supplement for InSpectres by Scott Knipe
...150 cc's of
ward | the staff | dice | anxiety
shifts | hauntings| review
InSpectres | NIGHTWATCH
You are a doctor in this
experimental new ward. You are not specially trained - nor
particularly qualified - for the type of work you do there,
but you are all the Board could spare. Now, on a daily
basis, you must help those poor souls whose lives have been
shattered by the supernatural, and find a way to bring them
back to reality.
The hours are long. The pay sucks.
There's no gratitude.
Sounds like fun,
ward 13 nods knowingly to the
intense drama of real world Emergency Care Units everywhere,
and winks slyly at the ludicrous (but entertaining)
melodrama of TV shows like ER, Chicago Hope and Gideon's
Crossing. Throw in the fact that the hospital is haunted
(like in Lars Van Trier's The Kingdom I and II), and you've
got everything you need for some absurdly humorous, and
seriously creepy fun.
Go get 'em,
Before you can play ward 13,
you need to know the features of the ward itself. Because of
the experimental nature of ward 13, every ward is different;
some are better equipped than a standard ER, while others
have little more space than a broom closet tucked away in
the deepest parts of the basement. Fortunately for you, you
(along with the other players) get to decide how well
established your facility is before the game begins.
The better staffed and equipped you
decide to make your ward, the more you're going to have to
prove yourself to the Board of Directors. Needless to say,
there are many who feel that a care facility oriented
towards victims and survivors of supernatural encounters is
extraneous and a waste of good money. You'll have to prove
them wrong to maintain your Budget.
An "average" ward would have 11 to
15 Budget dice, although you can choose from any of the
- Hall: 10 or fewer dice(the ward is new,
understaffed, and under equipped - it is one lonely hall
tucked away from the rest of the hospital…it is viewed
with scorn and derision by the "legitimate" medical
5 Major Traumas.
- Floor: 11-20 dice (the ward's been around for
awhile and is doing well - it has its own floor… the rest
of the medical staff pays you grudging respect).
Capacity: 10 Major Traumas.
- Wing: 20 or more dice (the ward is the pride
and joy of the hospital - it has its own wing or is a
separate building…it is well known and well respected in
medical circles). Capacity:
20 Major Traumas.
After you've decided the status of
your ward, you can now allocate those Dice to the Resources
in the hospital. "Resources" work the same as Cards in
InSpectres, allowing characters to augment their Skill rolls
or gain Enhanced Training.
Lab (modifies Assess)
Pharmacy (modifies Treat)
(modifies Red Tape)
Recovery (same as PTO)
Capacity refers to the
number of seriously injured victims a ward can handle. Major
Trauma refers to serious, life-altering or life-threatening
injuries. Minor Trauma refers to less serious injuries:
simple fractures, incisions that require sutures, etc. Three
Minors is roughly equal to one Major.
During each game, a physician can
expect to see the ward at capacity, or more. The ward is
almost never completely empty, and sometimes it is literally
bursting at the seams with patients who require attention.
Physicians are created the
same way Agents are in InSpectres, by allocating 10 points
to the four Skills:
- Assess: Diagnosing patients, sizing up a
- Treat: Performing surgery, prescribing meds,
any kind of therapy, etc.
- Red Tape: Dealing with bureaucrats, completing
paperwork, hiding your own activities when
Manner: Getting along
with people and persuading them to your way of
In addition to basic Skills, each
physician may pick a medical specialty. There are all sorts
of them: General Surgery, Specialized Surgery (name your
specialty) Emergency, General Medicine, Pathology, Oncology,
Pediatrics, Geriatrics, Obstetrics, Gynecology, Cardiology
Anesthesiology, Radiology, Urology, Neurology, Hematology,
Proctology, Psychiatry (ward 13 deals as much with disturbed
people as with hurt people), and many, many more. Whenever
giving medical care that falls within your Specialty, you
get a one die bonus to your Skill roll.
You do not necessarily have to play
a doctor; you can be a nurse, an orderly, a paramedic, or
even hospital security. You still get to pick a specialty,
but it should be something appropriate for you occupation (a
security guard could not benefit much from an Oncology
specialty, but may be good at Restraint, for
Whenever an agent is called
upon to perform a difficult or dangerous feat, he or she
must roll a number of six-sided dice equal to the
appropriate skill (Athletics, Academia, Investigation or
Technology) and take the highest number showing as his or
- 6: Brilliant success!
- 5: Plain ol'vanilla success.
- 4: Barely sucessful, often with a humorous
- 3: Unsuccessful, sorry Charlie
- 2: Oops. Unsuccessful again.
- 1: Really, really terrible failure.
When something bad happens, particularly while providing
medical care, there's a chance you might suffer an Anxiety
Attack. If you fail a roll while dealing with a stressful
situation, you must immediately re-roll those dice
(excluding any Resource Dice used), but this time you are
looking for the lowest die. Anxiety normally has the same
results as a Stress roll, but when dealing with patients it
has additional special effects (described below).
- 6: You are steady as a rock (but make no
progress towards helping your patient); gain 1
- 5: You manage to keep your wits about you
(but make no progress towards helping your
- 4: You're a bit anxious…-1 die to your next
action (and you make the patient's injury slightly
- 3: You're worried…-1 to all further Skill
rolls until you get to Recovery (and you make the injury
- 2: You're flustered…-2 dice on your next
action, -2 dice to the next action and -1 to all further
Skill rolls until you get to Recovery (the injury
worsens, possibly resulting in death, and definitely
providing grounds for a Malpractice suit)
- 1: You lose it…lose 1 die from all Skill
rolls for each Anxiety die rolled until you can use some
Recovery Dice (the patient dies becoming a Haunt, and the
family has grounds for a Malpractice suit).
Penalties from Anxiety Attacks can
be reduced with Recovery dice in the same way PTO reduces
Stress. Cool works the same for Anxiety as it does for
Ward 13 plays out a little
differently than InSpectres. The big difference is that it
takes place in a single location (although characters can go
on ambulance runs for a little variety). Nonetheless, the
way the game is structured, coupled with the inherent drama
of a haunted hospital, should provide ample
Each game will follow the same basic
- Med School
Interview (first game only)
- Preliminary Training/Recovery
- Shift/Shift Change
- Board of Director's
- Enhanced training
Most of the game's action takes
place during the Shift/Shift Change phase. This is, for the
most part, time spent in the ward, but it's okay to go
outside and explore the characters' lives beyond the
The first time a physician is introduced to the game, he
must go in front of the Board of Directors (played by the
other players). The character must convince the Board of his
qualifications, and they are free to ask him any questions
they want. Once this has been roleplayed to the players'
satisfaction, they may then allocate their Budget Dice to
the Hospital Resources.
This phase is identical to the
Preliminary Training/PTO phase described in the InSpectres
This is where things get
The meat of the game takes place
here, with each player taking a Shift as Game Master (during
that time, their character is in the Lounge taking a break
or sneaking a nap). During his Shift, the GM must make sure
three things happen:
- He must use up at least his
share of the Trauma Capacity (a minimum of 1 Major
- He must use up at least his
share of the Haunt Dice
- He must call for at least one
Red Tape roll during the Shift, whether that be dealing
with the bureaucrats upstairs, or just filling out
paperwork (these rolls affect your Review Board hearing
at the end of the game, so make note of any
His Shift can not come to an end
until those three things happen. When he has accounted for
them, another player may call for a Shift Change and take
over as GM. Not every player must accept a Shift as GM, but
failing to do so will cost the staff Budget Points at the
end of the game.
Shifts are long, arduous affairs.
Even the best doctors will eventually break down under such
conditions. After each completed Shift, each character who
worked it must make an Anxiety Attack roll, using a number
of dice equal to the number of Shifts they've worked that
game. After having taken their Shift as GM, that player's
character may remove point of Anxiety penalty (as though he
had spent Recovery die).
Players can work extra Shifts if
they want to try to impress the Board, but remember that
working extra shifts can increase the chances of having a
serious Anxiety Attack, which can drastically increase the
chances of that doctor causing a Malpractice suit.
When GMing a Shift, you need to
remember to make it something more than just a series of
patients streaming into the ward. If you don't, the players
will make a few rolls, fail or succeed based on the dice,
and then move on to the next Shift. You must plumb the
dramatic depths offered by the setting. Create situations
that can not simply be solved by rolling the dice. Involve
NPCs - like Board members or families of victims - in the
action. Throw some unexpected (not necessarily supernatural)
curveballs at the players. Keep it fast, active, and
exciting. If you need inspiration, there's plenty of
fictional and non-fictional programming available on cable
and network TV.
Board of Director's
After each game the Board of
Directors will review your work performance and decide how
much money they wish to allocate to your Budget. Should they
choose to increase your Budget, you may use the extra Budget
Dice to purchase better ratings in your Hospital Resources,
pay yourselves for a job well done, or put some in the bank
for a rainy day.
When you call for a Shift
Change, just before you take over the role of GM, you have
an opportunity to play your physician as he sits in the
lounge taking a break. This is an opportunity for a doctor
to gossip with the other employees about his fellow
co-workers. He can pick one character (other than himself)
and start a rumor about that character. From that point on,
all the characters in the group must integrate that rumor
into their roleplaying. The player whose character was the
subject of the rumor may choose not to roleplay it, but if
he does (even inadvertently), he can gain 1 bonus die once
per adventure when doing something that reinforces or
validates that rumor. All rumors pertaining to a character
must be recorded on that character's character sheet.
If you are the subject of a rumor
that you do not want associated with your character, you may
spend your time in the lounge quashing it. If you do this,
you can not start a rumor about anyone else, but you can
remove one rumor from your character sheet.
Not surprisingly, almost
every ward 13 is haunted. Hauntings can take on a lot of
different forms - ghostly images of deceased patients,
saline IVs that suddenly fill with blood, irregular
equipment failures, goblin infestations etc. - but what they
do have in common is Haunt Dice. Each ward starts out with a
number of Haunt Dice equal to its Budget Dice, and gains one
Haunt Die every time a patient dies due to a 1 being rolled
on an Anxiety Attack. At the beginning of every game, the
players divvy up these Haunt Dice equally among them, and
when it is their turn to GM, they must use all of them
before someone else can call a Shift Change.
A Haunt Die isn't really a die at
all; what it really does is penalize a physician one die on
a Skill Roll. The GM may spend his Haunt Dice as he wants,
ditching them all at once on one character, or splitting
them up throughout his Shift as he sees fit. When he spends
a Haunt Die, he is suggesting that something supernatural is
asserting its influence over the ward, and should describe
something eerie and fitting. Imagine, for instance, trying
to perform a bowel resection on a patient whose viscera
suddenly try to crawl out of the body cavity!
Of course, a GM may spend as many
Haunt Dice as he wants…he's not limited by the number he
starts the game with. The Haunt Dice are just a minimum; a
guideline designed to ensure that the current GM is doing
his job by throwing something weird and oppressive at the
At the end of the game, the
physicians must sit in judgement before the Review Board.
These bureaucrats simply don't understand the problems the
staff face; they haven't been on the floor of an ER in
years, and they've probably never stepped inside the doors
of ward 13. Nonetheless, they hold the ward's future in
The formula for determining the
ward's Budget is simple: each player gets one Budget die for
each shift they spent in the ward that game (not counting
their Shift as a GM). The dice are then totaled, and three
dice are subtracted for each case of Malpractice that
occurred (that medical insurance is expensive). An
additional die may be removed for each Red Tape roll that
was failed. What's left is the ward's Budget for the next
adventure. If it exceeds their current Budget, they may
increase Resources, Bank some dice for future use, or divvy
them up among themselves to account for their