The Chill 7: Gaming relevance - mysteries


As I said in Question 3, Archer isn't a "clever" detective with lots of resources. In that way, he's very similar to a PC. Without clever puzzles to solve or lots of police procedural knowledge to absorb, Archer's approach to the mystery is one that's accessible to players. It reminds me of the GMing advice in Dogs in the Vineyard, where the GM is encouraged to deliver the facts to the PCs just as fast as they can. The interesting part of that game is not what the PCs uncover, but what they decide to do about it.

It's rather similar to the advice of "three clues", or even Gumshoe's "core clues" as a way of ensuring the players get enough information to keep moving the game forward.

Is this "GM exposition" an approach to mysteries that you could use in gaming? Is it one you have used? Is it better or worse than the "uncover the clues" model?


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    For the kind of games I am interested in, this looks like a railroading problem. Why not just make things up as we go along that will provide interesting action? To be honest I have never really cared whether the sequence of games make analytic sense - what matters is whether they make sense as we go. See my comments about simile - I don't really care that we have the same facts - we need the same vision, which is not the same thing.

    These were great questions. Thanks for recommending the book.

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    @NeilNjae I agree with Barner - great questions, very appropriate to gaming, and some insightful views, so yes, thanks very much.

    I definitely believe in giving the clues away rather than discovery, though I have to say that as a player, it's a very satisfying thing to roll on a skill you have and to be given a clue as a result - a clue that enlarges the picture, at least. But this doesn't outweigh the risk of not getting the clue.

    Back on the Roludo forum, I participated in a couple of forum-run sessions of an old Sherlock Holmes game (published maybe by Avalon Hill?) The scenario started with a setup situation with a number of clues. The players would discuss these, then decide together where to go next (from a number of locations suggested by the clues they knew.) At the new location, they'd get a new set of clue, which the person running the game read from a booklet. After 3 or 4 locations, people in the group would feel they had enough clues to try to solve the mystery. They would declare 'ready to solve' and anyone who was on board would join in. Those who weren't could keep playing, I suppose. The object was to solve the mysteries with as few clues as possible. So if the team that declared early was right, they'd 'win'. But if they were wrong, the other team might well win. Over the course of a few scenarios, I suppose an overall winner would emerge - though I'm not at all sure the game was really about winning.

    Rather than going to new locations and looking for footprints, Lew Archer is going to new NPCs and having conversations with them to get his clues. He gets as much as he can, then goes on to the next. Sometimes new information means that a previous conversation needs to be revisited because someone withheld, or lied. Eventually, he has enough informaton to solve the puzzle, and that's the climax. If this was a game, the climax ought to have some stakes - what if Archer get's it wrong - who pays the price?

    @BarnerCobblewood I'm quite used to winging things in game, but I dont think I'd ever try to tackle a mystery as complex as this without prep. I'd lose my mind!

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    Nothing to add but again commenting to see later additions.
    And since this is the last discussion starter it's a good place to say that I did enjoy the book, though perhaps not for anything to do with the internal structure and characters!

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