|The Prize in the Mail for Saving the Universe|
Secondly, I have to say that Tim deserved the title master in Game Master. We were on our toes and off balance the whole campaign. Tim does a great job of putting you on "the clock," so you have to be quick with your strategy and tactics. No time for hand-wringing or babbling. In the end, you have to make your decisions based on imperfect knowledge. The longer you poke around looking for information, the more the situation deteriorates.
Thirdly, I thought the GUMSHOE system was a blast. It supports a very fast and intuitive style of play, with the focus on clues, evidence, and interactions with NPCs and locations. Not having played it before, I found that it worked best if (a) I didn't challenge the game system and just went with it; and (b) I focused on telling Tim what I wanted to do to letting him figure out the resolution. I did not find that to be a struggle, but I think others might find it a bit difficult to wrap their minds around it if they are coming from a system that has a lot of rules governing tactical options and actions. It is much better to think of The Esoterrorists as a strategy game, not a tactics game.
Finally, the goal is to stop whatever evil is plaguing our little corner of the world. It is less about character building and advancement. By time we started the last session, my character was completely mentally unstable, almost dead physically, and had few other skill resources left. I had to make decisions throughout the last session, not knowing what was real and what was simply a product of my fried brain. The two player characters ended up getting separated temporarily, or so it seemed to my unstable mind. It was trippy, frantic, and fun. In the end, we barely managed to complete our mission, but it was at a high personal cost. My character was alive but a mere shadow of his former self.