The following notes come from the seminar at Dragonmeet (27th November 2010) by Kenneth Hite, Robin D Laws, Simon Rogers and Gareth Hanrahan. I didn’t record the talk so these are just notes that I took that give the gist of what was being said. They’re also only the notes about investigative gaming. I’m providing them as is without comment on my personal feelings about them and I hope I’m accurate in reflecting the spirit of what was said even if I’m not reporting word for word what was said.
A GM should decide if a piece of information is essential or if they only want to give it out on a 20% roll.
Investigative game structure – Opener followed by clues that offer multiple routes followed by finale.
Avoid creating scenarios where Player Characters are observers of Non-Player Character driven stories.
Avoid default skills – eg spot hidden in CoC – other skills should be useful for investigation.
Skills can signal players what is important in a game – so include skills that tell them what a game is about.
Players select their own spotlight through their choice of skills.
Scenes have to have a design purpose – not just be there to delay dinner.
There are clues that move players on. There are clues that explain what is happening.
In Gumshoe point spending gives colourful extra clues.
Active or passive investigation – player seeking clue is active, GM pushing clue is passive.
It’s not clever [as a GM] not to give information out. You get a richer gaming by giving information out.
Many players feel cheated if they think you [the GM] are making up the adventure as you’re going along.
The Armitage files shows how improvisational techniques can be used.
New Orleans Syndrome – lack of information sends player characters racing off to New Orleans punching Jazz musicians.
Tell players what is going on but not how to solve what is going on. Doing the later would be railroading. Doing the former is letting a game progress.
Avoid 30 minutes of faffing around because of bad dice rolls on spot or other investigation checks.
Players need to get from A to B. May go the scenic route or charge in all guns blazing. They’ve always followed some track if they get from A to B.
Free floating clues can be delivered by any NPC the PCs are talking to.
Clues A,B,C and D can be available in any order in a sandbox game.
If the PCs go off path a floating clue can be used to point them back on track.
Most gamers want fantasy in their games.
Red Herrings / Mistaken information can be clues if they get PCs to another scene.
Stuff in a game book should have stuff to play with (Ken Hite).
Update: Thanks to Angus for letting me know Gareth Hanrahan was the other person on the Pelgrane panel.