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ToC 2nd Edition Rulebook?

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PelgranePress

I am reading this thread. We are a least another print run away from a new version, so I'll just park this as reference.

 

I think the character creation quick reference, which tells you what to do in which order with page references is generally ignored (certainly judging by this thread). We can deal with this.

 

The existence of Esoterrorists and Fear Itself would not preclude us from doing a modern campaign frame of Trail; but we are unlikely to include it in the core book, because it requires too much back-up. A modern campaign frame would be different to Esoterrorists - just to give you an idea why Eso is different to Mythos-based adventures, read this review of a recently released Esoterrorists adventure.

 

I don't think crunchy combat rules have a place in the core Trail book - it doesn't feature in any Lovecraft works at all, but back dating the Fact Book rules as part of a supplement might be possible.

 

The rules do need reorganizing, particulary Sanity, and some explanations should be more detailed.

 

There are some new GUMSHOE rules and explanations of general applicability which should be rolled into these rules.

 

We'd do a new adventure.

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daedalum

Some Rough Magics updates to magic section.

Updated Drives, Careers & Abilities.

Clarity on how to handle fluctuations of ratings vs pools (do rating increases rise current pool etc).

All rules and exceptions relating to Sanity in one reference place, likewise Health and Stability.

New campaign frames, new adventure.

Collected advice for keepers from various pagexx articles.

Expanded advice on using and crumbling pillars, mythos shocks. And how it all stacks up with stability loss as a sequence of scenes play out.

Description and advice about the scene types found In the published adventures (antagonist scene etc)

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groakes

...I don't think crunchy combat rules have a place in the core Trail book...

 

I for one am glad. Even when we're doing the pulpiest pulp, we tend rely on colourful player interpretations of the abstracted mechanics, rather than rely on the mechanics to provide the detail. We've found that it creates better player engagement and actually improves the immersion.

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crimsontree

I love ToC & have played it for years. However my group (myself included) don't fully understand the Sanity/Stability rules. It would be great if this very important set of mechanics was streamlined & explained better.

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ReverendBayes

If there is a chance the combat rules could be fleshed out, even a little bit, I would be grateful. I'm fine with "narrative combat", I just find that the first few rounds of combat are too predictable.

 

In a semi-purist game, with few combats between refreshes, there's little incentive for players not to spend as many points as possible to guarantee hits. Usually the baddies do the same. I'm not really asking for "crunchy", I just want my combat to be less predictable. There should be at least a chance of a surprise hit or miss; such things make memorable and enjoyable gaming moments.

 

I have some house rules for these situations that I've described elsewhere, and they work well. But something formalized in the rules would improve one of my few complaints about an otherwise excellent system.

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PelgranePress
If there is a chance the combat rules could be fleshed out, even a little bit, I would be grateful. I'm fine with "narrative combat", I just find that the first few rounds of combat are too predictable.

 

In a semi-purist game, with few combats between refreshes, there's little incentive for players not to spend as many points as possible to guarantee hits. Usually the baddies do the same. I'm not really asking for "crunchy", I just want my combat to be less predictable. There should be at least a chance of a surprise hit or miss; such things make memorable and enjoyable gaming moments.

 

I have some house rules for these situations that I've described elsewhere, and they work well. But something formalized in the rules would improve one of my few complaints about an otherwise excellent system.

 

This one is easily fixed. First, as a Keeper, spend as few points as you want to retain the randomness you want. Second, put a spending cap on combat tests. Other possibilities include a one is a miss (though I would let them keep the points) and a six is a hit (and you get your points back).

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ReverendBayes
This one is easily fixed. First, as a Keeper, spend as few points as you want to retain the randomness you want. Second, put a spending cap on combat tests. Other possibilities include a one is a miss (though I would let them keep the points) and a six is a hit (and you get your points back).

Thanks Simon. I've actually considered those options; the first and second suggestions don't quite appeal to me, because I want the possibility of greater danger, not just less. The last is too common for my liking on a d6 (33% chance of a guaranteed result), but it is similar to what I've come up with as a house rule for combat:

 

1. On a natural combat roll of 1 or 6, roll again.

a. If the first roll was a 1, a 1-2 on the second roll is a guaranteed miss.

b. If the first roll was a 6, a 5-6 on the second roll is a (guaranteed) critical hit.

c. A 3-4 on the second roll has no additional effect.

 

We quickly decide the effects of these extremes based on the situation. As a GM I might allow a point spend from another category to do something really stupendous and imaginative, or (on a critical miss) to avoid some terrible fate. If nothing leaps to mind, it's just an extra die of damage, or a gun jam. On a critical miss, I return all but one points that were spent.

 

There's about a 5% chance of each, so it comes up enough to be unpredictable, but not enough to imbalance. Best of all, it's simple and quick, and it creates the possibility of bringing non-combat skills into combat in unexpected ways. My players seem to like it. This might not be what you envision for the system; I'm just giving an example of something that's worked for us.

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demoss

Not sure if it would be for 2nd edition, or a supplement -- or even a web thingie, but...

 

I'd love to see few short, simple, sweet scenarios exemplifying different ways to construct them. I think such a thing would go long ways towards clearing up some of the persistent misunderstandings re. GUMSHOE.

 

One in the classic CoC mode: there's a location with badness in it. Characters go there, explore, confront the badness.

 

One with active antagonists: there's badness afoot, and characters get mixed up in it. If they do nothing, the badness comes for them.

 

One with improvisational emphasis: a few NPCs, a couple of locations, a background conflict or two, and a couple of sources of badness. Characters are part of this, and it can go in all sorts of directions.

 

I think this makes for a good, logical, pedagogical order -- both for the Keeper and players. The first scenario should be as simple as The Haunting. Something that almost runs itself. The other ones get progressively more complex, but none of them should be more than 5 pages or so long.

 

The scenarios should also showcase the different ways the clue mechanics can be used -- starting with the "location has a clue, use an ability get it" training wheels, and graduating to "do something sensible, have an ability to back it up".

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Sid

One rather small change I'd like to see in a 2nd edition of the game is moving Locksmith to the General ability list. I've always found it.. messy.. to have an Investigative ability that is sometimes used as a General Ability.

 

Since there are already a few General abilities that are used as Investigative abilities (Explosives, Mechanical and Electrical Repair) why not just include Locksmith with those? That way we keep all the "dual" abilities on one side of the fence.

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PelgranePress
One rather small change I'd like to see in a 2nd edition of the game is moving Locksmith to the General ability list. I've always found it.. messy.. to have an Investigative ability that is sometimes used as a General Ability.

 

Since there are already a few General abilities that are used as Investigative abilities (Explosives, Mechanical and Electrical Repair) why not just include Locksmith with those? That way we keep all the "dual" abilities on one side of the fence.

 

This thread, and this idea, is bookmarked.

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The_Tatterdemalion_King

It would also bring it in-line with the way Infiltration is used in other GUMSHOE games.

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Tony Williams

Things I want to see:

 

1) Change the logos you use for Purist and Pulp rules to something less abstract - I find it hard to remember which is which - maybe a gun for pulp and a magnifying glass or book for purist.

 

2) More clarity on Investigative spend types and any roleplaying that goes with them. I found this post in the forum by GBSteve invaluable in this respect

 

3) This nugget of wisdom from Robin D Laws' Page XX article encouraging players not to hoard pool points:

 

Your character does not become literally worse in her abilities as you spend points. Ability Ratings remain unchanged as you spend pool points. Point-spending is something players do on the fictional level, not something that happens to the characters in the game universe.

 

If your Athletics rating is 8, you are better, overall, at performing physical tasks than a teammate with an Athletics rating of 4. When making a pound-for-pound comparison, always use ratings, not pools.

 

However, if you’ve already spent 4 points, and your teammate has spent none, you now have a roughly equal chance of successfully performing Athletics-related tasks until the next refresh occurs. But you already have one or two successes under your belt, most likely, while he hasn’t done anything to demonstrate his athletic prowess.

 

You get X opportunities to shine per scenario, where X is a somewhat fuzzy and unpredictable number but unless you spend the points the likelihood of success and therefore those stand-out story moments for your character diminishes.

 

4) The advice on Roleplay vs. Investigative spend that was given in this forum post was very useful to me. Specifically this bit:

 

Q: Something I've been thinking about a lot is what to do with interpersonal skills. Do you say which skill your going to use then let that dictate the roleplay. Or do you use them only if the player is confused or at a loss of what to roleplay, or do you just allow roleplay to dictate things and only worry about them for spends or any other solution?

 

A: The clue text lets you know what interpersonal ability is most likely to work on the character. It gives you an insight into their personality. However, if a character comes up with a plausible use of another ability, don't be afraid to say yes. But, it's beholden on you to roleplay the rejection of their advances if they use an ability unlikely to work, to keep the scene flowing.

 

If players try to roleplay an interpersonal ability they don't have, gently remind them of this and, if it's early in the game, ask them if they want to juggle their abilities to reflect the way they are roleplaying the character. Glance down at the investigators' matrix to see if they have the ability before roleplaying the rejection.

 

I would also hope the example new format for NPCs in that post would be encouraged by Pelgrane Press in all future published scenarios as it makes relating optional clues to player point spends far easier ( and anything that makes a Keeper's job easier is a good thing ). Example given in that post:

 

So, Dr Leviss, occultist:

Susceptibilities: Flattery (of his great intellect), Reassurance (that they share his goals), Credit Rating (he is a social climber), Occult

Marginal: Intimidation (only actual physical pain rather than threats), Theology (a sneering but knowledgeable dismissal of it)

Resistances: All others

 

5) All the stuff from Robin D Laws' GUMSHOE GM Troubleshooting column from Page XX

 

6) Bit more clarification/examples of Credit Rating point spend/effects in game as per this forum post

 

7) The example fight with the ghoul is useful

 

8) The First Aid rule change for stabilising severely injured players ( obviously )

 

9) Some guidance on outdoor rules. As a very sedentary human being I have no clue as to how far people could trek in a day and often characters end up in jungles, deserts, mountains etc. I would like some guidance on how much equipment characters can carry and how much ground they can traverse in a day. Devourers in the Mist gives some rules for survival ( water, food, fire, shelter ) but we also need a bit of info on trekking/mountaineering as related to player abilities.

 

10) Some other new rules that have cropped up since:

General Ability Spends ( from Devourers in the Mist ) but needs some more examples with specific ability costs.

The Drop - I still don't understand when and why I would use this "rule"

Auctions - From "Bookhounds" and also Robin's Page XX column has touched on some sort of new auction mechanic.

 

What I don't find necessary:

 

1) All new monsters from published scenarios pulled into the bestiary

 

2) All new spells from published resources pulled into the magic section ( although the actual magic rules should be brought upto their current mechanic version )

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Justin F

As per this thread, I'd like to see the possibilities of making the system 100% player-facing explored and tested and I'd like to see a 'Purist'/'gritty' combat option for damage that makes combat more dangerous.

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Ephemeer

I would like to see recommendations on the ranges of Sanity, Stability and Health in Pulp and Purist modes respectivly and in one-offs, shorter and longer campaigns. As a starting Keeper I had no clue what rating would give my players a chance to be scared of going mad/dead before the scenario/campaign was over. Also this could go in the front of each published scenario/campaign (as in The Dying of St Margarets).

 

"For this purist scenario we recommend Stability 6-12, Sanity 4-8 and Health 5-10. Increase Sanity to 8-12 if you play all the scenarios in this book linked as a campaign."

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GBSteve

You can work out the loss by counting the likely number of Stability checks and their severity. Most players don't spend on small loses but spend big on large ones. So'd I go for an average of 1/2 the amount for small loses and 4 for large loses (the amount need to guarentee success).

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Ephemeer

You can work out the loss by counting the likely number of Stability checks and their severity. Most players don't spend on small loses but spend big on large ones. So'd I go for an average of 1/2 the amount for small loses and 4 for large loses (the amount need to guarentee success).

 

Yes, that works for experienced keepers, but for first-timers I think it would be good to already have in the book.

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Justin F

Something else I'd like to see is Psychoanalysis added to the list of 'abilities that can be used as investigative or general abilities'. I feel that as an equivalent of Call of Cthulhu's Psychology, Assess Honesty doesn't quite go deep enough in some cases. And what other ability would grant insight into the mind of the creator of a sculture for example. I saw that Psychoanalysis was used in this way in 'Arkham Detective Tales' and I think it works.

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Sid

Reposting this message from the Backgrounds vs. Occupations thread

 

Let's imagine that the stars went all wrong and in a fit of eldritch madness you decided to commission me for a hypothetical 2nd ed. One of the first things I'd try is this.

 

1) Remove occupations as they exist now

 

2) Increase General build points to 75, and Investigative build points by 4 as you've suggested

 

3) Add a catalogue of optional Lovecraftian Backgrounds

 

4) Add Occupations back in but only with Credit Rating restrictions and occupational benefits. These new Occupations would have "entry requirements", meaning that you would need points in certain Investigative abilities to select a given Occupation. Selecting an Occupation would be mandatory.

 

5) Done.

 

I use and enjoy the ToC rules as written and will continue to do so. I just thought I'd see if other ToC fans are thinking along the same lines after trying the very excellent NBA.

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roguelettuce

Since there are already a few General abilities that are used as Investigative abilities (Explosives, Mechanical and Electrical Repair) why not just include Locksmith with those? That way we keep all the "dual" abilities on one side of the fence.

 

Although I appreciate a lot of the reasons for creating the distinction, I'd suggest abolishing the binary of investigative vs general altogether. There are too many things that would most logically be handled via an investigative application of a general ability or vice versa. I know that under the current system this would create problems with character creation, and possibly replenishing pool points and various other things, and that it may well change the relative value of investigative and general spends (I would much prefer to spend a point on a major benefit in story/investigative terms than a +1 to one roll!) and so forth. But some of these changes make sense in their own rights anyway (cf: my comments in this thread about character creation, for instance).

 

For some concrete examples:

Using chemistry to actually make something (that isn't necessary to advance the plot, and thus wouldn't come under 'core clue' adjudication - at present this would presumably require a spend, but even that is misappropriating the investigative framework to apply to a general use imho);

Using medicine to carry out some kind of relatively complex (non first-aid) medical procedure, such as surgery (as above);

Using firearms to identify the likely skill of a marksman, calibre of bullet used, etc;

Using riding to identify a breed of horse or to notice something unusual about someone's riding style, etc.

 

I've actually gone through all the existing abilities and found only a handful that definitely couldn't be put to the opposite use than the one intended (that is, general abilities that can't be put to investigative uses and vice versa) - most notably, health/sanity/stability (which don't operate like other general abilities anyway), preparedness and fleeing. There are a few others that could theoretically have two uses but which could prove to be hugely unbalanced or could merge with other abilities as a result (first aid/medicine, sense trouble, etc)...

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GBSteve

These things can be handled by the benefit system with freebies for the less complex and spends for the more. In NBA and Ashen Stars this idea is more developed although it is there in ToC, and we use it a lot.

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roguelettuce

1. That only addresses using investigative abilities as general ones, not general ones as investigative ones;

2. That isn't consistent with the rationale for the two different systems (die vs no-die depending on whether it is dramatic to fail or boring to fail);

3. It *can* be done that way, but that doesn't by any means mean it's the most logical or effective way of handling it. Maybe I should look into NBA and AS...

 

As I've said before, I think Gumshoe is a wonderful and impressive exercise in creative and original game design and I respect the contribution it's made to the RPG community and so on. However, I also think that it's only half-formed and operates at half capacity as a result. I want to play through the rules as written to get a feel for the system and so on, but eventually I want to substantially alter the system in my own games to address the areas that I think could do with being handled differently.

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GBSteve

NBA or AS don't make any radical alterations although NBA does introduce tactical fact finding and tag team benefits which are ways of generating general pools from investigative spends. I'm not saying you shouldn't change things if they don't quite fit how you play them game. I'm sure I've done some minor alterations along the way.

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Justin F
...I'd suggest abolishing the binary of investigative vs general altogether. There are too many things that would most logically be handled via an investigative application of a general ability or vice versa.

 

An interesting idea. Mechanically this could perhaps be handled by giving Investigative spends a higher value than General ones, say, at a ratio of 2:1. It strikes me that what makes something and Investigative spend vs a General ability test is not the field of expertise but the manner in which it is used. But this would impact on quite a lot, especially character creation and would mean that the rules were not backward compatible with existing published material.

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roguelettuce

But this would impact on quite a lot, especially character creation and would mean that the rules were not backward compatible with existing published material.

That's true, but I'm of the opinion (perhaps a minority one) that if you're releasing a new edition of a game and it's easily backwards compatible, you might as well have not bothered making it a new edition at all, and could have just released the changes as errata or optional rules, etc (witness the great D&D 3.0 to 3.5 change, where almost nothing of consequence was changed as far as I could tell, except the Ranger class, yet all of the core books were updated and a whole series of new supplements were released which updated older supplements - that just struck me as pointless).

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Justin F
(witness the great D&D 3.0 to 3.5 change, where almost nothing of consequence was changed as far as I could tell, except the Ranger class, yet all of the core books were updated and a whole series of new supplements were released which updated older supplements - that just struck me as pointless).

 

Yeah, but think of the money... ;)

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