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21595343 No.21595343 [DELETED]  [Reply] [Original] [4plebs] [archived.moe]

Hey /tg/ lets talk GMing! More specifically I'm interested in keeping the investigative side of roleplaying going. I normally have no problems with this but when my players don't have the requisite in game skills or get stuck in approaches how can I get them to to move forward.

It feels a bit like a cop-out to give them a new approach if they (and their characters) didn't think of it. The failed skill rolls are less of a problem but there is the occasion where they need to decipher some Lovecraft mythos etc but they all fail and they all stare at me as I'm forced to move it forward.

Pic somewhat related since most investigative games seem to run about supernatural horror a little.

>> No.21595845
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Dumping investigator pictures in the meantime

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>> No.21595936

Here's a tip. If they fail skill rolls relating to the mythos, they still understand it.

They just lose more sanity.

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Hmmm I like it! Thanks anon

Continuing a modern character dump. will take requests.

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>> No.21596109

Read GUMSHOE: Trail of Cthulhu. It solved that problem.

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Will do!

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>> No.21596193

That doesn't really make sense from an in-game perspective. Learning more about the mythos is supposed to hasten your descent into madness.

>> No.21596205

I assume you're using the CoC system? I'd consider switching systems. I love CoC dearly but I've found my best horror experiences come from rules lite systems.

Thanks for the art, by the way.

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Hmm you're right I rescind my approval there.

What would you recommend? I'm not having trouble with the horror, but I can see how rules lite would definitely help in investigative pacing.

>> No.21596296

With that methodology, comprehending the material is automatic. The skill roll is for gleaning just enough and using intuition to cobble a solution together. If you fail, you have to think about/read the whole thing, in which case you learn too much and start to go crazy.

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That's a pretty good defense. Hmm I'll have to mull it over

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>> No.21596388

I've been running a great horror/apocalypse game with FATE which is a great game for mostly forgetting you have a character sheet/dice and you could very easily add a sanity meter if you want to.

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>> No.21596394

plan for a less-optimal, always applicable solution.
for instance: they will always find the one relevant clue. but it will lead them into an ambush unless they find that one other thing.

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>> No.21596437
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Alright I've heard good things about it, just haven't read through it yet
Excellent point keep the plot moving but have consequences for shoddy investigation

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>> No.21596547

OP: You're probably being too stingy with Cthulhu Mythos. It should increase every time a new mythos creature or phenomenon is encountered. It's not just reading books. Also, all mythos tomes have a research multiplier to Cthulhu Mythos skill. It's up to the Keeper to decide whether this multiplier applies whenever the tome is consulted. HINT: it's always x5 or automatic when FUN is involved.

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Yes I think you're right. Maybe they'll auto get the basics and get extra stuff for successes.

For non supernatural investigation I'll do what the anon said earlier and always have the big clue with other skills and successes giving benefits to their circumstances

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I will typically use a "more information is helpful but not strictly necessary" approach. So the plot never completely depends on any clues uncovered. I doubt any of my players browse /tg/, so I'll share some of the upcoming session's plan with you.

The players live in 1930s Chicago. They're a diverse group of friends, out for a night at the opera (though one would rather be at the ball game). And as they're standing in line, there's a police officer directing people away from some scene that no one can see. He's the husband of one of their friends, but he's clearly too busy to answer questions if the PCs are so inclined.

They go in and watch Act I. The first intermission is the first RP/investigative opportunity. (Note that I explicitly plan out RP/I stages, just like I'd plan out fights if I were running D&D.) They can head out to the lobby and mingle.

Now, there are a number of options available.

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1) They can go outside to see that there has been a gruesome murder.
- Although they will read of this in the papers tomorrow, it'll be highly hushed up, and their officer friend will be tight-lipped on orders of the mayor. At the moment, however, he'll provide more info, including a description of the suspect as having a severe limp.
- If the characters wander about, they will find a discarded, bloody square of cloth. A successful photography check will enable a picture of sufficient resolution to later allow an expert to determine that it has a weave unique to the Holdman Textile Company's new plant. It will turn out that this plant is next to the university. Later investigation there would reveal a recently traversed sewer link between the two.
- Talking to people outside, they may hear idle speculation unrelated to this.

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2) They can mingle in the lobby. In there, they will meet a number of illustrious figures.
- One is a cello player in the orchestra, who can introduce a charming or influential enough character to the diva.
- One is the mayor himself, who will express his strong support of the opera house. There's actually a ton of corruption here, if the PCs manage to look very deep. The mayor, opera house owner, and a certain university professor are all part of the same secret society.
- The opera house curator is hosting it all. He's a genuinely nice guy. Too bad he's going to die tomorrow.
- The police officer's wife will be inside, and will be surprised to hear that her husband is outside, if this is so mentioned. She'll head outside and be missing in Act II. She'll be back in the intermission, but pale and shaky if anyone cares to check. She is not in her seat if anyone looks during Act III. Was she ever there? Actually, no... she's already screwed at this point, stuffed into a trunk suspended in the rafters, unless this is ruled out by other events (see next step). She'll be hanged over the stage during the show's climax. Otherwise her unconscious body is discovered later (this will be hushed up, because the opera company is powerful).
- Some other NPCs relevant to the larger campaign are also around.

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3) They can wander the opera house, which is something of a marvel of architecture and design.
- A successful photography check can temporarily increase a character's credit rating if the photos are sold to a magazine or newspaper.
- Slipping backstage, they can meet some stagehands who will show them the lighting system, how sound effects are done, etc. This will be useful in the final confrontation, as they'll be able to find where the bad guy is more readily. Otherwise it'll be some guesswork, and one of two important NPCs will die if guesses are wrong (the diva or the mayor).
- They can also end up in the rafters and see a shadowy figure duck off in a hurry. (Yeah, yeah, cliches....) If they look where he was, they'll find a trunk with a noose and manacles inside. Maybe it's part of a magician's act... it has stars all over it. But maybe they'll think to close it and take the key with them. This will stave off the public hanging. If they give chase, there is a change they'll stumble upon the entry to a tunnel network... but they won't be able to discover how to get in at this point. A guard will eventually come by and kick them out... they can't be back stage like this.

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You get the point, anyway. Regardless of what happens, the following is accomplished:
- There's a murder outside the opera house during the big premiere, and no suspects, furthering the overall plot.
- The diva and curator are introduced, setting up the next RP/I scene specifically.
- The characters each get to use a couple of skills.

Scene 2 is a chance meeting with the diva and curator the next day. The curator is going to be horribly murdered right after this, but there are plenty of opportunities to learn about the opera house's history as part of a fort during times of hostility with the natives (there's an underground tunnel network now used for rum running, and it's how the monster gets around), Dr. Ackenburg's fascinating medical research (animal hybridization experiments that turn out to be the source of the monster), the diva's favourite haunts (useful if they want a clue to save her in Scene 6... else they have another gamble to make in the final showdown).

The whole scenario runs eight such scenes. Basically, each scene provides ways to reduce risk in future scenes, through increased knowledge of the enemy's abilities, knowledge of the movements of friends and enemies, actual prevention of injury or death, etc. It all develops into a showdown with the Frankensteinesque monster at its creator's lab in the university. After that, if the characters are clever enough and have deciphered enough clues, they can head to the opera house and catch the real killer, the opera house owner, before he murders the diva and mayor out of spite and escapes with a boatload of cash.

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So the whole point is... the effectiveness of this approach doesn't depend on the system at all. We're using Chaosium CoC, but I've found that it works equally well in various editions of D&D and Shadowrun. Maybe even better for those, because they aren't designed for this type of game... but you can still make it work with minimal pain.

I'll typically start by sketching out the main NPCs and a "crime," which might not be illegal so much as the summoning of an ancient horror or something. Anyway, there's an initial crime which will lead to a deeper crime, and so on.

These get lumped into scenes, like in a play. I set the final objective to have nearly impossible odds, like an unkillable monster or a murder in a secret location. And then I make a list of what information or goodies the characters might need to make it possible to win. A good rule of thumb is that each puzzle piece makes it 10% less likely that the characters fail, in a multiplicative way. So six successfully obtained clues gives a chance of success 0.9^6 = 53%.

And then these things determine the scenes that come before. What are the characters going to need to get? Where do they need to go? You don't leave this part to chance. At least one of them will meet the diva and curator the next day, like it or not. And that curator's going to die, and they're going to the funeral in scene 3 (perhaps to observe an argument between the mayor and a certain professor....). It doesn't have to feel railroady because you're giving plenty of options in each scene, but it's going to be railroady as fuck underneath.

>> No.21599778

Nice monologue there.

>> No.21600694

Is this detailed scenario in any way tailored to your players or their characters? Why should they care/investigate if there's a murder? Later, why would they go to the funeral of the curator?

>> No.21601491

Every player will want a gun for their character. And of course they all consider it in-character taking their gun to the opera. It's 20s Chicago after all.

Their behavior will have them arrested, my guess is before the 2nd act. They'll interrogate the mayor, kidnap the cop, or overpower the ushers, and it will not go over well.

They will take dynamite to that tunnel entrance as soon as they realize it's not a puzzle. They will also take apart the box in the rafters to discover the magic trick, try out the FX they learned during the program, and latch on to some insignificant narrative detail to pursue for days while the plot happens at the opera unnoticed.

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