Writing a Mystery for an RPG

Started by Quazar, March 11, 2011, 08:28:22 PM

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I really want to encourage deductive reasoning and an organic story, and I remember that Forge used to have a GREAT thread about this.  I can't seem to find it though.  Can anyone link it?  Or if the original genius participants are still around, can we go through the process again?  I think real mystery is a vital genre in RPGs, but one that requires a lot of Game Master preparation.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Erik Weissengruber

I remember it.

I think you mean
"Mysteries: Step by Step Instructions"

Here are some related threads

* Mysteries can have a solid backstory even with heavy player input into the fiction
Quote"However, play itself will be nothing like (say) Call of Cthulhu, i.e. following the trail of bread-crumbs scattered in order as the GM sees fit. It will be much more dynamic and capitalize on dice-outcomes as sort of an assistant-director that everyone is working with.

A lot of people seem to think that The Pool enforces highly, highly improvisational play in terms of the world and the back-story of the scenario. I don't think it necessarily does."

* Players Creating & Solving Mysteries
Quote"... can you make a mystery style game in which the players are going to create the clues and create the answer to which they point?"
[It violates the lumpley principle but might still be workable]

* Is a GM-Less Mystery With a Stable Backstory Possible?
Quoteso long as anyone running a mystery is willing to swear up and down that he or she has kept the required elements to a bare minimum, you can shared-GM any mystery you like; in the end, the thing will be horrendously complicated, I guarantee, because people will start inventing crazy things that make up a wonderfully "thick" description of the situation.  Then they'll start running down the red herrings to see which ones matter.

* A Scattering of Options
~ "One technique I've used in the past is to allow players to collect undetermined clues as well as predetermined one."
~ "Decide the answer. Tell the players the answer. Then make them generate the clues and the path of reasoning that gets their characters to that realization."
~ "there are three places that the challenge can arise: 1) Finding the clues that matter; 2) Recognizing that certain pieces of information are in fact important clues; 3) Solving the mystery based upon the clues. The question is, where do you want the mystery to fall?"
~ "I find the best way to push mysteries is to make every NPC very talkative"

Ron Edwards

[Mage: The Awakening] Here goes nothing ... (split): mainly about about GM-prepped mysteries, but easily extended to systems with more piecemeal distribution of authority. This thread is also a launch platform for tons of threads.
frustration with "enigmas": the oldest thread about this stuff on the Forge, still worth considering.

Best, Ron

Erik Weissengruber

Clearly, I am no investigator.  Those were the ones I was looking for!


Hi guys,

Googling around this subject, I found this article The Three Clue Rule. Personally, I think that it's a good rule to follow.

In a nutshell, even if you are doing a trail of breadcrumbs leave lots of crumbs, not just one.

It makes in-genre sense, as investigations don't usually hinge on one clue but a preponderance of evidence. In Mysteries. Step by step instructions. the argument is that getting a single clue is not important, fitting that one clue into a chain is not important but that developing a reasonable hypothesis based upon a preponderance of evidence is (and by important, I mean crucial to the investigation AND fun to play).

I'm currently developing an investigative plot and I've tried to include multiple paths to the solution. I don't know how well it will work, but it seems playable to me and I don't see any choke points.


p.s. If you're interested, I can post a summary of the plot.