Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Veronica Monsterhearts - Get A Clue

I think I need to talk about how this whole Clue/String thing works, the difference between the two and how it affect GMless play for Veronica Monsterhearts.

1. Strings stay the way that they are

Strings are perhaps one of the best things mechanically about Monsterhearts is the concept of strings. Here are some nebulous things that get held over each other's head. You know where they come from, because they come out in the play, but mechanically it's just something one player has on another, or on an NPC.

They get used to push players to do things, either by making it harder to affect someone who has strings on them, but also to get someone to do something that you want. It's great because you can play up the roleplaying aspect if you want to, and talk about where the string came from and how it interacts with the story, or not. If you aren't someone who is big on improvisational roleplay then you can just talk about what happened and move on. Either way, it's great so I don't want to change anything there.

2. Clues are used for the mystery

Part of what makes a mystery fun, is watching the mystery unfold. Usually that requires someone having some outside knowledge of the whole caper, and the ability to not try to get the people playing the game stuck. That's a big problem in any RPG really, when you have the players who have to uncover something be unable to because they didn't get a particular thing, or talk to a particular person. These chokepoints cause a lot of problems.

This is where Clues come into play. Clues, like their counterpart Strings, are a neutral mechanic that discovers a character's ability to control the mystery. They can take the place of the GM as the players shape what's going on by what they find out. When a player uses a Clue to solve the mystery, then they're the ones who are figuring out who did it as they go along. As long as there's a steady stream of clues, then the action will continue to move forward.

The question becomes how do you spend them? Right now you can just spend them. Here are some thoughts on how you can spend them.

A. You can spend one of them when you're the investigator (person who is being the GM).
That way it limits the amount of clues you can spend so you can't overwhelm a story and have a super twist that comes out of no where. Not that those aren't fun, but if you get a bunch of people who hoard them and spend them all at once then there's less of a teasing out and more of a RUSH TO COMPLETE THE MISSION, which throws me for a loop.

That means as the investigator you can spend a clue on the mystery of the day, your personal mystery, and the season mystery. Depending on the amount of clues you have and the amount of times the investigation goes around the table you can go far on any individual.

B. You have to spend them as you get them, which means when you're investigating you have to say what you're going to spend them on before you get them. That will probably mean tweaking the moves a bit, but I like that because I'm not feeling to happy with the Hard Boiled.

C. You have to make a move to spend them. I like this because it has me thinking that there are too many basic moves in the game and that if I take out some of them there is room for a "Spending Clue Move."

Now to keep things going, you will always get to spend clues, the trick is how many or what control do you have over those clues? That's going to be the question of the move.

Ultimately when spending a clue, you need to explain how it ties that one suspect to the crime. That's something you can talk about as a group and figure it out, but the person spending the clue has the final say.

Another thought: It costs more to spend clues in order to get them moving on your personal mystery, over the daily mystery, over the season mystery. That way if you're going to spend an episode on the season mystery you can do that while others figure out the episode mystery.

3. Clues allow for tension and are the timer

Because there isn't a GM, and the players have to have a point in time that tells you that the mystery is done. They should be different for each, the episode mystery should be shorter than the personal mystery which should be should shorter than the season mystery.

As a starting line the idea would be to have 5 clues applies to a suspect to have them be the culprit of the episode mystery, 8 clues for a personal mystery and 10 clues for the season mystery. The closer you get to an ending, the more tension there's going to be if everyone has a reason for picking a different suspect.

Which brings me to the point where there needs to be a different incentive in order to make people want to pick different suspects, or even change who the suspects are. There also needs to be a point where it's too much and the criminal gets away, or someone gets caught who is innocent. I don't quite know how to do that yet, but it's in the thought process.

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