[Psi*Run] How to Hack Psi*Run for GM-less Play?

edited March 2013 in Story Games
Anyone have any suggestions? I was wondering if something Fiasco-like for an initial setup would be helpful. Another element I'd like to add is something like a literal countdown clock: the runners all have a watch that is counting down to a Very Bad Thing, said thing to be determined through a series of questions. So in addition to escaping the Chasers the runners have something they need to do other than discover who they are.

Also if anyone's tried either of these things I'd love to know what you did and what your experience was.


  • Almost every play of PSI*Run I have done was GMless. The big thing to remember is to never let the group get settled. If you wind up in a situation where there is nothing important to do for the characters to do you wind up with weak story. Our house rule is that if you don't end your scene with something to do in your next turn the other players get to invent a danger.

    The other thing to remember is that your audience is the group, so play to what you know they will find interesting. Since the danger is all controllable color feel free to pile it on to whatever level makes you happy, but without some danger the story becomes less exciting.

    And the answer mechanic is very important as the countdown clock. It can be fun to fail certain rolls to take answers, since that makes the story evolve. Another house rule is that you only get to answer a question yourself if you put a six in, otherwise the other players answer the question.

    My favorite thing about PSI*Run is that it makes you think not "What is the optimal play?" but "What would be the coolest outcome of the scene given these dice?"
  • So you have players take turns being Guides, right? And you have the Guide frame the scene?

    "Our house rule is that if you don't end your scene with something to do in your next turn the other players get to invent a danger."

    I'm not sure what you mean here; is "your scene" the scene you've framed as Guide?

  • Sorry, each player takes a turn showing their character based on everything which has come before and what your character wants and needs. They do not act as much as a guide as play there character in brazen disregard to the Czege principle.

    We do pretty loose scene framing based on what has come before. Then, assuming it is your turn, you talk about what your character is up against and what you are doing about it. Roll dice and tell the story. Show how things aren't over and pass the turn. Other players can add in a die of assistance if they haven't taken a turn and choose not to in this round.
  • I think I see; so in your method there's no NPCs, or at least no one roleplays them?
  • Yes, that is correct. We use a pretty authorial view.
  • Just curious, did you try the method of taking turns as the Guide and it didn't work for you, or did you just naturally gravitate to the authorial method?
  • Lost a long post about our play that I will try to return to later, but the latter is the way we play. we found that the adversarial thing kept getting in the way of what we wanted to see our characters do.
  • I'm interested in what you have to say, Thor, but to be honest I was originally thinking of having us take turns as the Guide. Has anyone tried this? Anything to look out for with this? It looks on the face of it like we can change Guide after every roll with little or no modification.
  • Also, regarding the countdown clock, I was thinking of using a series of questions to define it, namely:

    Who (or what) is behind whatever danger the clock is counting down to;
    What is going to happen when the clock finishes;
    Where is this going to take place;
    How will this happen, or how can it be stopped;
    Why will this happen.

    These can be answered using the memory mechanic, same as the other questions.

    I suppose this means the game-ending criterion has to change; instead of the game ending when one player has all their character's questions answered, we also need to know what, if anything, the characters have done about the countdown event, and if they were successful.

    So has anyone tried something like this, or have any advice or feedback? Should the number of character questions be reduced to 3 (for a one-shot)?
  • So I posted the same questions on the Google Plus story game community, and I received some valuable advice from Meg Baker, the author herself. Just wanted to mention that in case anyone else isn't getting the help they want here, google+ looks like a valuable option.
  • Was it advice you could maybe post here for those that don't really do the google+ option?
  • Sure :) Meg said, "I'd say have a little conversation at the start, for only a few minutes, so that you all have a good sense of the tech and methods and look of the Chasers, and agree on a theme for the game. Rotating GMs when one GM thinks it's a tense and serious mystery game and one thinks it's a gonzo shoot-em-up game and one thinks it's all about the internal relationships of the PCs can be a little confusing - unless you all know ahead of time that's what you're signing on for." And that "The big thing to watch for in rotating GMships in PsiRun is mostly covered in the section about Co-GMing in the book; consistency in the big picture and agreement on the Chasers. Where a straight-up rotation could run into problems is if there is a need for the big picture to be secret, so make the Chasers methods and agendas really out in the open - have Amalgamated Megacorp; Chemical Research Division on the side of the van they crash in, give them a laptop full of email exchanges with a Special Ops branch of the military, and create at the table pictures of the Chasers."

    I think it's probably OK to have everyone piece together what the Chasers are up to over the course of the game rather than reveal it all at the start, as long as Meg's first bit of advice above is taken into account, and everyone is clear that you can't impose your own big picture on to everyone, it's going to be collaborative.
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