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Well guys, following previous recommendations here I was able to build a Horror Themed Savage Worlds campaign that has made my players excited. However they're still getting used to the style, as well as I am. As a very helpful user said, in order for them to hurt the major evils of the adventures they have to find their Form (physical appareance, name), Truth (How the creature came to be) and Reason (What the creature wants to), so they have to do research, kill lesser creatures, and run away from the big baddie of the adventure as they seek what it is.

Well, these are my problems:

How can I make them use skills significantly?

I'm used to railroading my players, even with mysteries, and I don't know how tu put their skills for significant use. An example is, they usually require Streetwise or Investigation to gather clues and such, however, I wonder what to do if they fail the roll... If they fail they're not supposed to find anything, so chances they never finish the adventure are well, high, that and I have no idea how to give them adittional, interesting ways for them to find the truth.

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Not an answer - but you might check out the Gumshoe system by Robin Laws. It's designed expressly for investigation and embodies the "characters can't miss clues" ethos in the answer you selected. Clues are defined as the information that leads the characters to the next scene - not just any piece of information about the case. Also, GURPS Mysteries has tons of information about mysteries, investigations, and how to use them in RPGs. –  gomad Jul 16 '13 at 7:26
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4 Answers

up vote 13 down vote accepted

If there is key information the PCs simply must find in order to advance the story, then you have to ensure that they find it one way or another. Following on from this idea, a fail on a skill roll doesn't necessarily have to indicate that you do not find anything. Instead it could mean a complication such as:

  • It takes longer than you thought it would
  • You are clumsy in your attempt and someone who you'd rather not know finds out about what you're doing. If what you were doing is illegal, then maybe the police are on your tail etc.
  • The information is incomplete
  • The information is partially incorrect
  • You get roughed up a bit
  • It costs more money in bribes
  • etc, etc

The key principle here is that you only make them roll when failure is interesting, and the above list gives a few ideas as to what 'interesting' might mean. If failure is not interesting then you should not make them roll at all.

On a side note, Deadlands Noir introduces some interesting mechanics for investigation focused stories, including tailing, patter, interrogation, beating the streets and hitting the books. The cost of failure is built into the mechanic for each of these, and they all tie into existing Savage Worlds skills.

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+1 for "a fail on a skill roll doesn't necessarily have to indicate that you do not find anything." I like the idea that failing the dice rolls leads to complications and more time, not outright failure. –  Greenstone Walker Jul 15 '13 at 21:38
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This has been a problem since time immemorial - avoiding railroading and making skills useful while not letting investigative scenarios go off the rails. Robin Laws designed the GUMSHOE system specifically to empower investigation-based games - you get clues you must have automatically, but using skills gives you additional or enhanced information that can get you closer to the truth or convey other advantages. Its blurb:

In many investigative games, important clues are missed because of failed dice-rolls, resulting in play grinding to a halt. Using a “point spend” system, the GUMSHOE rules revolutionize investigative scenarios, by ensuring that players are never deprived of the clues they need to move the story forward.

The GUMSHOE System is player-facing, putting die rolling in the hands of the players whenever possible. It also contains full guidance on designing your own investigations.

I know you're not playing GUMSHOE, but the concepts are easily portable - they even already put out Lorefinder, a port of the GUMSHOE concepts to Pathfinder. I playtested it and it fits in easily enough.

As an example - the core clues will get you to "the killer is hiding in that warehouse." That's all you absolutely need to finish the adventure. However, "the killer is really a ghoul" and "ghouls are vulnerable to silver" are two bits of additional information that you really, really want to know :-).

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I actually did a quick port of Lorefinder to Savage World, and it worked quite well. –  Extrakun Jul 18 '13 at 9:02
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they usually require Streetwise or Investigation to gather clues and such, however, I wonder what to do if they fail the roll... If they fail they're not supposed to find anything, so chances they never finish the adventure are well, high [..]

Failure doesn't have to mean they don't find anything. No adventure should hinge on a single roll to determine success/failure. Instead, successful rolls should provide bonuses or some other advantage, with failures leading to resolution in the worst way possible for the PCs.

With streetwise, the idea is you're walking around, talking with people (maybe bribing them) to get information. Let's say the PCs are looking for a guy that's been selling weapons illegally for the purpose of shutting him down. So some possible outcomes of the streetwise role:

  • With 2+ raises, the PCs setup a meeting via a trusted confidant. The contact is willing to vouch for the PCs, giving them an easy in.
  • With a single raise, the PCs have a time/place to meet the arms dealer directly.
  • With a success, they learn about an underling who can make the deal for them.
  • With a failure, the arms dealer learns the PCs are sniffing around and arranges to have them killed at their meeting.

Each of these outcomes leads to an inevitable confrontation with the arms dealer, but not all of them get there the way the PCs would want to.

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+1 for "No adventure should hinge on a single roll to determine success/failure." That's a big point that goes beyond just investigative/mystery scenarios. –  Dave Sherohman Jul 17 '13 at 10:30
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Failing a skill roll shouldn't always mean that they totally and completely fail at whatever they're attempting. Skills in most RPGs are rarely Binary systems, and they work best if you have a sliding scale of potential success options. Think about a few real-world examples such as Driving (If you fail, it's not that you can't drive at all, just that you can't take the corners quite as fast as you want, or you bounce off of parked cars and guard-rails) or Investigate (If you fail, you might still have learned some amount of relevant information, but what you do know doesn't tie together right, or doesn't include a critical fact, or worse, includes critical facts that are wrong).

Sliding scales usually work best when you can offer success, but either at a cost or in an incomplete way. Their Streetwise failure might still get them the information they need, but the situation just got more complicated because the baddie they're asking about has now heard that they're looking for him and will be ready for them at the next encounter. Or perhaps the Intimidation check they just failed might still result in the target backing down, but now he's got a grudge against them and will probably show up in a later scene to make their life harder.

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