sure path to unpredictable, perhaps at times this can twist the game towards a failing point, but more often that not, this produces excellent results. I am seriously considering adding this as a house rule to my Risus game.

Given the make up of my current group, I think they would excel at taking this giant step in creativity and add volumes of details, new twists, and strange forbidding paths for the story to venture down. Even with the small, two separate play by post games I am aiming to start soon, I think both players would leap at the chance to add to the world as we play.

Plus, I have to say, the two players vs. the Creepy Bridge Out of Town is just priceless

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