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How to reward interpretation in CoC

CoC 7e

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#1 telpenande

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Posted 23 November 2017 - 12:40 PM

Hello, fellow cultists. 

 

I'm GMing a Cthulhu campaign for quite a while now and my players are really enjoying it. 

 

They do A LOT of interpretation and get very enthusiastic about it, which is, IMHO, the most important part of RPG

 

However, the CoC system does not have ways of rewarding this. I remember when I played D&D and others that where based on gaining XP to rise levels that sometimes, when we had a particular interesting session, the GM would also throw some "interpretation experience points". That made everybody happy because we could understand that RPG wasn't (just) about killing monsters, but that we had to actually roleplay (duh!) the scenes to make it fun.

 

Has anyone else ever thought about how to do something similar in CoC? Do you have any house rules in order to vaue a particularly good interpretation?




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#2 ragr

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Posted 23 November 2017 - 12:52 PM

Simple thing might be to give them an improvement tick on the most appropriate skill. If the the next improvement phase is a way off maybe bring that one forward. Alternatively, maybe a Luck reward or additional roll next session. Or, a Bonus Dice that can be used in a future situation that is linked to the good play. 



#3 Eusebio

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Posted 23 November 2017 - 01:03 PM

In 7th edition, Luck points seem an easy and suitable reward. 

 

I use the system in my D&D campaign as well and I let the players vote whom amongst them gets the Interpretation point for last session.
The one that is chosen gets a free reroll during the next game. 



#4 Gaffer

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Posted 23 November 2017 - 02:12 PM

I think an improvement roll or even a free point in a relevant skill is the best choice.


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#5 boulash

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Posted 23 November 2017 - 02:47 PM

On the other hand, education theories warn us against rewarding children for behaviours they enjoy anyway. So you might just roll with their pleasure of doing it...

 

To add my 2 Cents, you could give bonus dices to the action following a great moment of interpretation, especially if it's loosely linked. That's obvious for social rolls, but you could grant a bonus die to a fighting manoeuver because the character got really angry and rilled up before.


Sanity is way overrated


#6 telpenande

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Posted 23 November 2017 - 04:25 PM

Now, all those suggestions are very interesting. As for the improvement in a related hability this sounds logic but might be hard to do because it's not always that easy to do this correation (for example, a very good interpretation of a phase of insanity...)
 

I don't expect to use this system every single session, but to give a special something when a player does an extra effort in interpretation. 

 

Maybe I'll go with the free reroll for the next game or the extra dice...



#7 ragr

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Posted 23 November 2017 - 04:37 PM

Now, all those suggestions are very interesting. As for the improvement in a related hability this sounds logic but might be hard to do because it's not always that easy to do this correation (for example, a very good interpretation of a phase of insanity...)
..


True. There is the long held tradition of Insane Insight in CoC, however, where the investigator might gain a flash of inspiration that can be represented with an improvement tick or roll. This could be used with foreshadowing; as an example, your campaign may at some point feature some kind of infernal machine and the insanity afflicted investigator may have a sensory vision that may increase their Occult, Mechanical Repair, Electrical Repair or similar. It would have to be subtle to avoid dropping too big a hint but it could be an effective double whammy benefit for an awesome portrayal of mental harm. I probably wouldn't make this a stated thing within my game so that players don't chase the benefit too greedily as the previous post about reward being a thing unto itself does hold true. It becomes a specialist tool for those occasional moments.

#8 BenJoss

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Posted 24 November 2017 - 01:57 PM

In my current campaign, I've started to make a lot of use of the bonus and penalty dice based on how a player interprets a situation.  If, for example, I call for a particular roll and the player supports this with considerations from their background, or something their character might be doing based on the knowledge they have accrued then I'll grant a bonus die.

 

Having done this consistently from the start of the campaign has lead to the player actively embellishing actions by providing an additional narrative.  So instead of just saying 'I search the house', they will say 'I'm going directly to the bureau and looking for any notes or transcripts relating to the book I know this person was writing'.  In that case, I will either just give them the clue if it exists or give them a bonus die to the spot hidden roll.

 

I've also been using luck from time to time as discussed above.  This also works well and encourages the players to think outside the box.



#9 Celebrim

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Posted 24 November 2017 - 03:00 PM

It would seem to me that proper interpretation is self-rewarding, especially in the long run.

 

But I agree with BenJoss that if a character proposes doing something specific that would logically lead to discovery, there is often no need for a spot hidden roll at all.   A Spot Hidden roll might gain the clue, "The painting appears to be recently moved.", but if the character actually proposes looking behind the painting he doesn't need to make a Spot Hidden roll to see what is behind it (whether beneficial or Sanity destroying). 

 

For me, one problem I run into is the problem of 'trains of thought'.   As players discover things and begin to speculate on them, they generally want to know how what they've discovered or what they are speculating on relates to things that they know as a result of their academic background.  If a character finds a clue as a result of Library Use, that clue might logically lead to all sorts of associations.  For example, if you find in the library that the peculiar brachiform runes on the green soapstone stele you found resemble writing that has been associated with the lost continent of Mu, this often causes the player to call out Archaeology to see to see if you can recall details about research or expeditions into Mu.   That in turn provokes a potentially veritable torrent of information, most notably the name Harold Copeland, which might provoke calls for History tells and Know rolls and so forth.  For example, not only might a informed Archaeologist recall the specific expeditions and published works, but they might recall that Dr. Copeland is still alive and confined to a Arkham Sanitarium.  But what I hate doing is turning this in to a really long series of skill, Luck, Idea, and Know rolls to try to figure out what the character already knows, even in situations where it is reasonably that the character might know something, because this tends to become somewhat boring and rather mechanical and leads to players calling out as many skills as they can think of in hoping of getting check marks.  I'm torn between being fair and simulating the knowledge a PC has that seems to be the implication of the skill system most of the time and just saying what the character remembers with no tests to avoid all the rolling and fishing expeditions.



#10 BenJoss

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Posted 24 November 2017 - 05:24 PM

Ah, well that's where the degrees of success in CoC 7th Edition comes in useful.  For example, if I call for a regular difficulty on a skill check and then the player gets a hard, extreme or critical success I will give them a bonus.  This can range from more information, an extra clue and/or a bonus die on a future roll that is relevant to what they just did.

 

Obviously, this requires a bit more 'reading of the tea leaves' to interpret what a higher success might mean, but it gives the players a sense of achievement when they make a decent roll and get a benefit from it.  Much more interesting than a binary pass/fail in my opinion (although they have their place too).

 

Not a new idea by any stretch and baked into lots of RPGs already, but the idea of taking a dice forward is something that was nicely articulated Powered by the Apocalypse games like Apocalypse or Dungeon World as +1 forward.  Even if it's not your thing I highly recommend reading one of these games simply because of the different lens they use took look at RPG theory and mechanics.  Some great stuff you can take back to your usual Call of Cthulhu game.

 

That's what I love about RPGs a lot of the theory can be used across systems.



#11 ronin

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 02:58 AM

Not a new idea by any stretch and baked into lots of RPGs already, but the idea of taking a dice forward is something that was nicely articulated Powered by the Apocalypse games like Apocalypse or Dungeon World as +1 forward.  Even if it's not your thing I highly recommend reading one of these games simply because of the different lens they use took look at RPG theory and mechanics.  Some great stuff you can take back to your usual Call of Cthulhu game.


I like the concept, does Dungeon World use a similar system to CoC? The +1 forward you refer to, is this equal to a 1% increase to the skill in question? I am not familiar with either of the games you mentioned above.

#12 boulash

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Posted 25 November 2017 - 09:13 AM

I like the concept, does Dungeon World use a similar system to CoC? The +1 forward you refer to, is this equal to a 1% increase to the skill in question? I am not familiar with either of the games you mentioned above.


Dungeon World's system is entirely different from Coc (it is usually referred to as a "narrativist" system, the dice are here to bring the story forward, the GM doesn't roll, not reaching the threshold with the dice doesn't necessarily mean failure but allows the GM to launch something bad against the players...).
https://en.wikipedia..._the_Apocalypse

The +1 forward means your next roll, whatever it is, will get a bonus (in Coc it's usually a bonus die, but it could be a bonus to your roll). It's one of the things that were suggested to reward interpretation.

Sanity is way overrated






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