>Investigative scenarios have been done wrong since the early days of roleplaying games. As a consequence, they’re hard to run and prone to grind to a halt. GUMSHOE is here to fix all that.
>What’s wrong about the traditional way of doing investigative games? They’re based on a faulty premise. Story-based roleplaying, of which investigative games were an early if not the earliest example, evolved from dungeon-bashing campaigns.
>They treat clues the same way that dungeon games treat treasure. You have to search for the clue that takes you on to the next scene. If you roll well, you get the clue. If not, you don’t—and the story grinds to a halt.
>GUMSHOE, therefore, makes the finding of clues all but automatic, as long as you get to the right place in the story and have the right ability. That’s when the fun part begins, when the players try to put the components of the puzzle together.
I've run into the failed spotcheck problem myself so I know it's an issue , but I don't see how this supposed to be a solution to it.
If I choose the wrong skills for the adventure just a starkers if I fail my spot check. Unless I was explicitly told which skills to take in character creation I'm still fail because of random chance am I not? I decided to take forensics anthropology and it turned out I needed forensics entomology instead.
>If I take the wrong skills, I don't progress
Not how you structure a Gumshoe investigation.
If you read the GM section of any Gumshoe based book, you'll see that their adventures are structured around a "skeleton" (the very core, basic aspects of the adventure) with other stuff being optional floating scenes (things like NPCs you might interact with but dont have to, alternate ways a scene could go, how an antagonist might try to hamper the investigation).
The skeleton is basically a series of scenes you could go through on autopilot because the Core Clues that lead from Skeleton Scene A to Skeleton Scene B are all zero-point spends. That means anyone can find them and any party can get the basic story. Think of it like a "soft railroad" - it's not actively forcing you to follow the path but there isn't really anything off of the path.
Point spends are for a) "bonus content" (added insight into an NPC, more information about this weird artifact etc) which feeds you back into the Skeleton scenes b) acceleration (ie, getting you information that lets you skip a step in the Skeleton) and c) making your character look cool.
That's advice for GM's when writing the scenario, and it's more "make note of what skills your characters have so that you can make sure the guy with Art History gets a chance to spend Art History".
>Gumshoe is not a solution to anything. It is an alternative to other game systems.
I'm afraid to say it looks like you're right.
It's not as blatantly random a single bad die roll but it's still there. You still have the potential for player to simply miss clues simply because they took the wrong skills and spent the points in the wrong place.
Unless there something vital i've messed it's really just the exact same approach.
>The skeleton is basically a series of scenes you could go through on autopilot because the Core Clues that lead from Skeleton Scene A to Skeleton Scene B are all zero-point spends. That means anyone can find them and any party can get the basic story. Think of it like a "soft railroad" - it's not actively forcing you to follow the path but there isn't really anything off of the path.
That's not really depended of the system mechics but is it? You could apply it call of culthul, you could even apply to Pathfinder.
Well, it's a narrativist system (rather than a gamist or simulationist one) so how it tells you to craft and deliver narrative is a key part of "the system mechanics". But it's true that a lot of the lessons you can learn from Gumshoe's design philosophy could be taken and applied elsewhere, so long as you're using it to play a game that has a strong investigation focus.
True and it is good advice, so I'm glad to see it's codified in the rules rather than just assumed the GM's would figure it out themselves the hard way.
But I can't help feeling annoyed that despite being built from the ground up to be investigation based it doesn't actually offer and a solution to the problem that it rightfully pointed out.
>possible for the entire game to grind to a halt because someone missed a spot check
You know, sometimes it's just ok for the GM to say that some dude have mud on his shoes. I mean if it really is the only way the party would be able to continue. On the other hand there should very rarely only be one way forward.
This is just easily fixed by replacing dice rolling with a simple and fun game that goes
>DM describes a scene, its mostly an outlandish and seemingly impossible scene
>The players need to figure out how that scene came to be by asking the DM questions that can only be answered with 'yes' or 'no'
Im not sure if this game has a name but I've played it plenty of times and its fun.
The problem OP presented was actually "I haven't read Gumshoe for myself, I've only had it described to me by another person".
The main criticism of Gumshoe has always been that it just makes EXPLICIT what was common as house rules, rather than being truly "new" in its design, yes, and that's a fair criticism. So, most investigative GMs will indeed go "there's mud on his shoes" rather than let the party sit around and scratch their heads for an hour because the dice were dicks. Gumshoe just comes up with a way for that to be justified in the system, rather than having to go "outside" the system to continue the game.
The problem there is that you're kind of reducing characters to nothing but combat skills, right? Because if you just GIVE them all the information, player interaction in the story is really just rolling dice to make combat happen and there's no point taking Spot Hidden because the GM is just going to tell you what you see, no reason to have a high INT because you're going to have all the deductions handed to you and there's no advantage to having stats that make your character be smart, observant etc..
Yeah, we could remove the investigation to avoid GM failure when it comes to the trail of clues. Or we could, you know, only roll the dice when we want the result to be random?
Seriously, I'm fine with shoegum. I don't want to play it but I can imagine a group who would have fun with it. Only the claim that ALL OTHER GAMES ARE BROKEN BUT OURS makes it really hard to take it seriously.
I hear Pelgrane makes good scenarios. And at the end of the day, that's what it is about in investigative games. Looking forward to The Fall.
>OP about a thing I don't like
This is a troll thread and everybody knows.
Alternate paths, I presume. Having different sets of skills in the party gets you different clues that eventually lead to solution through a different path.
In games not rooted in investigating things, it's all usually just one skill ("roll perception") or a bunch of skills that are rarely taken (the mad spread of knowledge skills)
Although the system opening up with "EVERYBODY IS WRONG AND IS THUS SHIT, WE ARE THE ONLY GOOD OPTION" is suspect as hell already.
>The skeleton is basically a series of scenes you could go through on autopilot because the Core Clues that lead from Skeleton Scene A to Skeleton Scene B are all zero-point spends. That means anyone can find them and any party can get the basic story
Well that you definitely could do in a regular D&D. Just zero-difficulty perception rolls, which you pretend to have tresholds (occasionally say "well you're not good enough to get something, but here's a consolation prize" wherein consolation prize is what you needed to give them anyway, for example)
>The problem there is that you're kind of reducing characters to nothing but combat skills, right?
That's an often thing with D&D whenever it goes outside of combat.
Consider any time there is a puzzle to enter the door. Do the GMs let you roll INT to pass?
Are the social challenges just rolls of charisma?
Hell. Even in the problematic investigation approach: so you have successfully rolled Perception on several scenes. You now have clues.
Who assembles them to figure out the culprit: the 25 Int wizard with a die roll or the player of the 8 Int barbarian who had been banging his head on the table out of boredom since he figured it all out three scenes ago?
D&D is kinda a fuck up on the "roll play vs role play" concept in those.
For what it's worth I'm with the Downplaying or outright elimination of Ranmon chance. You can create suspend in other meaning full but you need *some sort* narrative stop gap for the players. Having be be a form of Resource management more the chance modifier is perfectly valid but still doesn't advoid the same issues of missing clues.
For what it's worth gumshoe is a system we use a lot and whilst is possible to miss clues we tend to find that if we get something wrong it's because we were idiots, not our characters.
Missing clues is only a problem if the mystery IS the adventure and not just something that happens in the adventure.
I've had mysteries where the players ignored them or completely failed to figure them out, but that was okay because things kept happening. They don't catch the murderer? Better get out of town real quick before he goes after them, or the townspeople start collecting torches and pitchforks. They figure things out way, way in advance? Cool, now they get to nip it in the bud and be the heroes. If the players CAN'T FAIL, what's the point of playing? You might as well write a story or freeform completely.
Every time you "get stuck" you've basically failed to provide the players with a living world and focused to much on your pre-written story.
Played a brief game of it. Absolute crap in my opinion but obviously others like it. We played through a pregen game and every character ended up in completely the wrong place so while the party had been designed to be able to complete the plotline nobody was able to use any of their skills and we all failed. Also the game itself arbitrarily decided in the first few hours whether it was possible to win or not. It was a horror game where our characters' lives were at stake so "winning" is in fact an appropriate use of the word, seeing as it's not really horror being told "lol u ded bcuz f sumfin tht happnd n teh frst seshun tht oyu had no power over".
Perhaps it was just a terrible campaign with a lousy GM but honestly even from an armchair games designer perspective it sits poorly with me.
Kinda sounds like the problem was with the scope of the campaign.
Mystery can be great when it's an ingredient in an adventure, it sucks balls if it's a "you need to solve it or you die" situation.