Page 1048 - Crime Seen

7th Apr 2018, 6:00 AM
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Crime Seen
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 7th Apr 2018, 6:00 AM edit delete
I'm not a big fan of withholding information when an inconvenient knowledge check is rolled, even if they roll low. But I don't want a player following a red herring down a rabbit hole, nor do I want to accidentally give them the answer too early. This is where we get the art of the non-clue clue – an answer that feels rewarding and satisfying and will make sense when the full answer is revealed, but doesn't make players spiral out into trying to guess the full answer for ten minutes.

As it turns out, constructing even minor mysteries is tough.


BackSet 7th Apr 2018, 6:13 AM edit delete reply

Story time idea: tell a story related to the above rant.
Wrat 7th Apr 2018, 7:03 AM edit delete reply
Perfect story from just a week ago.
Our DM tends to make up all his campaigns on the spot, which is usually fun for us. But at our last session, he tried to make up a mystery as he went along.
We were searching for some mysterious thing called "The Land of the Elves." Nobody seemed to know what it was until we found some random shopkeeper, who claimed to know where it was. Just as he was about to tell us, he fell over dead of a knife in his back.
We chased down the assassin and interrogated him. Just as he was about to tell us where the land of the elves was, he was stabbed in the back. So we chased down another assassin, this time surrounding him on all sides. A knife was thrown into his back, so we gave up and murdered the assassin who killed him.
And that was how our experience went. For the next two hours, we would describe how we prevented witnesses from being stabbed in the back (lock the door, use magic to scan the room for people, barricade every entrance, surround the witness) and then just as they were about to tell us anything, they would be stabbed in the back because, "Oh, you guys didn't see the giant open window when you spent ten minutes real time securing the tiny room."
Eventually, the DM caught on that there were only so many times that "Surprise! He was stabbed!" Carries any real effect, so he tried a new approach. Every potential lead we approached would tell us, "I don't know anything. But I know somebody who does..." So we would go speak to that person, who would tell us, "I don't know anything. But I know somebody else..."
It was an excruciating session, and the DM even apologized for it, telling us that he really had not had any ideas for what to do and was stalling for time to make the mystery. So I guess that Newbiespud is right, mysteries are hard to make.
Evilbob 7th Apr 2018, 8:43 AM edit delete reply
Yeah. Mysteries ARE hard.

Although it sounds like your GM needs some help with pacing. Excessive stabbing, repeatedly or "I don't know anything but someone does" repeatedly is pretty bad, lol.

I'm surprised he didn't try to break the cycle by either making one of the leads a straight up dead-end or force-feeding another plot-thread ("The peacekeepers arrest you for questioning in relation to multiple deaths", etc). Something to derail y'all from the obsession... at least until next session where he can get some formal planning in-between since his impromptu planning fell through...
RandomRex6 7th Apr 2018, 7:17 AM edit delete reply
My Dad was in a campaign when he was younger, and was playing a wizard who had gotten his hands on some sort of ancient spellbook. He told the DM that in any downtime the character had, he'd be trying to decipher it. A good while later, a few in-game days, he asked if he had learned anything. The DM claimed he still hadn't figured anything out. This frustrated my father, since his INT was 18 and should at least have gotten something by then, even if he hadn't learned any spells or anything.
Evilbob 7th Apr 2018, 8:32 AM edit delete reply
Yep yep. Understandably frustrating. Hopefully the GM made the frustration rewarding by eventually giving a clue or explanation for why it was so difficult to comprehend...?
Anvildude 7th Apr 2018, 1:28 PM edit