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[Advice] ToC demo and/or other one shots plus -ToC - real clues only?


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#1 Blackstorm

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Posted 25 October 2017 - 01:13 PM

So, Hi everybody. I'm (sort of) new to this forum, but not to rpg world. So, I need some advice.

 

1) I noted that a lot of scenarios for ToC are like "one way", but the phb says the the core of the ToC and the gumshoe is to give the players a lot of clue, real ones as well the fakes, so the main problem for the players is to gather and understand the correct clues. As I said, it seems that the scenarios, especially the short ones, give the players only the real clues, and no fakes. There something I don't catch?

 

2) I'm going to demo ToC at the Lucca Comics&Games fair, and I'm thinking of using the "Ritual Pursuits" demo on the site. Do you think is a good scenario to demo? And regarding #1 question, it seems a railroaded scenario with no chance of errors. But, what if the entire point is to literally investigate the clues? I mean, if I only give player real clues to compose the correct puzzle, what is the point of the entire scenario, since they don't need to do almost nothing to get the clues?

3) Do you have suggestions about other possible scenarios to play a short game (about 2 hours)? Keep in mind that I'll have at my table people that probabily don't know the game, so I need about an half hour explaination of sheets and things about Cthulhu.




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#2 GBSteve

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Posted 25 October 2017 - 08:54 PM

Hi! Welcome to the forums.

 

I wrote this demo to show players at conventions how the game works. I've run it about 60 times now and I think it works well in that regard. Although it's very linear, there are only three scenes, it has core clues, supplementary clues and benefits. It has real danger in the last scene, and it demonstrates the principle that the core clues lead you to the next scene, but they don't explain what it going on. That's what the supplementary clues are for. There's the opportunity to find out how languages work and to use preparedness. You should also use it to explore the ways of introducing clues. This is an excellent resource in that regard: http://site.pelgrane...Elucidation.pdf.

 

I can run it in about 30 minutes, but it also in 2 hours, depending on the time pressure and how much space for roleplaying I leave.

 

You could throw in some red herrings if you want to make it last longer. The best kind of red herrings don't lead to the finale, but they add an extra element to the fun that might have some bearing on the main plot. For example:

- you could have a ritual in the paperwork in the house that the players could perform that allows them to talk to the spirit that Crane is summoning. This should add extra danger of some kind but also give some information about the end ritual.

- you could change the timing of the final ritual to give the time for other scenes such as investigating Crane's other activities, finding out when the ritual is supposed to take place, where Crane is holding Chadwick.

- you could even have a flashback to what happened in Muncie, adding more detail and relating the diversion to Crane collecting data on Chadwick.

 

I've run this scenario with people who have never gamed at all, as well as old hands who already had ToC but wanted a bit of help understanding how to run the system. Although from the Keeper point of view it looks very simple, the players don't know, or even notice that. I have quite a lot of data in this regard ;)


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#3 Blackstorm

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Posted 26 October 2017 - 08:30 AM

Thank you. Interesting document. I'm really late to prepare the demo, as my usual :) but it's interesting, I'll try to give a shot if I have the time. Just a note: you say that red herrings are boring if they lead to a dead end. But isn't that what red herrings are for?

 

I don't know if I can use your scenario, it seems good, at first look, but I'll need to prepare the PC. Do you think that the pregen of the demo could work (I need even to translate them in italian, because a lot of players could have problems with English)? I know I'm late like hell, but I had to do some work (my job and the translation of handbooks of pathfinder rpg take me a lot of time, indeed). 



#4 Tony Williams

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Posted 26 October 2017 - 09:46 AM

Hello Blackstorm

 

Steve has already given you some very good advice but I just want to go back to your point in your first post about "fake" clues.

 

Maybe it is a language/translation issue but ToC doesn't emphasise or suggest "fake" clues ( well, no more than any other mystery game ).

 

You can put in "fake" or "red herring" clues if you wish, but speaking as an investigator ( not a Keeper ) I particularly hate them ( unless they have a useful purpose like Steve suggested above ).


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.


#5 Blackstorm

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Posted 26 October 2017 - 10:39 AM

You can put in "fake" or "red herring" clues if you wish, but speaking as an investigator ( not a Keeper ) I particularly hate them ( unless they have a useful purpose like Steve suggested above ).

 

Can I ask you why? 



#6 GBSteve

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Posted 26 October 2017 - 01:45 PM

For me, the issue with clues that don't lead anywhere is that they are the boring bit of the drama that gets skipped in TV shows or passed over in a paragraph in a book. So whilst it's fine to show a montage of cops going door to door, or glimpses of someone wandering in a maze, you can't show every dead end without reducing the tension. Perhaps one is OK, but I'd be loathe even to have that.

 

Some kind of weird non sequitur is probably just about OK, such as stumbling on to a Mi-go mining operation, or some bootlegger hijack, but in my experience this confuses the players. They tend to expect everything in the game to have some impact on the main plot line, and will try to work any secondary lines into what they understand to be the main plot, unless this is massively signposted.

 

In a sandbox game this isn't such a big issue as there is some expectation, I think, that this might happen. But in a one shot demo, the approach is to keep focussed on a single investigation, and make relevant things happen in every scene.

 

I've only ever used the pre-gens for this scenario. I found some Italian character sheets here: http://gumshoe.it/materiali If you copied across the stats then that's probably enough to get your players going.


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#7 Tony Williams

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Posted 26 October 2017 - 04:15 PM

Can I ask you why? 

 

Pretty much what Steve said above - if I am an investigator I have to assume that every clue I get relates to the main plot line and treat each clue with more-or-less equal importance.

 

If it is a red herring/false clue then I just end up getting twisted in mental knots trying to relate it to the plot when in reality I won't be able to ( but as an investigator I don't know that ).

 

It just slows the game down and confuses the investigators even more ( when playing a mystery game like CoC or ToC is confusing enough anyway ).

 

Maybe your players might like red herrings but if they are newbies then I seriously suggest not using them.


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.


#8 Gaffer

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Posted 27 October 2017 - 02:19 PM

Hi Blackstorm.

 

I'm just your average Keeper who's been running four-hour con events for over fifteen years. I wanted to add my voice to the red herring question.

 

I don't use them.

 

Players will waste plenty of time interpreting the legitimate clues wrong. That's okay in a home game when "There's always next time." In a time-limited event, it is death. Not the fun, total party kill kind, but the never get to the big finish kind.

 

I strongly recommend against them.


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#9 Blackstorm

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Posted 28 October 2017 - 08:03 AM

Wow. Thank you, guys. As you says, it seems ok to not add a red herring. 

 

GBSteve, thanks for the link, I already have it, but thanks anyway for searching (I'm probabily go to your demo scenario - so ty for writing ) :)

 

Gaffer, thank you too. I don't know hoexactly how long need to be a con demo. But in the past year I never finished a single demo (my chiefs wanted me to play the adventure of Scilla and Cariddi at the end of the phb), and while I had a lot of fun playing some sketches (I never tend to be too dark at the cons, there's too much background rumor and a dark atmosphere is really difficult to obtain, so I prefer to remain on a light mode just to intensify at the clou - maybe I'm wrong, but it worked, someway), I'd never get to end a single one. So I'm in search for a one shot that would be playable from start to end.