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#21 GBSteve

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Posted 07 July 2016 - 08:47 AM

The procedure of play closest to Investigative Abilities outside to GUMSHOE is actually 0e/OSR-style narrative description of exploring a room. 

 

There is an aim to make it more narrative, rather than to just turn up and start rolling dice. That said, I use 0-point clues to filter the information in different ways for different characters. So the chemist will notice the strange bottles and recognize some of the spells, the architect will think there's something not quite right about the shape of the room and the cop will start to discern a pattern in the evidence.


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#22 rylehNC

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Posted 07 July 2016 - 12:21 PM

As a player (even today) if you haven't read the rulebook you wouldn't really know the difference of a core/non-core clue. You would just experience the Keeper sometimes asking you to pay pool points for certain bits of information.

 

A "Core Clue" is really a concept for scenario designers rather than the players. I'm glad GUMSHOE thunk up the idea as it really makes scenario writers focus on the pathways through their narrative. Something that CoC scenario writers have sometimes been lackadaisical about in the past.

 

The differing views from either side of the screen is quite insightful. Experienced players might be able to game a scenario by noting when spends are called for - even though they're the ones who should be using investigative abilities more seamlessly in play.


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#23 Tony Williams

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Posted 07 July 2016 - 01:30 PM

 Experienced players might be able to game a scenario by noting when spends are called for.

How though ? As an investigator you are faced with:

 

If you pay a point for a clue - you know it has relevance to the case you are investigating (win!).

 

If you don't pay a point it's either:

   a core-clue - and you should be investigating that thing (win!)

or

   a zero-point non-core clue - and it would only provide some sort of "atmosphere" or "nuance" or "detail" to the scene or scenario (neither win nor lose).

 

A red herring shouldn't cost any points either (lose, because you might think it's a core-clue).

 

---

 

I can only think of one possible way of gaming the above in that if you pay a point for anything you know it isn't a red herring.

 

Are there other ways?


Edited by Tony Williams, 07 July 2016 - 01:42 PM.

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#24 GBSteve

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Posted 07 July 2016 - 03:09 PM

The one thing about spends I always try to deliver is that you get good stuff from a spend. There is a choice whether to spend for slightly less information, or to see whether a series of minimal spends (wide spread of info) is better than one big spend (deep but narrow data), although in my experience most players spend on what's available first.

 

There's a similar thought process around general spends. I tend to spend to succeed (3pts, chance of a critical) or not spend at all (50% chance) but most players in my experience spend 1 or 2 points each time.


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#25 Aviatrix

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Posted 07 July 2016 - 09:31 PM

There's a similar thought process around general spends. I tend to spend to succeed (3pts, chance of a critical) or not spend at all (50% chance) but most players in my experience spend 1 or 2 points each time.

 

I in fact tell my players to spend either 3 or 0 as my orientation to the game :)

 

It's long been my contention that in general Investigative Spends should be allowed to break out of the world of "clue finding" and more into the world of "truth creation." As such, I tend to ask for spends as a sort of carrying cost when players have really good ideas, or when I feel the narrative justifies it.

 

Intimidate a hospital intern? No spend. Intimidate the one who I have described as big and tough? That's a spend.

 

Use Biology to identify the creature that left the tracks as a particularly large canid? No spend. Use Biology to retroactively have snatched up a handkerchief from the werewolf's father's room, and use it to convince her that you're a member of her pack? The greatest 1-point Biology spend ever!

 

Get the org chart from a foundation? That's Bureaucracy, no point spend required. Build your own foundation, with a secret mission to securely store the various Mythos artifacts you've found in the course of saving the world? That's a two point Credit Rating spend, plus six points from relevant Investigative Abilities which we will use to determine what kind of a foundation it is (one built with 2 points of Streetwise is very different from one built with 2 points of Library Use.)

 

Those are all examples from my games, of course :)



#26 GBSteve

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Posted 07 July 2016 - 10:25 PM

That kind of stuff is gold dust. I love players who come up with this sort of thing. I see more of it in NBA, partly because the rules encourage it, but I'm very happy for players to create things with their pools. That's why I love playing GUMSHOE, there are so many ways that players can create things in the world.


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#27 csmithadair

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Posted 09 July 2016 - 03:05 PM

Take a module like The Dance in the Blood. In Manesty (pag. 16) I see 7 possibile clues plus a core one. The first seven clues require a 1-point spend or not? Are some of them zero-spend? Do I just decide based on what the players say and how they role-play?


So, one thing that both clarifies and obscures how spends for clues work are scenarios. Part of this comes from different play and design styles for individual writers. This is fair enough--there are a number of ways to approach dispensing clues, depending on personal Keeper and group taste, etc. (A similar variance happens with any game system, but it's a bit more obvious in GUMSHOE.)

Your example here is from a Graham Walmsley scenario. His particular view is that core clues are free but any other clue requires a 1-point spend. So in Manesty,seven of the clues cost one point each, and the core clue is, of course, free.

In THE DYING OF ST MARGARET'S and THE WATCHERS IN THE SKY, the first two scenarios of his, this is explained in the introductory material. I only have THE DANCE IN THE BLOOD as part of THE FINAL REVELATION collection, so I don't know if that had the same sort of explanation when it was published by itself.

Basically, it's just Walmsley's scenarios that are presented in this style. In other scenarios, point spends are called out and specified. You may see a reference to Library Use finding the book, a 1-point Latin spend translating the information, and a 2-point History spend noting that a particular passage contradicts established history wildly. So, you as Keeper know you are dealing with clues that 0, 1, and 2 points respectively.

It was in published scenarios that I first realized that a non-core clue didn't necessarily require a point spend. The inference I (and many others) make when reading the rules is that core clues are free and that other clues require spends. But the actual situation is that while all core clues are free, not all free clues are core clues.

As for how you should handle Manesty and the rest of that scenario, make the core clues free. As for the others, you can either charge a point for each of them (which is how it was designed) or vary it as you like. Certainly, it's easiest, especially while getting used to the system, to just charge a point each time.

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#28 stepanxol

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Posted 09 July 2016 - 03:52 PM

Thanks a lot, Christopher, for your extremely detailed explanation. After reading the whole thread I had arrived to the same conclusion, but it's nice to see you expose it so clearly!

 

(Of course, the whole thing opens another can of worms, ie: if as Keepers we actually want players to get all the clues, at least the ones they're clever enough to discover, and to this purpose we generate characters well-endowed with points and we encourage players not to hoard them, why are we asking them to spend points, a scarce resource, to begin with? I already know the response: player participation and balancing of the "spotlight time". But wouldn't the abilities' distribution already take care of this? Clearly only the archaeologist is gonna use Archaeology, even if the tough cop's player has the tendency to grab a little too much screen-time for himself. But this is a minor point, and it's never going to actual come up as long as there's plenty of points to spend in the pool...)



#29 Tony Williams

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Posted 09 July 2016 - 08:48 PM

But the actual situation is that while all core clues are free, not all free clues are core clues.

 

A very good piece of info to remember ( and I think this is what caused the official GUMSHOE canonisation of the "Zero-Spend Clue" with the publication of Esoterrorists 2nd Edition ).

 

Now, if they could just stop lumping point-spend clues in the "Benefit" category I'd be a happy camper; they're CLUES!!!


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#30 Tony Williams

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Posted 09 July 2016 - 09:03 PM

(Of course, the whole thing opens another can of worms, ie: if as Keepers we actually want players to get all the clues, at least the ones they're clever enough to discover, and to this purpose we generate characters well-endowed with points and we encourage players not to hoard them, why are we asking them to spend points, a scarce resource, to begin with? I already know the response: player participation and balancing of the "spotlight time". But wouldn't the abilities' distribution already take care of this? Clearly only the archaeologist is gonna use Archaeology, even if the tough cop's player has the tendency to grab a little too much screen-time for himself. But this is a minor point, and it's never going to actual come up as long as there's plenty of points to spend in the pool...)

Robin's optional rule in the Enchiridion of Elucidation called No Spend Investigative Spends answers this problem more or less.

 

It allows the clues to go to any investigator with the required ability - they don't have to spend points - it shares the clues fairly if more that one investigator has the same ability - but lets investigators who invested more heavily in the ability get the "juicy" clues. No investigative pool points are actually spent using this rule, except if the player wants to propose a Benefit.


Edited by Tony Williams, 09 July 2016 - 09:07 PM.

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#31 csmithadair

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 01:36 PM

Robin's optional rule in the Enchiridion of Elucidation called No Spend Investigative Spends answers this problem more or less.
 
It allows the clues to go to any investigator with the required ability - they don't have to spend points - it shares the clues fairly if more that one investigator has the same ability - but lets investigators who invested more heavily in the ability get the "juicy" clues. No investigative pool points are actually spent using this rule, except if the player wants to propose a Benefit.

 
Right. This first appeared as a recommended option for Mutant City Blues. It's not particularly more suited to a game about super-powered cops than any other GUMSHOE game (it's just where it first appeared), so it can certainly be used elsewhere. It sounds like a good option to try out, stepanxol, especially if you allow Investigative point spends for benefits. As it is, I've rarely seen a player not be able to spend points to get a clue (I may never have), so the dwindling resource tends to cause some anxiety that doesn't come to fruition (that's not necessarily a bad thing, until players notice.)
 
The fact is, if you have four or five players, there's going to be at least some overlap in Investigative abilities. (And even with three players, if they're like mine, everyone grabs Assess Honesty.) This overlap likely increases if you award build points. So, protecting spotlight time is important, especially when you have players with varying degrees of forcefulness.
 

A very good piece of info to remember ( and I think this is what caused the official GUMSHOE canonisation of the "Zero-Spend Clue" with the publication of Esoterrorists 2nd Edition ).

 
Yeah. I recall pointing this out several times on this forum (and probably others) over the years, though it doesn't seem to come up as often now. For one, I've advised those making conversions from Call of Cthulhu to be liberal with the free clues. A good candidate for shifting clues to free is when you analyze your ability usage and see something like Library Use requiring a spend of 10 points across the scenario.
 
It was always part of the rules, but it wasn't explicit until Esoterrorists' second edithen. The very first GUMSHOE scenario, in the first edition of that game, has numerous clues requiring no point spends. Looking at most GUMSHOE scenarios (including those by Laws and Hite) reveals the same--the preponderance of clues in many scenarios are free. But when even another writer for the game seems to have not noticed, there's a problem.


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#32 stepanxol

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Posted 24 July 2016 - 11:13 AM

Hi guys, I wrote a quick introduction to the GUMSHOE system for my ToC pbp players, highlighting what I believe are its main points.

 

https://www.rpgcross...129#post7181129

 

What do you think of it? Is it correct / useful? Did I make so many mistakes, this is actually harmful to the comprehension of the system? :D



#33 Tony Williams

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Posted 24 July 2016 - 04:42 PM

I think that is a very good introduction to the game and a nice explanation of the difference between using Investigative Abilities versus General Abilities ( and I like the example of using an investigative ability to get a bonus on a general ability - the flattering of a maid for a better escape route ).

 

The only change I would suggest is changing what you call "skill values" to "ability ratings" ( to correspond with what the rulebooks call them ). Also change any other mention of "skill" to "ability."

 

Well done.


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#34 vincentVV

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Posted 27 June 2017 - 08:39 PM

I have something of a quite uncomfortable observation...

The whole GUMSHOE system is based around getting clues.

It is said that if you have at least one point in investigative ability - you are a professional and an expert. So be it. You spend one point... The second point.. The third... and then what? You stop to be an expert as you are unable to spend more points? Doesn't it sound stupid?And the guys based the whole system around this and earn money.

While at the same time you can use the same engine with much more logic with ANY skill-based system (including CoC):

If you have any points in a given skill (or some minimum amount) - you get the clue.

If you want something more - you ROLL your skill and get additional information if you succeed. It is fair. It is more logical. If you are an expert - you are always an expert, not only as long as you have abstract "points".

What I want to say is that because of the above written the whole GUMSHOE system looks like selling baloons to players. They are nice-looking, they are vivid, but inside they have the same air everyone can breath. So, IMHO this is a major and critical disadvantage of a GUMSHOE system: it gives you what you already have but says it is unique while it is not.

Yet, it also has an advantage - their adventures are really well-written and layed out.

But posing a "spend-get the clue" mechanic as something revolutional? No way I buy into it...

All this is just an IMHO after all.

#35 Tony Williams

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Posted 27 June 2017 - 09:23 PM

For starters there are only 2 times you need to hand over Investigative pool points - for a Benefit ( which is not what you are criticising ) or for a Point-Spend Clue.

 

All of the other 4 clue types don't require handing over pool points, and an investigator with the right skill would get those clues whether they had pool points remaining or not.

 

Point-Spend Cues are not intrinsic to solving the adventure mystery (they provide ideas about motivations or the reasons things are happening, but not where to go and investigate next).

 

You have not understood the reason for Investigative pool points. They are not a measure of how competent the investigator is - they are a limiting factor on how much "cool screen time" the investigator can show off in that particular skill during the adventure. If I have run out of my stock of Chemistry pool points then I must, by definition, have already had times during the adventure where I have either earned Point-Spend Clues in Chemistry or twisted the narrative in my favour in a Chemical way by proposing a Chemistry Benefit. If I have run out of Chemistry pool points then it's time for another investigator to show how good they are at Chemistry because I've obviously been showing off my Chemical skills enough by now.

 

And the guys based the whole system around this and earn money.

What I want to say is that because of the above written the whole GUMSHOE system looks like selling baloons to players. They are nice-looking, they are vivid, but inside they have the same air everyone can breath. So, IMHO this is a major and critical disadvantage of a GUMSHOE system: it gives you what you already have but says it is unique while it is not.

But posing a "spend-get the clue" mechanic as something revolutional? No way I buy into it...

 

P.S. Your language is pretty emotive, I suggest dialling it down a bit.

 

P.P.S. Your analogy with CoC/BRP doesn't hold up either; I've got 75% Chemistry - so I'm a Ph.D level. I roll for my first clue in Chemistry and get 79% - I'm not so smart now am I ?

For my next clue I roll 82% - my fellow investigators are thinking I bought my Ph.D. from an on-line university.

For the third Chemistry clue I roll 91% - well I guess I may as well rip up my Ph.D. certificate.

Now the chances of that happening are only about 1 in 50 but it could happen.

Under GUMSHOE rules I would have got at the very least the first clue for certain ( and maybe all three if I had enough pool points or they were anything but Point-Spend Clues ).

 

P.P.P.S. There is even an optional way of playing GUMSHOE called "No Spend Investigative Spends" which means you don't hand over Investigative pool points for Point-Spend Clues either ( you only pay pool points for Benefits ). 


Edited by Tony Williams, 28 June 2017 - 06:07 AM.

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#36 GBSteve

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 12:08 PM

You'll also see in the more recent incarnations of CoC and DG that the flow of information problem has been addressed. It was something that keepers had their own ways of fixing but I've played a 7e game where the GM has asked us to roll different skills until someone gets the clue (make a Luck roll). It's frustrating and it's nice to have it written down in a simple way.

 

There's also the balancing act of giving everyone a go and not using a hammer all the time because it's your best tool. GUMSHOE is not a strict simulationist game.


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#37 numtini

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 01:15 PM

Yeah, the latest iteration, The King In Yellow RPG, completely removes spends from investigative abilities. You get two non-specific pushes to use for secondary things related to your abilities, but which aren't clues. 

 

People either love or hate gumshoe. Nobody seems to be in the middle. But, it's not like Pelgrane owns the license and is pulling it from Chaosium and shutting CoC down. It's not even the primary Mythos game. But really, as someone who's come to love it, the idea that the only reason we play it is this clue thing is a bit of a straw man.



#38 GBSteve

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 01:31 PM

I very much dislike BRP, but I'll still play it.


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#39 Mograg

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 02:09 PM

Speaking generally, I've struggled with implementations of various rules across various systems for some time. I have an urge to 'get it right,' or at least as the author(s) originally intended, even if I later decide on various hacks and work-arounds at my local table.

I've come to love the Cthulhu Dark rpg, which with its uber-stripped-down rules, gives the players great agency without getting tangled up in the weeds.

When I think of Cthulhu Dark, I think of the quote by writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery: "Perfection is Achieved Not When There Is Nothing More to Add, But When There Is Nothing Left to Take Away."

The core Cthulhu Dark rules are free, too!

http://www.catchyour...iew - rules.pdf

Currently I'm running Chaosium's 'Horror on the Orient Express' campaign for two separate play groups. One group is fine with the stripped-down rules approach of Cthulhu Dark. The other group demands more mechanics and we're powering the campaign with Call of Cthulhu 7th edition. And both campaign experiences are terrific fun.

Edited by Mograg, 28 June 2017 - 02:15 PM.


#40 The_Tatterdemalion_King

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 05:52 PM

It is said that if you have at least one point in investigative ability - you are a professional and an expert. So be it. You spend one point... The second point.. The third... and then what? You stop to be an expert as you are unable to spend more points? Doesn't it sound stupid?And the guys based the whole system around this and earn money.


Your rating in the ability doesn't get lower as your pool does. In the original system writeup, the point-spends aren't reflective of anything your character chooses to do or expends in the game-world, they're just a kind of 'fate point' for getting extra benefits.
 

It is said that if you have at least one point in investigative ability - you are a professional and an expert. So be it. You spend one point... The second point.. The third... and then what? You stop to be an expert as you are unable to spend more points? Doesn't it sound stupid? And the guys based the whole system around this and earn money.

 
Really the money isn't in the system — you can get that free.

While at the same time you can use the same engine with much more logic with ANY skill-based system (including CoC):
If you have any points in a given skill (or some minimum amount) - you get the clue.


See also minor, significant and major skill checks in Unknown Armies.

Edited by The_Tatterdemalion_King, 28 June 2017 - 06:02 PM.

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