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  • Writer's pictureLiam Stevens

Line of Enquiry- A look at the GM Tools

I am now writing weekend updates on twitter as the KS powers on, giving looks into the various elements of Line of Enquiry. I have copied the thread over to here as well. Please forgive the off grammar and layout as I was constrained by Twitter thread nature. If you haven't already, check out the KS here

I figured I'd break down some of the elements of Line of Enquiry over the next few weekends as the KS powers on. A bit of a peek behind the curtain. So for this thread Ill start with the GM advise and tools

LOE is specifically an attempt to make a mystery that is very player led. I wanted to make a game that felt akin to playing Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective but with roleplay. I cant take credit for this idea, Sean McCoy wrote a blog years back about this and it inspired me. Importantly this means its a mystery game where the mystery exists to be discovered. This is born from my preference for discovery play. I need at least the illusion of there being something to find, as opposed to a writers room style play, which isn't my jam.

A big barrier to this however, is people find it intimidating to build such mysteries. There is always a fear that it wont hold up to player scrutiny or is somehow hard to do. Thats where this GM advice and tools come in.

To help with this there is 2 tools in particular. The P.O.I Profile and the Case File.

The P.O.I. Profile is where you write about the suspects of your mystery. It ensures you have a means, motive, opportunity for the actual killer, as well as log evidence pointing to them. It also includes info around quirks, their alibi etc. Its a profile the GM can use to ensure their suspect is fully fleshed out and ready to go with minimal effort, and can easily be ran at the table.

It can be used for other suspects so that you know cant be categorically linked to the crime. They may have means and motive without opportunity, or motive but a solid alibi etc. Its a handy way to flesh out the cast of your mystery from a detectives perspective

The Case File is where the overall mystery data lives. While the profiles focus on the suspects, the case files is the victim and their murder. This is the hub around which the profiles gather. You can use the Case File to gather timelines, evidence, victim info and so on. It paints the broader picture of what happened. It should create the questions that the detectives seek to answer through suspects and investigation. It also prompts you to link the case and suspects

The players will have blank versions of these tools. By using the same tool to prep as the players will fill in as the investigation goes on, you can rest assured that your mystery makes sense. You have the complete puzzle in front of you as the players recreate it. This way you know it makes sense. You have retroactively created the investigative steps for players who will build out this mystery following the threads you already have connections for.

There are other tools included as well. One stretch goal unlocked a method from Michael Chumak where you can go into your mystery with several possible killers, and the players have to build their case and the dice decide if you paint a convincing picture for the writers room folk

All of this has your players start mid way through the story of the case. As the players move the investigation forward, the mystery fills out in reverse. once you have a complete timeline from the start of the crime to the current moment, the timelines meet and a climax ensues.

There will be a lot of other things in the zine for GMs. Guides on creating believable serial killers and how to use them for a campaign. generators for P.O.I.s including motives, alibis etc. But the meat of it all is the Case File and P.O.I. Profile.

Next weekend I will flesh out how players will use these same tools to investigate these mysteries as well as what else is included for players in the zine.

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