Lessons in Gumshoe

I’ve never truly gotten into investigation based RPGs. Not really. Too many poor Cthulhu games to be honest. But I feel like I’m missing out because goodness knows there’s a lot of it about. In fact, outside of the dungeon crawl I’m going to put my neck out and say it’s the most popular scenario there is.

As part of my ‘learn and grow’ mission I’m trying to push out of my comfort zone a bit. Hence I jumped on the Bundle of Holding deal from Pelgrane for their Gumshoe line.

I tried Esoterrorists back in the day, and again very recently. I didn’t enjoy the sessions. Nothing to do with the other guys at all, it just wasn’t my thing, which didn’t completely surprise me. What has surprised me is how much actually reading the Gumshoe books is making me want to try again. They do a fabulous job of explaining themselves, better than any one demo GM could ever do. (I don’t think the character sheets do them any justice though).

Every book in the line is self contained, with the rules, and the setting, and the changes the latter have made to the former. This makes every iteration slightly different, and as far as I can tell, they all work together.

Rather than a line by line review, I’m just going to call out a great little piece of advice from Ashen Stars:

You have to pick a plot for your character, and three sub plots to follow. You hand them to the GM to interweave them into the ongoing story. Clearly you only provide a start point for the plot, not the whole shebang. Robin Laws, the author, suggests picking up a TV Guide and flicking to some shows you like, then reading the two sentence summaries provided. They always give the set up and never the resolution. And off you go.

I think that’s brilliant.

I’ll call out more as I see them. In fact, having skimmed most of Nights Black Agents (Ken Hite’s espionage/vampire Gumshoe offering) I wish I’d made more notes as I went along.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Lessons in Gumshoe

  1. doctormitch

    I’ve been thinking lately that “purist” investigation is a specialist taste (I like it occasionally, but not all the time), but investigation mixed with other modes of play is almost always good. I need to think about this some more-I sense a blog post coming. Esoterrorists is a purist investigation game, and Call of Cthulhu often is.

  2. Richard

    I’m reading throught Esoterror Factbook at the moment and it’s great. It folds in all kind of concepts and character knowledge of OV procedure that really adds to the enjoyment of the game through a better understanding of the setting and how the characters fit in to the world. My players probably won’t read it as they’re not that way inclined which is a shame.

    I love GUMSHOE but I’ve got a feeling that a “great” GUMSHOE game may not happen for me; I’ll settle for merely good which most are at the moment. I think that great game will only happen when everyone at the table has a full understanding of the game’s rules, has got used to using them and has a full buy in and understanding of the setting.

  3. Pingback: It’s a mystery to me. | The Imaginarium of Doctor Mitch

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