[Psi*Run] The Chasers are far behind – what do I use to put pressure on the PCs/players?

edited March 2013 in Story Games
Last time I ran Psi*Run the players were rolling really well and left the Chasers far behind. They started to feel safe, and I couldn't really come up with something good that would put pressure on them and keep them running. Can you toss me some ideas to keep in mind for next time? Bonus points for stuff you've used since it's nice reading bite sized gaming anecdotes!


  • The rules suggest keeping the Chasers as a presence so my temptation (I've only played although will be GMing soon and the Chasers were always close for us) would be to add in other details that the PC's have found out.

    If the PC's are also discovering memories, then I would probably bring bits of that established fiction in to the Chasers bit. Try and increase the fear by reinforcing the idea that they know more about the PC's than the PC's know about themselves. Also what we did see was that even without the Chasers around psi powers caused all sorts of problems, especially when they went off with little control, and so the locals around the characters could also add to the threat. Even just a "you look familiar, haven't I seen you on TV?" comment from a cashier could prove unsettling. Depends how you are playing the Chasers and how high profile the Chase is I guess.
  • edited March 2013
    Are you on a limited time-budget (I mean, IRL)? If not, then it can be OK to let them have a few slow scenes where they feel "safe": it's a time for conversation and learning about each other - what little is there to learn. And, you know, this might trigger a memory, which means you can have them roll dice, even if nothing action-y is happening. My best game of Psi*Run (or, rather, my personal favorite) was like that: lots of slow, road-trip-movie-like scenes, sort of like a game of Ribbon Drive.

    On the other hand, this is a priority-allocation game at its core: if the Chasers lag behind, it probably means that the players are putting low-rolling dice somewhere else. If they're suffering Harm and Impairment, that can be a source of pressure: remind them they need medical attention or something, and make it difficult to get it (they're fugitives: of course it's hard to get medical attention, and if they do they might catch unwanted attention, which means they've got to roll). If they're putting their low dice in Psi, then they've most likely caused huge collateral damage: make that the source of their immediate troubles; even if the Chasers are far behind, the police is there to get them, right now. If they're putting low dice on flashbacks, then they're not actually going anywhere, just running circles — if you recognize they're not getting this, I suggest you remind them OOC, gently.
    Let's say that it's your job to make safe use of Psi powers a priority for them, while it's their job to remember flashbacks are the top priority, and it's everybody's job to make sure succeeding at momentary goals is also a priority. And the mechanics should be reminding them they don't want any Harm, but if they're being reckless then it's also your job to make Harm matter. With all those priorities straight, then most smart players will be juggling Chasers so that they're just a couple locations away most of the time, almost safe but actually only one bad roll away from catching up.
  • edited March 2013
    The key ratio here is: how many die rolls per new location on the trail? If the chasers are falling far behind, your ratio is too close to 1:1.

    What I do when the chasers fall behind is let the PCs go where they want to go, without making them stop anywhere along the way, thus keeping the number of new locations low. "Okay! You make it to the hospital and there is no sign of pursuit. What do you do?" Get them making rolls that won't add new locations so that the chasers don't keep falling further behind.

    But this came to me just this morning: Whenever the chasers are 3 behind (or more), remove the chase from play. "You've lost them." Replace it with:

    4-6: What you do doesn't alert the chasers to your location.
    2-3: What you do alerts the chasers to your general location. Bring the chase back into play; the chasers are 2 behind you.
    1: What you do alerts the chasers to your location. Bring the chase back into play; the chasers are 1 behind you.

    The effect of this would be that "you've lost them" buys the PCs some slack, but the chasers never fall effectively further than 3 behind.

  • Cool variation!

    I probably was gettin to close to a 1:1 ratio as you say. I think I forgot about having them roll for stuff that could trigger a memory like Rafu says.

    GothCon (Sweden’s biggest RPG convention) is this weekend so I’m mostly probably looking at 4-5 hour sessions (it’s drop-in, but players might want to fit it in with the schedule).

    “You look familiar, haven’t I seen you on TV?” goes straight into the box of ideas!
  • edited March 2013
    Useful thread, as I'm due to run my first game next week!

    My first thought was that, if I got into this situation, to ramp up the paranoia and have that friend/parent/friendly stranger they thought they could trust get their gun out and start throwing the (proverbial) kitchen sink at them until the Chasers had made up some ground.

    It's not cheating to have the police start pursuing them as well, right? I mean, you don't want to go full Blues Brothers here, but...
  • As Rafu says, it can be okay to feel safe for a while. Time to answer some questions.

  • It's not cheating to have the police start pursuing them as well, right? I mean, you don't want to go full Blues Brothers here, but...
    My take is other people can chase them, but only the Chasers can chase them. So, yeah, they turn up at a hick bar that don't like the colour of their skin "especially that green fella" then they are going to get localised trouble. Dealing with that is the perfect way to stall them while the real bad guys get closer.

    Of course if they are escaping it could just be a sign that the players are saying 'the most important thing for us is escaping right now' so it's time to start asking 'more important than this? What about this?' If you want to get a bit meta point out that it's common in a chase movie for something other than running to be the focus now and then, normally just before running suddenly becomes very important again :-)
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