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ToC 2nd Edition Rulebook?


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#21 Blackburn

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Posted 18 November 2011 - 04:46 PM

A sample modern campaign doesn't have to be secret agents versus the Mythos, though.


True, but Pelgrane already has Fear Itself.

Is it really necessary to use some of the limited pages with which to update ToC in order to add in a fifth modern GUMSHOE settings that you can insert the Mythos into when you're writing a period book? And why use the pages for modern (considering that they have tons of material out for that) when they could use it to add older times, such as they did in Hellfire.

Especially since time period is less a campaign frame and more of a setting. There's no reason that Bookhounds, Project Covenant and the Armitage Inquiry can't work in modern day. And there's also the issue that adding a different time period as a campaign frame since it means you're now advocating a new time period and then forgetting to give any equipment, vehicles or weapons for that period.

No, it could even be police v Mythos.


Arkham Detective Tales needs to have a more fleshed out campaign frame.


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#22 Stainless

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 10:11 PM

It would be nice to have:
1. the "new rules" from the various supplements rolled into a 2nd edition
2. all text and examples given a thorough editing


+100 to this

3. restructure the books somewhat (mainly the rules) to make it flow more logically.

#23 Winter Smoke

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 07:49 AM

+100 to this

3. restructure the books somewhat (mainly the rules) to make it flow more logically.


Definitely agree there. I'm really new to gaming and I read the book for the first time quite recently. There are a few places where I got mixed up due to structure, for example, I was quite confused when I was reading the investgator occupations section where is was referring to including any extra investigative or personal abilities. I kept flipping back and forth between those pages and the character sheet trying to figure out what categories fell into which camp. 15 pages of frustration later I find a list detailing which categories of abilities fall into which camp. This sort of stuff may be obvious to experienced RPG players but to new players, it seems counter-intuitive to have examples before rules.

#24 Stainless

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 09:33 PM

Definitely agree there. I'm really new to gaming and I read the book for the first time quite recently. There are a few places where I got mixed up due to structure, for example, I was quite confused when I was reading the investgator occupations section where is was referring to including any extra investigative or personal abilities. I kept flipping back and forth between those pages and the character sheet trying to figure out what categories fell into which camp. 15 pages of frustration later I find a list detailing which categories of abilities fall into which camp. This sort of stuff may be obvious to experienced RPG players but to new players, it seems counter-intuitive to have examples before rules.


Exactly. They have fallen for the age old trap in writing, which is not putting yourself in your reader's shoes. I see it all the time with student essays. Granted, it's easy when you know something inside out to forget what it was like when you didn't know anything about it, and it must be worse for game creators, since that material didn't exist until they wrote it! Your example is just one that I have suffered from also.

#25 Justin F

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 09:36 AM

Have to agree with all of this.

1. the "new rules" from the various supplements rolled into a 2nd edition


Yes, and including the 'Crunchy Combat rules' from the Esoterror Fact Book, as options. These are a great solution to one quite common criticism of Trail from some keepers.

2. all text and examples given a thorough editing

3. restructure the books somewhat (mainly the rules) to make it flow more logically.


I found the writing and the ideas going into it to be excellent. However I had to read the book twice before I understood character creation, ability tests and investigative spends. So a restructure/edit could be very helpful.

Edited by Justin F, 17 January 2012 - 04:32 PM.

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#26 PelgranePress

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 03:58 PM

I am reading this thread. We are a least another print run away from a new version, so I'll just park this as reference.

I think the character creation quick reference, which tells you what to do in which order with page references is generally ignored (certainly judging by this thread). We can deal with this.

The existence of Esoterrorists and Fear Itself would not preclude us from doing a modern campaign frame of Trail; but we are unlikely to include it in the core book, because it requires too much back-up. A modern campaign frame would be different to Esoterrorists - just to give you an idea why Eso is different to Mythos-based adventures, read this review of a recently released Esoterrorists adventure.

I don't think crunchy combat rules have a place in the core Trail book - it doesn't feature in any Lovecraft works at all, but back dating the Fact Book rules as part of a supplement might be possible.

The rules do need reorganizing, particulary Sanity, and some explanations should be more detailed.

There are some new GUMSHOE rules and explanations of general applicability which should be rolled into these rules.

We'd do a new adventure.

Edited by GBSteve, 17 January 2012 - 07:35 PM.
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#27 daedalum

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 11:20 PM

Some Rough Magics updates to magic section.
Updated Drives, Careers & Abilities.
Clarity on how to handle fluctuations of ratings vs pools (do rating increases rise current pool etc).
All rules and exceptions relating to Sanity in one reference place, likewise Health and Stability.
New campaign frames, new adventure.
Collected advice for keepers from various pagexx articles.
Expanded advice on using and crumbling pillars, mythos shocks. And how it all stacks up with stability loss as a sequence of scenes play out.
Description and advice about the scene types found In the published adventures (antagonist scene etc)

Edited by daedalum, 17 January 2012 - 11:30 PM.


#28 groakes

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 10:56 AM

...I don't think crunchy combat rules have a place in the core Trail book...


I for one am glad. Even when we're doing the pulpiest pulp, we tend rely on colourful player interpretations of the abstracted mechanics, rather than rely on the mechanics to provide the detail. We've found that it creates better player engagement and actually improves the immersion.

#29 crimsontree

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 03:13 PM

I love ToC & have played it for years. However my group (myself included) don't fully understand the Sanity/Stability rules. It would be great if this very important set of mechanics was streamlined & explained better.

#30 ReverendBayes

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 07:34 AM

If there is a chance the combat rules could be fleshed out, even a little bit, I would be grateful. I'm fine with "narrative combat", I just find that the first few rounds of combat are too predictable.

In a semi-purist game, with few combats between refreshes, there's little incentive for players not to spend as many points as possible to guarantee hits. Usually the baddies do the same. I'm not really asking for "crunchy", I just want my combat to be less predictable. There should be at least a chance of a surprise hit or miss; such things make memorable and enjoyable gaming moments.

I have some house rules for these situations that I've described elsewhere, and they work well. But something formalized in the rules would improve one of my few complaints about an otherwise excellent system.

#31 PelgranePress

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 02:54 PM

If there is a chance the combat rules could be fleshed out, even a little bit, I would be grateful. I'm fine with "narrative combat", I just find that the first few rounds of combat are too predictable.

In a semi-purist game, with few combats between refreshes, there's little incentive for players not to spend as many points as possible to guarantee hits. Usually the baddies do the same. I'm not really asking for "crunchy", I just want my combat to be less predictable. There should be at least a chance of a surprise hit or miss; such things make memorable and enjoyable gaming moments.

I have some house rules for these situations that I've described elsewhere, and they work well. But something formalized in the rules would improve one of my few complaints about an otherwise excellent system.


This one is easily fixed. First, as a Keeper, spend as few points as you want to retain the randomness you want. Second, put a spending cap on combat tests. Other possibilities include a one is a miss (though I would let them keep the points) and a six is a hit (and you get your points back).
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#32 ReverendBayes

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 04:57 PM

This one is easily fixed. First, as a Keeper, spend as few points as you want to retain the randomness you want. Second, put a spending cap on combat tests. Other possibilities include a one is a miss (though I would let them keep the points) and a six is a hit (and you get your points back).

Thanks Simon. I've actually considered those options; the first and second suggestions don't quite appeal to me, because I want the possibility of greater danger, not just less. The last is too common for my liking on a d6 (33% chance of a guaranteed result), but it is similar to what I've come up with as a house rule for combat:

1. On a natural combat roll of 1 or 6, roll again.
a. If the first roll was a 1, a 1-2 on the second roll is a guaranteed miss.
b. If the first roll was a 6, a 5-6 on the second roll is a (guaranteed) critical hit.
c. A 3-4 on the second roll has no additional effect.

We quickly decide the effects of these extremes based on the situation. As a GM I might allow a point spend from another category to do something really stupendous and imaginative, or (on a critical miss) to avoid some terrible fate. If nothing leaps to mind, it's just an extra die of damage, or a gun jam. On a critical miss, I return all but one points that were spent.

There's about a 5% chance of each, so it comes up enough to be unpredictable, but not enough to imbalance. Best of all, it's simple and quick, and it creates the possibility of bringing non-combat skills into combat in unexpected ways. My players seem to like it. This might not be what you envision for the system; I'm just giving an example of something that's worked for us.

#33 demoss

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Posted 18 February 2012 - 03:08 PM

Not sure if it would be for 2nd edition, or a supplement -- or even a web thingie, but...

I'd love to see few short, simple, sweet scenarios exemplifying different ways to construct them. I think such a thing would go long ways towards clearing up some of the persistent misunderstandings re. GUMSHOE.

One in the classic CoC mode: there's a location with badness in it. Characters go there, explore, confront the badness.

One with active antagonists: there's badness afoot, and characters get mixed up in it. If they do nothing, the badness comes for them.

One with improvisational emphasis: a few NPCs, a couple of locations, a background conflict or two, and a couple of sources of badness. Characters are part of this, and it can go in all sorts of directions.

I think this makes for a good, logical, pedagogical order -- both for the Keeper and players. The first scenario should be as simple as The Haunting. Something that almost runs itself. The other ones get progressively more complex, but none of them should be more than 5 pages or so long.

The scenarios should also showcase the different ways the clue mechanics can be used -- starting with the "location has a clue, use an ability get it" training wheels, and graduating to "do something sensible, have an ability to back it up".
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#34 Sid

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 07:30 AM

One rather small change I'd like to see in a 2nd edition of the game is moving Locksmith to the General ability list. I've always found it.. messy.. to have an Investigative ability that is sometimes used as a General Ability.

Since there are already a few General abilities that are used as Investigative abilities (Explosives, Mechanical and Electrical Repair) why not just include Locksmith with those? That way we keep all the "dual" abilities on one side of the fence.

#35 PelgranePress

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 12:40 PM

One rather small change I'd like to see in a 2nd edition of the game is moving Locksmith to the General ability list. I've always found it.. messy.. to have an Investigative ability that is sometimes used as a General Ability.

Since there are already a few General abilities that are used as Investigative abilities (Explosives, Mechanical and Electrical Repair) why not just include Locksmith with those? That way we keep all the "dual" abilities on one side of the fence.


This thread, and this idea, is bookmarked.
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#36 The_Tatterdemalion_King

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 06:09 PM

It would also bring it in-line with the way Infiltration is used in other GUMSHOE games.
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#37 Tony Williams

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 02:40 PM

Things I want to see:

1) Change the logos you use for Purist and Pulp rules to something less abstract - I find it hard to remember which is which - maybe a gun for pulp and a magnifying glass or book for purist.

2) More clarity on Investigative spend types and any roleplaying that goes with them. I found this post in the forum by GBSteve invaluable in this respect

3) This nugget of wisdom from Robin D Laws' Page XX article encouraging players not to hoard pool points:

Your character does not become literally worse in her abilities as you spend points. Ability Ratings remain unchanged as you spend pool points. Point-spending is something players do on the fictional level, not something that happens to the characters in the game universe.

If your Athletics rating is 8, you are better, overall, at performing physical tasks than a teammate with an Athletics rating of 4. When making a pound-for-pound comparison, always use ratings, not pools.

However, if you’ve already spent 4 points, and your teammate has spent none, you now have a roughly equal chance of successfully performing Athletics-related tasks until the next refresh occurs. But you already have one or two successes under your belt, most likely, while he hasn’t done anything to demonstrate his athletic prowess.

You get X opportunities to shine per scenario, where X is a somewhat fuzzy and unpredictable number but unless you spend the points the likelihood of success and therefore those stand-out story moments for your character diminishes.


4) The advice on Roleplay vs. Investigative spend that was given in this forum post was very useful to me. Specifically this bit:

Q: Something I've been thinking about a lot is what to do with interpersonal skills. Do you say which skill your going to use then let that dictate the roleplay. Or do you use them only if the player is confused or at a loss of what to roleplay, or do you just allow roleplay to dictate things and only worry about them for spends or any other solution?

A: The clue text lets you know what interpersonal ability is most likely to work on the character. It gives you an insight into their personality. However, if a character comes up with a plausible use of another ability, don't be afraid to say yes. But, it's beholden on you to roleplay the rejection of their advances if they use an ability unlikely to work, to keep the scene flowing.

If players try to roleplay an interpersonal ability they don't have, gently remind them of this and, if it's early in the game, ask them if they want to juggle their abilities to reflect the way they are roleplaying the character. Glance down at the investigators' matrix to see if they have the ability before roleplaying the rejection.


I would also hope the example new format for NPCs in that post would be encouraged by Pelgrane Press in all future published scenarios as it makes relating optional clues to player point spends far easier ( and anything that makes a Keeper's job easier is a good thing ). Example given in that post:

So, Dr Leviss, occultist:
Susceptibilities: Flattery (of his great intellect), Reassurance (that they share his goals), Credit Rating (he is a social climber), Occult
Marginal: Intimidation (only actual physical pain rather than threats), Theology (a sneering but knowledgeable dismissal of it)
Resistances: All others


5) All the stuff from Robin D Laws' GUMSHOE GM Troubleshooting column from Page XX

6) Bit more clarification/examples of Credit Rating point spend/effects in game as per this forum post

7) The example fight with the ghoul is useful

8) The First Aid rule change for stabilising severely injured players ( obviously )

9) Some guidance on outdoor rules. As a very sedentary human being I have no clue as to how far people could trek in a day and often characters end up in jungles, deserts, mountains etc. I would like some guidance on how much equipment characters can carry and how much ground they can traverse in a day. Devourers in the Mist gives some rules for survival ( water, food, fire, shelter ) but we also need a bit of info on trekking/mountaineering as related to player abilities.

10) Some other new rules that have cropped up since:
General Ability Spends ( from Devourers in the Mist ) but needs some more examples with specific ability costs.
The Drop - I still don't understand when and why I would use this "rule"
Auctions - From "Bookhounds" and also Robin's Page XX column has touched on some sort of new auction mechanic.

What I don't find necessary:

1) All new monsters from published scenarios pulled into the bestiary

2) All new spells from published resources pulled into the magic section ( although the actual magic rules should be brought upto their current mechanic version )

Edited by Tony Williams, 21 March 2012 - 02:46 PM.


#38 Justin F

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 10:15 AM

As per this thread, I'd like to see the possibilities of making the system 100% player-facing explored and tested and I'd like to see a 'Purist'/'gritty' combat option for damage that makes combat more dangerous.
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#39 Ephemeer

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 10:55 AM

I would like to see recommendations on the ranges of Sanity, Stability and Health in Pulp and Purist modes respectivly and in one-offs, shorter and longer campaigns. As a starting Keeper I had no clue what rating would give my players a chance to be scared of going mad/dead before the scenario/campaign was over. Also this could go in the front of each published scenario/campaign (as in The Dying of St Margarets).

"For this purist scenario we recommend Stability 6-12, Sanity 4-8 and Health 5-10. Increase Sanity to 8-12 if you play all the scenarios in this book linked as a campaign."

#40 GBSteve

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 01:28 PM

You can work out the loss by counting the likely number of Stability checks and their severity. Most players don't spend on small loses but spend big on large ones. So'd I go for an average of 1/2 the amount for small loses and 4 for large loses (the amount need to guarentee success).
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