Wednesday, September 21, 2011

5 Ways to Clue in Characters

So you've created a brilliant piece of investigative adventure write up which has a list of interesting plot points that all lead inexorably to the ending fact - a fact that will shake the foundations of the character's reality. You pull out the dice. You hand out their sheets. Everyone takes a seat. It's play time!

One flunked roll or neglected clue later and the characters are all scratching their heads and having a drink down the pub with no idea where they should go next. No problem! You introduce a handy NPC who's figured out the clue and the team go to the next location only to completely misinterpret the next clue and run off on a wild goose chase.

So what do you do?

Well, here are 5 methods to seed your clues so the characters get the point.

1. The more the merrier. Plant at least two independent clues for every bit of important plot information.

2. Diversity is the spice of information gathering. Vary your clue sources (behavioral, written, forensic, timeline, spoken) so that if characters fail to interact with the NPCs or search the surroundings, they won't miss out on all of the clues.

3. Recognise the value of bread crumb trails.
Include small, more numerous clues to point to major clues.

4. Vital news should be unavoidable to learn. If there is a critical clue upon which the adventure hinges, then don't ask for a dice roll for them to locate it. Make it obvious. Paint a big arrow of bread crumbs toward it. Ensure they'll trip over it.

5. If you make it, BY GOD they should get it.
If you've went to the trouble of making a hand out, invent a few reasons for them to end up with it. That way if they don't bother visiting the newstand, they can still see that front page article on the folded newspaper in their mother's house.

Can you add anymore to this list? Or have any amusing anecdotes of players missing the point?

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