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Doodog

A few beginner questions

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Hi! 

We've started a cthulhu session and played the haunting and some things felt a bit off, so I thought I'd just ask and get some input by more experienced players how you deal with these things. There might be some spoilers for the haunting, I'll try to mark them. 

So what felt off to me was:

1) if a player failed with some social skill - let's say Charme - another player had a go. Which leads to almost guaranteed success. I did stop some conversations and had the NPC get mad/annoyed or similar, but it still feels a bit weird. How do you guys handle NPC interaction? 

2) Time. Some things take time for example searching for documents in the library or something. Does this have some kind of impact or can the game? I guess they need to eat here and there and sometimes their employer gets annoyed, but in general does it affect anything? For example would players be allowed to just rest for as long as it takes for them to heal up or study a spell for weeks if there is no pressure from the employer? 

3) Character progress. I guess in every group there are more active and less active players. Which leads to faster skill enhancement by the more active players and more active players tend to also be more specific in regards of what they are doing which leads to more skills being used. So do you somehow interfere with skill leveling in the sense that PCs don't drift too far apart in regards of skill? If 3 adventures are played and one player is very active and gets 10 used skills while another only used 4 successfully the first one will be so much more skilled across the board (30 VS 9 potential enhancements). Which leads to the active player being even more active because most his skills are kinda high. I'm not sure if it's the case but I expect the more introverted players to get frustrated by that. 

 

Thanks in advance!

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Often I only have one possible roll for an action for a group...

If you let every player do a spot roll or something, for example, it's almost a guaranteed success, otherwise! ;)
But, conversely, you can boost the skill roll with other other player's skill (+1/5th of a second player skill)

Sometimes, though, I let every player roll, when it's not important and easier that way...

Edited by Lloyd Dupont
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Sometimes other people don't get the chance to try a Social skill check.

Like where the PC asks the NPC "How much does a polar bear weigh? Not enough to get your friend out of prison," and then roles a fumble on the Fast Talk check.

That NPC was maaaaaad!

On character progress, it's tough. Some players tend to lead with suggestions; others are content to just go along with what's happening. You can't do much more than encourage the more retiring players: ask them what they're doing, remind them of leads and things going on that they can do. And a lot of checks can be attempted by multiple characters. I'd say that everyone can use Library Use to check through the newspaper archives, or use Archaeology to identify the culture of an artefact. If multiple people succeed that's fine.

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1. The second attempt is a pushed roll. Make sure the players know there can be dire consequences of failing a pushed roll.

2. Time pressure depends on the adventure you're running. Sometimes the investigators can take as long as they want, sometimes they can't. They might get fired, the monster might murder more victims, anything.

3. Try asking the less active players what they want to do. Ask each player before resolving any of the actions. It can also help to alleviate the other two problems. But yes, more active characters will improve more. In the end, that's their fault.

Edited by commandercrud
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When it comes to interaction I might let another player help out, maybe doing a good cop/bad cop thing, but usually it's one check, unless the roleplay's good enough (or bad enough) to warrant otherwise.

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My own personal take on your situational questions ...

1) If a player failed with some social skill - let's say Charme - another player had a go. Which leads to almost guaranteed success. I did stop some conversations and had the NPC get mad/annoyed or similar, but it still feels a bit weird. How do you guys handle NPC interaction?

A) It depends on who is present during the interaction. If Investigator 1 enters the store and tries a social roll but fails, they can either push it (creating another chance, changing approach by, say, trying a different skill etc.) and take the penalty or shrug and let Investigator 2 enter the room and try one ... at a penalty? Think of it as the target not knowing the relationship between investigators; they may be strangers, they may be colleagues, but there's no apparent 'team'. If both a present when the first approach is made, subconsciously the target assumes they are working to a common goal. After all, in a group one tends to think that the one who speaks first is the leader. There wouldn't be a third chance though ...

2) Time. Some things take time for example searching for documents in the library or something. Does this have some kind of impact or can the game? I guess they need to eat here and there and sometimes their employer gets annoyed, but in general does it affect anything? For example would players be allowed to just rest for as long as it takes for them to heal up or study a spell for weeks if there is no pressure from the employer?

A) You need to strike a fine balance between reality and playing the 'story'. After all, all investigators will take baths, go to the toilet, sleep and eat etc. Unless this ... action is integral to the story moving forward, just take it as assumed to have happened but with no incident. Gloss over time-outs for research by filling in with "Well, it's taken you six weeks of intensive research - including the time taken to clear your office desk of overdue paperwork and keep your employer happy ... for the moment!" To introduce a certain element of both realism and play/entertainment, you could turn the employer into a minor NPC who's getting increasingly frustrated with the investigators absences. Even cops who are tasked with an investigation are required to regularly report in, do a bit of paperwork then slope off while the Captain's not looking! If you think your players would prefer it, add a week or two to study/rest to represent dealing with mundane job chores.

3) Character progress. I guess in every group there are more active and less active players. Which leads to faster skill enhancement by the more active players and more active players tend to also be more specific in regards of what they are doing which leads to more skills being used. So do you somehow interfere with skill leveling in the sense that PCs don't drift too far apart in regards of skill? If 3 adventures are played and one player is very active and gets 10 used skills while another only used 4 successfully the first one will be so much more skilled across the board (30 VS 9 potential enhancements). Which leads to the active player being even more active because most his skills are kinda high. I'm not sure if it's the case but I expect the more introverted players to get frustrated by that.

A) I'm afraid this a problem which deals with players rather than investigators. It's not common for a 'team' of investigators to let one do all the work (earning the experience) while the others just tag along. This is why that while playing the adventure is like a movie, there is no 'star'. Everyone has a part to play equally. If everyone doesn't get a fair chance to play, they will get fed up and probably leave. In this situation, it's probably one player who tends to dominate the action. They may come up with great ideas, manage to perform all the right stunts, know all the right things to say but they can't be allowed to throw the rest of the team into shade. Rather than gag (metaphorically) the pushy one, put them into a situation where they are alone to do what they do well. Then, turn to the other players and see what they are going to do while Peter Perfect is doing his stuff. Make sure you go round the table, giving everyone a chance to speak. The core point about this problem isn't a character progressing further than the others - that's a symptom of the real trouble; one player is dominating the play, even if it's not nasty or with the other players consent. The essential thing to bear in mind that a character shouldn't be more active because they've got all the killer skills but because that character, if they were that damn good, would be on their own and not part of the team. They might become mentors of the others, letting the rest of the team perform but acting as back-up if anything goes wrong.

Always bear in mind that this is a game being played for the entertainment of all the players, including the Keeper. Consider game mechanics as aiding that entertainment. If they don't just take a pass and think of an alternative way of making it fun.

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Thank you all very much! Those were very helpful answers. I'll try to consider them in the next session and probably come back with some more questions!

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