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Author Topic: [Mage: The Awakening] Here goes nothing... (split)  (Read 6792 times)
Reithan
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« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2007, 08:08:35 AM »

After reading through THIS thread it seems that this is already what I've been trying to do - though poorly. Actually having had this laid out and explained and pointed at, I think, will help me do it better though. This is great.
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Reithan
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« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2007, 08:17:03 AM »

Looking through I think my main problem is this:

Quote
If their hypothetical clues fit the GM's Case, then those clues exist and are true; if not, not.

The rest I seem to be doing, and the players, with varying levels of competancy are playing along by Abducing...but the problem is, we get to step three, with some random level of success on parts one and two.

Then the players start testing their hypotheses. But when one doesn't fit and doesn't pan out - they refuse to give up on it. Investigating it over and over and over, more and more throuroughly and in more depth, until the entire player party is sick and tired of the mystery as a whole and just wants to move on, success be damned.

How can I get them to stop doing that?
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Callan S.
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« Reply #17 on: June 16, 2007, 01:26:24 PM »

Hi Reithan,

I just read the passage that quote is from - I can't say I understand it under the title of 'moving clue'. The quote refers to whether the hypothetical clue fits the GM's case. When a moving clue, as I understand it, is where the GM's case changes to fit the clue. Taking the AP this thread was split from, if the players keep pursuing a hypothesis about a spirit and the story is about finding an evil drug dealer, then the GM's changes the case so yes, traking down the spirit is part of getting the drug dealer. Or you can even make a hybrid - the GM intended the player to go into a seedy little market with threatening people and talk to a snitch - now they have to go into a seedy little graveyard with threatening spirits and zombies, and talk to a spirit who's a snitch. Same thing, but with an unexpected twist for both sides of the GM screen.

The quote seems to be just refering to the idea that there may be more than one clue around that could progress the case. Yes, that's true - but if the players fail to find the GM's clue or one of these other clues, game play halts.

Quote
How can I get them to stop doing that?
I don't think it's so much success be damned, but that they have identified that there is no way of succeding. And they are right. Take this as a 'puzzle'. There are one hundred buttons, one opens a door. There is no way of succeding at this puzzle - it's just a matter of 'when', not 'if' they will succeed. Thus success isn't possible.

In your example it's the same - they tried an approach, it didn't work, so the only option left is - to hit every 'button' around the place. Thus success is impossible. It's simply a matter of time, rather than success.

At this point the players should have triggered some losing conditions and play ends, or you use the moving clue, as I described it above. There's no inbetween that I know of. I think your question is asking for something that's inbetween and so it's not possible to have.
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Reithan
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« Reply #18 on: June 16, 2007, 03:20:31 PM »

I think one of us has mininterpreted that passage. It's anyone's guess as to whether it's me or you. What I gathered had nothing to do with "Moving Clues" as far as I understand the term usually being used.

A moving clue, as I've seen it used, such that there is a clue for the players to discover, and the GM places it in an 'obvious' location. For some reason the players overlook or leave the clue and the GM then MOVES the CLUE to someplace new so the players again may be forced to take it. The clue has been moved, thus, "Moving Clue."

This is different.

There is a mystery. In any Mystery there is a Case, there may be any number of Results and there may be a number of Rules which link the two.

Given in the article is the given example:

Case: The beans are from the bag.
Rule: All the beans from the bag are white.
Result: These beans are white.

There are 3 ways to link these: Deduction, Induction and Abduction.

In deduction, we know the Case and the Rule(s). These lead us to the Results quite easily. If you know the Beans are from the Bag and that all the Beans from the Bag are white - it's simple logic that these Beans are white.

In Induction, you know the Case and the Result. If you know these Beans are white and you know they're from that Bag, then if they're all white and you've seen what you think is a good portion of the Bag's Beans - you may conclude that all the Bag's Beans are white. The further you progress, taking more beans from the bag - provided they're all white, the more definite, statistically, your guessed Rule is.

Now, in most mysteries, unlike in the two methods above, you do NOT know the Case - the Case is the solution - it's the "Who Dunnit."
There comes ABDUCTION:
In Abduction, you know the Results and the Rules. You know the Beans are white. You know that all the Beans from the Bag are white. You can then GUESS that those Beans are from the Bag - though, unfortunately, white beans may have many other sources than the Bag - so they may have come from anywhere! Though, you may test your hypothesised Case by checking the Results using new Rules that you may discover.

So - in an actual-play example take the following.

RESULTS:

The player group is surprised by a dead ghoul which has been staked to their sanctum door. The ghoul has a bullethole through his head made by a large caliber handgun. The stakes are steel, pointed throwing spikes.

The group, seeing this result, starts coming up with RULES:

This ghoul's head-wound was made by one of the player's handgun during a fight with a vampire.
The steel throwing spikes similar to the ones used here are also used by the same vampire.

They, thus, postulate a CASE:

The vampire staked the ghoul to their door.

They were, in this case, correct. Though, as noted, anyone with access to steel throwing spikes and the ghoul's body COULD have been the culprit.

Now, say these two clue were not enough - or perhaps I hadn't mentioned how the ghoul died, or how he was fastened to the door. The players could have come up with any Case or Rule and then tested it against the Results.

Quote from: From the Passage
In the first block, the characters investigate the Result, trying to find out every possible detail, however trivial. 

In the second block, the characters discuss (Holmes's "brown study"), and try to generate a small number of Abduced Cases that would cover all the known Results and depend on certain or at least likely Rules. 

In the third block, the characters investigate possible violations of the Cases.  They check to see if the Rules they have postulated are valid: does this poison actually produce this result?  They check to see if further likely Results of the Case are valid: did the dog bark in the night?

In the fourth block, the characters rebuild their Case to be as watertight as possible, if necessary repeating bits of the third block until they're certain.

In the fifth block, the characters develop a plan of action that will confront the criminal with the complete Case in such a way that he or she cannot avoid it without demonstrable lies or the like, and they put this plan into action, producing a nice climactic scene.

In the First Step, I gave them the Result of the dead ghoul staked to their doorway.

In the Second Step they created the Rules that this ghoul was killed by them and that the fasteners were used by their vampire stalker.

They sort of skipped step 3, as it was fairly evident already, given their results in Step 2. In-effect, Steps 2&3 were combined.

Here, in Step 4 they decided their Case was that the Vampire staked the ghoul to their door.

Step 5, though important to the plot's resolution, isn't really important to the resolution of the mystery itself.
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Reithan
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« Reply #19 on: June 16, 2007, 03:34:20 PM »

Starting a second post here as the first one was getting rather long.

Here are two actual-play examples that didn't go as well as the first:

EXAMPLE ONE:
RESULT: One of the characters was getting lunch at an ourdoor cafe and noticed he was being watched by a dishevled, sunken-eyed patron. Shortly after this discovery, the patron purposefully stepped out onto the street in front of a buss - spattering the cafe's patrons with his remains.

They met later to discuss something unrelated and the same man's blood was splattered onto them from something unseen overhead.

The figured out the following RULES:

The blood is the man's.
The man was watching one of them.
The man's mind was damaged.

They then guessed the CASE that the man was an enemy mage who for reasons unknown decided to kill himself and persue them in ghost-form. In this case, their Case, is highly unlikely, given the Rules which were, incidentally, correct, and their Results.

Though, they then spent a lot of time trying to uncover more Results, given their (incorrect) Case and Rules.

In the passage's example, once the characters start trying to check their hypthesized Case, if new, congruent Results or Rules cannot be found, then, obviously the Case should be revised through re-evaluating the Rules and Results.

This is NOT what happened. Instead, the characters, absolutely convinced of their hypothesized Case, continued trying to find new Results and Rules to support it, continually found none, and eventually just gave up. Even in the face of evidence DIRECTLY to the contrary of their hypothesized Case, they refused to abandon it.

EXAMPLE TWO:

RESULTS:
The characters, while fighting a vampire assassin decide to try taunting the vampire to frustrate her by amplifying echos in the area and talking smack to her.
When the spell is cast, other echos start emerging, strange, demonic-sounding echos which frighten them and seem to be speaking in an ancient dialect of high-speech.

RULES:
The characters know, from previous experience, that the nearby military base's unusual architecture generates unusual echos.

Here, the characters didn't even come up with anything. They didn't investigate the Results further, didn't uncover any new Rules, and didn't hypothesize a Case.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #20 on: June 17, 2007, 09:55:55 PM »

Hi Reithan,

Quote
In the passage's example, once the characters start trying to check their hypthesized Case, if new, congruent Results or Rules cannot be found, then, obviously the Case should be revised through re-evaluating the Rules and Results.
I think the design issue is here

Imagine the players are on track, getting results for what really is the right case. But then the fail to find a result - by the procedure above, they should give up straight away because if they can't find a result or rule, it can't be the right case. But it was the right case.

Your procedure for determining when a case should be given up on/revised, wont meet your goals for the design. I think your players are using another procedure entirely because of that - but their procedure doesn't meet your goals either.

I'm trying to refer to this as a design issue, like you'd showed me a piece of computer programming and I'm demonstrating why it isn't meeting your goals. I've actually written programs with a similar 'give up instantly' program fault in them. I hope it's not treading on sacred ground for you - I lack the ability to penerate a problem and at the same time do so with utmost delicacy.
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David Artman
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« Reply #21 on: June 18, 2007, 09:08:42 AM »

This is NOT what happened. Instead, the characters, absolutely convinced of their hypothesized Case, continued trying to find new Results and Rules to support it, continually found none, and eventually just gave up. Even in the face of evidence DIRECTLY to the contrary of their hypothesized Case, they refused to abandon it.

That Mystery by Abduction thread speaks to this, I believe. It points out that the tension in--and motivation to solve--a mystery must be maintained, and it mentions things like "more murders" or "murder the suspect" to ensure that the players both want to continue solving and are not left stuck with a false Case.

It also points out that there is regress created by the "murder the suspect" solution, because there is (rightfully) a need for motive to kill what in all likelihood is an irrelevant character. So you might not want to apply that in the Mystery of the Suicide Mage; rather, as the players stumble along trying to find a ghost-form mage and pin the death on him (i.e. prove that it IS a suicide), you might have another apparent suicide occur, with additional Results and commensurate Rules, to help them get back on track.

Finally, that thread DOES treat mystery as a (Gamist) challenge. As such, the players must be able to fail or, at a minimum, have a very qualified (i.e. undesirable) "success." If the players MUST solve the mystery to "move the plot along" or whatever... well, you're back to breadcrumbs and railroads. Which can work as an entertaining plot device (think Easter egg hunts--they're fun) but doesn't really evoke "mystery" in the sense meant by most novelists and book store shelf organizers.
Smiley

(And, for clarity, this is not intended as a direct critique of that latter method, nor as a declaration that abduction in the One True Way to do an interactive mystery. Just tryin' to help clarify the referenced method in the context of the unsatisfying actual play situation....)
David
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Reithan
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« Reply #22 on: June 18, 2007, 09:32:52 AM »

Callan:

No problem with the metaphor, I do some programming as well. The thing, as I see it, they're referencing is not quite just "not finding any more Results or Rules." It's more lke, once you have a Case postulated, you can infer from that Case a new Rule and what that new Rule's Results would be - then go look for those Results.

Think about it like this, with the mystery of the ghoul at the door. They found Results of a Ghoul, a Bullethole and Spikes. They Ruled that the ghoul was one from a certain earlier fight with a vampire, the bullethole was made by one of them and the spikes belonged to the vampire. Their supplied case was that the vampire spike the ghoul there.

Now, their lawn was a WRECK, an easy test for this would have been saying, "If the vampire left the ghoul staked here, she had to walk across the lawn - which would have left some trace."

Then they could have checked for footprints, bent grass, etc.

If that trace was not there - at very least the vampire didn't WALK to their door and leave him there, and more probably it wasn't even her.

So yes, in MOST cases, a single failure is a good reason to drop a Case and get a new one.

David:

Tension and Motivation to continue solving may have indeed been lacking in the two failed examples and you're right that the "murder the false lead" is a litle "shaky" - though I'm sure there's other equally definitive ways to poke holes in false lead.

As to mystery being a gamist challenge - yeah, in part it is. Simply because, in the end, the PLAYER has to solve the mystery, the character just determines which clues the PLAYER has access to. I'm okay with that. I'm no anti-gamist elitist or anything. I figure, as long as everyone has fun with it, it's good as far as games go. Tongue

My problem is ensuring the mystery flows smoothly and that everyone DOES have fun - when the mystery breaks down, no one does.

As to failure, yes there are consequences to failing to solve a mystery in any setting. The murderer escapes, the vampires kills all the characters, the demons that incited the suicide take over the city (this happened), etc.
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David Artman
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« Reply #23 on: June 18, 2007, 01:34:08 PM »

I figure, as long as everyone has fun with it, it's good as far as games go.
...
As to failure, yes there are consequences to failing to solve a mystery in any setting. The murderer escapes, the vampires kills all the characters, the demons that incited the suicide take over the city (this happened), etc.

Cool, OK, then all you really need to do with regards to abduction as mystery technique is to make sure you have two Stage 5 outcomes prepared:
1) Showdown (the one in that thread) - The culprit is faced with the Facts that prove their guilt. Chase, combat, and hilarity ensues.
2) Endgame - The culprit begins to accomplish/accomplishes its desired ends, of which the actual mystery/crime was but a means: murderer gets away scot-free (to murder again?), thief uses Stolen Widget to cause Big Trouble, demons invade, whatever. Note that, by making the crime/mystery only a means (i.e. not the final goal of the culprit), you drive plot no matter what the players do.

And, therefore, if your two outcomes are both engaging (i.e. potentially fun) then the "need" to solve the mystery disappears. I would posit that a mystery that "needs" the players to solve it is a very good indicator of a railroading element (again, not a bad thing per se, but I think that's what's going on under the hood when you say things like "when the mystery breaks down, no one [has fun]."

Interesting pondering--best thread I've read in a while;
David
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Reithan
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« Reply #24 on: June 18, 2007, 11:11:15 PM »

Well, both are correct.

In the end either result of the mystery can/does generate another situation to have fun with. But this is usually over the course of several games. And if the mystery-solving mechanics break down, it still leaves several games at a level of "not fun."

I mean, it should be possible to have fun even if they DON'T solve the mystery. Obviously the consequences can be fun to play through, but the mystery-solving itself should still be fun. You know the whole, "it doesn't matter if you win or lose as long as you have fun?"

Well, that's sort of the problem. It's not that it hasn't been fun because they've 'failed' the mystery, since the 'failure' consequences have been a lot of fun in and of themselves - it's more that when the mechanics break down and everyone sort of just stares at each other like, "Ok - what now??" ...THAT is no fun.
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« Reply #25 on: June 19, 2007, 06:01:03 AM »

Quote
Well, that's sort of the problem. It's not that it hasn't been fun because they've 'failed' the mystery, since the 'failure' consequences have been a lot of fun in and of themselves - it's more that when the mechanics break down and everyone sort of just stares at each other like, "Ok - what now??" ...THAT is no fun.

That point is where you bring in the consequences for failure.  With my players, that would most definitely involve some kind of cathartic action scene - "We may not be smarter than you, evil vampire guy, but we can still kick your ass!" 

It seems like the problem here is one of pacing - if your players are sitting there staring at their hands then they are giving you a clear signal that they want you to do something about it. 
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David Artman
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« Reply #26 on: June 19, 2007, 10:06:08 AM »

You know the whole, "it doesn't matter if you win or lose as long as you have fun?"
...
Well, that's sort of the problem. It's not that it hasn't been fun because they've 'failed' the mystery, since the 'failure' consequences have been a lot of fun in and of themselves - it's more that when the mechanics break down and everyone sort of just stares at each other like, "Ok - what now??" ...THAT is no fun.

Well, again, it seems that abduction helps this perfectly, because it gives the players some (hell, almost all) of the narrative control--they just have to ask questions about as-of-yet-unrevealed Facts to build their Case(s). I'd suggest that you just break folks into the method easy, with a fairly interesting but obvious Case (i.e. give them almost enough Facts at the outset to solve it, with no red herrings) and then move on to "harder" ones. If folks are just staring at each other in an abduction mystery, then they don't realize the power of simple brainstorming: encourage them to throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks, rather than waiting for you to prod them with new Facts. I bet you'll soon suffer the OTHER side of the abduction coin: a bajillion ideas for Facts that you barely have time to consider and respond to!

Smiley
David
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Reithan
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« Reply #27 on: June 19, 2007, 10:46:23 AM »

Hmmm... good ideas. Smiley

I'll have to see how much "wall-sticking" they have to them. Tongue
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Callan S.
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« Reply #28 on: June 20, 2007, 01:14:37 AM »

If that trace was not there - at very least the vampire didn't WALK to their door and leave him there, and more probably it wasn't even her.

So yes, in MOST cases, a single failure is a good reason to drop a Case and get a new one.
Yes, but what if it was the vampire - say in your notes it is the vampire. It didn't walk across the lawn, it flew in and out as a bat. Just the chance that it was means equally:
In SOME cases a single failure is a really bad idea to drop a case.

How are you going to differentiate when a single failure means you should give up the case, and when a single failure means you should continue? I mean without social cues, like going red in the face >Smiley

Or alternatively, can the players just darn well fail for a change after pursuing the wrong case? Each act of pursuit costs time, you have a time limit written down, they use it all up, they just fail?
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Reithan
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« Reply #29 on: June 20, 2007, 09:16:10 AM »

I suppose that's just something to do with Abduction. If you fail at finding a Rule or Result for your Case, I suppose it's up to the person looking for them to try to evaluate if there's a way they could be wrong about their Rule/Result and still right about their Case.

In any case, as covered above, yes there does seem to need to be the opportunity to 'fail'.
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