Author Topic: Investigative moves  (Read 12359 times)

Chris

  • User
  • Posts: 342
    • View Profile
Investigative moves
« on: January 17, 2011, 07:57:50 PM »
I've had a few ideas for little hacks to run for my group that center around investigation, but I've never been able to come up with good moves. The best I've been able to do is modified Workspace rules.

Watching a lot of media of this type, the most important move seems to be When the session is almost over, you'll suddenly know the answer, but that sucks.

Any thoughts?
A player of mine playing a gunlugger - "So now that I took infinite knives, I'm setting up a knife store." Me - "....what?" Him - "Yeah, I figure with no overhead, I'm gonna make a pretty nice profit." Me - "......"

Ry

  • User
  • Posts: 27
    • View Profile
Re: Investigative moves
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2011, 08:36:40 PM »
Here's an idea:

When you've examined the scene and talked to the witnesses, roll +Sharp.  

On a 10, the MC writes down a realization that would really shake up the case, turns it over and puts a countdown clock on it, starting at 10:00.  This clock runs down when you suffer, make headway, or accept other people's help.
On a 7-9, same thing, but the coundown clock starts at 6:00
On a miss, a hard move like normal, but if the MC tells you something, that's the intuition that draws you.

Simon C

  • User
  • Posts: 167
    • View Profile
Re: Investigative moves
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2011, 08:50:41 PM »
There's this thread here: http://apocalypse-world.com/forums/index.php?topic=448.0

Basically, it's hard!

I think the question you need to answer is whether "Do the investigators figure out the mystery?" is really at stake. If it is, then you need to make sure play is fun even if the investigators fail. If it's not, then you need to make sure there's something else at stake. Neither of those seem like easy things.

I heard someone talking about an investigative game where each failure meant there was another murder, and therefore more clues, so you'd eventually succeed, but possibly at great cost. That seemed like a reasonably good middle ground.

In terms of concrete moves, for a police procedural I'd focus on specifics of different investigative techniques:

When you dust for prints, you collect samples of any prints in the vicinity, and roll +focused. On a hit, you get to ask questions.
10+, ask 3
7-9, ask 1
On a miss, the Mystery Master can introduce a complication, a red herring, or else you just can't find anything.

How many different prints are here?
How old are the prints?
Was this thing touched by someone?
How was this thing held or used?


Oooh! And:

When you send a sample (DNA, fingerprints, trace, camera footage) to the lab geeks, roll +hard.
On a 10+, hold 3. 7-9, hold 1.
Spend 1 hold to get one of the following (MM's choice):
Introduce a new suspect
Introduce a secondary crime scene
Locate a suspect
Identify a murder weapon


Oh! And of course:

Once per session, when you make a terrible pun over a dead body, take +1 forward. YEEAAHHH!

Ry

  • User
  • Posts: 27
    • View Profile
Re: Investigative moves
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2011, 09:06:32 PM »
Yeah, it's really hard - giving the players their character's stroke of genius wedges in a separation between character and player that AW doesn't otherwise allow.

It crosses John Harper's The Line, right?

Chris

  • User
  • Posts: 342
    • View Profile
Re: Investigative moves
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2011, 06:01:42 AM »
Well, in CoC and similar games, the real stakes are Do the players figure out the mystery with the characters rolling to find clues and the player interpreting them. The player/character line is gonna get destroyed because it feels silly to stay in character as an idiot if you, the player, know the answer. I'm sure there's a fruitful void thing going on here, where there are moves that give out peripheral information or set up a workable path towards solving the mystery.
A player of mine playing a gunlugger - "So now that I took infinite knives, I'm setting up a knife store." Me - "....what?" Him - "Yeah, I figure with no overhead, I'm gonna make a pretty nice profit." Me - "......"

Simon C

  • User
  • Posts: 167
    • View Profile
Re: Investigative moves
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2011, 08:42:58 PM »
I would argue that in a lot of CoC, as it is played, there are no real stakes. The players will figure out the mystery one way or the other. There might be some stakes regarding how well the characters survive the experience. The CoC I've played has exclusively been about the experience of uncovering the mystery, not about whether the players will succeed.

Coming up with police procedural moves is fun.

When you break a suspect, hold 3. Spend hold 1 for 1 to ask questions:
What did you see?
Who was with you?
Where were you at the time?
What do you know about X?


When you rough up someone in interrogation, roll +hard
10+ you break them.
7-9 you break them, and the MM chooses one.
On a miss, the MM can introduce a complication, advance a countdown clock, or give a red herring, and the MM chooses two.
- They're hurt pretty badly
- You get caught
- Someone else sees you

When you talk a suspect around to cooperating, offer some genuine insight into their motives, and roll +sharp.
10+ you break them
7-9: they give you a titbit (MM's choice)
On a miss, the MM can introduce a complication, advance a countdown clock, or give a red herring, and the MM chooses two.

When you leave a suspect to stew, the MM can advance a countown clock, but hold 1 (max 3). Spend hold 1 for 1 to take +1 on any roll to break the suspect.

John Harper

  • User
  • Posts: 473
    • View Profile
Re: Investigative moves
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2011, 11:10:38 PM »
Oooh, hey, those are pretty darn good.

Jeff Russell

  • User
  • Posts: 325
    • View Profile
Re: Investigative moves
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2011, 01:42:13 AM »
When you leave a suspect to stew, the MM can advance a countown clock, but hold 1 (max 3). Spend hold 1 for 1 to take +1 on any roll to break the suspect.

I dunno if it breaks the "always misdirect" principle, but I especially like the interaction here between a player move and one of the MC's fronts, very cool.

Simon C

  • User
  • Posts: 167
    • View Profile
Re: Investigative moves
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2011, 03:31:34 AM »
Thanks! If I didn't know what a huge amount of work it would be, I'd be thinking about a procedural hack.

The real challenge though is not coming up with moves, it's finding a way to have the game be fun, even if the investigators don't solve the mystery. Possibly a more long-running police drama like The Shield would be a better model. Or just a really bleak procedural, with more focus on the community in which the crimes take place, so your real challenge is keeping the community functioning, not just solving crimes. That would require a whole new set of moves though.

Dammit! Now I'm thinking about a hack!

Chris

  • User
  • Posts: 342
    • View Profile
Re: Investigative moves
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2011, 05:31:23 AM »
Or go the GUMSHOE method, where the game isn't about finding clues, but interpreting them.

I've got something to do with Love Letters to the players, but spaced out somehow over the course of the session, not all out front, and it's on the tip of my brain.

Because it has to be a preplanned mystery, I don't see a way around that without going the Dirty Secrets route and that's not what I'm looking for here.

Like maybe make each crime scene a custom move, like a mini love letter? It's midnight and my brain is dying.
A player of mine playing a gunlugger - "So now that I took infinite knives, I'm setting up a knife store." Me - "....what?" Him - "Yeah, I figure with no overhead, I'm gonna make a pretty nice profit." Me - "......"

Simon C

  • User
  • Posts: 167
    • View Profile
Re: Investigative moves
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2011, 05:54:17 AM »
Chris,

Like maybe make each crime scene a custom move, like a mini love letter? It's midnight and my brain is dying.

That's an interesting idea!

Motipha

  • User
  • Posts: 70
    • View Profile
    • The Jankcast
Re: Investigative moves
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2011, 11:05:27 PM »
It seems to me that AW procedural is all about what that procedural is playing towards, right?  So each one has their gimmick, dependent on what they do: CSI was all about the lab work (interspersed with cultural commentary), law and order was about due process and law, Lie to me about deception and the interpretation of personal response.  Just saying "I'm doing a procedural" doesn't really describe most of these, even if the term is technically accurate to "doing what the police/justice system do."

So moves for this would depend on your gimmick, right?  Or maybe that's the difference between character splats and character moves.  hrm.

My favourite from a generalised move view:  Whenever you take significant time away from the case, roll +intuition.  10+ something happens that makes clear something you didn't know before.  7-9 you couldn't stop thinking about some piece of evidence.  If there's nothing more to Know, the MC will tell you.

My real name is Timo

Chris

  • User
  • Posts: 342
    • View Profile
Re: Investigative moves
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2011, 01:47:53 PM »
So moves for this would depend on your gimmick, right?  Or maybe that's the difference between character splats and character moves.  hrm.

I think I'm not really explaining myself well. I realize that the moves will change depending on the specific game we do, but I'm still at a more esoteric level here. From another thread:

Jared Sorensen said an interesting thing about investigation games.

He said that the normal approach to investigation rules is like:

"When you search a place high and low for clues, roll +observent"

or

"When you analyse a substance, roll +science"

and so on.

He said it would be interesting to make a game where the rules are like:

"When you have an unanswered question about something, and you try to find an answer, roll +investigate:

10+ The MC gives you a detailed answer to that question, in the form of clues and analysis of those clues.
7-9 The MC gives you a clue that suggests the answer to that question
On a miss, the question cannot be answered with available evidence."

Not sure that's the right format for AW though. It's more broad and genaral than a move really should be, I think. It might be better to have specific questions you can ask, like Read a Person and Read a Sitch:

When you examine a crime scene, roll +observant.
10+ hold 3
7-9: hold 1

Spend a hold while looking for clues to ask one of the following questions:
What is out of place here?
What is not what it looks like?
What happened here, exactly?
What should I be on the lookout for?

Or something.

That's more police procedural than Cthulhu, though.

See, all of those give us, the player, clues. And then we, the player, interpret them. In AW, that's fine. The questions in that game are more "Is Smith going to be able to get Ruby to marry him?" or "Can Barbie hold off the Biker gang?"

But in an investigative game, the question is "Can the PC solve the mystery?".

So in AW (and lots of other non-investigative games), it's always "I make decisions and then if I trigger an appropriate conflict, we go to the dice". But in investigative games, we roll to observe or get clues or we spend resource points to do so, a la ToC, and then we make decisions, using our player noodle, to figure out the clues our character got us through rolls or spent points.

There also what Simon suggested:
I think the question you need to answer is whether "Do the investigators figure out the mystery?" is really at stake.

Which is good. Outside of Cthulhu games, which are a bit more inevitable, it's hard to see a game where we know that the mystery is going to be solved and I'm just acting out the path to get there while dealing with personal conflicts. A House game or a CSI would seem to be that. The stakes are not "Do we solve..." but what personal conflicts are going on inbetween.

Maybe the answer is in this:



A player of mine playing a gunlugger - "So now that I took infinite knives, I'm setting up a knife store." Me - "....what?" Him - "Yeah, I figure with no overhead, I'm gonna make a pretty nice profit." Me - "......"

lumpley

  • Administrator
  • User
  • Posts: 1270
    • View Profile
Re: Investigative moves
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2011, 08:08:57 PM »
I'd encourage you all, if you haven't, to go read what Graham has to say here. It's excellent.

Simon C

  • User
  • Posts: 167
    • View Profile
Re: Investigative moves
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2011, 08:45:07 PM »
Maybe I don't get it.

It seems to me Graham is saying "Just make it up! It's easy! Or don't if you'd rather not!"

Is that excellent?