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#1 vincentVV

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 06:33 PM

Well, I tried to find something similar but failed (found only CoC homerules topic). So, if a more suitable topic exists - my post may freely be transfered there. =)

Anyway, my first homerule is called: Age.

When you create a character - state what his\her age is. Depending on it apply the following modifiers:

Under 20 - the PC gets +4 General Abilities points and -2 Investigative abilities points

Age 21 - 30 - the PC gets +2 General Abilities points and -1 Investigative abilities points

Age 31 - 40 - no modifiers

Age 41 - 50 - the PC gets -2 General Abilities points and +1 Investigative abilities points

Above 50 - the PC gets -4 General Abilities points and +2 Investigative abilities points

The numbers can be changed (doubled, for example) if you like.

I also would like to hear about you ToC homerules and their use!




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#2 GBSteve

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 11:24 PM

A rule I commonly apply is that an Investigative spend gives +3 on a General roll, with a suitable justification.

 

For example, spend a point of Architecture to get +3 on an explosives roll to know just where to place the charge to blow the doors off. Or a point of Reassurance to add +3 to a Disguise roll by acting unobtrusively.

 

With the age thing, what happens as characters pass a threshold? Or does it only apply at character generation? The rules in the sidebar on page 25 suggest that a build point of Investigative ability is worth 3 build points in General abilities.


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#3 Mulciber

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 07:30 AM

For me the problem here is that it's so proscriptive to enforce as a rule. I've met foolish older people and perspicacious youngsters, folk in their 70s who'd put 30 year olds to shame physically and 20 year olds who barely move under their own steam. I prefer to let players decide on the effects of age or physical condition, often it's they who suggest things such as caps on Athletics or other skills to represent such things.


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#4 Tony Williams

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Posted 12 October 2017 - 10:03 AM

We like to play by mirroring the 5% fumble chance of BRP for test rolls.

 

If you roll a 1 you may have fumbled ( even if your ability point spend means you matched the difficulty level ). Roll again, and if you get a 1 or 2 then it is a fumble ( that's actually about a 5.5% chance ).

 

If you fumble you get your spent points returned but divided by the second die roll ( so you get either all or half of them back ).

 

You can play that a fumble is either a "normal" fail, or if you get 2 for the second die roll then something bad happens as well.

 

---

 

I like to think this muddies the waters of the criticism that GUMSHOE is just asset management by throwing in some randomness.

 

Also it possibly makes the advice to either spend nothing or spend 3 points on an ability test less concrete good advice ( but I can't do the stats to back that up - it's beyond me ).


Edited by Tony Williams, 12 October 2017 - 10:09 AM.

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#5 vincentVV

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 03:12 PM

Well, I understand that people in their 70s sometimes can be quicker than 20s ones and one in his 15s can be smarter than a 50 year old professor. But that's exeptions.My Age homerule just helps to reflect the common tendency of strength-Mind shift.
 
Yet 1 point of investigative abilities worth 3 - that's worth considering, thanks.
 
And another of my homerules is: one roll to hit and to wound. Just one.
 
You roll d6 to hit the defence value and then roll d6 to see how much damage you've done. Roll once! It's the same d6 after all.
 
The only thing it changes - is lack of low damage. (1 point is still possible with bare hands but otherwise if you hit - it means that you've done at least 3 points of damage.
 

We like to play by mirroring the 5% fumble chance of BRP for test rolls.
 
If you roll a 1 you may have fumbled ( even if your ability point spend means you matched the difficulty level ). Roll again, and if you get a 1 or 2 then it is a fumble ( that's actually about a 5.5% chance ).
 
If you fumble you get your spent points returned but divided by the second die roll ( so you get either all or half of them back ).
 
You can play that a fumble is either a "normal" fail, or if you get 2 for the second die roll then something bad happens as well.
 
---
 
I like to think this muddies the waters of the criticism that GUMSHOE is just asset management by throwing in some randomness.
 
Also it possibly makes the advice to either spend nothing or spend 3 points on an ability test less concrete good advice ( but I can't do the stats to back that up - it's beyond me ).

 
I really like the idea of a fumble! =) That's something ToC lacks - crits. ))



#6 GBSteve

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 03:52 PM

Crits were introduced in Night's Black Agents. If you roll a 6 and exceed the hit threshold by 5, you double the effects. I've used this in GUMSHOE Da'Zoon, my fantasy hack, as well as for magic in Fearful Symmetries.

 

Da'Zoon has a similar fumble rule to the above. If the difficulty is 5 or higher and you roll a 1, it's a fumble. Choose to either lose the points and fail, or get the points back and fail badly.


You could deal with age by having caps on abilities. For example Athletic abilities are capped at e.g. 12-age/10 (so 9 at 30 but 4 at 80). Any points above the cap can be transferred to Investigative abilities on a 2 for 1 (or 3 for 1) basis. You could cap Investigative abilities, e.g. to Age/10+1 but I'm not sure I'd bother.


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#7 Aviatrix

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 06:32 PM

These are the more or less complete set I used in my last campaign (Tatters of the King, but set mostly in 1950s America). I hope to one day really codify them in some OGL compatible form...
 
Use Drive/Solace/Symbol for Sources of Stability: I don't like the myriad Sources of Stability in Trail; they're only really good, IMHO, for episodic games where "Your uncle sent you a letter about a book he found..." can be integrated more organically into the setting. My campaigns tend to require a lot of travel, so Solace/Symbol work much better.

"Values Statements": This is a piece of tech I stole from Smallville: for their Drive, Symbol, and Solace the player writes a brief Statement of what that means to them. My original hack used these to create Hard and Soft Drivers based on the Statements; my current iteration lets players refresh two points of Investigative abilities for spending time with their Solace, and gain an extra "success" (see below) once per session if their Symbol comes into play.

The main purpose of the Statements, IMHO, is to be Challenged: that is, the player can announce that they are going to change how they feel about their Source in order to gain a refresh of General points equal to their Sanity. I literally don't care if the refresh is used on Health and Stability--and in fact, that's what usually gets refreshed. The idea here is to pick up the pulp/Noir trope of needing to come to a new realization about yourself in order to triumph. In practice, it has worked wonderfully--in my current campaign, when they all got a sight of Hastur in Carcosa, everyone ended up challenging at least one Statement. So rather than having a bunch of insane or very broken characters, I had damaged characters who had been changed permanently by their experience. Now, for me this is exactly what I want; YMMV.

Long term I want to use the Statements to get rid of Sanity entirely; I'd probably decouple them from the Sources and just make them the old "Pillars of Sanity." Currently, I don't use Pillars, since the Statements basically replace them. Right now I link XP to Challenging Statements; you get 2 XP if you Challenge in the session.

Fixed Cost Stability Chart: This isn't a problem for everyone--I got into an argument about it here--but in my experience regular Stability checks tended to drag the game down. This is because a) Stability is crucial to a PCs effectiveness and B) the way Stability checks work means that there's always an optimax solution, but calculating it relies on a somewhat complex pricing of risk and expected outcome. This often stopped the game dead, and required me to explain (again) how Stability checks work.

My solution was to do the calculations myself and create the Fixed Cost Stability Chart. There are two components: the first is the Fixed Cost, what people actually get charged; the second is the original Stability loss from the regular ToC table. I did that because that will still represent the maximum Stability a PC could lose in the scene. For both, a Mythos shock costs an extra point of Stability; extra mind-rending works the same way, adding to the base cost. 

In practice this has done exactly what I wanted--sped up the game a lot, and allowed people to make more rational choices about Stability. Again, YMMV.

Dungeon World Initiative: I don't like Initiative systems, so I just let this work narratively.

Investigative Spends Find Truth, Not Clues: This is broadly in keeping with later Gumshoe games like Night's Black Agents or Timewatch; I prefer to let the Investigative spends create truth (i.e., let the player inject their content into the game) or serve as a "tax" for great ideas. Two examples:

--When I ran Masks of Nyarlathotep, one player made a Biology spend to convince a werewolf he was a member of her pack; we spun this as a flashback to him having taken a handkerchief from the scene of her father's gruesome death.

--When I ran Eternal Lies, the players decided to make their own Foundation. I spun this as "2 points of Credit Rating, and then a total of 6 points from other abilities"; I paid attention to what they used, because a foundation built on three points of Library Use is very different from one built on three points of Streetwise.

There are a myriad of examples in my APs over at Story-Games.com

Margin of Success on General Tests: This is new to the last campaign. I've wanted for a while to make rolling the dice actually important, since rational Gumshoe play dictates always spending for auto-success (the utility cost of points spent on failure is no better than zero.) After trying and failing to come up with a partial success (like in AW games), what I decided on was to give extra "successes" for exceeding the target number. Here's how it works:

For every 4 points your roll exceeds the Difficulty of a Test, you may choose a benefit from this list:

• Terrible Harm: roll a second d6 for damage
• Armor Piercing: you negate one level of armor
• Speed: You succeed very quickly
• Unnoticed: No one sees what you do
• No Traces: No obvious signs of what you did
• Safe: You don't expose yourself to danger
• Disable: You break or damage an object
• Disarm: You knock a weapon free
• Suppress: You stun, force under cover, or otherwise prevent someone from acting
• Opportunity: The PC may immediately take a second task
• Missing Materials: You can succeed even without the proper tools

You can accept a cost to succeed at a task (or buy a benefit) even if you haven’t rolled high enough.

It's taken the players a while to figure out how to make this work, but so far I've been pretty happy with it; it preserves the Gumshoe philosophy of "you don't fail unless you want to (or are out of resources)" but gives a reason to spend more than the optimal result. The little bit of Fate technology (succeed at a cost--generally, I make the cost the reverse of one of the benefits) hasn't been used as much, but opens up a lot of possibilities.

Ammo and Maneuver: I developed Ammo out of my dissatisfaction with the various automatic weapons rules. Originally I had a short list of what you could do with Ammo; the current version lets you buy a Success from the list above by spending a point of Ammo, which gets calculated as follows:

+1 for having a largish magazine (8-10 rounds, probably), or rapid fire capabilities (pump action shotgun, frex.)
+1 for being an automatic weapon
+1 for a really large magazine (30-50 rounds); I'd probably continue to add +1 for larger and larger magazines
+1 if you have Firearms/Shooting 8+ and the weapon you are using has any kind of reasonable magazine (so most pistols, pump action shotgun, etc.) This was to simulate the action movie trope of one guy firing off several shots at once.

These are all cumulative; so someone with Shooting 8+ and a Thompson gun with a 50 round drum gets Ammo-4. When you are out of Ammo, the gun is empty and must be reloaded.

For all of these, the principle is that you can use extra bullets to do things that normally might require precision aim, or to do more tasks. Well, except for the Shooting 8+ cherry; the idea there was that being a good shot saves you ammo.

Maneuver was something I added in the current game; it's calculated as +1 per 4 points of Weapons/Scuffling/Hand-to-Hand. I haven't ruled on it, but I can certainly imagine weapons giving extra maneuver for things like reach, or a perfectly balanced sword.

#8 GBSteve

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Posted 13 October 2017 - 08:51 PM

That's a nice set of alternatives. I'm less interested in the combat options, because I prefer rules lighter but I can how they would work.

 

I think spending Investigative points to establish to establish fiction is sort of in there, as the benefit, and I certainly encourage it - I made it a central pillar of GUMSHOE Da'Zoon my fantasy hack (for which I might borrow your AWE inspired margin of success rules).

 

It's not clear to me how the fixed cost works. Is that what they lose regardless of the roll? I've made Stability much more easy to recover in Fearful Symmetries. You can talk to a Source of Stability to renew it once per session, even by phone. A bit like a Solace then. Fearful Symmetries is just set in England so it makes more sense. I've also added Contacts from NBA but made them more actively pro-character, and introduced a rule, a bit like in Delta Green, for off loading Stability loss on to them - with appropriate social consequences.

 

I do like value statements, although they might be difficult to interpret. It depends on the players not choosing stupid ones. In Da'Zoon again I give players +2 on a roll twice per session for saying they are following their drive. They don't have to justify it. 

 

I have introduced Glamour and Mythos pools for Folklore and Mythos creatures. It's like Aberrance from NBA and simplifies stat blocks.


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#9 Aviatrix

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Posted 14 October 2017 - 03:07 AM

Steve,

 

Yeah, the combat options are a work in progress. The Ammo rules developed from a frustration with how automatic weapons worked while I was running Eternal Lies, which was more pulpy than my Tatters game. Also, too, it may be a reflection of my style of running combat, which pushes things toward the edgy and gritty while still keeping a cinematic looseness. As an aside, I find that the rhythm of Gumshoe combat, with the desperation of depleting pools (and the story protagonists having larger pools) does a remarkable job of capturing the beats of cinematic fights, quite probably in spite of itself :)

 

I'm glad you like the Margin of Success rules; I kind of think of them as the killer app among my houserules. Before my next campaign I plan to give them a thorough overhaul and better guidelines for how to make them work. I've also pondered writing up some quasi-AW style moves that would add options depending on the action, but that's pretty vague right now.

 

One thing quite obviously suggests itself: you can use an appropriate Investigative spend to buy an extra benefit from the list. So you might punch a guy in the face, and then make an Intimidate spend to also keep him down for a round (Suppress), or maybe use a Chemistry spend to clean up any fingerprints (Unobserved.) I kind of like how that unites the two scales of Gumshoe abilities, something that has bugged me for a long time.

 

Statements can definitely be a bit of a challenge, but if you've played Fate you can probably get into the feel of how they might work. Really they should work like Drives--that is, you could conceivably issue Drivers against them. (The version of Statements that I wrote up for See Page XX worked like that, in fact.) Drivers are a kind of underutilized tech in Gumshoe, I think, but they have a lot of interesting uses. In my Tatters run, the main ability the King in Yellow had when he appeared at the end was the ability to issue Drivers to the characters to obey him; so you got rewarded for following his commands, and punished for resisting. Again, the beats of Gumshoe pools work nicely here: the characters submit, earning back Stability, until that moment when they resist:  "Not this time!"

 

The Fixed Cost rules work by avoiding any roll at all :-) which explains your confusion. I just charge people the appropriate cost without asking for a roll. It speeds things up considerably. If you look at the chart, you may notice I left in the original costs; this is to keep the idea of a cap on how much you can lose in a given scene, especially since most of the serious losses are 3 points and that can add up quickly. I based the fixed cost on my best guess at the standard expected value for a given Stability test at Difficulty 4; tacking on an extra point  of loss for Mythos shocks is pretty close to how the math works out (since one of the more contradictory features of the Stability test system is that it's better to NOT spend on a Difficulty 5, 4-point Stability test...)

 

Anyway, like I said, at some point it needs a thorough codification (and some work to make it OGL/CC compliant so that I would feel better about sending it around to folks :) )


Edited by Aviatrix, 14 October 2017 - 03:09 AM.


#10 Tony Williams

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Posted 16 November 2017 - 02:15 PM

@Aviatrix

 

I like the idea of introducing Symbols and Places of Safety as extra types of Sources of Stability which unites the rules with NBA's.

 

I also like the idea of an immediate, subsequent Investigative Spend after a successful General Test having a further positive effect on the test outcome ( sort of like a player-dictated critical success rather than decided by fate ). And I too like the way it marries Investigative and General ability points.

 

Not really a fan of the fixed Stability point costs, but the issues about min/max/munchkining the Stability roll have been chewed over in other threads - each to their own. I can't say the calculation slows our games down that much.

 

Love margins of success - essentially a form of critical success but it encourages big general point spends which I like. I don't think I'd allow the extra spend after the dice throw though - but I would allow the subsequent Investigative Spend to turn a success into a critical.

 

Like Steve I'm not a fan of complicated combat rules so I'm indifferent on the ammo stuff.

 

Value statements - I think you are on to something there and I'm trying to square it with/marry it to the ToC Pillars of Sanity system. I like the idea of a player choosing to alter their value system for a reward. It also needs some form of system of vulnerability that the Mythos/outside forces can attack which leads to a Sanity hit.

 

Sanity in the current ToC rules isn't hit often enough for my liking. Unless you have a GOO appearing or have specifically written the adventure to incorporate some Mythos Revelations that specifically target your player's Pillars (which can dictate pre-gens which my players aren't super keen on) most times Sanity isn't the reason investigator's go mad; it's through Stability loss.

 

I'm wondering if your value system can be adapted so that if the player chooses to alter their value statement about a drive/symbol/source ( i.e. change their world view ) they get a Sanity hit but this hit can be transferred to Stability (upto 3 points per session ?). So they are send slightly barmy by having to come to a new realisation about their value system but they get some comfort from the new status quo ?.


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#11 Aviatrix

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Posted 16 November 2017 - 04:14 PM

Yeah, I'm indifferent on the Ammo stuff myself, given how often they are utilized. Personally, I think what I should maybe do is write up some quasi-AW style "moves" that would expand the list of "benefits" available, so that fictional positioning might open up more options. Like, for a machine gun "spray multiple targets with fire" might be a benefit.

 

I note in passing that a lot of what I did here is based on the difficulty of general tests not deviating much from 4. Now, I prefer that setup as it jibes with my feeling the Gumshoe works better as an endurance contest than something with more fortune in the mix. I know other GMs disagree, and move the difficulty around a lot more. I tend not to do that.

 

In fact, the notes (such as I have) about reforming the system would be about increasing difficulty via adding more costs to the roll rather than raising the difficulty--again, in line with my "endurance contest" view. So, you could spend more to get more benefits to cancel out costs.

 

Like, it would work like this: somebody wants to, I dunno, climb over a fence with razor wire. The Keeper ponders and decides the costs are: slow (because it's a tall fence) and harm (because the razor wire.) The player could spend points from their general pool hoping to get enough benefits to buy fast to counteract the slow, and safe to counteract the harm. Or, maybe they don't care about the time, so they just go for safe. Or possibly they get a total of 8 but decide to fail, but fail fast and safe :-)

 

I don't have a problem with spending Investigative post roll to buy benefits because Investigative abilities are a finite resource on a smaller scale than General and harder to refresh. They're also an excellent dial to use to set the grittiness of the setting; my "Tatters" run I think I refreshed about every three sessions, and I run long sessions.

 

As for Stability tests, here's the thing: the difficulty is basically invariable--the Keeper isn't supposed to tinker with it past "+1 for Mythos shock". (I've played too much PbtA at this point to start going past explicit GM instructions here :) ) So, the actual test is a long way to go for what will generally be a 3 point Stability loss. That's part one. Part two is, I don't really like a lot of gambling in games I run, and reading the GM's mind about the difficulty of something (which happened in a game I played with Bill White--he wouldn't tell use either the difficulty and the point loss of Stability tests, so the only rational option was to never spend at all). 

 

Also, for me personally, forcing myself to to just impose a cost with no appeal, no lucky escape helps me run horror. I confess to being a fan of my characters; to being someone who probably runs games closer to adventure-horror or thriller-horror than horror-horror (and actually, there are games that are better at horror-horror IMHO than ToC), so that crutch actually helps me to get in character as a cruel, uncaring, unknowable universe :)

 

AS for Sanity, Tony, I wanna kill it. Dead, dead, dead. It's an awkward fit and has never really emulated the genre all that well. It was a killer app in CoC because "mental hit points??? Whaaaaa?" was a great way to put the death spiral in terms understandable in the parlance of the day. But I prefer pushing the characters to change, warp, lose elements of themselves rather than have a point total with no effect until it's completely depleted. However, this is extremely personal and idiosyncratic on my part, so YMMV :)



#12 Tony Williams

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Posted 16 November 2017 - 05:12 PM

We are at loggerheads on two points -

 

I really like the gambling aspect of tests ( and thus Stability tests ) but I can see if the GM isn't telling you the test difficulty or the potential loss then that drains any interest out of thinking about what points to spend. I wouldn't like that situation as a player - it's negating a level of agency I have over my character - does he "try" hard here ( spends points ) or does he take it as it comes ?

 

I love, love, love the split Sanity/Stability systems of ToC. I view ToC's Stability as how panicked a character is at any time ( in a totally un-Mythosy, un-supernatural way ) and thus how impaired they are through fear. Whereas I view ToC's Sanity as a gauge of how corrupted their mindset is by the Mythos and thus how Mythos-mad they are. I like the two different measures. I wouldn't want to lose either one. As I said, my only gripe with Sanity is it currently doesn't tend to get chipped away enough under current ToC rules unless there's a GOO about or you have written pre-gens and a scenario to specifically hit their Pillars of Sanity. 


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


#13 Aviatrix

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Posted 16 November 2017 - 07:09 PM

I wouldn't describe it as loggheads; on the contrary, I respect your position immensely :)

 

As you might have guessed, I think a lot of how I run games has been permanently altered (IMHO for the better; YMMV) by Powered by the Apocalypse games which do away with most of the gambling aspects of success and are much more about consequences than success. But that's not everyone's take! And I'm good with that. One day when I have time (I'm currently in the middle of a project that eats all design cycles for me) I will try to make some kind of OGL version of my houserules and leave it come whoever may :-)

 

My major issue with Sanity is that mechanically it doesn't do what you describe. You can play it like that, but mechanically it's just an asset that doesn't really do much until depleted. However, while typing this I realized that as Sanity drops Pillars are crumbled--it's been so long since I used standard Pillars in my game that I actually forgot about that. So there's some effect although Pillars are likewise a bit underwhelming mechanically.

 

I guess my take is that you could use the Pillars so that there was actually teeth to declining Sanity--literal, recordable character change. If so, having a stat for Sanity becomes a bit redundant.

 

Stability I agree with; I love Stability. I think elsewhere I've observed that if you treat bog-standard humans as having a Stability of 1, the Stability chart matches nicely with PTSD, freezing up, and various other observable psychological trauma under stress. (What makes PCs impressive isn't their collection of Investigative skills; it's that they have freakishly high Stability scores.) Hell, if you treat normal people as having the...what, 1 point of Health...Trail gives them, you also get a realistically gritty game provided you don't use mook rules (i.e. track negative Health). When I run in "noir" mode I keep NPC Health relatively low (3-4 points) but track them when they go negative; it makes for tough characters who have to be whittled down.


Edited by Aviatrix, 16 November 2017 - 07:09 PM.


#14 Tony Williams

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Posted 16 November 2017 - 09:05 PM

I agree that mechanistically Sanity isn't quite "right" in ToC

 

There are ingredients to the recipe that I think are good - Pillars, Drives, Mythos Revelations and the Cthulhu Mythos ability but I feel like at the moment as the current ToC rules are written they don't interact with the Sanity rating "properly" - it feels a bit ethereal or disconnected. It doesn't hang together definitively enough.

 

One example is the Cthulhu Mythos ability itself - there is no good reason at all for a player to decide to use the ability. Why use it if you are in danger of having a revelation that can cause Sanity loss if you get no benefit ( other than an insight into what Mythos plot is underneath your current predicament ). 

 

Another problem I see is Pillars only exist to be attacked but they usually only work best in pre-written scenarios with pre-gen characters with Pillars antithetical to the scenario's Mythos threat. Maybe the concept of Pillars, Drives, Symbols, Sources and Places ( and maybe your suggestion of "Values" ) need to be collapsed into a single entity ( I like "Values" ). One that can provide a benefit for players ( it can provide Stability if focused on ) and that can be threatened/damaged by the Mythos to lose Sanity. As you have your "Values" eroded ( like Pillars crumble ) you would have less "Values" to fall back on to regain Stability ( unless you underwent long-term Psychoanalysis and gained back Sanity and a lost "Value" ). Wow that almost sounds like a workable system which creates an actual link between Stability and Sanity.

 

I've never played an AW game but I have the Dungeon World rulebook and the mechanism intrigues me. I think I'd have to be a player in an AW/DW game a few times before I could get my head around GMing it though. Mind you I like playing Fiasco and that is diceless.


Edited by Tony Williams, 16 November 2017 - 09:15 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.


#15 Aviatrix

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Posted 16 November 2017 - 10:12 PM

Yeah, Cthulhu Mythos is weird. I tend to only hit people with the full badness when they use it as a "win" button (I'm phrasing that badly--I mean, shortcutting the search for other clues to find out the Big Bad right away.) Otherwise, I let it function as an Investigative Ability, or--when I have people who mess with magic--a way to do magic.

 

Especially in contests. I don't like how contests work in standard Gumshoe, they just tend to be a way to spend lots of points without much interesting happening in between. A lot of the time I'll allow Investigative spends in lieu of rolling, provided the player can justify them--of course, when the "target Hastur is trying to seduce with pure Art" used Flirting during a contest to dismiss one of his avatars...well, that made the campaign much more interesting :)



#16 GBSteve

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Posted 17 November 2017 - 02:35 PM

As an aside, I find that the rhythm of Gumshoe combat, with the desperation of depleting pools (and the story protagonists having larger pools) does a remarkable job of capturing the beats of cinematic fights, quite probably in spite of itself :)

 

 I think this is on purpose. The cinema and the structure of narrative are particular interests of Robin's.


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#17 Aviatrix

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Posted 17 November 2017 - 03:13 PM

 I think this is on purpose. The cinema and the structure of narrative are particular interests of Robin's.

 

I do too, and I'm aware in Robin's interest in plotting even if I sometimes don't agree with how he does it. In Gumshoe it works a treat, though--it's a sneaky bit of alternative design, getting you the result without ever calling attention to it. Kinda like how "Lady Blackbird" has a three-act structure without dividing the game up into explicit acts. (But then John Harper is a past master of packing tons of detail into very few words.)



#18 Tony Williams

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Posted 17 November 2017 - 04:14 PM

I've been thinking about Pillars/Values/etc. and come up with this, obviously haven't playtested it yet but can anyone see any flaws/merits ? 

 

Pillars of Sanity ( a revision )
 
Pillars of Sanity now become more akin to Sources of Stability ( and what were Sources of Stability cease to exist as game constructs ).
 
A Pillar of Sanity can now be:
 
1) A moral stance ( as before, an abstract concept ) e.g. the truth inherent in great art
2) A person of solace ( a living NPC ) e.g. a family member, confidant or true friend ( as per the deprecated Sources of Stability )
3) A place of safety e.g. your old family home, your place of work, a favoured holiday spot
4) A treasured symbol e.g. religious item, photograph, letter from loved one
 
For each PARTIAL set of 3 rating points of Sanity you have, choose a Pillar of Sanity. So for 1-3 rating points of Sanity choose 1 Pillar, for 4-6 choose 2 and for 7 upwards choose 3. Three Pillars are the maximum number allowed per character.
 
A character can only have one place of safety and one moral stance as Pillars of Sanity at any one time. A character does not have to have any particular type of Pillar if they wish. Thus a player could choose to have three treasured symbols if they desired.
 
If a character's Sanity rating falls such that it no longer supports the number of Pillars the character currently has, then the player must choose to drop a Pillar ( their choice ) and explain why it no longer has any value to them.
 
Having various new "types" of Pillar of Sanity allows the Keeper to improvise Mythos threats to those Pillars more easily than when they were just abstract concepts as per the official ToC rules. Under the official rules Pillars were generally only able to be threatened by Mythos revelations being antithetical to the abstract concepts the player had chosen as their Pillars. This tended to only work best with pre-generated player characters whose Pillars where keyed into the scenario's Mythos elements. With differing types of Pillar available it will be easier for the Keeper to improvise Mythos attacks or Mythos revelations against the player character.
 
 
Positive Aspects to Pillars of Sanity
 
Under standard ToC rules Pillars of Sanity confer no in-game advantage other than defining the morality of the player character. Thus some players feel they confer no benefit other than an attack vector onto their character.
Now, Pillars of Sanity can be used to replenish Stability in-session mirroring NBA's rules for Symbol/Solace/Safety. To replenish Stability the PC must be in a place of relative calm and safety. Each Pillar can only be used once per game session in this way.
 
a) Moral Stance - considering your core morals for a few minutes reminds you of the purpose of life. You may refresh 1 pool point of Stability.
If the Mythos corrupts or devalues your Moral Stance then you lose 5 Stability pool points and 3 Sanity pool points.
ADVANTAGE - It is always available for use and can't be "lost" ( in a mundane/physical sense ) causing a Stability rating loss like the other types of Pillar can.
DISADVANTAGE - Large Stability/Sanity cost if corrupted by the Mythos. Only provides 1 Stability pool point.
 
b\) Treasured Symbol - seeing it, or handling it for a few minutes of meditation or reverence calms you and reminds you of why you must stay intact. You may refresh 1 pool point of Stability.
If you lose your Symbol and it remains lost at the end of the adventure, you lose 1 rating point and pool point of Stability.
If the Mythos corrupts, takes or destroys your treasured symbol then you lose 3 Stability pool points and 2 Sanity pool points.
ADVANTAGE - Easily portable. Smallest cost if corrupted by the Mythos.
DISADVANTAGE - Only provides 1 Stability pool point. Can be lost/taken, possibly easily.
 
c) Person of Solace - If you can spend six hours of talk, companionship or other normal human interaction with your Solace during a session, without being under threat or placing your Solace in danger, you may refresh 2 pool points of Stability.
If your person of Solace ever betrays or rejects you, you immediately lose 2 rating points and pool points of Stability.
If the Mythos corrupts or kills your Person of Solace then you lose 6 Stability pool points and 2 Sanity pool points.
ADVANTAGE - Not as likely to be rejected by a person of Solace compared to losing a treasured Symbol. Replenishes more Stability than a Symbol or Stance. 
DISADVANTAGE - Large cost if corrupted by the Mythos. Not as readily accessible as other Pillars.
 
d) Place of Safety - If you can spend 24 hours during a game session at your place of safety, without being under threat or drawing the Mythos to it, you may refresh 3 pool points of Stability.
If your place of safety ever becomes unusable ( e.g. it is destroyed, or its owner evicts or rejects you ) you immediately lose 3 rating points and pool points of Stability.
If the Mythos corrupts or destroys your place of safety then you lose 4 Stability pool points and 2 Sanity pool points.
ADVANTAGE - Replenishes most Stability of the Pillar types.
DISADVANTAGE - Requires most game time to replenish Stability. Large Stability rating loss if it becomes unavailable through mundane reasons.
 
Regaining Stability through the Psychoanalysis ability also becomes easier with more Pillars of Sanity. The difficulty level for the in-session Psychological Triage test is now [ 6 minus the number of Pillars of Sanity the character possesses ] instead of the standard test difficulty of 4.
 
You can not regain Stability through your Pillars if you are in a Mind Blasted state ( Stability pool points of -6 or less ).
 
 
Pillars of Sanity and the Cthulhu Mythos Ability
 
Successful use of the Cthulhu Mythos ability is now not certain to cause a hit to Stability and/or Sanity and the more Pillars of Sanity a character has, the greater a chance of protection against taking damage to Stability/Sanity the character has.
 
Upon successful use of the Cthulhu Mythos ability a test is made against difficulty 5 ( the standard Mythos test difficulty ). If the test is failed, the player loses pool points of Sanity and Stability depending on the difference between the adjusted test result and the target difficulty according to the table below:
 
Difference
in result
1 - lose 1 Sanity pool point
2 - lose 1 Sanity and 1 Stability pool point
3 - lose 2 Sanity and 1 Stability pool point
4 - lose 2 Sanity and 2 Stability pool points
 
A player can risk any or all of their Pillars of Sanity as a bonus to the test die roll. For each Pillar they offer, they get a +1 bonus to the die roll. Players must state which Pillars they are offering ( if any ) before rolling the test die. If a test that has had Pillars of Sanity backing it fails, then one of the Pillars has been corrupted/shattered by the Mythos ( player's choice ). The Pillar is lost and the player suffers Sanity and Stability pool point loss as per the amounts described above for Mythos corruption for each type of Pillar. The Keeper and player should collaborate to come up with a description of how the Mythos revelation gained from use of the Cthulhu Mythos ability has corrupted the lost Pillar of Sanity.
 
 
REASONS FOR THE CHANGES
1. Simplify and reduce the concepts of Sources of Stability and Pillars of Sanity ( Sources of Stability had no actual round table purpose other than giving the player character a peer group which served no actual in-session function. They were no more useful than the write up of the player character's history/background ).
2. Balance Pillars by giving them a positive role ( allow for Stability refresh ) as well as their negative role ( a method of Mythos attack ).
3. Allow the Keeper to devise ways to attack Pillars more easily other than relying on abstract concepts antithetical to the scenario's Mythos threat.
4. Introduce a connect between Sanity rating and Stability replenishment. The lower a character's Sanity rating the fewer Pillars they will have and thus the harder it becomes to replenish Stability in-session ( either by use of the Pillars directly or through in-session Psychological Triage ).
5. Use of the Cthulhu Mythos ability is now less certain to be damaging to the player due to introduction of some "gamification" through use of Pillars, hopefully encouraging its use more by players. 
 
Footnote
The numbers for Sanity and Stability loss/gain might need refining but I've tried to strike a balance between reflecting NBA rules and current rules for shattered Pillars versus how easy it is for a player to use each type of Pillar in session to regain Stability and how easy it would be to lose a Pillar ( either through a mundane reason or via the Mythos ).

Edited by Tony Williams, 19 November 2017 - 12:27 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.


#19 vincentVV

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Posted 17 November 2017 - 08:15 PM

Brilliant! I will surely use it.



#20 GBSteve

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Posted 18 November 2017 - 12:10 AM

There's lots of interesting stuff there, although it is rather more complex, I think, than what I'd like to use with my players. On of my Fearful Symmetries players did have a statue of as a source of stability, which turned out to be a Mythos representation. Bonjour tristesse when that came to light.

 

I'm less keen on the Cthulhu Mythos use being made more random. I like the clarity of it, much as Aviatrix's Stability loss rule has much appeal. I'm not sure how nasty it is in comparison.

 

One thing I do have in my games, which is probably a house rule is 0-point Cthulhu Mythos spends. I will offer Mythos details to characters with Mythos ratings, and the higher the rating, the more information they get. As a rule I tend not to offer names of creatures or entities, at least not the recognisable Lovecraftian names. I did as an experiment have an NPC mention Yog-Sothoth in relation to something he thought he'd been in contact with. The details were massively vague but I could immediately see how it affected the players approach. They were at once reassured that it was something they were more certain about, rather than the Queen of the Woods that had mentioned some sessions previously or Mr Brothers, and scared because they understood the scale of the thing they faced. But it was no longer the fear of the unknown, and hence, by the old chap's very saying, less strong.

 

I do too, and I'm aware in Robin's interest in plotting even if I sometimes don't agree with how he does it. In Gumshoe it works a treat, though--it's a sneaky bit of alternative design, getting you the result without ever calling attention to it. Kinda like how "Lady Blackbird" has a three-act structure without dividing the game up into explicit acts. (But then John Harper is a past master of packing tons of detail into very few words.)

 

I think the simple insight that a clue, at the core, is something which leads you further into the investigation*, is laudable. When combined with the other simple idea that there are things your character wants but can't have. Well, that's all you really need for any kind of story, direction and motivation.

 

Getting player buy-in might require a bit more, depending on the players, including the keeper. They require varying levels of tactical challenge, emotional involvement or creative control, and the skill of the keeper is recognising these and ensuring the conditions for their supply. And of course it's a balancing act between all the people at the table.

 

But I digress.

 

*Investigation in the broadest sense of the idea.


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