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About clues and point spends

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vincentVV
20 hours ago, Aviatrix said:

I have always, since I first started running Gumshoe, allowed Investigative spends to be about more than "hey, here's a bit of extra cool content". I have let them be ways that the players can make things be true in the fiction.

 

I think I can see your point. Like - point spending a way the players can influence the game world the way they want it. Right? (Of course, within reasonable boundaries)

 

16 hours ago, brehaut said:

Abstractly maybe. Practically, no

 

I see what you mean, and your math is right, but I personally saw people rolling five 6s in a row. (as well as four 1s, by the way, but nevertheless :) )

So in a long run and absract probability - yes, it's 0,0% in CoC vs 100 % in ToC.

BUt, as I mentioned above - it is not about probability and percentage.

It is about the overall possibility of a positive outcome. Not its probability. It is about "Is it possible at all?"

 

Well, nevertheless, I think I'm moved a litle by your words - considering the possibility to use other abilities instead of those that have run out of points - yes, it looks like "They can't get all the clues due to point limit" question mey be considered closed for me. Yes, now I see that they really can, and even more - using substitutions may enrich the game even more.

So, thanks. :)

 

15 hours ago, The_Tatterdemalion_King said:

You may yourself see the distinction, but the plethora of people writing and running scenarios where simple searches are abstracted into Spot Hidden rolls or DW GMs stopping play with excessive Discern Realities moves don't. Entire groups seem to operate as if the fundamental action of play is the die roll, not the question-and-answer. It's an unfortunate fact that the IA spends in Gumshoe are obscuring the most useful part of the IAs

 

How do you think, why they do it? I mean, any Keeper can state that "No roll is needed here" - so, why do they still stick to rolling all the times? I also don't see any point in this blind devotion - and, by the way, that's one of the reasons I'm still not in CoC camp of followers and am looking into ToC so eagerly. :)

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The_Tatterdemalion_King
13 hours ago, vincentVV said:

How do you think, why they do it? I mean, any Keeper can state that "No roll is needed here" - so, why do they still stick to rolling all the times? I also don't see any point in this blind devotion - and, by the way, that's one of the reasons I'm still not in CoC camp of followers and am looking into ToC so eagerly. :)

 

I think some RPG players absorb from combat in D&D the idea that a PC action isn't "real" or "earned" unless a random roll was involved. This is, of course, exactly backwards. 

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PaulStJohnMackintosh
On 01/01/2019 at 20:18, The_Tatterdemalion_King said:

I think some RPG players absorb from combat in D&D the idea that a PC action isn't "real" or "earned" unless a random roll was involved. This is, of course, exactly backwards. 

 

That's precisely what got me to take up gaming again after years out - a system that depended on you making intelligent choices rather than the luck of the dice.

 

I have this nasty suspicion that the dice dependency in CoC limits your incentive to think. In GUMSHOE, you're encouraged to think out new ways to turn your IA pool spends into General Ability points. You're budgeting your pool over a whole scenario, figuring out when to shell out and when to hold back. You're working out new and off-the-wall ways to apply your Investigative Abilities. You earn your reward by thinking. At the same time, the system is just flexible and friendly enough that no one is going to fail just because they run short of good ideas. 

 

Separately, I don't think a game is at fault if it privileges intelligent play. What game doesn't? Everything from chess onwards is a battle of wits. Why should RPGs be the only games that pamper dumbness?

 

Here's Robin Laws talking about GUMSHOE design principles.

 

 

A few salient quotes:

 

"It then allows us to make mysteries that are deeper and richer"

"It gives the players more chance to work out the mystery, rather than just following a breadcrumb trail of clues from one roll, which hopefully you get and sometimes you don't, all along the way."

 

That rather disposes of Justin Alexander's snark about GUMSHOE.

 

"Every point matters if you add 1 point to a D6"

 

"Almost all genres are investigative... Almost anything you care to name has an investigative element."

 

"It is designed to be a specific experience. I don't believe in generic rules that are designed to do everything."

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vincentVV

PaulStJohnMackintosh, thanks for the video, that was uite informative, although I also payed attention to Robin's phrase that he doesn't believe in generic systems - maybe that's the root of all the complications that arise from his rules for some players?

 

Meantime, looks like I've found my own solution to spending problem. It is very simple (I even suspect it can be incorporated in some rules but I've missed it - but nevertheless). Investigative abilities are used the same way as general ones: when you use it - make a roll. The exeptions are:

- you never roll to get a Core Clue;

- spending a point makes your roll an automatic success;

- you still ,ay spend a point to get/make something interesting - the Keeper will be the referee here as to when this is the case.

 

That's it. With all this you are not dependant on the amount of points you are left with anymore - you ALWAYS have a chance to get additional information. Spending points only helps you to succeed 100% when you really need it.

 

I haven't tested it with the players yet (although I've already asked them to give ToC a second chance), but at least now it looks like the whole puzzle now fits more or less well into place.

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Tony Williams
3 hours ago, vincentVV said:

Meantime, looks like I've found my own solution to spending problem. It is very simple (I even suspect it can be incorporated in some rules but I've missed it - but nevertheless). Investigative abilities are used the same way as general ones: when you use it - make a roll. The exeptions are:

- you never roll to get a Core Clue;

- spending a point makes your roll an automatic success;

- you still ,ay spend a point to get/make something interesting - the Keeper will be the referee here as to when this is the case.

 

That is a decent compromise with how you want the game to work and how GUMSHOE works - but it's easier to boil it down to 1 extra rule:

 

It works the same as GUMSHOE except for point-spend clues you get the choice to buy it ( as normal  ) or roll a difficulty level instead on a d6.

 

For difficulty levels I'd suggest difficulty [4+the number of points the clue costs to buy] - that would give a 33% success for a 1 point-spend clue and a 17% success for the rare 2 point-spend clue.

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vincentVV
17 hours ago, Tony Williams said:

That is a decent compromise with how you want the game to work and how GUMSHOE works

 

I understand it very well, but for now it is the way to pacify me with ToC's point limits. Maybe through this I will get further.

 

17 hours ago, Tony Williams said:

It works the same as GUMSHOE except for point-spend clues you get the choice to buy it ( as normal  ) or roll a difficulty level instead on a d6.

 

For difficulty levels I'd suggest difficulty [4+the number of points the clue costs to buy] - that would give a 33% success for a 1 point-spend clue and a 17% success for the rare 2 point-spend clue.

 

A nice advice, thanks. I think I will use it. :)

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Tony Williams
3 hours ago, vincentVV said:
17 hours ago, Tony Williams said:

It works the same as GUMSHOE except for point-spend clues you get the choice to buy it ( as normal  ) or roll a difficulty level instead on a d6.

 

For difficulty levels I'd suggest difficulty [4+the number of points the clue costs to buy] - that would give a 33% success for a 1 point-spend clue and a 17% success for the rare 2 point-spend clue.

 

A nice advice, thanks. I think I will use it. :)

 

Actually you could take the investigator's ability rating into account too so that investigator's with higher ratings ( supposedly better than investigators with lower ratings ) could have a better chance at getting the clue with a die roll:

 

difficulty level is [ 5 + clue point cost - investigator's ability rating ]

 

So a 2 point-spend clue for an investigator with rating of just 1 is 6 ( i.e. 17% success ) but for someone with a rating of 3 it is difficulty 4 ( i.e. 50% success )

And a 1 point-spend  clue for an investigator of rating 1 is difficulty 5 ( i.e. 33% success ) but for someone with a rating of 3 it is difficulty 3 ( i.e. 66% success )

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vincentVV

mmmm... looks interesting, but too much math for my taste.

On the other hand it is simple to create a table like CoC resistance table - to match the difficulty with the rating.

 

By the way, I've talked to my players - they are eager to try ToC once more. We'll see... ;)

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brehaut

Rather than worrying about making a table if there is too much math† you could just never charge a point spend for any clue regardless of what the scenario says: all clues are free clues. Leave spends exclusively for benefits. You could look at the Variant Builds sidebar on page 24 for the table with reduced number of investigative points (but leave the general abilities points as they are), knowing that players are in general going require a less points.

 

I'd also make sure that each player has a copy of the Example Benefits sidebar on page 53.

 

 

† The math in either of @Tony Williams's methods is pretty light really considering the infrequency of point spend clues

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Tony Williams
28 minutes ago, brehaut said:

Rather than worrying about making a table if there is too much math† you could just never charge a point spend for any clue regardless of what the scenario says: all clues are free clues.

 

That's how I'd do it myself but Vincent seems to really want a %-success-type/die roll solution.

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vincentVV
21 hours ago, Tony Williams said:

%-success-type/die roll solution

 

Only as a way to get a potential access to all information and to bypass a limitation on cool things players can make. Only for this.

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PaulStJohnMackintosh

Once again, even more briefly: point spends are not about getting information. They are about getting extra benefits. They're a way to get even more out of Investigative Abilities than just clues and information, because you always get the clues and information you need. That makes sense given how important IAs are in the game, but it's not why or how IAs are important. Sometimes the extra benefit comes in the form of more information, but if that happens, it's bonus or surplus or luxury information, not need-to-know information, and it's just as a subset of types of benefit. You never need to spend to know things. Sometimes you can spend to do more stuff. That's all it is.

 

Once again, Fall of DELTA GREEN doesn't have any spend cost for clues. Clearly stated. Spend for benefits, yes. Spend for information, no. They did right, IMHO, because the Trail of Cthulhu-vintage explanation of benefits was causing exactly the confusion we're seeing now, by linking it too closely to the clues themselves. If you read even ToC more closely, it doesn't talk about spending to get clues, only spending in the context of clues.

 

Once again, die rolls and chances of success are just a different kind of limitation. They may mean that you can keep on rolling, but if that's your only form of resolution, they 100% guarantee that at some point you'll have to break your own system to allow the scenario to continue. If you're happier with that kind of limitation, fine, but that's absolutely just the kind of limitation you're happy with, not an unlimited system.

 

Here's a suggestion: if you're concerned about point spends in GUMSHOE as an artificial and restrictive limitation, try running the game with everyone getting an arbitrarily high number of Investigative Ability pool points, say 10 or 20 or however many you like. In any campaign, investigators are going to jack up their totals anyway. Night's Black Agents makes provision for really high IA ratings, if I remember right, and even ToC only talks about Ability caps in the context of Purist mode. See how it works. If you stick to the rules around no point spends for clues, I strongly expect you'll see very little difference from a game where typical IA ratings are around 1-2 points. If that kind of limitation is your issue, try minimizing it. That's a far easier and very testable fix, rather than turning the whole system upside down. 

 

Here's another conceptual trick that may help, since it's like the way that Fate or Heroquest handles some such questions: Try thinking of Abilities as Attributes or Aspects of a character's identity. Instead of Chemistry, Chemist. Instead of Athletics, Athlete. A chemist is always a chemist, not only the 35% or 55% of the time when he makes successful Chemistry skill rolls. He gets some chances to really shine at being a chemist, and that's where the fun comes in.

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vincentVV
21 hours ago, PaulStJohnMackintosh said:

Once again, even more briefly: point spends are not about getting information. They are about getting extra benefits. They're a way to get even more out of Investigative Abilities than just clues and information, because you always get the clues and information you need. That makes sense given how important IAs are in the game, but it's not why or how IAs are important. Sometimes the extra benefit comes in the form of more information, but if that happens, it's bonus or surplus or luxury information, not need-to-know information, and it's just as a subset of types of benefit. You never need to spend to know things. Sometimes you can spend to do more stuff. That's all it is.

 

I've just built my precious tower of Confidence of Knowing ToC More or Less - and now you are ruining it. )))))))

 

21 hours ago, PaulStJohnMackintosh said:

Once again, Fall of DELTA GREEN doesn't have any spend cost for clues. Clearly stated. Spend for benefits, yes. Spend for information, no. They did right, IMHO, because the Trail of Cthulhu-vintage explanation of benefits was causing exactly the confusion we're seeing now, by linking it too closely to the clues themselves. If you read even ToC more closely, it doesn't talk about spending to get clues, only spending in the context of clues.

 

Unfortunately, I haven't got a chance to access The Fall - even through unofficial sources (((

And I've never heard before (even here) that ALL clues can be obtained without spends. That sounds truly new and surprising to me!

 

21 hours ago, PaulStJohnMackintosh said:

Once again, die rolls and chances of success are just a different kind of limitation. They may mean that you can keep on rolling, but if that's your only form of resolution, they 100% guarantee that at some point you'll have to break your own system to allow the scenario to continue. If you're happier with that kind of limitation, fine, but that's absolutely just the kind of limitation you're happy with, not an unlimited system.

 

Not at all.

 

To me "you MAY fail your dice roll" has less limits than "You will get more information only X times" - yet, in the light of your previous words I truly will overlook my point of view.

 

21 hours ago, PaulStJohnMackintosh said:

Here's a suggestion: if you're concerned about point spends in GUMSHOE as an artificial and restrictive limitation, try running the game with everyone getting an arbitrarily high number of Investigative Ability pool points, say 10 or 20 or however many you like. In any campaign, investigators are going to jack up their totals anyway. Night's Black Agents makes provision for really high IA ratings, if I remember right, and even ToC only talks about Ability caps in the context of Purist mode. See how it works. If you stick to the rules around no point spends for clues, I strongly expect you'll see very little difference from a game where typical IA ratings are around 1-2 points. If that kind of limitation is your issue, try minimizing it. That's a far easier and very testable fix, rather than turning the whole system upside down.

 

It really sounds like being worth trying. Thanks.

 

Anyway, I'd really be grateful if anyone could present some simple plot structure, highlighting points where spending is not needed and where it can be used. I think this will make me understand everything better.

 

A familiar plot (like the Haunting or Edge of Darkness) would be perfect.

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rylehNC

Here is Pelgrane's conversion page, where both the Haunting & Edge of Darkness have been converted.

 

Plenty of GMs who look at a GUMSHOE rulebook for the first time worry about what the characters might not be able to do while ignoring what they can do.

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brehaut
4 hours ago, vincentVV said:

And I've never heard before (even here) that ALL clues can be obtained without spends. That sounds truly new and surprising to me!

[emphasis mine]

 

This has been suggested so many times now in this thread that the ever-patient @Tony Williams had concluded that you specifically didn’t want this solution:

On 09/01/2019 at 10:09, Tony Williams said:

That's how I'd do it myself [never charging a point spend for clues] but Vincent seems to really want a %-success-type/die roll solution.

 

Here’s a few examples from a quick scrub through the thread

 

On 29/06/2017 at 01:15, numtini said:

Yeah, the latest iteration, The King In Yellow RPG, completely removes spends from investigative abilities. You get two non-specific pushes to use for secondary things related to your abilities, but which aren't clues. 

 

On 02/02/2018 at 05:03, Tony Williams said:

Pelgrane has the February See Page XX up and in this article:  http://site.pelgranepress.com/index.php/see-page-xx-gumshoe-says-yes/  Robin makes an interesting comment about Non-Core Clues:

 

"Instead point expenditures give you special extra spiffy benefits above and beyond access to vital clues. In early GUMSHOE scenarios you sometimes got especially impressive information that didn‘t directly impact the case, or gained the standard clue in a particularly impressive way. Over the years we‘ve put that thought aside in favor of practical benefits to the character. You might learn how to kill a creature more easily, cement an alliance with a helpful GMC, convince an angry bystander not to slug you, and so forth."

 

So it looks like the idea of paying Investigative pool points for Non-Core Clues is fading from the rules and you should just pay for Benefits now.

 

On 09/03/2018 at 00:43, Tony Williams said:

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. 

 

On 31/12/2018 at 04:07, Tony Williams said:

This is why I'm an advocate of the new "Push" system - all clues are free ( Core and Non-Core ) it's just Benefits that cost a point/push. 

 

On 31/12/2018 at 13:12, PaulStJohnMackintosh said:

I think earlier versions of the system did confuse the issue by making non-core clues something you had to spend for. I notice this isn't really there in Fall of DELTA GREEN, to name but one. IMHO, it's simplest and best to say that all clues are toll-free use of Investigative Abilities.

Investigative Ability spends are about anything else related to that competence that isn't about answering the question. If it makes it easier for you, think of them as triggers or excuses for more General Ability uses. They unlock a pool of General Ability points for use in certain situations or certain ways. What they are not about is answering a question. 

 

On 09/01/2019 at 09:40, brehaut said:

you could just never charge a point spend for any clue regardless of what the scenario says: all clues are free clues. Leave spends exclusively for benefits.

 

 

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PaulStJohnMackintosh

I'll say one thing for this thread: it's helped clarify the whole issue in my mind and firm up the distinction. I'm now a lot more vigilant about focusing on it, explaining it clearly, and implementing it. 

 

I notice that Swords of the Serpentine refers to leads as well as clues for the core focus of Investigative Abilities - not sure if that helps to clarify what we're talking about. But still for me, it's no spend for information, only for benefits related to knowledge of the Ability area.

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brehaut
38 minutes ago, PaulStJohnMackintosh said:

I'll say one thing for this thread: it's helped clarify the whole issue in my mind and firm up the distinction. I'm now a lot more vigilant about focusing on it, explaining it clearly, and implementing it.

 

I 100% agree, and I think it has been a useful exercise for the community here.

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vincentVV
On 10/01/2019 at 22:12, brehaut said:

[emphasis mine]

 

Wellll... yes, now that you've put all those quotes in line I can see it too - yet at THAT time it looked more like "Well, I DO IT this way" phrases. Like... well... homerules or something - I didn't collate them with the oficial rules.

 

So, thanks. You've done A LOT of work finding these parts, really - and I appreciate it.

 

22 hours ago, brehaut said:

I 100% agree, and I think it has been a useful exercise for the community here.

 

I'm glad my tediousness became something more than just a stupid man's mumbling. )))

 

And now that we clarified the aspect about clues and information, and as benefits become much more important - it seems I may need some clarifications about benefits now. ))))

 

No, really. I thought getting additional clues was the main purpose of spending, and bennies were just.. well, some optional fun that could be used in specific situations.

 

Yet now it seems that this is not the case.

 

So, can rules clarify and state loud and clear what benefits are?

 

As far as I understood from the examples, most obvious cases are:

- lessen the time, needed to obtain an information (like you call not some abstract chemist, but your buddy - and thus the analysis is made in 3 hours instead of 3 days - so, got it).

- create an NPC with twice that many IA points that is ready to help - got it.

- make someone who is hostile or neutral - loyal to you. Got it (although still not at all understand how is it made from the logical point of view..)

- remember something useful from your past - a slicky one as it is too close to getting an information, so I think I'd discard it.

- convert IA points into specific points on some topics - have no idea how it works and how it works in a real game. o_O

- create something useful of significant - an impressive painting, a story that becomes famous etc. - got it.

 

Anything else that is not abstract and can be explained plain to the players?

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brehaut
3 hours ago, vincentVV said:

So, can rules clarify and state loud and clear what benefits are?

 

As far as I understood from the examples, most obvious cases are:

- lessen the time, needed to obtain an information (like you call not some abstract chemist, but your buddy - and thus the analysis is made in 3 hours instead of 3 days - so, got it).

- create an NPC with twice that many IA points that is ready to help - got it.

- make someone who is hostile or neutral - loyal to you. Got it (although still not at all understand how is it made from the logical point of view..)

- remember something useful from your past - a slicky one as it is too close to getting an information, so I think I'd discard it.

- convert IA points into specific points on some topics - have no idea how it works and how it works in a real game. o_O

- create something useful of significant - an impressive painting, a story that becomes famous etc. - got it.

 

Anything else that is not abstract and can be explained plain to the players?

 

So first thing, I wouldn’t try to give the players an exhaustive list. Either you propose a benefit and spend that you (or the scenario) has prepared, or the players will as to do something and you interpret it as a spend for them. 

 

Just to hit a few of your points: remember something useful from your past. I wouldnt be so quick to discard it. If the information they want introduce would give them a tangible advantage that you hadn’t planned then letting them introduce it but charging a spend is a good compromise. 

 

There’s useful trick you can use it for: say you have a shoggoth in your scenario and your players have gotten a clue about its existence. You’ve decided you want the “canonical” weakness to electricity, but one of the players drops

some metagame knowledge about this despite their character not having had any reason to know, you can make that a spend to establish this. 

 

Converting IA points to dedicate pool points on some other topic is fairly straight forward. Your players just write down a new pool with a name and a number of points that they can spend i that dedicated area. I think typically one IA point converts to 2 or 3 dedicated pool points based on how specific it is. Say you spend 1 point of architecture to be discover the the reasonably general information about a set of speakeasy tunnels beneath the cultists lair, that might be a 2 point pool of Speakeasy Tunnels. If you however got an engineers review of the structural flaws of the 1600s building the cult meets in, that’s maybe a 3 point pool in that building. You can treat these points as IA points for further investigative benefits, or, more likely, you might convert those points to General Points (at a rare of 1:3). So say you have the 2 points in speakeasy tunnels the. One player might spend 1 of those points for a 3 point spend for Stealth to sneak in without the cultists knowing. Or you could spend them on athletics to know the most likely directions the cultists will run in when they flee.

 

One nice thing about the dedicated pool is that you might make it available to the whole group, so the players are converting a point from their personal skill into something the whole group can use. 

 

This conversion of IA points to dedicated pools is, IMO, one of the real strengths of the system. It’s a really neat way of reifying player ingenuity in ways they can mechanically leverage. 

 

So re:flipping an NPC from hostile to neutral. Say there’s a crime syndicate enforcer who is blocking you from accessing the speakeasy tunnels the players have discovered under the cultists lair because they are using them for smuggling. You might spend a point of coptalk or law to tip them off to a police operation that will hit the enforcer soon (“there’s some noise among the cops about you being involved with big eddies disappearance, they have a witness who claims to have seen you leaving his place”), as in exchange the enforcer lets you have access to the tunnels for a night. 

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vincentVV

brehaut - Great! You've clarified some points for me, so THANK you very much.

Looks like for now most of my questions have answers. :)

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