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Tranquillitas Ordinis

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  1. Dear alois8113, In the rulebook, in the "Cthonians" entry you can read: "Purported vulnerabilities include the Vach-Viraj Chant, the Elder Sign, and total immersion in a body of water." This would imply, that Cthonians can be affected by the chant. Also, the Awa Popeno entry says that he knows: Contact Yig, Summon Yig and Vach-Viraj spells. I do not know how the Vach-Viraj incantation works (I couldn't find it in the 7th ed. rulebook or in the "Grand Grimoire" and I do not own the Malleus yet). I would expect the Grand Grimoire to contain it, if it was described anywhere in the earlier editions, so probably it wasn't. Maybe, since the scenario says "The chant is the variant of the Vach-Viraj incantation", you could just make it a weaker version of it, that requires less resources from your investigators? You could also use the suggestions from the rulebook or Grimoire on how to make your own spells. However, notice that the scenario does not imply that this chant takes short amount of time. It could require your investigators to spend a whole night repeating it like a prayer and dancing around the fire with Awa Popeno. Also, later the scenario says: While it is possible for the investigators to resist a single chthonian by rolling POW versus POW, and by utilizing the Xuntani chant or a Xuntani star (see below), there is no effective way to resist a succession of individual attacks from a group of adults whose individual Power averages nearly 30. This can serve as an indicator of the potential strength of the chant. Even with its help, an investigator can resist successfully only an attack of maximally one chthonian. So maybe it could work as some form of deterrence or gives some additional Armor Points to your investigators? Or maybe it gives them a bonus dice for all opposed rolls against a chthonian, which would be cancelled with the appearance of more chthonians?
  2. Dear Phil Hendry, It is funny, I have completely missed that handout when running the scenario. However, I wanted to connect "Blackwater Creek" to "Amaranthine Desire" from the "Nameless Horrors" so I added one handout of my own. It is a letter of the Hawkins widow, that she had not been able to send to prof. McTavish, her lover from the undergrad (in my campaign McTavish is much older), before she was killed. Inside she explains the story of Cade and of the artifact from the "Amaranthine Desire" scenario. I am not sure how useful it might be to you, but maybe could serve as an inspiration. Here it is: Hawkins Widow Letter.pdf The link that klecser provided has also a pdf version of the "Journal of Roades" (find a link at the bottom), which I found useful. I have created letters using HPLHS templates for MU letters, but was too lazy to rewrite the "books" handouts.
  3. Dear Atgxtg, I am stunned, as it seems to me you have clearly misunderstood what I actually did or meant. And you added some unnecessarily sarcastic comments, which is surprising as I have already agreed with you, and most of the time I was proving you right. My intention was not to have any argument (or game), just to have see if one can find a simple model of measuring a skill that could be applied to a RPG. Chess was the first thing that came to my mind because: a) you mentioned it, b) I love chess and know something about it. I agreed with that in my post. What sarcasm?! I have not used any sarcasm anywhere, I meant exactly what I have written. You completely misinterpreted my intentions. I do not know much about other RPG systems, so I genuinely tried to approach the question of finding some good skill level measure. I agree. "Success chance" and "percentile grading relative to other characters" are not the same things. In my model I assume that the "skill level" does not represent "success chance" but rather a value that tells you how good you are compared to others. I think it is a much better indicator of skill. I use "%" sign, which might be misleading, only because it is used in the CoC rulebook. You are right, the average chess skill would be lower, but I can only work with the data I have. But still, does it affect the result of my analysis that much, since Elo system cares only about relative differences, so therefore the position of the mean has no significance? It is rather the distribution variation that should trouble you. But even forgetting about math, I assume that the usual Investigator in CoC is not a person that belongs to the "vast majority of people". They usually have some intellectually-oriented skills which makes me believe that they can be modeled as "chess players". How was I trying to belittle you?! I just asked myself a question and tried to find an answer. That is all. Dear Atgxtg, you might be a little over-sensitive here. And what is exactly my point, since I have agreed with you in the first sentence of my post?! It is the first time in my life, when I am having an argument with someone who does not see I have just agreed with them. This is comical. No it is not my argument. It is exactly the opposite. Read my message again carefully. Yes, I understand that, but at this point I was making my own model, completely unrelated to BRP or any other system. I claim my model is better, although it might have flaws that should be corrected and I tried to mention all of them I could see. I think that an assumption that all skill level is distributed in the same way for every skill is a necessary simplification. Otherwise everything becomes too complicated very quickly. You say "Not quite" and then say something completely unrelated. I do not understand. It seems you are trying to say something about BRP again. Anyway, in my Elo-based model 50% skill does not win half or a third the time with a 100% skill. Also the 90% skill does not loose most of the time with 50% skill. Again, look at my plots more carefully. And then read what I wrote again: "predict the outcome of a confrontation with a very skillful opponent pretty well". We are looking at x-axis values above 90. And this constant values are of the same order for "Realistic" model and "Difficulty level" system, unless you look at "Mr. Genius" line. For him we have a problem, what I also emphasize. I was not talking there about opponents of 50% skill value... I agree with both statements. When I wrote "with less skilled opponents" in the piece that you quote, I meant "with much less skilled opponents". But I claim the "Difficulty level" method does not work well for "Mr. Dumb". He looses too many confrontations with unskilled opponents. Interesting idea, I will try that. You are welcome. I was never against your point, again, I was just asking a question and trying to find an answer. Yes, this behavior comes from the way the ties are decided. But this was not any simplification on my part, this is an actual rule in the 7th ed. CoC rulebook. How do you know that Elo system would not be a good rating system for other competitions? If you say that it would not, that means you have some idea of a good system in your mind. If so, what are the criteria that this better system must meet? And are you sure these criteria are not met by the Elo system? Also, the data set of chess players might not be perfect, but since the Elo system compares the relative strength of participants in a given field, it is quite agnostic with respect to several features of the skill distribution. This may justify usage of the FIDE statistics. I meant that I expected that adding penalty dice would improve more the fate of Mr. Dumb, since up to around 40% of opponents skill level the "Opposed roll" system is unfair for him. The "Realistic" system gives him better chances and I believe it is correct. And I apologize for not doing it at the level of PhD or 4-months math research project. I was trying to make crude approximations, but not too simple, so that everything would still seem to make sense. I was also not trying to avoid any math—this is probably the most untrue statement of all. I was just trying to avoid spending several days writing a post on a RPG forum that no one would read or consider seriously anyway. Look at these beautiful plots that I created! Why no one appreciates them!? My conclusion is: both "difficulty level" and "opposed rolls" are unsatisfactory. "Opposed rolls" method is better, but probably the "difficulty level" method is simpler to be improved, if someone in the future will consider making the 8th ed. of CoC. But I might be wrong, this problem probably require more serious attempts. Thank you master for this valuable lesson. I meant that I need to look at all rolls to have a large enough data set to make any reliable conclusion about the game statistics. Even during a single sessions there is not enough rolls. Therefore, I do not exaggerate. Trends can be misleading, if one does not put them in a larger picture—there are plenty of beautiful paradoxes in statistics that prove that. I agree with that. I agree, they do not, and I do not like that (as I have already mentioned before). I agree it is misleading. I agree that the odds are against the players. I would saw it as a problem, if someone asked me an abstract question: "Do you consider this rule to be objectively good?". But to be honest I have never noticed it, in an actual game, playing with my players, posing any problems, or making the game less fun. Maybe it is because I did unconsciously (or consciously) some work to level the threats during the game? Or maybe all these numbers are misleading, and can not grasp something greater, something beyond probabilities and math, that CoC rules are able to create in the real experience of the game? I do not know.
  4. I have just noticed that one scenario (by A. Wiewiórska) from the Polish version (which has three adventures) was left out. Was there something wrong with it? It was actually the only one I have played, it was pretty enjoyable and had a crazy twist at the beginning. I think there were some holes in the plot but nothing that could not be improved. The story was set in a modern Scandinavian country and you played as a tired policeman. Anyway, it is nice to see Polish authors gaining some recognition. Believe me, there are some absolutely mind-blowing, artistically crafted scenarios in Polish that you would like to see translated.
  5. Dear Closterphobia, I do not think this is true. Of course that different players and groups like different things, and RPGs are for fun, and if they have fun then everything is ok. But it does not mean that rules should not be judged based on some objective criteria or common sense. Rules should increase fun, but also should be sensible. And rules matter—we all have these rulebooks for something, don't we? If I saw a sentence in a rulebook which says: "After each critical success Keeper buys ice cream for everybody and makes 100 push-ups and then every character takes 15 HP damage" I would laugh at person who says "It is ok, there are different groups and different players". No, I would simply call such rule ridiculous. Does it mean that I criticize other people? No it does not. Does it mean that (as klecser wrote later) for me the idea of someone else finding fun in different ways than me is untenable? No, it does not. It just means that I believe there is an objective criterion for "good" and "bad" rules, and I judge them accordingly. I enjoy immensely CoC rules, but now it seems understandable to me when someone decides to criticize them. I think it can only make the game better.
  6. Dear Atgxtg, This one paragraph was able to convince me. How did you know that I am a vivid chess lover? Indeed, the situation you describe does not look right—I was stupid not to think about that. But we can not just agree which each other and stop here; the best solution to the problem needs to be found. Therefore, I decided to do some research, trying to answer several questions: What is a reasonable skill measure/ scale, that allows to compare effectively characters of different skill level? Can "difficulty level" system be corrected to give more sensible outcome? If yes, how? Does "opposed rolls" system give more sensible outcomes? If not, can it be corrected? I have to warn potential readers: I anticipate this might be a long message, with some (rough) math involved. It will not be very rigorous, but I hope it may be interesting. There is a considerable chance it is all wrong. It was done for fun, but took me a lot of time, during which I should have done other work. Moreover, this is obviously highly original research, to which I claim authorship, and if someone knows how I could make some money on this, please let me know... because I like money. Ad. 1: The first question is simple. Let us indeed use the Elo rating system, which is used in professional chess. If you are not familiar with the Elo system, here is the Wikipedia page: Elo rating system and a short article: Math of Elo rating. Short story is: it tries to assign the "rating" (skill level) to players, based on the probabilities with which stronger players win against weaker players. It is exactly what we need. We want to use not only the Elo rating system, but also the data set of chess players and their ratings, to estimate how a particular "skill" is distributed in population. Why the data set of chess players? Because it is huge and mostly reliable*. It can be found here: FIDE ratings. Below is the histogram of rating vs. number of players distribution. As you can see, it is not a Gaussian (Normal) distribution. This is due to several factors: 1) the way new players are gaining their rating, which is related to FIDE rules, 2) the fact that there are two groups represented here: people who I would call "professionals" and "amateurs", 3) There is no negative ratings, so Gaussian distribution will fail to reproduce these values anyway. There is also a large number of people who play chess, and are quite decent, that are not FIDE members. There is an even larger group of people who do not know how to play chess at all. But too keep things simple, let us assume that this data set (of over 350,000 rated players) represents accurately the distribution of skill in society. Also, because we do not want to make things too complicated again, let us use double Gaussian distribution to parametrize this data set. As can be seen from above histogram, the double Gaussian does not work perfectly, but let us not be too picky—it gives more or less a good estimate. We see that Chess (as any other specialized intellectual pursuit like: Anthropology, Biology, Library Use, Accounting etc.) has both "Professional" and "Amateur" participants. There are less Amateurs than Professionals, and they are worse on average. Now, we want to find the relation between the rating of a player and a the player's percentile. The players percentile will be used as a skill value in CoC. This way we will establish the correspondence between the Elo rating and CoC Skill value. Indeed, knowing the functional form of the "Overall fit" we can easily make the following plot and an example conversion table: Now, there may appear objections that the distribution of the "Chess Skill", or how just the "Chess Skill" works in real life, is very different e.g. from "Drive Auto Skill", so that using Elo system, and particularly a data set of chess players, as a criterion of "sensibility" that applies to every skill in a RPG is wrong. In other words: why distribution of skill among chess players should be the same as a distribution of skill among Firearms users? It is a valid point, but taking that into account (and correcting all other approximations that were made here) would take me too much time. Anyway, knowing the conversion rule we can use the Elo formula that tells you the percentage chance of winning based on the rating difference between you and your opponent. Now, there is another problem: in CoC we usually compare two different skills and not the same one. But since we already assumed that all skills are distributed in the same way, it is not really an issue. As we can already see from the table, we might expect a non-trivial conclusions. If you know something about chess, you probably expect a 2600 Elo player to win 100% times against 1900 player. That means that a character with 100% CoC skill value should almost always win against a character with 70-75% skill value. This is not how people commonly understand the skill differences in RPG, because we unconsciously assume that "skill" is distributed "uniformly" among people and not according to something like Gaussian distribution. To better illustrate this, below is a table where a chance of winning for (H)igher rated player and (L)ower rated player is compared against their rating difference (I found it here: Chess forum) Last point. In Chess we have three possible outcomes: Success, Failure and Draw. In chess the percentage of a draw (especially in the case of professionals) is non-negligible. In CoC ties can be ignored, and we basically have only either Success or Failure. The Elo system takes that into account, by considering a draw as a 0.5*Success. Meaning that if we look e.g. at rating difference 092-098 in the above table, the higher rated player will win on average 63 points in a match of 100 games, where a win is equal to 1 point and draw to 0.5 points. I think this represents the normal situation in CoC pretty well: since draw (meaning that nothing good/ bad happens) about 50% of the time make players happy (so it is a success) and 50% of the time unhappy (so it is a failure). Again it is a very rough estimate, more careful analysis could introduce some corrections. Finally, let us introduce three characters: "Mr. Dumb" (skill level 10%), "Mr. Average" (skill level 50%) and "Mr. Genius" (skill level 90%) and ask a question: how would they do against an NPC with a skill level X%? In other words: what is their chance of winning? We use the master formula of the Elo rating, the conversion table given above, and we get the following plot: Let us call it the "Realistic" Plot. As can be seen, Mr. Genius should not have any problems winning with his opponent most of the time, unless the opponent has the skill 80-90% and above. For example, if your character has skill level 90%, he should win 90% of the time with 70% skill level opponent. For Mr. Average the probability looks more or less linearly, while Mr. Dumb has less than 20% chance of winning when his opponent has skill 30% and above. We see that the difficulty level is different for characters of different skills. To conclude, I think this chart looks reasonable, and more importantly—it is based on reality, in a sense that we took real data containing the distribution of skill among chess players, made several simplifying assumptions and converted these data into a skill scale used in CoC. Now we can move to other questions. Ad. 2 Can the "difficulty level" based system reproduce the last plot? Probably not, but maybe it could be improved easily? Let us ask the same question: using the 7ed CoC rules, what is the chance of Mr. Dumb, Mr. Average, Mr. Genius winning against their opponent, if he has skill value X%? It is not difficult to obtain the following plot: Let us call this a "Difficulty level" plot. We see that we obtain a rather big discrepancy with the "realistic plot". That means "Difficulty level" system is bad. But let us look at some interesting features more closely: The "Difficulty level" system can (roughly speaking) still predict the outcome of a confrontation with a very skillful opponent pretty well. It gives numbers comparable with the realistic plot, for opponents with skills 90% and more for Mr. Dumb and Mr. Average, and for opponents with skill 95% and more for Mr. Genius. In other words, the problem mentioned at the beginning by Josh777 (opponents with skills 90% and above having too much advantage) is not as serious as one could have thought. However, in the "difficulty level" system the most skillful characters are somewhat mistreated. On the realistic plot Mr. Genius has 50% chance of winning with a 90% skill opponent, while in the "difficulty level" system he has only 18%. Almost 3 times less. The confrontation of Mr. Genius with much less skilled opponent, and confrontation of Mr. Dumb with more skilled opponent are predicted relatively well by the "difficulty level" model. Other cases are predicted badly. Mr. Average gets too much disadvantage when fighting with less skilled opponents, and somewhat big advantage when fighting with much more skilled opponents. Now, can this system be improved? I seek the simplest improvement possible, so that almost no math is required from the players during the actual CoC game session. One idea would be to introduce an "Easy difficulty level". Let us say we would now had four levels: "Easy" (1-30), "Regular"(31-60), "Hard"(61-90) and "Extreme" (91-100). When a Keeper requires an "Easy success" a Player must roll below Skill + Skill/2. Such a rule would produce an outcome that looks quite promising. "Improved Difficluty level" system. It is still not perfect, but it is hard to achieve a great improvement under a constraint of simplicity. Let us then leave this point and move to the "Opposed rolls" system. Ad. 3 Does "opposed rolls" system give more sensible outcomes? "Opposed rolls" system is more complicated mathematically. We have two random variables: roll outcome of PC and roll outcome of NPC. Also we do not compare rolled values, but rather achieved success levels. For simplicity I ignore fumbles, criticals, this should not change the result too much. If the levels of success are the same, the person with higher skill level wins. After doing some math—it is a basic probability tree, but I do not want to describe it here—we obtain a plot: "Opposed rolls" system. Several remarks are in place: "Opposed rolls" system gives generally better outcome than the "Difficulty level" system and comparable results with the "Improved Difficulty Level" system. The main feature of this system is the discontinuity that happens between two regions: a) region where opponent has better skill and b) region where opponent has worse skill. This discontinuity is of the order of 80% for Mr. Dumb and 40% for Mr. Average and Genius. This implies that if we are confronted with a weaker opponent we have much better chance of winning (we have an advantage compared to the "realistic" system), but when confronted with the stronger opponent, our chances suddenly go down (Even if the opponent is just 1-2% skill above us!) The main discrepancy, compared to the "realistic system", is that weak characters have much less chance of achieving success than in "real" life. "Opposed rolls" system does not seem to mistreat strong characters too much, but certainly puts characters without skills in a clear disadvantage. Again, the question is, if above plot could be improved easily. Introducing another difficulty level does not change anything. However, there already is a rule of "Bonus" and "Penalty" dice, which allows Keeper to somewhat adjust chances. Let us focus on "Mr. Dumb" case (because he is the one who suffers the most) and see how his chances improve, if his opponent is given a penalty dice. This introduces a third random variable, and makes math slightly more complicated. See the plot below for the result: How giving penalty dice to his opponent changes the fate of Mr. Dumb. It does not look much better in my opinion, which is a little suspicious. I hope I have not made any stupid mistake in my calculations. If someone could check this results I would appreciate that. Anyway, it seems that opposed skill system, in which achieving the same success level means the person with better skill value wins, seriously disadvantages weak characters, even if corrected with the penalty dice system. This is a little troubling, and I need more time to: a) check my calculations, b) see if I can come up with an improvement for the "opposed roll" system. To conclude: I hope you find this message interesting. There are severe simplifications here and there, but I think that general conclusions would still hold even if someone did more careful analysis. The "difficulty level" system does not reproduce "reality" accurately. It has some weak and strong points (see above), but can be improved easily. The "Opposed rolls" system works better, however it puts weak characters in disadvantage. "Penalty" dice for the opponent does improve situation, but not much. Therefore, it seems that, indeed, the skill roll system in CoC 7ed fails to justly deal with some situations. Before checking that myself I had a completely different impression, but I have not really paid any serious attention to outcomes of all rolls during my games. I guess this means that either: a) GMs need to do more work to avoid harming or killing characters and still play according to rules, or b) everyone has to accept that the game is a little bit harder, c) GM has to stop paying attention to the rolls outcomes and in consequence has to break the rules of the game. It is ok, but I would be pretty upset if I was a creator of the game, where players have to forget about rules to have fun. I personally choose option b), i.e. I play according to the rules because I like when the game is hard and my players accept that. I still like CoC rules, and enjoy the game.
  7. This rating system is in every official Polish scenario. I think this was an original idea by the Polish publisher "Black Monk Games" and I personally like it. If you know you need a short/ long or easy/ difficult scenario for your campaign, it serves as a quick and quite accurate help to choose between them.
  8. Dear Atgxtg, How can you not agree with me? This is outrageous! Anyway, you noticed an interesting thing. Players make decisions based on their understanding of what they believe will work. But what if CoC is a system where players should not believe even for a moment that what they think is correct? In some situations, even the fact that they have 90% skill means nothing. You might not like it, and I understand your position. I do not like it or dislike it, it is a rule and try to follow it due to my need of belonging. Also, if you have players who really know the rules, they will incorporate that fact into their game and decision-making process. They will know that probabilities are low (this is the nature of the game) and will try to optimize their actions accordingly. They probably can guess that monsters are better at everything mechanics-wise, and a smart way of defeating them is needed. So I do not think this particular rule puts players in disadvantage or treats them unfairly. Dear klecser, I have not noticed any raging anywhere. I think that Josh777 and Atgxtg made good points, that should be considered by authors of the 7.5th or 8th edition (when it appears in 20 years time) and such critique can only help the game to be better. It is nice that Mr. Fricker took time to respond, and probably got the intention of their message. Maybe they are right, maybe they are wrong, I personally do not think it is that much of an issue, but certainly they should not be accused of "poisoning the well of the fandom" or "ruining the game for everybody else". Dear Fred, As I agree with you about the rules, and I think you made several great remarks, why do you assume they hate the game, or that they are too used to the previous ruleset? We can not know that. I read the messages by Atgxtg and feel like I need to defend him/her, because his/her intentions seem to be somewhat misinterpreted. There is no need to judge anyone or to discourage from expressing their (sometimes harsh) opinions.
  9. Dear Josh777, this is a good point. There are some ways around (some mentioned by Fred). For example, when appropriate, I use Hard difficulty instead of Extreme difficulty for rolls where opponent has skill 90% or more. Usually my investigators do not have skills above 70%, so using Extreme difficulty would sometimes make the game just too hard for them. Lowering the difficulty level is a simple, clean and effective way of helping your players. Moreover, the philosophy of the rulebook, as I understand it, is that Extreme difficulty should be used rarely. Also, that opposed rolls should be mainly used for combat and confrontations between PCs. In practice no NPC in any of my games has ever had any skill at 90% or above. This basically solves the problem. Monsters do have 90% skill or above, but they have unimaginable powers, so I think the rules should favor them over PCs and they do (vide your example with 90% Spot Hidden and 90% Stealth). As it is repeatedly emphasized on this forum: rules are important, but they are mainly to serve you and your group and the narrative. I feel it is much more useful to read the rulebook as a guide on the philosophy of how to play a given game. In the case of Call of Cthulhu, the rules might make no sense if they are considered outside of this "philosophy", but when looked from the point of view of what game tries to achieve I think they make sense. In other words, this game should be hard, and PCs should perish!
  10. There is also one scenario in the Nameless Horrors collection: An Amaranthine Desire.
  11. Dear Dethstrok9, I do not agree at all with klecser in his description of the GUMSHOE, so let me give you a different view. To be as precise as possible, I will just write here, what I find in my "Cthulhu Confidential" book on page 7: "Your character solves the mystery driving the scenario by moving from scene to scene gathering information. You, the player, solve the mystery by figuring out what the information means. As you piece together the narrative and sort relevant facts from evocative side detail, you work out who did what to whom, and why. (...) When a scene starts the GM describes what your character can sense about it right off the bat. What does the place look like? What mood does it conjure? What objects or furnishings does it contain, and what do they tell you? Who, if anyone, is present, and what do they do or say in response to your arrival? You then respond by posing questions. You might ask them directly to the GM, or, through in-character dialogue, to the supporting characters present at the scene. (...) Some facts appear in plain sight, right in front of you. (...) In key instances, tough, you'll have to ask about the scene in a particular way to get the clues you need. Describe how you're gathering information and what Investigative Abilities, if any, you're using to get it. (...) If your character looks for the information in the right place, and has a credible way to get it, you get the clue, simple as that. Some roleplayers might be used to games where they have to roll dice, scoring a successful result of some kind, to get information. GUMSHOE works exactly like that, except without the roll, removing the chance of failure that doesn't advance the story. In order to obtain clues, you always have to describe your character interacting with the contents of the scene. You never just read the names of your abilities off your character card and wait for more description. (...)" I think ragr explained it well. From the practical point of view, for me the main difference is not about providing the clues/ avoiding failure in getting the clues. It is about forcing players to think for themselves, rather than relying on their skills and luck. They have all the tools they need, it is only up to them if they make a proper use of them. For example, if they find a weird drawing, they must realize that it is not the picture that is suspicious (using "Art" skill or something similar) but its smell (using "Biology" or "Pharmacy") and that the poison that killed the mansion owner was in the painting. This also makes "clues" multi-dimensional, i.e. every clue might contain very different information, and it is up to the players to find the substantial ones. It does not mean that you can not do the same thing in CoC, you can, and it usually makes the game even better. But in GUMSHOE it is a rule, and in CoC it is not. That makes them different, not worse/ better. Dear klecser, I need to respond to your post. I do not understand it. I do not tell anyone how to feel. Where do I told you how to feel? I am not taking your opinion personally. Again, why do you think so? You simply said: This is not a statement about your feelings, this is your statement about objective reality, about GUMSHOE in particular. And it is wrong. This is my claim, which also can be wrong. Moreover, I said that one can say the same thing as you about any RPG system, if one has enough bad will. I also said, that I do not understand this attack on GUMSHOE. I have just reread first 70 pages of "Cthulhu Confidential" and it is not the game you are talking about.
  12. Dear smiorgan, I agree. I think failing to get information is in principle not less fun than getting information, so there is really no problem whatsoever. The problem is whether the GM is prepared for the failure or not. If investigators miss a clue they might not reach the conclusion of the adventure. So the job of GM is to: either provide the same clue in a different place/ time, or make sure no single clue is crucial to solve the mystery, or lead the story in such a way, that even if they missed all the clues, they would still reach the end of the scenario, but the end that is different from the case where they find all the clues. I prefer the last option, but all of them work. Certainly, not allowing players to fail does not make the game more interesting. Indeed, a failure can still make the development of the story interesting, it just heavily depends on your imagination. Let me explain using a very simple example: An owner of a mansion was killed during the night and his golden clock was stolen. No one has seen the murderer. Investigators are called to solve the mystery. They arrive and start searching the house for some clues. A letter with the name of the perpetrator—John Smith—is hidden under a bed in one of the rooms. They make it to the bedroom, and roll for, let us say, Spot Hidden. Everyone fails, they do not find the letter. This is a failure. I do not say: "you have not found anything". Also, I do not give them this letter later, because this would be very artificial. Instead, because they failed, I give them a wrong clue, that leads them in a completely wrong direction. This makes things interesting. For example, I say: "You found a Teddy Bear with initials T.G. and blood stains on it." My players start thinking T.G. must have something to do with the killing. This is not true. T.G. are initials of the owner's friend Thomas Gamemaster and "blood stain" is a random red stain without any relevance. They start asking about T.G. and find out who he is and where does he live. They follow him, they investigate his habits, life etc. They might learn some interesting things (like that he is cheating on his wife, or sells drugs, or that during nights he turns into a secret agent killing communists but during days he is a Methodist pastor) but generally it is a waste of time and eventually they meet with him. During the conversation he suggests who might have wanted the death of his friend. Along other names, the name "John Smith" is mentioned, not necessarily in a bad fashion. John Smith has already escaped to Japan. They will not be able to catch him, because they failed the Spot Hidden roll. But it does not mean that they will not reach the end of the story. They will, but now the story is different. When, after some time, investigators arrive to his house they find out it is empty. They roll for Spot Hidden. If they succeed they find a copy of a ship ticket to Japan, and an offer of buying a golden clock. If they fail, they just find the ticket. This looks like a dead end, so they start investigating other options. After some time, someone from the mansion calls, saying "Dear Dr. Klooperschticker, we found this letter under the bed. It says John Smith!" Investigators prepare for trip to Japan. What a satisfying end of the story! However, I do not understand all the complaints about the GUMSHOE system. I really like it, I do not think it is in any respect better or worse than CoC 7e system. It stresses different aspects of the game, and makes some of them more enjoyable, some of them more vague and annoying. Of course, everything depends on the GM, but it is also obvious that different systems are... different, and can make some thing better or worse. Moreover, I have never had any impression that it is sold as a "brilliant solution to problems, no one has ever thought about." I think you need at least a bit of a bad will, to see it this way. Dear klecser, I also own some GUMSHOE products and never felt that way. Actually, I think what you said here could be equally true about CoC 7ed system. I can find many places in any system rulebook that could be interpreted the same way. Thus, it is not a problem of the system, rather of the interpreter. "Buy our walls of text with no art!" And what is wrong with that? Have you read any older CoC supplement? Or even Nameless Horrors? The text is the essence of any RPG product, art is just a pleasant addition. Is this thread about "investigation problems" or just an opportunity for some people to attack other "Cthulhu" games without good reasons?
  13. You are probably mentioning Masks of Nyarlathotep Companion by Sixtystone Press (it was here to get, but now it seems the link does not work anymore). I do not know if it is available anywhere. There is a discussion here, as well: Forum Thread.
  14. Dear David Scott, I know Amidst the Ancient Trees, and I like it, but it does not fit our campaign. Thank you for the suggestion tough. It has a pretty complicated plot, so I will not explain it here, but it revolves mainly around the old artifact, the Crown of St. Sieghbert (from the Nameless Horrors scenario An Amaranthine Desire). One player's character, an archeology professor, was turned old due to its mysterious power, and wants to study it to undo the change. A chair of the department—so boss and friend of the professor—happens to be a sorcerer who wants to posses the crown to gain control over time, and to summon Gods from prehistoric ages. My idea was that one of the jewels in the crown might be a crystal from Gla'aki's prison, and now these two servants (who were helping the archeology professor so far) will try to steal the crown from the professor, and take it to their master. It will not be easy, for various reasons. But basically, they will act as Gla'aki's secret agents, who want to obtain the crystal without making much noise. I think this would introduce a nice tension in the group, due to several different agendas of people involved, will give the servants no choice about their goal, but will also leave players enough choices of how to obtain this goal, so that they can still enjoy the game. I talked to players, and they know how the situation looks like: that their characters are dead, and that may need a new ones in the future. They agreed to role-play servants, I think mainly because they liked the idea of forming a "secret group" inside their already secret party of investigators. I am saying all this, to give you the rough scheme of the plot, and because I think just walking them off into the woods would not be much fun for the players. Knowing them, I think they would be much happier if something much more terrible happened (being revealed and killed, committing serious crime, performing blasphemous ritual, ruining life of other characters etc.), since they made an ethically doubtful decision, i.e. becoming servants, and there should be consequences. (Although this was a decision of players, and not their characters—since their characters had no choice, once they were captured and killed.) Anyway, since we have now one month break before the next game, I still have a lot of time to think about all options and—appreciating your great ideas—I am kindly asking for more.
  15. Dear ColoradoCthulhu, We are in a middle of a campaign, there are about 12 sessions left (equal to about 1 month in the game world). I think that since Brophys lived 60 years as servants of Gla'aki, and there was not disturbing description of their appearance in the scenario, I assume it is possible for some of the servants to keep their "fresh" look for quite some time. I was planning to slowly, maybe once every 2-3 session, describe weird features of their appearance to other players, as a hint that something wrong is going on. Maybe a good idea is to introduce a "decay progress" checks (rolling for Luck or CON every couple of days). This would make their APP deteriorate in time and other stats reach the "zombies" stats (higher HP, lower DEX etc.) Dear EricW, thank you for all your suggestions. They are very good and I will certainly use the makeup one. Finally, my players will have a chance to use "Disguise" skill!
  16. Dear ColoradoCthulhu, One thing that comes to mind is Lightless Beacon, free adventure to be found here: The Lightless Beacon (it is an excellent scenario for beginners, I do not know how it would work with more experienced players). There is also one scenario in "An Inner Darkness" by Golden Goblin Press, if I recall correctly: An Inner Darkness (I do not have this supplement, so cannot say anything). Finally, there are also scenarios from the Miskatonic Repository, which might be relevant: The Sudden Storm, Fogbound and Deep, Once. I have to agree, it is not easy to find anything about Deep Ones for the 7th edition. You can still try older supplements, which are great. I would be glad to see "Escape from Innsmouth" revived, as well. I have heard people saying that it is problematic to run a game revolving around Deep Ones, since they are probably the most iconic and well recognized entities from Lovecraft's works, but I do not care, I love them, and I enjoyed extremely every scenario that involved their presence. Simply, there is something special about them. EDIT: I almost forgot, there is also The Saltwater Inheritance by Mark Morrison.
  17. Hello Dear Friends, I was recently running "Servants of the Lake" from "Doors to Darkness" supplement, for a group of five investigators: three MU students, an archeology professor, and a physician (Actually, the professor did not take part in this adventure.) This is a part of a longer campaign and investigators already have some knowledge of the Cthulhu Mythos. I should probably mention that three of them are indefinitely insane as well. (IN THE FOLLOWING, THERE MIGHT APPEAR SPOILERS) Anyway, at the end of the scenario, one student was unconscious, hidden in the motel room by his friends, while two other and the physician were dragged by Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Brophy's to the clearing, to be turned into servants of Gla'aki. Long story short, I gave my players plenty of opportunities to run away, even turned Gla'aki's avatar against some of the "zombies" to give them even more time, but due to bad decisions and bad rolls, only one student (Rachela) fled, decided to carry the unconscious friend out of the motel to their car, and started the engine. Here I asked those two to leave the room for 5 minutes and continued the scene at the clearing with the physician and the last student. They both were dying, so I asked the players how would they feel if their characters were turned into undead slaves of Gla'aki, retaining their memories and personalities, and if they wanted to continue playing such characters. They both agreed gladly (poor fools!), so we rolled if the transition was successful, and it was. I described the scene how Gla'aki turns them into its servants, leaving large holes in their chests. I asked the rest of the players to join us in the room, and described how Rachela sees her two friends emerging from the woods, running and screaming to wait for them. So here is my question. How to incorporate into the game the fact that two of the investigators are now undead human-looking monsters without free will? This is a very broad question—I am looking for ideas regarding the plot, roleplaying, mechanics etc. Normally I would not allow anything like that to happen, decreasing their Sanity to zero and making them NPCs, however we wanted to try something different. I have several thoughts on my own, see below, but would be interested to hear any suggestions from you. Some of my loose ideas are: Now the group has two "agents" of Gla'aki, who will try to follow its agenda; pretending that they are "normal" humans, I want to let players to do whatever they want, but from time to time they will be getting orders from their god, that they can not oppose, To make my players understand, that becoming undead monsters was not a gift of immortality, but rather an unforgivable profanity, these orders will be disgusting beyond any measure, The rest of the group will be given small hints that there is something wrong with the physician and the student, I wanted to increase max HP of the servants, because they are undead now; I am still thinking about other stats, The backstory entries on the back of their character sheets will be changed accordingly,
  18. Yes, why not? I am not a YouTube person, but I was considering writing scenarios for the Miskatonic Repository. Even tough CoC is almost 40 years old, I see there is still a huge gap of unexplored ideas on the market. But I could start doing anything earliest after the summer.
  19. Dear Deathstrok9, I do not claim that you stole my idea, I am happy that it was used by you, and more people can learn from it. I just like when the sources are provided (especially when I am the source 😄). Either solution (reference in the description/ pinned comment) works, I do not have any preference. I would argue on that, I think the resemblance is still striking. If you took a poem and added your commentary after each line, because "it seemed vague" it would still require a citation. But I do not want to make more fuss about that than required, so let me stop here. I hope your channel will grow. Thank you for understanding, and have a good day.
  20. Dear Dethstrok9, I really like your video, but I think it would be appropriate to give there a reference to my first post in this forum, where I have written all these ideas. I do not claim they are original, but I see you just repeat my points as yours, and add some comments based on the "Color out of space". In the video, you just say "someone" wrote a post on a forum, that "inspired" you. Maybe I am oversensitive, but working in the Natural Sciences field, I pay a big attention to the matter of authorship and intellectual property. The post I am referring to is in this thread: Where I have written:
  21. Dear klecser, I have a slightly different perspective. I also do not like the "dice tell the story" attitude. I agree that dice do not tell the story, simply because they can not talk. Players make the story and dice are just tools. What are these tools for? I follow the philosophy that dice pick between different branches of history (or between the alternative game universes). Any time we roll a dice, several outcomes are possible: failure, success, hard success etc. Each outcome is a different history, different time-line. And here is where I probably disagree with you: all these branches can be interesting. You say: All these examples are examples of failure, suggesting that failure is inherently less interesting. Why? We could take all your three examples and build exciting stories on top of them. The fact that we remember one "branch" of the story (the one we found in the book/ movie) being interesting, does not imply that other "branches" would be boring. You have also written before: I agree, and I think this is the key. You have several alternative stories as outcomes of a roll, and it is up to the Keeper and players to make any of them interesting. The excitement from the randomness of the roll comes just from the fact that we do not know which alternative will be chosen. But all of them will be interesting and this makes the game much more fun. This is why I really dislike fudging rolls. If we can alter the result on the dice, why are we even using them? I have to accept the result I rolled, even if I do not like it, because it forces me to be creative, to think how to make any possible outcome interesting. If I wanted my players to succeed I would not require any rolls, or would not roll for their opponents. Or would just "rail-road" the players in a way that leads their characters to a desired point. Or would use mechanic similar to the "Trail of Cthulhu", were investigation-related tasks can be performed without any rolls. I feel much more honest, when I do not pretend that I follow rules, just to alter or violate them any time I find them uncomfortable. I could even say more, I love when uncomfortable, or just bad rolls ruin all my plans! Keeper is the only player that most of the time has no fun from discovering anything "new" in the story. Keeper knows all NPC, their motivations, knows the story, who killed who, which clue leads where etc. There is nothing left to discover for him. But when players do something unexpected, or have terrible rolls that could lead them to immediate damnation, this usually alters the story significantly. And suddenly I—as the Keeper—have something new to discover! I have to quickly rethink the plot, the NPCs behaviors etc. which opens a completely new universe of possibilities, and makes me feel like I am exploring the world together with my players. Of course any approach is "good", because any RPG group has their own definition of "good". For me, constant failure in CoC (especially when you play with new, inexperienced characters) is a natural outcome of the fact that CoC characters are not "heroes". They have no useful skills, they have no knowledge, they do not know how to use magic, and even though they still think that they can save the world. No, it is highly improbable. If you are a librarian whole life, and your Firearms is 10%, you can not probably win a shooting with cultists. So the characters will fail, they will go insane or die, but it will all happen in the most exciting ways. Because, believe me, you can enjoy a failure in CoC, if there was a good story behind it. And moreover, if the characters somehow succeed, players will remember that forever.
  22. Dear davewire, once you are done with reading, could you please write here a short review of the book? There are so many great Call of Cthulhu books released recently (Harlem, Mansions, Malleus, and An Inner Darkness by Golden Goblin Press) and some older ones, that I also wanted to buy (like The Things We Leave Behind by Stygian Fox) that I have to make difficult choices, as I can not see myself affording all of them anytime soon. I am specifically interested if this campaign (or single scenarios) could fill the gap between Peru and America chapters of the new Masks? The sudden jump between Peru and the USA adventures in Masks leaves me slightly unsatisfied and I thought maybe I could let my players explore Southern America more, before they move 4 years ahead. I see that the time frame is slightly off, but this is probably not a big problem.
  23. Dear klecser, My message was not intended to offend/ accuse anyone, and especially not to assign any wicked intentions to you. I apologize. I indeed took word "need" literally, assigned a negative logical value to the statement "You need those things..." and replied with a counter-suggestion. There are several reasons why I think this statement is false, but I suppose this is not a good place to discuss that. I think the word "need" should be replaced by something else. I think the claim: "Do not trust anyone who says that you need to spend money to start playing a game that requires just imagination" is true, also for several reasons, but now I also see that it could have been understood as an emanation of malice. I apologize again, I will send you a longer private message, and I wish you a good day.
  24. Inspired by this message I propose a different approach, which I find more reasonable. Why? If you sum up the prices of just pdfs of the books mentioned by klecser in the first post (I ignore "After that?" paragraph and use current DriveThruRPG values) you get $88. If you constrain yourself just to pdfs of the Starter Set and the Rulebook you get around $38. Probably in the USA it is a fair price, but people in poorer countries might not be able to spend that much on their hobby. Especially, not knowing much about the game, not sure if they will like it after all, if they can find interested players, if the official adventures suit their style of playing etc. etc. So, to those who ask themself "Do I really have to spend so much, if I am just starting my adventure with CoC?" I tell: do not despair! There is a light of hope shining on the horizon! My approach requires $0 from you: Download and read Quick-Start Rules. There are all the rules you need for the start and one classic scenario. You can also watch an introduction by Don't Stop Thinking on YouTube. Download free solo adventure Alone Against the Flames. Play it through once, to get a flavour of the rules. Find one friend that wants to play with you. Before playing with larger group, try one-on-one sessions in more controllable conditions. Start with the scenario from the Quick-Start Rules booklet. If you like the mood, story, rules etc. and want to play more, try another one-on-one scenarios from this excellent free collection: Monophobia. If you are ready, gather a larger group of friends and run some of the free one-shot adventures by Chaosium: Scritch Scratch ot The Lightless Beacon. There is also a free adventure by students of the Taylor University: Refractions of Glasston. If have not already, read some of the Lovecraft's fiction stories, which can be found at The H.P. Lovecraft Archive. If you feel capable, adapt some of the stories to RPG scenarios, and play them with your friends.* I think this is what you need as a New Keeper. Going through this list will entertain you for several weeks, during which you can decide if you want more or not. Do not trust anyone who says that you need to spend money to start playing a game that requires just... imagination. However, if you enjoy it, I encourage you to buy the Rulebook and other supplements from Chaosium. *How to make a scenario out of Lovecraft's story? Here is an example algorithm for lazy folk (for free!): Read the story. Identify the mystery/ problem. Identify a set of information that was crucial to solve the problem. Identify a set information that served as a hint to solution, but was not crucial. Assign some skill rolls to the process of obtaining them. Identify who is the investigator (main character(s)). Your players will take his/ her/ their role. What pushed the investigator to solve the mystery? This will be a role-playing hook for your players. The rest of the characters are NPC. Copy their descriptions from the story. Divide information about the problem between them. Prepare handouts, put some information there as well. Was there some handout description in the story (of a book, journal, letter)? If yes, just copy it. Identify the locations, copy their descriptions from the book. They will serve as a stage for your scenario. Identify the main events of the story. Divide them into two groups: those that happen irrespectively from the investigators, and those that can be altered by the investigators. This will build a rough time frame of the scenario. Use stats for NPC and monsters from the free sources that I mentioned above.
  25. Dear Phil, I have recently started a campaign from the Blackwater Creek scenario, that can be found in the Keeper's Screen. We are playing as a group of Miskatonic University students + janitor + one professor and it worked very well as a "not-too-simple" introduction to CoC. The adventure is very flexible: you can make it straightforward and easy for your players, or very complex/ hard, depending on what are your needs. It is very well written and has a lot of potential for linking it with other MU-related scenarios (e.g. from Doors to Darkness). 4Acrossisemu mentioned Crimson Letters and I also think it is a good starting point. If you need something for more experienced players, I would suggest an old but great supplement, The Great Old Ones. It has five scenarios that can be played as one campaign. It would probably need more work than 7th edition adventures, but seeing faces of your players when they reach the last one, Bad Moon Rising, is absolutely worth it.
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