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About clues and point spends

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Tony Williams

nclarke is talking about GUMSHOE in general - the GUMSHOE rules evolved so people that wrote adventures for ToC subsumed those new rules into their writing style and altered their scenario spends accordingly.

 

It looks like the direction of "spends for clues" is now going by the wayside in GUMSHOE. Investigative spends seem to be just for players to buy Benefits now. The idea of a "core clue" and a "non-core clue" will not be differentiated by a need to spend a point for a "non-core clue". The differences exist purely to flag up to the GM which clues are absolutely necessary for the players to get to complete the adventure ( the "core clues" ) vs. those that are not necessary ( "non-core" clues ).

 

If a new rulebook for ToC came out I wouldn't be surprised if this was how the rules would be written now.

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nclarke

Also don't forget that the GUMSHOE rules are now CC and OGL licensed and have been updated since their original release under those licences. Anyone writing for Pelgrane generally uses the System Reference Document  to cover the licencing issues that might arise from using content that is not under the appropriate licence so there is no surprises that as the rules have evolved and the SRD changes writers are using the latest material supported by the SRD.

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vincentVV

oh... even so... Ok.I see now. Thanks. =)

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vincentVV

I scanned through some of ToC adventures I own, and found some interesting moments concerning spend mechanics.

 

Graham Walmsey's Final Revelation doesn't use spend mechanics at all. Only in some places there're notes that some investigative abilities use can be replaced with a 1-point spend of a relevant interpersonal ability. And that's all. Graham builds his adventures on the main ToC premise: you use the necessary ability - you get the clue. Can't say it makes his adventures less interesting or variative.

 

The free adventure The Murderer of Thomas Fell uses spend mechanics somewehere around a doezn of times and while some of these moments are pretty well correspond with the term "benefit" (like finding a secret door to a room with additional information, retreiving a lost gun or downgrading the Stability loss for killing Thomas), others are a little bit messy (make sure that the last note "Thomas killed me" is indeed what a dying man meant, or revealing a fact that Thomas is not afraid of a Maw). 

 

The beginning adventure from a rulebook, Kingsbury Horror, while being a little messy by itself, shows some really nice spend mechanic examples:

- spend 1 point of Cop Talk to recieve a police badge (a very nice and useful benefit indeed!)

- spend 2 points to get more detatiled information about an image (use Anthropology to recognize a balcan glyth, spend Anthropology to recognize a Dog Totem)

- the same with Art History - use it to find out a common information about the painting, make a spend to remember it's title and author.

- spend 2 points to find a particular book in a library

All spends are rare but rather specific and demonstrate the mechanics pretty well.

 

A really great adventure The Keepers of the Woods, unfortunately, shows the spend mechanic with a mixed success.

On the one hand it has some great examples (substitute Cop Talk use with a spend of an interpersonal ability; spend Geology or Archeology to recognise the exact type of moss), but on the other it has some... strange examples (make a Psychoanalysis spend to see Sarah is disturbed (and what about a simple Psychoanalysis use?), or make a 1-point Library Use spend to gain access to old records etc.).

 

I have some more adventures, but haven't looked through them yet, but it seems to me that there will be the same pattern over there.

 

What does it mean? At the present moment it seems to me that the spend mechanic is quite complicated and not very well explained by the authors. It gives too much freedom to interpret by both Keepers and players and this sometimes can lead to a confusion.

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GBSteve

I've played the Final Revelation with Graham running it. Although the scenario doesn't call for spends, spends were certainly made to gain information about what was going on or for benefits. Core clues only get you from scene to scene, they don't tell you what is going on. It's not that the mechanics weren't being used.

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Tony Williams

What does it mean? At the present moment it seems to me that the spend mechanic is quite complicated and not very well explained by the authors. It gives too much freedom to interpret by both Keepers and players and this sometimes can lead to a confusion.

 

I would agree with you - I don't think the initial GUMSHOE game books ( Esoterrorists, Fear Itself, ToC ) were written very well around this subject at all. As newer variants of GUMSHOE were published ( NBA, Fear Itself 2nd Ed ) then those sections improved.

 

If I were to say anything to Pelgrane at the moment I would say think hard about explaining the spend mechanics and write an exceedingly clear section about this into the SRD that is carried forward into any new GUMSHOE rulebooks. It also needs to be pitched at two levels - RPG newbies and those coming from other mystery RPGs to excise any wrong assumptions non-newbies might bring to the GUMSHOE mechanics.

 

UPDATE: I've just downloaded the latest GUMSHOE SRD and, indeed, the concept of a "non-core clue" has been expunged from the rules; extra information offered by the GM is classed as a Benefit with an associated point cost of zero-upwards.

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vincentVV

Tony, I totally agree with you :)

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numtini

Gosh. Pays to read the rules doesn't it. First time through, I just skipped the spend section, but I just looked at Fall of Delta Green and it's been adjusted as per the new SRD, but with additional examples of what kind of benefits you might get from a spend, including some concrete ones like finishing the task quickly or gaining a bonus on a general test based on the information. I very much like the new phrasing and options.

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GMDavy

I'm glad I read this thread before trying to run my first ToC game. I've read Fear Itself 2E, and own but haven't read Timewatch and Trail of Cthulhu.

 

For minimal confusion, it sounds like I should use the spend rules for Fear Itself 2E regardless of which game I'm playing, since it's a more recent release? 

 

I remember being a bit confused by them on my first read-through, but I was also entirely new to GUMSHOE. So I'm guessing giving them another pass would be much clearer. 

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Tony Williams

For minimal confusion, it sounds like I should use the spend rules for Fear Itself 2E regardless of which game I'm playing, since it's a more recent release? 

 

I'd advise downloading the current GUMSHOE SRD document from the Pelgrane Press website and use those spend rules in all your GUMSHOE based games going forward.

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