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Numerous Psychology / Spot Hidden checks every session

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I'm looking for advice from experienced Keepers & Investigators. Our group has been playing for a couple of months now via a weekly Roll20 game and I've found that I've fallen into a pattern of asking for numerous Psychology / Spot Hidden rolls throughout the session. Typically these rolls are made to allow the Investigator the opportunity to sense the NPC's attitude/demeanor, or in the case of Spot Hidden, find a clue, or perceive some feature of the environment around them. I'm struggling with how to take the Players described actions for their Investigators and quickly come up with a reasonable explanation of how they can use another skill for the requested roll. It is becoming tiresome to ask for Psychology/Spot Hidden every time they meet someone or I want to see if their Investigator has observed some minor nuance in the environment that could be a clue. Any advice you'd care to share would be appreciated.

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You have raised a really good question.  When handling interpersonal relations, sometimes other communications can substitute for psychology for getting a "read" on people.  As the rules say that characters resist communication skills with their communication skills, it is implied that a god communicator can understand when they are being "fed a line", and may even be able to tell more from the line they are fed (by implication) than they could from a psych roll.  After all, every lie you get told is a better indicator of what the truth actually is, because it is the truth that every lie protects, so you ask, "What is this lie protecting, and what is it diverting me from?"  This works IRL btw.

As for spot hidden, well, most clues are located in spaces that are relevant to particular skills, i.e. offices, workshops, warehouses, houses.  An eye trained in what happens in a workshop or a building site would be able to spot what was out of place or hidden as well as or even better than a good spotter. 

Don't ignore Listen rolls as possible substitutes.  A quaver in a voice, or a loose floorboard, or a thump in the distance might all be clues.  Watch out however as Listen seldom costs as much SAN as seeing things.  I have always found that Spot Hidden is a mixed blessing in CoC, a bit like Mythos Skill.  Successful Spot Hiddens are often tragic SAN killers.

The other thing you can do is to simply decide that if a character has a skill in excess of a certain margin in a certain situation that the information will be forthcoming without a roll, as a sort of default.

The rules say that rolls are supposed to be used to build tension, and that failed rolls merely mean that more time is required to complete the task because an insight has been missed.  Now by the same token you can, and should, ask players to make spot hidden rolls when there is nothing present to discover, then tut to yourself, or chuckle when they make it or miss it, so they players can't "read the Keeper" so easily.

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"It is becoming tiresome to ask for Psychology/Spot Hidden every time they meet someone..." ... I understand pretty well, I personally play Cthulhu v7 and after a Big Investigation, I found out that I was asking for too much rolls to get one clue or a big discoveries. I sadly made them get multiples rolls to get clues and then a roll to get the global information behind the clues. After a debrief of scenarii and comparison with Sherlock Boardgame Investigation I think that :

First : clues should be given freely after a time of investigation of a place without ROLL (finding the place is the challenge, not looking at each doc).

Second : V7 system said that master give 1/2 malus dice to find hidden infos but rules say also you can take a extra period of search (half day) to gain on dice bonus and at 3Dice bonus you automatically succeed : Taking more time spare you dice roll. Let them choose between roll-fail-unknow-time-consuming  and no-roll-no-fail-fixed-time.

Third : There is a lot alternative to Psychology and S.Hidden. I've made my player's characters before hand so they don't have the same skills. (I'm french player, so I didn't check the exact spelling for skills)

Info from people :

  • Psychology : When you dissect someone mind
  • Charm : When you try to use your empathy and be cool
  • Credit : When you use you social superiority or money
  • Persuasion : When you explain why he should talk

Info from places /object:

  • Spot Hidden : Something not visible
  • Intelligence : Something visible but not at the good place
  • Education : Something should not be here, not culturally or socially in the good place
  • Criminalistics : Looking for any clues, usually useful in any cops investigation.

Info from documents :

  • Libraries : Infos from libraries and journals.
  • Law : Infos from cops and tribunals
  • etc ...

You can also add special skills, In the french deluxe version we have plastified NPC short-sheet with a special skill for each jobs (sparrin GM time to create ones). Instead of a player finding one, I gave them the sheets so they can choose they unique, personal special skill and job : I've got a Botanist with "Preserve sample" and a Detective with "Criminal behaviour" skill. the first is useful to get a sample of shoggoth and analyze it before seeing and being against it. The later used a "Colombo cop's instinct" skill to analyse what sort of criminal you've in face of you.

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