Friday, April 17, 2015

Friday Review: The Exoterrorists


Esoterrorists is a game I found at Origins last year.  I walked into the +Pelgrane Press Ltd booth and left all my money there.  I'd been looking for a system/game to run a supernatural themed campaign.  When the lady at the booth described Exoterrorists it sounded exactly what I was looking for.

I ran part of a session at the last Con on the Cob before most of us collapsed from exhaustion.  Long gone are the times when we could game all weekend with little to no sleep.  Even though we only got through a section of the adventure I was hooked.  The game lends itself to blending the supernatural elements with everyday stuff.  Which I continue to do.  Sometimes to the horror of my players. 

Esoterrorists uses the GUMSHOE system.  A system that isn't about finding the clues, the players always find the major clues, but what they do with them is the interesting part.  Why do they find all the clues?  First of all they are highly trained and know what to look for.  Second if they don't find the clues the adventures comes to a halt.  Some folks may think this is lame or a cheat, but in a procedural type game, it is a necessity.  Let me tell you, even when the players have all the clues in front of them, interpreting them is no easy task.  Especially when you are like me and throw in a couple extra pieces into the jigsaw puzzle. 

I've run a Wednesday night group.  The group is only two folks.  I wanted to keep it very small because this kind of game requires a low noise factor.  It allows for immediate tension.  An absolute to act.  There is no group to blend into.  You're it, on the front lines, dealing with forces that you can very little chance of defeating.  But there is a chance.  And if you can interpret the clues correctly, your chances slowly creep up.

The premise of the game is the players work for an agency that is fighting esoterrorists who are trying to tear down the walls of reality.  The players job is to patch the holes and make sure very few are affected.  It is very similar to the Men in Black movies in this way.  Ultra-secret organization trying to protect the world from the truth.

I've been very pleased on how has run.  I'm still not all that knowledgeable about the system, but I know enough to house-rule what I don't know.  The setting and situation are a nice break from the medieval fantasy settings.  The one thing I warn you about is it requires you to role-play.  Not just "I flirt with the girl" or "I'll intimidate him" and then roll.  Nope.  Well, I guess you could do it that way, but I would imagine that would be a watered down and unsatisfactory game experience. 

In a later post I want to do is one about placing clues.  How to edit your mystery.  How simple or difficult your mystery should be.  And how to develop small details which become so vital to the game.

8 comments:

  1. I've run this myself. I like Gumshoe, but in Esoterrorists the combat was a little bit too abstract for my tastes. I've since picked up Night's Black Agents which has some good additional crunch. I'd probably use NBA for future Gumshoe games.

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    1. I've heard that and intend to grab a copy.

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  2. I like to give this a try one of these days.

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    1. We'll have to get together sometime and get back to gaming.

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  3. Thanks for the review - I'm glad you liked the game! Are you playing 1st Edition Eso?

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    1. Love the game Simon. We are playing 2nd Edition. I just grabbed the pictures from 1st and 2nd editions.

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  4. You mention that you want to use the "combat system" from NBA - but NBA and Trail of Cthulhu and presumably the Esoterrorists use the same basic system, yes? Are there differences between the games?

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    1. From what I have heard, there are differences.

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