At IndieCon, a local convention, we're going to run games for charity.

I'd like to adapt GUMSHOE as a charity game. That is, I'd like people to be able to pay money for specific game-mechanical benefits during the game (e.g. rerolls).

However, I would still like the game to be fun for people who don't pay extra money.

What should I charge for?

(Assume I'm running Trail of Cthulhu or Fear Itself.)

  • \$\begingroup\$ I realize @Graham may have already run this game (IndieCon is this weekend) and therefore may not be able to use any more suggestions this year, but I like this idea so much I'm adding a bounty! Highest votes wins. \$\endgroup\$
    – yhw42
    Nov 6, 2010 at 18:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ That is wonderful, thank you. I have already run the game, but I'm interested in this for future reference. \$\endgroup\$
    – Graham
    Nov 8, 2010 at 13:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ hmmm... the bounty didn't generate as much extra traffic as I was hoping. I did get to give it to a really good answer, though! \$\endgroup\$
    – yhw42
    Nov 13, 2010 at 16:19

3 Answers 3


It almost seems too on-the-nose, but I'd say that you should keep it very simple and charge money when players want to make investigative spends. Since investigative spends are never (theoretically) required to advance a Gumshoe plot, you're not disadvantaging players who choose not to fork over cash.

This idea has the additional advantage that "Spend for Spends" is catchy.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a clever idea, especially as it ties in with the system. Or spend for benefits, perhaps. \$\endgroup\$
    – Graham
    Nov 3, 2010 at 15:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ A variation - make the game a public event, and only allow the audience to buy spends with cash. You could extend this to paying for ability rolls, buying rerolls and so forth when general abilities come out. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jmstar
    Nov 12, 2010 at 16:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ Good answer Jeff! You've got the best answer so enjoy your bounty and your new tagging abilities! \$\endgroup\$
    – yhw42
    Nov 13, 2010 at 16:12

Another mechanic you could add is to escalate the cost for the rerolls as the game progresses.

For example, the first reroll of the game is $5 and it goes up by $1 every time anyone pays for one. As you get close to the climax the rerolls will become more important as they become more expensive.

In addition, let anyone (even observers!) buy a reroll (but make sure to let the player who rolls choose whether or not to accept it). Towards the end, everyone can pitch in to pay for the reroll. Force them to move quick and decide, like an auction; then move on.

You may want to do some math based on your expectations of how many you expected people to buy and how much you thought they'd spend. You could keep it expensive if there were other, cheaper, things to spend money on.

Remember, if people are playing for charity, make it as easy as you can for them to give their money away. They want to!

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is interesting, although, of course, with Gumshoe, investigation doesn't involve rolls. \$\endgroup\$
    – Graham
    Nov 8, 2010 at 13:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Graham: What rerolls were referenced in the question? That was what I was referring to. To be honest, I'm not real familiar with the Gumshoe system. \$\endgroup\$
    – yhw42
    Nov 8, 2010 at 13:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ha! Fair enough. You roll dice for General abilities, most obviously combat. However, Investigative abilities are the core of the game and you don't roll for those. So the solution should probably involve something more than rerolls. \$\endgroup\$
    – Graham
    Nov 8, 2010 at 14:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Graham Aha! So there is a rolling mechanic, but its not central enough to really be the crux of the plot. So much makes sense now... :) \$\endgroup\$
    – yhw42
    Nov 8, 2010 at 14:37

Note sure it will work, but assuming it would:

  • not going insane
  • getting to select a character or build their own
  • being allowed to sit at the table
  • being allow to leave the table to get food and drinks or other breaks with no in game penalty (or is that to paranoia)
  • allowed to reference the rules
  • may use there own dice not the old ones your bought to be shared
  • can have a copy of your adventure to take away
  • may have a plot card to change or add something
  • re-rolls (of course)
  • it damaged someone or something else
  • free /hard boiled/ sweets
  • may speak in a ascent
  • have a trademark weapon, object or trait
  • know something that will happen in the plot (premonition)
  • immunity to something (drugs, poison)
  • contact that might be useful (in the police)
  • not place on a maillist

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