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Lisa

Our Ladies of Sorrow in the 1960s

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Lisa

Prepping to run Our Ladies of Sorrows with Trail (conversion's on Pelgrane's site, and while there are things about the conversion I disagree with, it's done the heavy lifting) and in the 1960s. Basic idea:

 

Part 1: 1963, exact timing TBD in discussion with players. NYC, Greenwich Village, address of the building changes, name does not.

 

Part 2: 1967, setting as per text.
Part 3: 1968 or 1969, setting as per text.
Coda: I'm pondering setting that on the night of or just after the Lunar Landing.

 

Reviewing part 1 now, I've talked about Ryder with Aviatrix, who's one of the players, and I'm using her suggestion that his family fled Russia in 1886, as things got uncomfortable following the assassination of Alexander II in 1881.

 

Next step is to go through the scenario and see what else needs to be tweaked for 1963. I know that a lot of the real world books and authors cited aren't in existence then.

 

Also, as I backed Delta Green to the max, I've the pdf of Fall of Delta Green, which is an excellent 1960s sourcebook (and has a few rules tweaks I'm going to use).

 

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One of the players handed me a lovely apple to poison for him -- periods of amnesia. He also specified a few things about his character that mean I kind of have to do a thing I was hoping to do, but that's complicated because of age factors that mean I have to decide whether I want to cheat in a certain direction or not. (It's a direction the campaign explicitly allows for, but which I find a bit unaesthetic.)

 

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Hm, I see the conversion translates "must make POW x 1 roll" (that's Extreme success on a POW roll for 7th ed) into "contest against a being that will always win such things against mortals", which is not, imo, the correct translation, so I shall have to figure this out.

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Lisa

Hm. In 1963, let us say cops know a dead guy has written down a note to call an investigator and the phone number. Would they phone that investigator and say "Could you come down to the station"? Or would they be able to find his address, do so, and then knock on his door rather than call?

 

Would they, on finding a dead body, decide to ask the phone company who he called last? Could this be discovered?

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nclarke

The phone company would have to know for billing purposes I believe. How the police might deal with the phone company would probably be simple compared to the paperwork now needed to access phone records at least in the UK.

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csmithadair

Hm, I see the conversion translates "must make POW x 1 roll" (that's Extreme success on a POW roll for 7th ed) into "contest against a being that will always win such things against mortals", which is not, imo, the correct translation, so I shall have to figure this out.

That highlights one of the trickiest things in converting between these two games, the difference in how it handles encounters with Mythos deities (they aren't meant to be overcome in direct confrontation in ToC). If this is the spell and situation I'm thinking of (involving a variant of the Grasp of Cthulhu), then I think (this was so long ago!) I was trying to balance all that out. Of course, there's a way to overcome the spell that doesn't involve a contest of wills, which is the more likely outcome, it seems to me, in the CoC version as well.

 

The straight version of the spell, for what it's worth, involved matching POW on the Resistance Table in earlier editions, which would result in an automatic success for the entity against a human opponent; it's a POW vs. POW struggle in 7th edition, so the investigator could come out ahead. So, the conversion of vanilla Grasp of Cthulhu is probably still the way to go.

 

That doesn't address the fact that the campaign offers that POW x1 roll to break free of the variant in this situation. If you want the Investigators who step into the room to have a chance to break free of the spell, you have some considerations to make. If you want it to be possible to do with a natural roll, make it a Stability roll with a Difficulty of 6 (that's a 17% chance without spending). If you want it to require spending, make it a 7 or 8. Keep in mind that if it's a Stability roll, there's a good chance trapped players are going to spend all they can to succeed. If I was in that situation and had a Stability pool left of -4 or greater, I'd spend 7 points and be assured of breaking free. The risk, then, is that all the Investigators break free of the spell and probably therefore the discussion. While that's not a guarantee (especially if players are hesitant to spend or have taken substantial Stability pool hits), that's very different from the odds of breaking out and attacking in the original campaign. Keeping the Investigators in check initially worked well when I play-tested it (and they all survived that encounter), but, if forcing that on your players doesn't sit well with you, that's something you'll have to balance out.

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Lisa

Actually, I found your alternate version of the spell on a second readthrough -- it's exactly what you suggested and much more elegant than my vague idea of a patch.

 

It's interesting looking at the strengths and weaknesses of CoC and ToC. Reviewing the opening scene, I'm looking at the CoC and going, "Wait, TWO Medicine rolls just to catalog injuries of a dying man?" OTOH, ToC charging points for something irrelevant in any way to the plot is... well, exactly how Trail is supposed to work, but my brain is still having problems with the idea of paying for something that I as GM generally want to come out but that doesn't get you anything, including spotlight time. (This is philosophical -- by the rules, it's EXACTLY what a 1 point Spend is for.)

 

In any case, first session is tomorrow, and we'll see how far things actually get.

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MikeM

"Wait, TWO Medicine rolls just to catalog injuries of a dying man?" 

 

We tried very hard in CoC 7e to get past the old multiple roll for the same task situations often encountered in older scenarios (where you are asked to make the same roll multiple times, which decreases the the chance of success significantly). Such requests are, to me, dull - the player is more likely to fail the roll - and unsatisfactory - the player disengages when they have to repeat the same roll again (especially if they succeeded first and then fail). 

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csmithadair

OTOH, ToC charging points for something irrelevant in any way to the plot is... well, exactly how Trail is supposed to work, but my brain is still having problems with the idea of paying for something that I as GM generally want to come out but that doesn't get you anything, including spotlight time. (This is philosophical -- by the rules, it's EXACTLY what a 1 point Spend is for.)

 

Actually, GUMSHOE has made a hard break with this method. Point spends in recent GUMSHOE games and scenarios are almost exclusively for benefits other than clues. It usually wasn't a problem for my group, but I do very much recall a player being really annoyed once with a Pelgrane Press scenario that called for many, many point spends--she ended up spending a point in Biology in two separate scenes that essentially duplicated the clue. She ended the scenario with points to spare, and another character also had the skill, but that was small consolation.

 

So, yeah, anywhere in the text where I seem to just be shaking down the players for their points for no concrete benefit, just hand them the clue. Something like the Grasp scene's spends used in the discussion is more in keeping with current practice (though it may need some tweaking, since pools will probably be drained less).

 

We tried very hard in CoC 7e to get past the old multiple roll for the same task situations often encountered in older scenarios (where you are asked to make the same roll multiple times, which decreases the the chance of success significantly). Such requests are, to me, dull - the player is more likely to fail the roll - and unsatisfactory - the player disengages when they have to repeat the same roll again (especially if they succeeded first and then fail). 

 

I think applying difficulties to the roll addresses that old issue well (obvious clues are great, too). After running ToC for a couple of years, I ran a CoC scenario from a third-party publisher. It was a great scenario in a lot of ways, but I, if not my players, was irritated by how many times rolls were called for. The multiple penalized Library Use rolls that really just provided interesting flavor and context (the majority of which my players failed) were particularly egregious. It very much made me want to hurry back to ToC.

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rylehNC

Hm. In 1963, let us say cops know a dead guy has written down a note to call an investigator and the phone number. Would they phone that investigator and say "Could you come down to the station"? Or would they be able to find his address, do so, and then knock on his door rather than call?

 

Would they, on finding a dead body, decide to ask the phone company who he called last? Could this be discovered?

 

James Ellroy has several police characters consult a reverse phone book of sorts that correlated numbers to owners' addresses in this era. As for method, I suppose it would depend on how soon after they spoke the victim died.

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Lisa

We tried very hard in CoC 7e to get past the old multiple roll for the same task situations often encountered in older scenarios (where you are asked to make the same roll multiple times, which decreases the the chance of success significantly). Such requests are, to me, dull - the player is more likely to fail the roll - and unsatisfactory - the player disengages when they have to repeat the same roll again (especially if they succeeded first and then fail).

Yes, I saw that, and it's a change I like. Our Ladies of Sorrow is a 6th edition campaign, which I'm running in Trail of Cthulhu, and adding a dollop of Fall of Delta Green to, so however you look at it, I've totally voided the warranty.

 

Actually, GUMSHOE has made a hard break with this method. Point spends in recent GUMSHOE games and scenarios are almost exclusively for benefits other than clues. It usually wasn't a problem for my group, but I do very much recall a player being really annoyed once with a Pelgrane Press scenario that called for many, many point spends--she ended up spending a point in Biology in two separate scenes that essentially duplicated the clue. She ended the scenario with points to spare, and another character also had the skill, but that was small consolation.

 

So, yeah, anywhere in the text where I seem to just be shaking down the players for their points for no concrete benefit, just hand them the clue. Something like the Grasp scene's spends used in the discussion is more in keeping with current practice (though it may need some tweaking, since pools will probably be drained less).

Will do (and have likely scribbled notes where I think it's an issue)! I'm glad the change has been made to GUMSHOE -- any idea where I can find this in writing? I'm trying to stay current on everything.

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csmithadair

Will do (and have likely scribbled notes where I think it's an issue)! I'm glad the change has been made to GUMSHOE -- any idea where I can find this in writing? I'm trying to stay current on everything.

 

It's in the latest version of the GUMSHOE SRD, apparently. Tony Williams talks about the change in a bit of detail in the last couple of pages of this thread: http://www.yog-sothoth.com/topic/30193-about-clues-and-point-spends/. That's not the only place it's been talked about, but that and the SRD are probably the handiest. 

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Lisa

Thanks! The first session got postponed as a player got sick as we were all getting on various subway trains, and for the first session, it really is best to have everyone. So, silver lining means I get to check this stuff out.

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csmithadair

Have a great time! It's one of my favorite campaigns. I only ran it the one time, while play-testing my conversion. The first chapter especially is a great take on a well-trod trope. One of my players still brings it up as one of the most frightening experiences of all our games.  

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Lisa

Currently pondering how to do the "snap him out of it" thing at the climax if I replace Winter with a PC. For some reason, an interpersonal spend vs a PC bugs the heck out of me. Diff 4 for the Psychoanalysis seems too low, but also possibly too high, because this would likely be the actual psychiatrist (rating of 9) and only one other investigator has the skill at all (at 4, I think). Probably I'll wing it, eyeballing the difficulty and modifying for things that make sense. I also have a back up plan with NPCs I could use if I need to.

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Lisa

And I've reached the point where I'm deciding on locations of bookstores based on where the police precinct borders are and trying to figure out where Delmonico's was in 1963. Time to make that sort of thing a GM Journal post.

 

Current fun fact: The game starts July 1 1963. There is no JFK Airport. For a few more months, it is Idlewild!

 

Have read the relevant bits of the SRD and am a bit confused. I mean, okay, basically, yes, if you spend a point, you should get something for it. It's just that the SRD seems to consider the PC's awesomeness being highlighted or a sufficiently obscure fact as a sufficient something, and I'm not sure I do.

 

If the obscure fact is in some way useful? Yes. You're getting something. If it's, oh, let's say that the scenario is set in 2018, and you're asking for a 1 point spend to tell me JFK used to be Idlewild. Unless I can use this information in some way, it's not worth the point. If it tells me that a certain NPC maybe isn't quite from the 21st century? Then, maybe yes, presuming it's not a core clue to begin with.

 

Spotlight time is tricky. If you as a player say, "Can I make a 1 point spend to do X Cool Thing?" then it's clearly worth a point to you, so we're good. But if I'm asking for a point spend for what boils down to me saying "here is the cool thing you know or do" and you parrotting back whatever I said, I'm not seeing what you've gained. I'm not seeing how it makes you or your PC look awesome. At this point, of course, we're getting meta, and your mileage will vary.

 

That said, it's definitely useful to look the SRD over. I hadn't realized the trend is now towards packages rather than occupations. And the Investigation Spends seem at least implicitly capped at 2, which feels like the right number. (The part where the conversion for Our Ladies of Sorrow calls for a 3 point spend at a climactic moment is still fine, I think, not just because it's the climax, but also because there's a way to bring that all the way down to 0, so long as someone has a rating in the skill to begin with. It also doesn't hurt that there's a second way of doing things included as well.)

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Lisa

Journal started and have begun playing with crayons.

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Lisa

Need to get the blog up to date, but briefly:

 

Part one was amazing as was part two. I may wind up turning part three inside out and replotting, as the current group is not your standard group of investigators. Also, I've found I have the opposite of the usual horror challenge.

 

You know how sometimes if you want to set something in the modern era, cellphones are your bane? That's not an issue in OLoS as written. It's set in 2009, the then-present, and part three blithely assumes everyone has a cellphone, which was pretty much the case in the USA in 2009. I mean, sure, there were plenty who didn't, but it's a pretty safe bet that in a group of Investigators, at least one person will have at least one cellphone.

 

I'm setting part 3 in January 1969. No one has cellphones. The call comes when they're probably not in their hotel room or anywhere else where there'd be a Known Phone Number (as opposed to some random street phone, and the caller is a normal human being).

 

Walkie-talkies might work, but they're unusual enough folks would have to think to take them. I'm using Trail, so Preparedness might do the trick, but it's more aesthetically pleasing if this is set up in advance, although that's not likely because this isn't a situation folks are likely to figure will come up in just this way.

 

A messenger might maybe sort of if you don't look too straight on at it work, except for all the reasons that is a thing I'm not sure would be done. Carrier pigeon would be ideal if it were the sort of thing likely to happen.

 

I could cut the business entirely, though I'd rather not. But that is a viable option.

 

I have no idea if radios, ham or otherwise, would work, or if this is essentially the same thing as the walkie-talkie option.

 

This also came up in a very minor way in part 2. One of the things that tells folks they're not in our reality any longer and that they need to make a SAN/Stability roll is when the GPS goes wild and tells them they're in any number of places.

 

Part 2 was set in 1967. No GPS. Sure, the compass swung wildly, but that's just not the same.

 

Fortunately for me, two of the Investigators had Astronomy and decided to check the stars. I said they changed each time the Investigators looked at them. That was the feel I needed.

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Lisa

While pouring over part 3 and working out how I'm basically going to turn it inside out a bit (for Reasons), it suddenly struck me that Abby Gordon is an amazing NPC.

 

One of the current battlegrounds is respectful portrayal of neurodiversity. To the degree I can tell, and particularly considering that this was written almost a decade ago, we have a portrayal of someone neurodiverse as... a normal human being.

 

She's not a cultist. She didn't see anything special. She's not a magical crazy person making prophetic statements.

 

And she's not broken. She's being helped by the community, particularly her daughter, sure -- and she's running errands for everyone, and doing it well. Her one quirk, barely worthy the name, is that she won't accept a ride from anyone except her daughter, and that's sensible.

 

And when everything hits the fan and folks are trying to find her grandson, the reason they can't find him is that her daughter -- her neurotypical daughter -- forgot that this was the day Abby and her grandson were going to have lunch together.

 

This is so normal and so amazing.

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PaulStJohnMackintosh

As a huge FoDG and GUMSHOE fan, this hits so many of my sweet spots I don't know where to begin. Awesome. 😊

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