Thursday, April 30, 2015

A clue by itself is as useless as a can of caviar without a can opener.

"Without something to do with that clue you just found, you might as well have a can of beluga and no can opener. " -JDS

Savage Worlds GM Hangout (On Air!): Puzzles and Traps.  I enjoyed your youtube hangout. The language was colorful. That's all Ill say about that.

You guys almost hit the nail on the head. I have two or three cents worth to add what you wrote. There was an article written back in the heyday of ENWORLD. I tried like hell to find it but no luck.  I'm going to address the last half hour of your podcast. You guys spent a lot of time debating what to do about this clue written, and what to do about it. The clue is a metaphor for anything unknown in the game, to the players and possibly to the characters. So what do you do about it. 

Sherlock Holmes actor Edward Hardwicke, who played Dr. John Watson opposite Jeremy Brett on television in the 1980s and '90s, has died of cancer at age 78

There's one obvious scenario here that ill get out of the way first. If its a clue that no one has a way of discovering either because they don't have the expertise in general or they don't have a skill: you do what we did back in the *day* and that is, visit the EXPERT. That's all. We aren't talking a trap here, we are talking puzzle. What if you cant visit the expert? well then, your dm has made a mistake because there's nothing worse than throwing in a wall that can be pushed or gone around. Now that that's out of the way, I'm going to return to the original topic and that is here's a clue,  you should have the smarts to figure it out, but what for what ever reason, you and your party CANT.
Easy solution... fudge a roll. blah blah gimme an int roll... that's not going to cut it because it becomes anti-climactic.

I wish to hell I could find this article because it answers the big question here, what do you do with the clue that you don't understand, or couldn't find, the meaning of or better yet, it doesn't attach to anything else you know in the storyline and there's no way to find out.

ok? the answer is:  1)group your clues. Don't make one single clue.  2) Place the clues in obvious places. Place the clues in areas that they can always find them.

Remember: your players never do what you expect them to do? How many times have you been through that?

1) and 2) can be illustrated by the following. group your clues. Let's look at Mycroft's less apt brother: Sherlock, A genius at arranging clues.

  • "Look Watson, the thief started here, in this mud puddle, walked across the grass, and then opened that window." pointing at an open window. 
  • "That's brilliant Sherlock, how did you gather that?"   
  • "Its obvious Watson the clues are grouped in this area. Note, the foot print in the mud, the blades of grass crumpled, the obvious muddy foot print on the sill..."   
  • "By gosh Holmes you make it seem so easy..."

But as a DM it's really not easy, but its very doable. So how do you group your clues? and why?  ok.  first we will do a local example and then we can do a larger area.   A sir cote with blood. A desk drawer open.  a curtain pushed aside with blood.   a bit of hair on the desk. 

First the WHY. Why? that's elementary.  If the player misses one clue, then you can hit him over the head with another clue. If he missed the bloodied sir cote, then he can find the red hair that matches Ms Strongholts red wig that you saw her wearing at the market.
Now the grouping, question. What to group? That depends on what aspect you want to group with. What do you need to tell the group.  I run lots of pulp. When I group clues I make sure to put them in a place that the players can find with in 3 or 4 minutes of real wall time. From running countless mysteries. I can tell you the easiest and most exciting mysteries have been when the group feels they can figure out the clues, traps, them selves with out too much dm help....

Because with too much DM help they haven't accomplished anything. and doesn't help your players feel heroic and... if its run that way you might as well be running a 2 hour champions combat game.   I hope that gives you a real sense of clues,

Take the same approach to traps that you take with puzzles and mysteries.  Sure its great to be able to open a lock with a TN 4 and a fish bone from your corset, but think how much fun you could have with a series of traps and puzzles that are built from the blood and the brilliance of the villain they are trying to lay out.

If you plan to do a savage hangout on mysteries make sure you let me know. Id love to watch.

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"Any person whose character traits all fall in the center, midway between the extremes, is considered wise." - RAMBAM;     

"Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light." -Dylan Thomas.   "These two thoughts are not mutually exclusive" -JDS