I came across a very interesting post on the Pelgrane Press site today, where they are soliciting playtesters for “Pathshoe,” a Pathfinder supplement that incorporates the GUMSHOE rules for investigation into the Pathfinder RPG.Apparently I missed this tidbit buried down at the very bottom of the Pelgrane state of the union I reported on just a couple days ago! I need to learn to read better or something.
This is a very interesting concept. If you’re not familiar with GUMSHOE, it’s Robin Laws’ newest game system and was designed to fix the chronic problems with investigative scenarios in RPGs. Most trad game skill systems make it so there’s a lot to go wrong with them – you plant a clue and give some DC skill check to find it. But what if the character with the right skill isn’t around? What if he fails? Well, you have to either say bye bye to your investigation or build layers and layers of clues in so that they end up being pulled back on track. It especially haunts investigation-centric games like Call of Cthulhu (which is why the GUMSHOE-based Trails of Cthulhu is their biggest line). What GUMSHOE does is make it so that the “core clues,” the ones PCs must have to proceed along the plot, are always found, but skill checks indicate how much useful additional info you get from them.
Pathfinder has this problem too, as it focuses on exploration and investigation in equal share with combat in its normal mode of employ. I was contemplating this problem just this week reading the new Paizo adventure Cult of the Ebon Destroyers, where the PCs are tracking down an assassin cult in Jalmeray. The whole first part of the adventure is a careful dance to provide clues but if the clues fail basically have someone run up and blurt out the next step. If only bad guy organizations would stop sending understrength incompetent hit squads with notes in their pockets indicating where they’re from against every PC party in their area of operations, they’d get away with a lot more shenanigans! I’m not knocking Ebon Destroyers, it’s good, but this is a problem that is very tricky to solve in most scenarios.
I’m really interested to see how they plan to add the GUMSHOE concept seamlessly to Pathfinder!