On the Shoulders of Dwarves

Mystery Plots (episode 37)

On the Shoulders of Dwarves
Mystery Plots (episode 37)
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The Enemy Within campaign for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay.

Defining “Mystery” (3:10)

We’re not discussing Ontological Mysteries. In a mystery campaign you’re trying to solve a case, in order to uncover a piece of information.

Whodunit? One-shots are usually set in a closed location, like a ship or a museum. Mystery-enabling systems: Gumshoe, Fate, Call of Cthulhu, Shadowrun

One player should be a note taker. The sort of person who *loooooves* taking notes. The player characters should be related to what’s going on. Have a stake in it.

Play by the rules of the setting (8:10)

In Shadowrun, it’s a dragon that wants to take over a corporation. In Cthulhu, it’s someone trying to summon an ancient god. In modern times, it’s anchored in realism. Maintain the internal consistency of the world. Subversions are important, because we’re all genre savvy these days. But subversions shouldn’t exist for subversion sake - make sure the revelation is dramatically satisfying.

The malleability of facts (11:50)

If the players came up with something better, change it accordingly. Subtle Railroading 

Releasing information (14:40)

Super saturation of details; the players need to figure out which are relevant (and you might need to decide on it yourself). Don’t hold the cards too close to the chest. Being stuck is frustrating, they should always have some lead, pushing them somewhere new.

City of Mist. Last few days of the new Kickstarter!

The 3-clue rule. Give information that is correct, but not necessarily relevant. Let the players decide what is relevant. Describe the shirt she was wearing, the emblem on it - is it important? It’s up to them.

Creating details (18:40)

Immerse yourself in the genre. Imagine the physical location, with all senses. What’s unusual about it? Scaffolding on the side of the church, the suitcase is bent, the wall is two meters to the left compared to the original blueprints. It could all be innocuous. The old lady’s portrait looks similar to someone we talked to a while ago. The phone’s battery ran out, the tube was late, there’s a strange smell of dried paint. Roses grow really well in the garden. Red herrings are dangerous in roleplaying games, because the players won’t let go.

Redirections (24:20)

Embed the mystery in politics, to increase the number of possible motivations. There should be lots of characters around.

High stakes (27:55)

Correction: "There’s always another secret" is a saying by Brandon Sanderson, and NOT one of Sanderson’s Laws, which relate to magic systems (and are very good read)

Summary (31:00) 

Taking the load off (32:50)

50 Fathoms

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Brought to you by Eran Aviram of On the Shoulders of Dwarves