Last year, in November, almost one and a half years after I finished writing all of the Detective cards, I invited my old friends to the Portal Games headquarters. I used to play RPGs with them many years earlier. We sat in the conference room. I launched the Antares website on the TV hanging on the wall. “Welcome to the agency,” I said. “I have the first task for you…”
I will remember those five evenings for the rest of my life. We finished the whole Detective campaign in less than two weeks. All the boards in the conference room were filled with notes, conclusions, theories, dozens of notes with the details that could be useful in the future. We were the agents. We were solving the unbelievable, vast, mesmerizing case.
Yes, I played with them. Yes, I knew the plot. Yes, I was its co-writer; I was the author of most of the text on the cards, and yet I played together with my friends. I had lots of fun. I was the narrator, I was reading all the cards aloud; I was the devil’s advocate, I was controverting their theories, I was supporting the players who were outshouted, and I was encouraging them by confirming that their theories and ideas are completely sensible. I was also managing all the mechanics, tokens, the time marker. I let my friends take care of the plot, and I was responsible for the rules.
Playing the game when you know all the plot inside out might seem the stupidest thing in the world. But it was better than I could imagine. I saw my friends solving the case, listened to their conversations, ideas, watching them as their theories start to make sense, and when they experience all those ‘wow’ moments. I saw their faces when they found the van. I was hanging out with them in the conference room till midnight when they were tracking down the suspect on the cameras and they refused to take a break in the game and continue the next day.
I knew the plot, and yet I played with them. It was so exciting. I cheered for them and kept my fingers crossed, hoping that they would find all the breadcrumbs I hid on the cards months earlier.
Invite your friends. Open Skype, Discord, or Zoom. Surprise not only your friends but also yourself. Play Detective once again. Take on the role of the narrator, manage the board, the tokens, and show them what this game has to offer – hours of debates, conversations, deduction. I promise you. Those will be the evenings you’ll never forget, even though you’ll spend most of the time just listening. Believe me. It will still be amazing.