#RPGaDay2019 13th August: ‘Mystery’

August has come around once again which means it’s time for RPGaDay 2019. In a shift from the questions format of previous years this year is characterised by a series of prompts, which I’ll be attempting to answer each day with a short post, with the prompt word highlighted in bold each day.

Day 13: Mystery

I find adventures built around a mystery really hard to write. When you look at mystery novels or shows they tend to involve the investigator going in circles or following dead ends. That only works because a writer can cut the boring bits, imply time has passed and then jump to the protagonist trying a new approach. It’s much harder in games where we have this tendency to try and explore every avenue. Spending two hours on following a lead only to be discover it’s a red herring? Frustrating and likely to kill a game. Ditto a stalled investigation, its just no fun to get stuck and then have a clue just land in your lap. One of the ways around this is using time jumps. Start going down the wrong direction? Make an investigation check to determine how much time you waste rather than working through the scene in detail. It’s not a revolutionary concept but I do wonder why we don’t do it more (or maybe other GMs do and its just me that doesn’t).