Author Topic: Custom move: Investigate a crime scene  (Read 4212 times)

Mikael

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Custom move: Investigate a crime scene
« on: April 19, 2014, 10:14:32 AM »
If you investigate a crime scene, roll+sharp. On 10+, pick 4. On 7-9, pick 3:
- You get some solid evidence
- You find everything there is to find
- You get no misleading information
- You are not found doing something you should not have
- You leave no trace

If you try to go by "mystic vibrations", roll+weird. Replace "You leave no trace" with "You attract no unwanted attention".

Munin

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Re: Custom move: Investigate a crime scene
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2014, 02:30:44 PM »
A couple of questions: what does "solid evidence" mean?  Is it something that has a mechanical effect (i.e. without "solid evidence" they cannot prosecute the perpetrator, or prosecution becomes more difficult)?  How is "misleading information" going to be handled within the game?  What does it mean to "find everything there is to find?"  Does that imply that if they don't find everything there is to find, the PCs could look again?  That sort of runs counter to how AW works, so if it's being built into this move you need to understand how it's going to work.  The part about not being found doing something you should not is interesting, but it implies that the characters are not supposed to be investigating a crime scene - is that really the case?  And is that why "leaving no trace" is important?

I think you're on the edge of something interesting here, but I think a lot of it is predicated on your particular Apocalypse/world/hack.  Maybe give us some idea as to the background or setting.  When I first saw this I thought it was kind of a "cops and criminals" thing, but the more of it I read the more it sounded like a "secretly investigating a dark conspiracy" thing.  The two are very different, and the move should reflect that.

Mikael

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Re: Custom move: Investigate a (crime) scene
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2014, 11:20:01 PM »
Thanks Munin for some really excellent questions. Personally, I like my moves evocative and a bit ambiguous, to drive surprising interpretations and wider use, but I will be happy to elaborate below. Reader, if you are one of those who do not want the explanations, consider this your spoiler alert.

This move comes from our "vanilla" AW game, where the fronts are looking like they might generate a body or two with a cause of death that will be initially ambiguous. Perceived and real murderers' identities have a potential of taking the game in very different directions; thus the custom move. Later, I also saw that it is not very tied to specific setting, and decided to post it on the forum.

As to the specific options and my suggestions for interpreting them:

"Solid evidence" means tangible evidence that can be used to convince others of your conclusions, whether they be a judge or a mob. Without solid evidence, you may gain enough information to convince yourself, but nothing you would rely on in front of others.

"Finding everything there is to find" is for players who dislike the uncertainty of some other games' approach on clue finding. If you do not take this option, it means it is possible - but not guaranteed - that there is some other information you missed. Maybe there is also a nagging feeling your character is left with. In no way is this option intended to suggest a reroll.

"Misleading information" is where MC:
- should be especially lavish on juicy details, some of which are inaccurate and contradictory, and
- implicate several culprits, some of whom are not really guilty of anything relevant (but everyone's guilty of something, right?).

"Found doing something you should not" and "Leave no trace" are ideal for an unofficial night-time investigation on enemy turf, but could as well apply to a police procedural, as they open options for intentionally or unintentionally tampering with the evidence, or even being caught planting some evidence. Of course, if you have the freedom of the scene you can just "trash the place", which can make things easier as you do not have to waste a pick on the "leave no trace" option.

Yarrum

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Re: Custom move: Investigate a crime scene
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2014, 02:52:06 AM »
It's a good concept, but I'm questioning a few things, too. Namely, I think there are too many options - only two of them are positive, while the other three are avoiding bad consequences. Why would anybody go to the trouble of investigating a crime scene this methodically, and yet leave without solid evidence and making sure that's all there is to find?

As If

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Re: Custom move: Investigate a crime scene
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2014, 03:00:35 AM »
Question: These rules seem to assume the MC already knows (a) who did it and (b) what all the clues are.  Is that true?

Mikael

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Re: Custom move: Investigate a crime scene
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2014, 08:08:24 PM »
Man, more good questions! Thanks.

Yarrum, this depends on the way your game and group works. I think AW in general and our group in particular is not as focused on maximising effectiveness as on playing an interesting game. Thus having several options has worked really well for us in the past. Players enjoy agonizing over their picks and their ramifications, and their selections have always been something else than what I would have picked. For example, I no longer would be at all surprised if a player preferred to be found out, just so that he can see what kind of shit breaks loose.

Maybe it is also crucial to note that I do not expect this move to be used in our game more than 1 or 2 times, so a key factor is that the move is new to the players and the options entertaining in their own right.

Tod, yes, I assume that the MC already knows who did it. This is aligned with my reading of the AW rules - to make the fiction seem real, as an MC you can mislead but you should also know the who and the why, because this will come up, sooner or later. In practice, for the murders discussed in my earlier reply, I would know who did the deed, and would also know who would be the other likeliest suspects in the minds of the players (and the mob).

The amount, exactness and completeness of the actual clues will depend on the options the player picks, and I would not prepare them in advance. As usual for our game, I will lean heavily on the players to provide details, and use those details to point to various suspects as needed.

Like: "You remember that Hothouse had that unpleasant habit - what was it?" Player: "Er, constantly chewing a piece of cloth, yeah, hanging half out of her mouth, all disgusting, with saliva dripping wherever she went." Me: "Ok, right, so... When you put your hand under the desk, that's what you feel - a wad of cloth, all moist and clammy."

Lukas

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Re: Custom move: Investigate a crime scene
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2014, 09:18:14 PM »
As a structure for investigative or knowledge-oriented moves in general, I've been thinking about asking the MC three questions you want answered and rolling +Sharp. On a 10+, you get true answers to all three. On a 7-9, true answers to two, false or distorted answer to one. On a 6-, one true answer, the rest false or distorted. That way, you'll keep the players on their toes, never really certain what to act upon unless they roll well enough.

nerdwerds

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Re: Custom move: Investigate a crime scene
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2014, 02:36:14 AM »
Looking for a playbook? Check out my page!
http://nerdwerds.blogspot.com/2012/12/all-of-playbooks.html

noclue

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Re: Custom move: Investigate a crime scene
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2014, 03:46:21 AM »
I rarely like custom moves, but I like this one. Well done. Although, pick 3 on a 7-9 is a bit generous. You're too nice ;)

It's a good concept, but I'm questioning a few things, too. Namely, I think there are too many options - only two of them are positive, while the other three are avoiding bad consequences. Why would anybody go to the trouble of investigating a crime scene this methodically, and yet leave without solid evidence and making sure that's all there is to find?

Well, if you want all the evidence and something solid, I guess you have to pick those two.
James R.

    "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which can not fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."
     --HERBERT SPENCER

Yarrum

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Re: Custom move: Investigate a crime scene
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2014, 05:54:12 PM »
I see your point, noclue. And Mikael did a good job explaining why the move was made the way it was.

But I've been thinking about my objections, namely why I think love letters are okay but I seemed not to like 'avoid the negative' in the move as Mikael posted it. This may just be personal preference, or semantics, but I think if I used this move, it would be like this:

Quote
If you investigate a crime scene, roll+sharp. On 10+, pick 1. On 7-9, pick 2. On a miss, pick 4:
- You only find evidence that's weak or circumstantial
- You miss something important
- You pick up a red herring
- You get caught in the act
- You leave a clear trace of your presence

I think that emphasizes that this investigation is a risky business, and sets up the expectation that shit will happen that you can only mitigate. Same move, but I wonder if anybody sees what I mean?

Mikael

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Re: Custom move: Investigate a crime scene
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2014, 05:27:29 AM »
Yarrum, big thanks for your inverted version. Now this thread reads like shopping list - people can conveniently pick the version they feel most appropriate.

The main difference I see here is that the options in the original version essentially promise that something bad will not happen, leaving the MC free to decide what fits most within the established fiction, whereas in the inverted version MC is forced to deliver on the bad stuff. For example, in the original, even if the player does not pick "no misleading information", MC is not forced to invent something misleading - the suspicion cast on the perfectly valid evidence can be enough.

In other words, I would say that the original formulation tickles my brain more, the inverted version being "too blunt".

Mikael

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Re: Custom move: Investigate a crime scene
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2014, 05:40:58 AM »
Lukas:
Quote
That way, you'll keep the players on their toes, never really certain what to act upon unless they roll well enough.

noclue:
Quote
Although, pick 3 on a 7-9 is a bit generous. You're too nice ;)

Here, I am going with the guidance from The Sprawl hack, which reads something like "the point is not to keep information from the players, but to see what they do with it". Sounds appropriate for AW, could be even in the book somewhere.

Yarrum

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Re: Custom move: Investigate a crime scene
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2014, 06:35:28 PM »
I'm glad we've got a feedback thing going, Mikael. A lot of stuff about your move just didn't 'click' for me, until I read and re-read this thread a few times.

wingsofwax

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Re: Custom move: Investigate a crime scene
« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2014, 07:21:22 AM »
Still new to custom moves, so bear with me...

if you choose "find everything", wouldn't that mean that you also found whatever is "solid"?

In general, is it preferable to have elaborate custom moves or several custom moves that have fewer outcomes?

Lastly, when reading a situation, you get a list of what to ask - but it seems to me that they are guidelines and that you can ask anything that is within those guidelines.