Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

About clues and point spends


  • Please log in to reply
68 replies to this topic

#41 vincentVV

vincentVV

    Knight of the Outer Void

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 208 posts
  • LocationMinsk, Belarus

Posted 28 June 2017 - 08:41 PM

Ok.

First - thanks for your answers anyway. I also apologize if my posts look too emotional, I'll try to tone them down a bit.

Now on to ToC. =)

Tony Williams

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.


I understand it pretty well, although to me it looks more like "Spending points is all about the KEEPER telling you how bright and clever your investigator is. Something like playing a console game: you press the button O or X and then enjoy the cut-scene of your character doing cool things, not doing cool things yourself. =(
 

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 ).


=)))
funny, but not exactly what I meant.

I suggested something like:
if you have a skill (in BRP, for example) - you get the main clue automatically.
After it you may roll to get additional information. I only meant that ANY game system can use such mechanics, not only GUMSHOE, but when the question arises - GUMSHOE is always positioned as a nearly unique game system "not about getting clues but about interpreting them" and that's what usually annoys me. =)

Mograg

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.


I like it too, but it looks too universal and stripped down to me. )) "run or die" approach is not something many players can accept. =)

And, by the way, how do you deal with giving the clues to the players using CD?

The_Tatterdemalion_King
 

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


Mmmm... sorry, what exactly do you mean?




Log in to remove this video.

#42 Aviatrix

Aviatrix

    Keeper of the Silver Gate

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 76 posts

Posted 29 June 2017 - 03:00 AM

Perhaps. But when I run Gumshoe (as I noted above), I tend to let the players come up with ideas and then I may price them as an Investigative spend. And sometimes this can have interesting results because of people's skill sets.

 

For example, in my Tatters of the King remix, the PCs were in an alleyway with a couple of thugs and a guy who was a pretty callous and brutal killer. One PC pulled out her gun and fired a warning shot in the air. In such situations, a lot of time I let an Intimidate spend get rid of lower-morale opposition--in this case, the two thugs might run away.

 

Me: Okay, you have Intimidation?

Player: ...no.

 

So what happened is: the thugs called her bluff; they could tell she didn't really have it in her to start gunning them down if they didn't run, so one fired back at her. At which point the PC who had 2 points of Intimidation spent them to tell them to scram with a growl he had brought back from Africa with him. They scampered :-)

 

That's not a world-beating example, but it does show a certain flow: Player initiates idea; I check to see if a relevant Investigative ability might make said Idea happen; I offer the price, and maybe they can pay it, or maybe they come up with something else. I do also use the regular bonus spend, but a lot of times when I'm writing up my own material they definitely fall more into the "here's a way to make what you find even more effective" than "cut scene if you click on the blinking red dot."

 

When I ever get around to formalizing my ideas about Gumshoe, I'll probably build things with the assumption that just using an Investigative ability is basically "success with a cost"; in Apocalypse World terms, a 7-9 result. That is, you get what you want--the clue--but something in the narrative will change. Like, Library Use, the obvious result is "you find it, but it takes a long time" whereas with a spend you get the clue with little time lost. This will nest nicely with my existing ideas about margin of success benefits for General skills, but are beyond the scope of this thread :)



#43 Tony Williams

Tony Williams

    Lesser Servitor

  • Patron
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,054 posts
  • LocationUK

Posted 29 June 2017 - 08:41 AM

I understand it pretty well, although to me it looks more like "Spending points is all about the KEEPER telling you how bright and clever your investigator is. 

 

What Aviatrix described above is what I would say GUMSHOE calls a Benefit (one proposed by the player, not the Keeper). A Benefit is where the player says how the narrative will change and pays a pool point in a relevant Investigative ability. As long as the proposed narrative twist will not break anything (fictional reality, suspension of disbelief or the logistics of the scenario) then the Keeper should be disposed to grant the Benefit. I would say that is very much the PLAYER saying how cool they are (not the Keeper) when spending an Investigative pool point.

 

Another example from Pelgrane's The Dance in the Blood scenario: a sacrificial knife is an element in the plot - the players knew it had gone through Sotheby's at one time. A player proposed that they had a reliable acquaintance working at Sotheby's by paying a point in Art History. They then wired their friend and the Sotheby's employee traced the knife to the buyer in the scenario for them.

 

Benefits proposed by the players are what I really like about GUMSHOE and the concept is not talked up as much as it should be. It allows them real agency in the game. I think it's one of the things that really need to be stressed to those players that come to ToC from CoC as they tend not to be used to having that much ability to twist the plot in CoC.

 

I suggested something like:
if you have a skill (in BRP, for example) - you get the main clue automatically.
After it you may roll to get additional information. I only meant that ANY game system can use such mechanics, not only GUMSHOE, but when the question arises - GUMSHOE is always positioned as a nearly unique game system "not about getting clues but about interpreting them" and that's what usually annoys me. =)

 

But then that is not how the CoC rulebook is written - I think it's a bit of a logical tautology to say, "You could play CoC like GUMSHOE so why bother to write GUMSHOE ?" If GUMSHOE wasn't written/published in the first place how would anyone know to play CoC like GUMSHOE ?

 

To make this more positive - what I like about GUMSHOE are:

 

i. Player proposed Benefits - gives players real agency and is a real wake up call to the Keeper that this player wants something and will enjoy the game if you give it to them.

ii. The fact that GUMSHOE wrote down in black and white that investigative RPGs need a solid path through the adventure that won't break ( by codifying what GUMSHOE calls Core Clues ). It makes scenario writers think properly about scenario design. It also allows Keepers to analyse and follow the flow of a pre-written GUMSHOE scenario more easily than a CoC scenario (generally).

 

I'm not hung up whether clues are given out by purchase rather than %roll. (In fact if I play CoC and miss my %roll for a clue I just feel pissed off and DON'T enjoy my time at the table - I put points into that BRP skill but the dice still made me miss the clue).


Edited by Tony Williams, 29 June 2017 - 01:23 PM.

Do you play Trail of Cthulhu ? You may find these downloads useful...

The Condensed Rules for Trail of Cthulhu PDF - the rulebook as slim as it can go.

The Enchiridion of Elucidation PDF - a guidebook for both players and Keepers, with advice on playing the game.


#44 Mograg

Mograg

    Son of Yog-Sothoth

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 864 posts

Posted 29 June 2017 - 12:10 PM

Hi Vincent (and all),

Handling clues in Cthulhu Dark, I try to follow the advice given in the rules: rolling a 6-sided die, on a one or two the investigators get the minimum information to move the investigation forward;a 3 or 4 result is a solid if unspectacular success;a 5 is a complete success and maybe a bit of an unanticipated boon or perk;a 6 is an almost preternatural success and maybe a glimpse into the hidden side of reality (often requiring a roll of the Insanity/Insight die).

If there's a risk of failure, a roll of the Fail die can be introduced, unless the clue is absolutely essential for the scenario to proceed, in which case the Fail die cannot be invoked that time. Even with failures, investigators can retry for success by including their Insanity/Insight die on successive attempts, risking madness to succeed at all costs.

Directly fighting a supernatural beast does equal character death. However there are lots of ways to defeat (or at least temporarily thwart) supernatural foes besides a slugfest or blazing away with a Chicago typewriter. And when fighting mundane opponents, sure, let fists fly and guns cough fire...you may put down the cultist or stomp the junkyard dog that way.

#45 JustinAlexander

JustinAlexander

    Keeper of the Silver Gate

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 62 posts

Posted 29 June 2017 - 07:37 PM


I understand it pretty well, although to me it looks more like "Spending points is all about the KEEPER telling you how bright and clever your investigator is. Something like playing a console game: you press the button O or X and then enjoy the cut-scene of your character doing cool things, not doing cool things yourself. =(
 

 

There's a lot of different ways to use point spends in play. There are two ways to avoid what you're describing here:

1. Encourage the players to propose point spends with specific point spends (rather than just asking for generic point spends).

 

2. Use Matroyshka search techniques to frame point spends that set up advantageous situations while still allowing the players to carry the ball across the finish line and score the touchdown.
 



#46 vincentVV

vincentVV

    Knight of the Outer Void

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 208 posts
  • LocationMinsk, Belarus

Posted 29 June 2017 - 08:06 PM

Looks like I'm too tough with theory. Can we imitate an abstract example of play?

 

Say, one of the players has a drug store. The Keeper desides that cultists are in need of Liao drug, so they break into the shop and steal all the necessary ingredients.

 

Then the PCs arrive. How will it look like? I see it this way:

 

Keeper: You enter the shop. The door is forced, everything is upside down. Anybody has Crime Scene Analysis skill?

Player 1: I do

Keeper: Ok, with your trained eye you notice that nothing valuable is taken - money, drugs, some rare equipment, everything is in place. From your previous experience you know that buglary is usually committed at night  with little to no witnesses and money is usually the prime aim. Anybody got Chemistry?

Player 2: Me.

Keeper: As you look closer to the disoder you remember how the shop looked like before. You also see some empty places among the bottles and a little powder around it. Looks like one portion of mandrake powder, two portions of dried blood and some chalk have ben taken. A really strange combination.

Player 2: Can I spend Chemistry?

Keeper: sure. For 2 points you vaguely remember that all these ingredients are needed to create an arcane drug...

Player 1: Can I spend Mythos Knowledge?

Keeper: Yeah. It's Liao Drug.

Player 1 & 2: Wow...

 

Is it like that? If so than it looks no different than QTE for me. A Keeper's monologue with some corrections from players.

 

Besides, the benefit mechanics creates the need for the Keeper to write down 1 main clue and at least 2 or 3 additional clues for EVERY scene in case the players would like to make a spend. I don't remember anything like that in any official ToC adventures I've read. So I'm seriously confused as to how to create a ToC adventure that will suit the spend mechanics and how to keep such an adventure so that it doesn't look like I'm just telling a story alone.

 

Oh, well, ok, there can be an option of course:

 

Player 2: Can I spend 2 points of Police Talk? I have an idea.

Keeper: well... try.

Player 2: I suddenly remember I have a friend in Police. I'm calling him and ask to tell me about all the crimes concerning drug stores for the last month.

Keeper: Errr.. welll... ok, he tells you that.. hm.. there was only one such crime - a junkie stole some aspirine. (because in Keeper's plot there is no mass drugstorelifting and no logical need for it to be)

Player 2: Uh... hm.. ok then.

 

It all looks rather strange to me, honestly.



#47 Tony Williams

Tony Williams

    Lesser Servitor

  • Patron
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,054 posts
  • LocationUK

Posted 29 June 2017 - 10:01 PM

Vincent, it shouldn't play like that at all - download the Enchiridion of Elucidation PDF from the link in my signature and read pages 3, 4, 22 and 23. You might get a clearer idea of how it should be going.

---

Your first example should play like this:

Keeper: You enter the shop. The door is forced, someone has definitely been snooping.

Player 1: Damn, nobody disturb anything, I'll work the crime scene.

Keeper: In what way ?

Player 1: With my Evidence Collection ability.

Keeper: Ok, with your trained eye you notice that nothing valuable is taken - money, drugs, some rare equipment, everything is in place. From your previous experience you know that burglary is usually committed at night with little to no witnesses and money is usually the prime aim. The only thing disturbed is some bottles on a shelf, there's also some powder around the disturbed bottles.

Player 2: What's the powder ? I've got Chemistry ability.

Keeper: Looks like one portion of mandrake powder, two portions of dried blood and some chalk have been taken. A really strange combination. Do you want to spend a Chemistry point or an Occult point ?

Player 2: I haven't got Occult but I'll spend a Chemistry point.

Keeper: You remember that all these ingredients are needed to create an arcane drug called "Liao" but you don't know what it does, you read it was something occult, weird, or mystical. You thought it was nonsense at the time, but now...

Player 1: Can I use Cthulhu Mythos or Occult to know what Liao is used for ?

Keeper: Yeah, but you'll have to pay a Cthulhu Mythos point.

Player 1: OK.

Keeper: Liao is said to be used for "blah, blah, blah..."

Player 1 and 2: Wow...

---

In general in GUMSHOE it is the player that has to say they are bringing a specific ability to bear on a specific object/person/scene in order to get information/clues.

Only the most novice (or very tired or dopey) GUMSHOE players should need the Keeper to say "Who wants to use ability X now ?"

---

And your second example:

Player 2: Can I spend 1 point of Cop Talk for a Benefit ?

Keeper: OK, what is it ?

Player 2: I suddenly remember I have a friend in the police. I'm calling him and ask to tell me about all the crimes concerning drug stores for the last month.

Keeper: Ok, he tells you that.. several pharmacies have been broken into in the last month with the same pattern as your break in. No money stolen and only small quantities of very specific drugs stolen. The cops aren't placing a high priority on investigating because not much damage was done but he can tell you that all the break-ins are in the north west quarter of the city. He can give you the addresses and owners names if you want.
( Just because your scenario doesn't cope with the fact the players might want to call the police shouldn't stop you from giving them useful information if they do, especially if they spend a point for a Benefit. They can now go on from here to talk to other pharmacy owners who can possibly help them pin-point where the burglars are holed-up ).

---

Benefits don't require Keepers to pre-write extra spends for every scene - they are generally things proposed on the wing by the players and the Keeper works them into the plot. Literally the players think them up - not the Keeper at all. A Keeper only has to pre-write clues into their scenarios (Core Clues, Zero-Point Clues, Point-Spend Clues, Inconspicuous Clues and Simple-Search Clues).

However, that doesn't stop Keepers from pre-writing some proposed Benefits for the players to purchase into their scenarios if they want to.

Generally if a Keeper isn't happy improvising and only likes to stick to the written plot of the scenario then the Benefit mechanic will probably freak them out and they are best not playing GUMSHOE.

But, in my experience, those Keepers that aren't happy improvising are best going back to running dungeon crawls and steering clear of investigative RPGs.

===

And my final say on this as I don't think I can defend GUMSHOE much more... here is the first example rewritten as if played by CoC players...

Keeper: You enter the shop. The door is forced, someone has definitely been snooping.

Player 1: Damn, nobody disturb anything, I'll work the crime scene.

Keeper: Give me a Spot Hidden roll.

Player 1: Success!

Keeper: Ok, with your trained eye you notice that nothing valuable is taken - money, drugs, some rare equipment, everything is in place. From your previous experience you know that burglary is usually committed at night with little to no witnesses and money is usually the prime aim. The only thing disturbed is some bottles on a shelf, there's also some powder around the disturbed bottles.

Player 2: What's the powder ?

Keeper: Give me a Chemistry roll.

Player 2: Success!

Keeper: Looks like one portion of mandrake powder, two portions of dried blood and some chalk have been taken. A really strange combination. Give me another Chemistry roll or an Occult roll.

Player 2: Chemistry is better for me - Success!

Keeper: You remember that all these ingredients are needed to create an arcane drug called "Liao" but you don't know what it does, you read it was something occult, weird, or mystical. You thought it was nonsense at the time, but now...

Player 1: Can I use Cthulhu Mythos or Occult to know what Liao is used for ?

Keeper: Yeah, but you'll have to roll Cthulhu Mythos.

Player 1: Success!

Keeper: Liao is said to be used for "blah, blah, blah..."

Player 1 and 2: Wow...

There is little to zero difference in the input/output from the players and the Keeper in the examples above run under ToC rules as run under CoC so if you think that seems like a "A Keeper's monologue with some corrections from players" under ToC then it must seem the same way for you under CoC surely ?


Edited by Tony Williams, 30 June 2017 - 11:17 AM.

Do you play Trail of Cthulhu ? You may find these downloads useful...

The Condensed Rules for Trail of Cthulhu PDF - the rulebook as slim as it can go.

The Enchiridion of Elucidation PDF - a guidebook for both players and Keepers, with advice on playing the game.


#48 The_Tatterdemalion_King

The_Tatterdemalion_King

    Lesser Independent

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,482 posts

Posted 30 June 2017 - 03:21 AM

if you have a skill (in BRP, for example) - you get the main clue automatically.
After it you may roll to get additional information. I only meant that ANY game system can use such mechanics, not only GUMSHOE, but when the question arises - GUMSHOE is always positioned as a nearly unique game system "not about getting clues but about interpreting them" and that's what usually annoys me. =)


Putting aside the fact that General Abilities are themselves different mechanics than you get in many games, the big thing that GUMSHOE does is make the split clear at character generation into binary skills and graded skills and differentiating the values of choosing one over another, instead of making you choose Forensics %s from the same pool of pts as your Firearms %s. As I've said before in this thread, the closest thing to GUMSHOE investigation processes (where it's a question-and-answer enframed by your character's areas of expertise) are OSR-style room explorations (where your character sheet has nothing on it to do with your ability to investigate the room, but it's a process of interrogating the environment through conversation sans rolling). 
 

Mmmm... sorry, what exactly do you mean?


Look at Unknown Armies 2e, pgs. 7 and 38. Minor skill checks are just comparing your % to 15. Significant checks are under your associated stat. Major skill checks are under your skill itself. 


Edited by The_Tatterdemalion_King, 30 June 2017 - 03:27 AM.

Portfolio at www.chrishuth.com • Clients include Chaosium Inc, Sixtystone Press, Pelgrane Press and Sentinel Hill Press

#49 vincentVV

vincentVV

    Knight of the Outer Void

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 208 posts
  • LocationMinsk, Belarus

Posted 30 June 2017 - 06:20 PM

Tony Williams weeelll... I take off my hat in gratefulness. That was very detailed and clered much to me.

I think I have to take some time and reveiw my approach to ToC as well as the basic ToC rules.

 

As you put it out - the difference between ToC play and CoC is not so big. "I have Chemistry!" and "Roll Chemistry" affects gameplay very little - both don't distract players from the game (I thought all those "I spend points! I have Chemstry!" turn players away from the atmosphere a little more then rolling dice, but looks like I was wrong), both give out the same information in the same amount, so... yes. I will rethink my approach.

 

Thank you all very much for this discussion! =)



#50 JustinAlexander

JustinAlexander

    Keeper of the Silver Gate

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 62 posts

Posted 30 June 2017 - 10:24 PM

1. As Tony pointed out, I would virtually never ask, "Does anyone have X?" and then just assume that their character took the requisite action. The GUMSHOE rulebooks are pretty explicit on this, too: You have to have the skill you need, but you also need to DO THE ACTION. So:

GM: The door has been forced open.

Player: I'm going to work the scene.

GM (seeing they have Evidence Collection on the Investigator tracking sheet): You find...

 

Not:

 

GM: The door has been forced open. Do you have Evidence Collection?
Player: Yes.
GM: Okay, so you work the scene and find...

 

2. In this scenario, I might require a point spend to figure out that it's specifically Liao Drug without a trip to the library or laboratory. (The spend would be saving time. Or maybe providing optional information if the identity of the drug is not actually important in the scenario.) You've got them spending 3 points to get what appears to be really basic information.

3. If the suggested spend can't actually pan out for whatever reason, the points aren't actually spent.

4. Although, again, I can't imagine making them spend ANY points on that use of Cop Talk even if it DID pan out. It doesn't seem like they're getting unusual information for the spend. Things that might merit spending Cop Talk points in that situation:

- A list of possible suspects to check out. (Gaining information otherwise only available elsewhere.)
- Getting a couple cops assigned to watch the store for them. (Non-investigatory application with beneficial effect.)
- Specifically having the cops spell out that the break-ins are to gain access to rare chemical supplies. (Making a conclusion for the PCs that they're struggling to make.)


 



#51 vincentVV

vincentVV

    Knight of the Outer Void

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 208 posts
  • LocationMinsk, Belarus

Posted 01 July 2017 - 08:22 AM

JustinAlexander - hm.. It starts to look like creating ToC scenarios is more complicated than creating, say, CoC ones. You have to feel the balance and to understand what clues are worth a spend and what clues can be obtained by simply aplying a skill. And this complication grows not from the rechier plots but from the basic mechanics.

 

The_Tatterdemalion_King - I remember those checks but I still can't get their conection to the topic. =(



#52 csmithadair

csmithadair

    Community Patron

  • Patron
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 738 posts

Posted 02 July 2017 - 12:54 AM

JustinAlexander - hm.. It starts to look like creating ToC scenarios is more complicated than creating, say, CoC ones. You have to feel the balance and to understand what clues are worth a spend and what clues can be obtained by simply aplying a skill. And this complication grows not from the rechier plots but from the basic mechanics.

It does take a little getting used to, but one thing to keep in mind is that most clues should be free. Of course, core clues are required to be by design, but plenty of the rest of the clues should simply be free, as long as the Investigators are actively doing something to find them. Point spends of one or two points to get a clue can be sprinkled throughout, and they should generally be something that is just a bit special (usually meaning it provides spotlight time). They can also be good for clues that provide some extra information that doesn't help get you to the climax but instead helps you better survive it. Another option is that it allows the Investigators to bypass other scenes, providing an alternate path (either safer or providing some other benefit).

 

If you really enjoy letting your players spend their Investigative points to get benefits other than clues, minimizing preset point spends on clues in your scenario writing really helps. Otherwise, players after a while may hold back from spending for benefits, under the expectation that there are vital clues they'll need to buy with them. 


Christopher Smith Adair
Freelance Copyeditor & RPG Writer
csmithadair.com


#53 Tony Williams

Tony Williams

    Lesser Servitor

  • Patron
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,054 posts
  • LocationUK

Posted 02 July 2017 - 01:47 AM

As Christopher says above, the easiest way of working out whether a clue needs a point spend is to consider if the players absolutely need to get it to advance to a future scene in the scenario; in which case it's a free Core Clue.

If it's not necessary to be a Core Clue then it might have a point spend associated.

Anything that helps to understand the motivations of the antagonists or helps understand the plot should probably cost points.

If it's just providing a bit of trivia, colour or atmosphere without helping to illuminate the plot then it should probably be free.

Edited by Tony Williams, 02 July 2017 - 01:49 AM.

Do you play Trail of Cthulhu ? You may find these downloads useful...

The Condensed Rules for Trail of Cthulhu PDF - the rulebook as slim as it can go.

The Enchiridion of Elucidation PDF - a guidebook for both players and Keepers, with advice on playing the game.


#54 vincentVV

vincentVV

    Knight of the Outer Void

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 208 posts
  • LocationMinsk, Belarus

Posted 27 July 2017 - 08:56 PM

Thanks to Tony Williams I re-thought my approach to ToC and studied it more closely. I intend to run a ame in a near future using ToC rules with minimum changes (more lethal damage to spice it all up, some minor changes in skill list and no pillars/sources because I don't understand their function at all). Yet I still have a question about spends. Yes, again. =)

 

It looks like ToC is very demanding to Keepers: the Keeper has either prepare many things beforehand or be a very educative person. An example:

In an old grotto under an abandoned church the players find an ancient figurine depicting a strange octopus-like creature with wings on its and tentacles on its face. The players gain the core clue: the same figurine was in Dr. Williamson's house! (it provides the players with a destination to move forward). But the players have not finished yet...

Player 1: I use History on this.. thing.. to find out about the same things being used in the past.

Keeper: Hmm.. You remember some stories and legends about local natives worshipping such thing.

Player 2: I use Geology to examine the thing.

Keeper: ok. It is made of a green stone, a deep sea-green color, very hard and heavy.

Player 2: ok, I've got it, but what is a material?

Keeper (remembering green stones he knows) well.. malachite?

Player 2 who knows more about stones: no, it can't be, because <blah-blah> but ok, let it be so. I also use my chemistry on it.

Keeper: Uh.. It looks like it is.. made of stone?

Player 2: ok, i see. I also use my Streetwise to find out about who can own the same thing.

Keeper: you remember a photo from a newspaper about a Triad leader. There was the same figurine in his cabinet!

Player 2: can I make a spend to find more about him?

Keeper: yes, of course. ,<blah-blah..>. So, ok. Are you going to dr. Williamson?

Player 1: no! Why should we? I vivsit a nearest reservation!

Player 2: And I try to get in touch with a local Triad.

Keeper: <horrifyed, pulling his hair out> WHAT???

 

so, 2 problems I see:

1) The keeper has to be ready for use of specific abilities which bring out specific (and unexpected!) information. If players start to investigate something egypt-like knowledge of Kleopatra, Ramzes and pyramids will surely be not enough to answer all possible questions after using different abilities.

2) letting the players get additional information in unexpected ways can lead the whole adventure pretty much off-road. While it is quite a common thing in RPGs and Keepers should be ready for it, ToC makes the possibility of derailing higher and more real.

 

IMHO, of course. Is it really so or do I miss something as usual?



#55 The_Tatterdemalion_King

The_Tatterdemalion_King

    Lesser Independent

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3,482 posts

Posted 27 July 2017 - 09:25 PM

It looks like ToC is very demanding to Keepers: the Keeper has either prepare many things beforehand or be a very educative person.


This is true for virtually all investigative games: the Keeper has to know at least as much about the world as their players. Or just be quicker at googling things.
 

so, 2 problems I see:
1) The keeper has to be ready for use of specific abilities which bring out specific (and unexpected!) information. If players start to investigate something egypt-like knowledge of Kleopatra, Ramzes and pyramids will surely be not enough to answer all possible questions after using different abilities.


When it comes to general subjects, it's a good idea to just go through each of the abilities and see if there's any gaps in your knowledge you can fill with general references before play. When it comes to specific clues or objects, you can prepare simply by remembering who made the thing, what they made it with, where it was made, how it got to where it was, who moved it, and what their attitude about it was.
 

2) letting the players get additional information in unexpected ways can lead the whole adventure pretty much off-road. While it is quite a common thing in RPGs and Keepers should be ready for it, ToC makes the possibility of derailing higher and more real.


I suggest that, to get comfortable with running GUMSHOE, you try to run a scenario by preparing all the facts and forensic connections but leaving the rest to player questioning. You'll want to think of connections between facts in GUMSHOE as more like a web than a railroad.

Edited by The_Tatterdemalion_King, 27 July 2017 - 09:28 PM.

Portfolio at www.chrishuth.com • Clients include Chaosium Inc, Sixtystone Press, Pelgrane Press and Sentinel Hill Press

#56 Tony Williams

Tony Williams

    Lesser Servitor

  • Patron
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,054 posts
  • LocationUK

Posted 28 July 2017 - 08:26 AM

You are actually allowed to say to a player "That's not a relevant piece of information" !!! ( on the meta-level sometimes it's just best to tell the players they're going off-track ).

 

I also think you are over-worrying about ToC players using their abilities exhaustively - in my experience players tend to use "expected" abilities in scenes that the scenario generally covers the answers to. Anything they start going off-piste on is usually not too hard to improvise about or reign in.

 

Remember to stress to the players before the game begins that they are not allowed to say, "I use ability X". They have to say, "I use ability X to achieve Z" - that should calm them down a bit.


Edited by Tony Williams, 28 July 2017 - 08:30 AM.

Do you play Trail of Cthulhu ? You may find these downloads useful...

The Condensed Rules for Trail of Cthulhu PDF - the rulebook as slim as it can go.

The Enchiridion of Elucidation PDF - a guidebook for both players and Keepers, with advice on playing the game.


#57 rylehNC

rylehNC

    Lesser Servitor

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,870 posts

Posted 28 July 2017 - 12:58 PM

Me as Keeper: you use your Streetwise contacts, but after spending several hours, you've hit a dead end.

 

Player 2: And I try to get in touch with a local Triad.

Keeper: <horrifyed, pulling his hair out> WHAT???

 

It would have been my fault for mentioning the Triad! Never be afraid to say "based on your expertise, you can dismiss this avenue of inquiry." 


Edited by rylehNC, 28 July 2017 - 01:00 PM.

Happy is the tomb where no wizard hath lain, and happy the town at night whose wizards are all ashes.

-Ibn Schacabao

#58 vincentVV

vincentVV

    Knight of the Outer Void

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 208 posts
  • LocationMinsk, Belarus

Posted 28 July 2017 - 07:28 PM

When it comes to general subjects, it's a good idea to just go through each of the abilities and see if there's any gaps in your knowledge you can fill with general references before play. When it comes to specific clues or objects, you can prepare simply by remembering who made the thing, what they made it with, where it was made, how it got to where it was, who moved it, and what their attitude about it was.

I suggest that, to get comfortable with running GUMSHOE, you try to run a scenario by preparing all the facts and forensic connections but leaving the rest to player questioning. You'll want to think of connections between facts in GUMSHOE as more like a web than a railroad.


This looks like I have to review all my school and university knowledge "just in case" (O_o). That's.. to much I think for just a game. I agree that the GM has to know his world better, but improvising in a fantasy world is much easier than in realistic one.

You are actually allowed to say to a player "That's not a relevant piece of information" !!! ( on the meta-level sometimes it's just best to tell the players they're going off-track ).

I also think you are over-worrying about ToC players using their abilities exhaustively - in my experience players tend to use "expected" abilities in scenes that the scenario generally covers the answers to. Anything they start going off-piste on is usually not too hard to improvise about or reign in.

Remember to stress to the players before the game begins that they are not allowed to say, "I use ability X". They have to say, "I use ability X to achieve Z" - that should calm them down a bit.


That's the point that changed my whole view of ToC to the positive angle, so I will pretty sure not forget about it, thanks! =)

And saying "this is not relevant"... well, It looks like bad textures in a computer game. You see a path in a forest but can't go there because it's just a piece of texture. =)

Me as Keeper: you use your Streetwise contacts, but after spending several hours, you've hit a dead end.


Well, that looks like a real option which at the same time will not ruin the gameplay! Great! =)

It would have been my fault for mentioning the Triad!


Yeah and that's what I also saw as a problem - by answering players' questions it is easy to ocasionally give them too many red herrings which even the Keeper is not ready to deal with!

Never be afraid to say "based on your expertise, you can dismiss this avenue of inquiry."


uuhhh.. This sounds like hard railroading. Not an option. =)

#59 Tony Williams

Tony Williams

    Lesser Servitor

  • Patron
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,054 posts
  • LocationUK

Posted 28 July 2017 - 09:14 PM

P.S. regarding your proposed home-brew ideas about your ToC game:

 

1. Higher damage - I wouldn't adjust the weapon damage modifiers, just use the Purist rule option that an investigator can only have a maximum 12 Health rating.

You could also use the "Lethal Firearms" optional rule but I find that can be very debilitating.

 

2. Sources of Stability - there isn't much to understand; they are NPCs the player creates that they are assumed to be spending time with in-between adventures that are the reason their lost Stability points regenerate. They exist to give the investigator some back-story but also for the purpose of a Keeper to work into scenarios to threaten them as a way to damage an investigator's Stability

e.g. an investigator has a weird dream that Deep Ones are encircling his parents' house ( and the parents are 2 of his Sources of Stability ) - he wakes up in a cold sweat and must pass a Stability test or lose 2 points.

Sources of Stability is an optional rule anyway.


Do you play Trail of Cthulhu ? You may find these downloads useful...

The Condensed Rules for Trail of Cthulhu PDF - the rulebook as slim as it can go.

The Enchiridion of Elucidation PDF - a guidebook for both players and Keepers, with advice on playing the game.


#60 rylehNC

rylehNC

    Lesser Servitor

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,870 posts

Posted 28 July 2017 - 11:35 PM

And saying "this is not relevant"... well, It looks like bad textures in a computer game. You see a path in a forest but can't go there because it's just a piece of texture. =)

uuhhh.. This sounds like hard railroading. Not an option. =)

 

I refute the assertion that everything in a game setting has to have importance. The Keeper has just as much a right to be entertained - and should have the prerogative to say "I haven't prepared for this" or that something isn't important.


Edited by rylehNC, 28 July 2017 - 11:37 PM.

Happy is the tomb where no wizard hath lain, and happy the town at night whose wizards are all ashes.

-Ibn Schacabao