Page 1412 - Detective Wonk

4th Aug 2020, 6:00 AM in A Canterlot Wedding, Part 1
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Detective Wonk
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Author Notes:

Newbiespud 4th Aug 2020, 6:00 AM edit delete
Setting down rails is habit-forming for DMs because it's fun to watch players follow them and piece together the clues... if you set it up right and the players are in the right headspace and etc. etc.

On this week's Spudventure: Important things are happening to the Forgotten Ones! I'm still kind of reeling, to be honest.
Spudventures - The Forgotten Ones, Session 22 - Hollyhock: Podcast | Video

Notice: Guest comic submissions are open! Guidelines here. Deadline: January 27th, 2023.



Digo 4th Aug 2020, 7:45 AM edit delete reply
Yeah, there's a lot of moving parts to building a good mystery for your players. I often have to scale back such ideas because not everyone is good at picking up the clues. Or it could just be my ambitions are a bit too grand for a table top game instead of like, a novel.

But it is fun when players are engaged and they have the clues lining up like ducks and now have to convince someone of authority to act on their case. Cause that sometimes leads to a fun Scooby Doo chase.
Guest 5th Aug 2020, 9:19 AM edit delete reply
Personally, I follow the "one step" rule, which says players are willing to deduce up to one step on their own. Any further than that, and you'll have to feed them the breadcrumbs yourself if you want the mystery to get solved.

In my experience, this comes down to not making the actual progress part of a mystery depend on figuring out the answers to puzzles. Instead, I treat clues like plot coupons: collect the three clues, and use them to stop the bad guy's evil plan.

The real trick is that the clues aren't just info, they actually do things when used. Some examples: the party finds a creepy statue that glows when a certain kind of monster is near; the party finds a word carved into a sacrificial victim, and saying the word makes their skin crawl until they look like the killer; the party spots a wealthy philanthropist from earlier accidentally drop a spooky amulet as s/he walks off, but another npc sees them holding it and accuses the party of being in league with an evil cult.

The next clue they find also does a thing when used, and not only that, but they do something bigger when used together. Examples: The creepy statuette that glows when certain monsters are near also makes a creepy dagger glow with silver moonlight; a new word the party finds makes a dead body's skin fall off, but if one of the party was patsy'd it'll cure them and change the dead body to look like its own killer instead; the amulet turns out to mark its holder as the member of a secret order, and once inside the party learns a summoning ritual, which the amulet turns into a 'summon invisible stalker' ritual.

Either before or after getting the second clue, the party is roped into an official investigation (such as getting caught and interrogated by guards but proving their innocence, or a shop they tried to sell the clue to has a minor freakout and does that "closes the shop and explains" scene), and now they know their job is to go get more clues.

Basically, you're saving the actual puzzle, problem-solving part of the mystery for the final showdown, where the party needs to take their bag of clues and figure out how it stops the big bad's evil plan. Maybe they're up against a supernatural monster and the clues are about its 'rules' so they don't become more victims. Maybe they're trying to expose the charismatic philanthropist at a major social gathering before it becomes one really big sacrificial offering in a really big ritual. Maybe it's just a ponzi scheme and they're trying to get their money back.

A really good example of how this style works is the old Slenderman games.
Cliff Snowpeak 4th Aug 2020, 8:37 AM edit delete reply
I absolutely love how you take these stories we're all so familiar with and just flip them on their head.
Newbiespud 4th Aug 2020, 11:14 AM edit delete reply
It's my one move, but I'm reasonably good at it.
dziadek1990 4th Aug 2020, 1:21 PM edit delete reply
You practiced one kick over a thousand times. :)
Digo 5th Aug 2020, 6:16 AM edit delete reply
Does that make him a one kick pony?
dziadek1990 7th Aug 2020, 3:31 PM edit delete reply
Or whatever pun-ified name would Bruce Lee have in Equestria.
Winged Cat 4th Aug 2020, 11:33 AM edit delete reply
Winged Cat
One problem comes when the players are slightly more clever than expected, and realize they are being led into a trap. Do they follow the rails anyway, or do they set up preparations - and do they realize those preparations may have been anticipated, so the real trap is not springing the trap?
dziadek1990 4th Aug 2020, 1:23 PM edit delete reply
Also at one point they might ask: "Did the DM successfully predict us, or did he change things behind the scenes in response to what we did, just to prevent us from succeeding?"
Evilbob 4th Aug 2020, 2:21 PM edit delete reply
But for some reason, no one ever wonders, "did he change things behind the scenes in response to what we did, just to help us succeed?" lol
Thor 4th Aug 2020, 8:00 PM edit delete reply
Groups may often wonder that (I know I have) but the GM cheating so you have a good time succeeding isn't something that people are bothered by. The GM cheating so you fail because it's what they want their story to be about though is infuriating.
Smithers 5th Aug 2020, 5:14 AM edit delete reply
Only a great fool would run headlong along the rails. I'm not a great fool, so I clearly cannot choose the wine in front of you. But you must've known I was not a great fool, you would've been counting on it, si I clearly cannot choose the wine in front of me.
Ghost_Writer 6th Aug 2020, 7:38 PM edit delete reply
Clearly, you have a dizzying intellect.
keybounce 4th Aug 2020, 1:34 PM edit delete reply
This is a really well-done Cadance.

What will be the part 2 twist?
RuBoo 4th Aug 2020, 7:33 PM edit delete reply
The part 2 twist is, they defeat Chrysalis in Part 1, so there is no part 2!
Anon 6th Aug 2020, 4:48 AM edit delete reply
Check the title, it say "Part 1" so a "Part 2" is going to happen