GUMSHOE is here to GUMSHOE, therefore, makes the finding of clues all but automatic, as long as you get most contemporary-era RPG systems1. Items 1 - 50 of The stars are right for a new magazine dedicated to adventuring against the Cthulhu Mythos! Issue #1 includes: 3 adventures dual-statted for. GUMSHOE is a system for designing and playing investigative Any RPG which uses the GUMSHOE system redefines it for that setting, and.
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Download the OGL version 2 as a PDF here. Facebook Twitter . Gumshoe Homebrew: CSI Ankh-Morpork | Lo-Fi RPG says: March 14, at. As a result of the Hillfolk Kickstarter, the Gumshoe system is now available under two open Download the OGL version as a PDF here. The Gumshoe System is a role-playing game system created in by Robin Laws, designed game and Ashen Stars was a nominee for the Origins Award for best RPG. . Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version.
Characters are also defined by a personal Drive, which is what motivates them to be an investigator, as well as one or more Pillars of Sanity, which are the principles that the investigator relies on to maintain their mental health. What makes ToC — and GUMSHOE in general — great for busy adults is that it is a relatively rules-light system since it uses a unified system to determine success and failure at various tasks.
This means it is easy to learn and therefore it takes little time to go from reading the book to playing. The remainder of the book is dedicated to background information about the Mythos, GM advice, a sample adventure, and various appendices.
Laws , which was first used in Fear Itself and since then has been used for multiple games, including The Esoterrorists , Mutant City Blues , and the newly released Ashen Stars. GUMSHOE is specifically designed to be used in investigative games, where the characters are finding and interpreting clues in an attempt to solve a crime or problem. As such, it's a perfect fit for the typical Cthulhu scenario which involves investigating supernatural phenomena, locations or crimes.
Instead, a character with an appropriate skill is guaranteed to find the core clues necessary for them to move forward in their investigation. Gone are the days where a single failed skill check would lead to a dead end for the party. Each character has a number of investigative abilities, representing their specialties and areas of knowledge.
The goal is for the group as a whole to be able to cover all the important bases collectively. However, there's more depth to the game than simply a "if you have the skill, you succeed" because each character has points assigned to these skills which can be spent to gain additional information in a scene. These secondary clues are meant to add more details to the core clues, providing insight in to the overall plot, revealing information pertaining to a side story, or perhaps speeding the investigation by allowing the players to bypass some obstacle, location, or requirement.
These points only refresh at the end of the adventure so players need to manage their use carefully. Thus, what you have is a very simple "automatic success" mechanic in terms of finding clues, and a resource management mechanic for determining success at finding additional information and making a character shine in a particular scene.
Besides investigative abilities, characters also have General Abilities which are used for your typical "skill test" situations. Characters have a number of these skills, which range from Athletics to Piloting to Stealth. General Abilities have ratings which provide a pool of points to spend from, but these expenditures work somewhat differently because they are used to modify a roll. For these tests, the Keeper sets a difficulty for a given task the default value is 4, which is used in most situations , and a player then decides how many points to spend from the appropriate Ability's pool.
This is then added to the roll of a single six-sided die, and if the result is equal to or greater than the set target the character succeeds. Once again, it's part resource management, part traditional chance which fits the genre and setting very well. One of my favorite touches is the fact that the most useful General Ability in the game is Fleeing. Contests and combat work in a similar way, using opposed tests.
Damage is handled using a traditional "hit point" type system, and keeping true to the original CoC RPG, ToC also includes a mental health system via the Stability short-term stress level and Sanity long-term mental health stats which I will discuss in more detail later.
Combat itself is very simple and streamlined, opting to emphasize narration and story rather than "tactical" decisions but there is enough crunch to keep things interesting.
The one criticism I have about combat is that the firearm rules contain a bunch of weapon-specific rules e. However, compared to the average RPG, these types of exceptions are quite minimal and any group should have them mastered with just a few games under their belts.
This placement is somewhat awkward from the PC perspective, but ultimately makes sense for the "traditionalist" in which spells, tomes, and magic in general are supposed to be dangerous and a bit of a mystery and therefore are something that the Keeper is aware of but the players are not.
The rules also provide ways of handling disease, illness, recovery, and advancement. All of these are simple, straight-forward rules that are built off of the core mechanics. One design choice of GUMSHOE, and thus ToC, is that most rolls are "player facing" meaning that NPCs never roll independently of the PCs to determine success or failure - instead players pick up and roll the dice to determine the outcome of most situations, either testing one of their skills or making an opposed test versus the NPC.
While this may seem like an odd bit of minutiae, it has the effect of putting success or failure into the hands of the players and means their fate is largely determined by their rolls, rather than a series of mysterious rolls hidden behind a screen.
It also keeps players engaged and streamlines a lot of ordinary situations by eliminating a bunch of extra die rolls and stat referencing in determining success or failure: it doesn't really matter what the shoggoth's Stealth ability is, because you're only using the PC's Sense Trouble ability. If this seems like a recipe for disaster where PCs need to "have a point in everything" to be viable, keep in mind that the ranks in Abilities are only used to optionally modify rolls, and so even an "untrained" PC gets to test any particular ability.
Thus, investigators are pretty competent at just about everything and at least have a shot of success in most situations. Going Insane - The Descent into Madness Like its predecessor, ToC uses a Sanity score, and many events in the typical session will threaten the investigator's fragile grip on reality and thus their Sanity score, driving them toward eventual post-traumatic stress or full blown insanity.
However, unlike most other games, ToC actually breaks mental health into two separate stats: Stability and Sanity. Stability represents a PC's resistance to mental stress and their ability to handle short-term, acute stress.
Sanity, in contrast, is a measure of a PC's ability to handle the mind-blowing revelations associated with the Cthulhu Mythos and remain in touch with ordinary human concerns - it's all about the long-term spiral into madness associated with knowing "too much" about what's really going on. While Stability returns after each adventure, Sanity, once lost, is never recovered. Stability and Sanity also interact with other PC characteristics, specifically a character's Drive what motivates them to investigate the Mythos and Pillars of Sanity what ordinary things anchor them to their human existence.
Drives function in a carrot or stick fashion, pushing the PC forward in certain situations and providing a bit of reinforcement for behaving in ways consistent with that drive or punishment when one goes against one's primary motivator. Pillars of Sanity, of which each character has one or more, serve a similar type function, providing the character something story-wise to rely upon to maintain their own sanity as well as providing the Keeper with some character-relevant details to incorporate into stories or even threaten.
In my opinion, this dual mental health model is particularly ingenious since it allows for a PC's mental health to slowly erode over a series of adventures via the Sanity stat, while allowing acute stressors within a particular investigation to be handled via the Stability stat. This does not mean your character can't go insane during a single adventure - they most certainly can - only that running up against the Mythos in the form of creatures, tomes, or Great Old Ones results in accumulated stress that is tracked separately from your day-to-day, or more accurately adventure-to-adventure, stress levels.
As such, ToC is geared towards a slower descent in to madness than Call of Cthulhu, which makes it better suited to long-term campaign play.
In addition, each character's Pillars of Sanity and their personal Drive interact with these choices, making for a very rich system that really makes investigators feel "real" to me.
However, like the weapon rules, these issues are quite minor when compared to other RPG systems. In addition, the ToC Keeper's Screen is a valuable resource in these cases since it summarizes the Stability and Sanity loss rules on one of its panels, and thus is highly recommended.
Sample page Explaining the Unexplainable More than half the book is dedicated to explanations of the Mythos including its Gods, cults, monsters, and magic. This includes an awesome breakdown of the Cthulhu Great Old Ones in which Hite provides a variety of alternate explanations for each of the major "Gods.
All of the major Mythos creatures are also described in some detail, including game stats since these are the types of monsters investigators can actually fight.
Non-player character abilities either modify the roll made by the player, or succeeds or fails depending on what the game master finds dramatically appropriate. Direct conflict between characters, such as combat, is an exception. Character creation[ edit ] Player characters in the Gumshoe System are created by using build points to download rating points in character abilities.
Points are spent on a one-for-one basis. Each player character receives a number of investigative build points depending on the number of players and the setting. In The Esoterrorists setting, two players receive 32 investigative build points each, while five or more players receive 20 build points each. Any number of investigative build points can be spent on an investigative ability, though more than 3 or 4 points is rarely useful.
Each player character receives a number of general build points depending on the setting, but regardless of number of players. In The Esoterrorists setting players receive 60 general build points each.
Any number of general build points can be spent on a general ability, as long as the second highest rated ability is at least half that of the highest rated. After a scenario is completed, player characters receive new build points which can be used as either investigative or general build points.
The amount acquired depends on the length of the scenario. There are no levels through which player characters progress. Game mechanics[ edit ] All mechanics in the Gumshoe System revolve around character abilities. Attributes , common to most role-playing games , are not used in Gumshoe. Rating points goes into a pool of points that can be used in spends related to that ability. Spent or lost points from ability pools are refreshed at various points of play. Investigative abilities[ edit ] The purpose of investigative abilities is to find clues that advance the story.
These clues are called core clues.
Investigative abilities always work; there are no dice rolls involved. If a scene contains a core clue and a player character uses an investigative ability that relates to the clue, the character will find the clue. A spend for an investigative ability costs 1 or 2 points.
A spend gives additional clues. These clues are not necessary to solve the scenario, though they should give additional information or other benefits. Spent pool points from investigative abilities are refreshed between scenarios. General abilities[ edit ] General abilities are used when an unknown outcome is dramatically appropriate.
For these situations, the Gumshoe System utilizes a single six-sided die, which is rolled against a difficulty or target number. This is called a test. The standard difficulty is 4, though it can be modified to anything from 2 to 8 to represent special circumstances.
As long as the die roll is equal to or higher than the difficulty, the player character has succeeded in its action.