Line of Enquiry - The final stretch & looking at the system
Kia ora Line of Enquiry whanau. Glad to have you joining us today. Before I dive into the look at LoE's included system and discuss the final stretch goal, I want to take a moment to share the following video where I join my old friend Matt at 3 Skulls Tavern to discuss LoE
Line of Enquiries system is very much rules light and quite narrative in nature. It is inspired by games from the free kriegsspiel revolution (FKR) that relay heavily on diegetic response, invisible rulebooks and a high trust table environment. To discuss the system it is important to set the intent I had going into this. Line of Enquiry is first and foremost a tool kit to turn whatever your preferred game is into a mystery game, with the priority being on the tools and advice included. As such the system was a backstop for people who did not already have a system in mind when picking this up. More over it had to be broad enough to work in whatever genre of mystery and era of time you wanted to set your game in. As such a super detailed system did not make sense. Given my aim of investigations being player lead I was satisfied that the tools and advice included covered the actual investigation part of the game, so what was needed was the usual game conundrum of knowing when your character succeeds at something or not in moments of uncertainty. Additionally I wanted to add a system for Burnout, something I think is important in Noir crime stories, one of the genres I most wanted to be able to emulate. So, with this in mind I set to work. Character sheets would not be a list of numbers or skills, but rather key words to prompt you towards who this person was and what they might be good at. Currently this looks like the following.
Background/Upbringing: Eg, Ivy league graduate, from wealth, Poor immigrant, High school jock Specialization: Keep this specific EG SWAT, Forensic Medicine, Narcotics etc.
Condition: Starts healthy. Burnout: Starts at 0 Primary Interest: What do they do outside of work? EG Historian, Cage fighter, Socialite, Acting Bond: Who is most important to this person? EG Family, Daughter, Best friend, Old mum
Contact: What inside contact do they have? EG Coroner, Someone at town hall, CI etc.
This is all the player needs. Equipment is assumed based on specialization and other relevant info on the sheet, unless the player states otherwise. If playing in a specific setting keyword types could change or be added. Investigators can achieve what is to be expected with their knowledge and background, assuming time and resources are favorable. Players should lead the investigation organically: they are solving the mystery, not rolling dice to find out what happened. The fun of a puzzle is piecing it together, not looking for the missing pieces under a sofa.
When something is time sensitive, contested or the outcome is otherwise unsure, a test is called for. Start with 1d6. For each relevant keyword of the Investigator that would have a realistic impact on the likelihood of success add 1D6. The GM does the same, starting at 2d6 and building up for difficulty, Investigator condition, extraneous circumstances etc. You always start at 2d6 because the circumstances are difficult enough to warrant a roll. Both then roll their respective pools. Whoever got the highest wins. If there is a draw then something dramatic happens. If the highest result is a double then something extra impressive happens.
Additional to this is Burnout. Burnout is both a resource and a slow burning form of harm. An Investigator may decide to take on burnout to improve their chances of success. For example they may wish to add a D6 to their dice pool for a test, or try and achieve more things in the day than they should be able to, going into overtime. When this happens the GM should increase the Investigators burnout by one and carry on as appropriate. When asked by the GM the Investigator tests their burnout by rolling a D6. If they roll equal to or below their current burnout something negative happens, as befitting the context. The higher the roll that failed, the worse the result should be.
Burnout can be reduced by going on downtime. The player explains how they engage with either their Primary Interest or with their Bond. Your investigator recovers 1 burnout per downtime but can push it by doing a burnout test. If the Investigator rolls over their burnout score they recover the difference in addition to whatever they naturally would. If they roll below their Burnout then they fail to rest at all, and gain an additional point of Burnout as they spend their free time pouring over case notes and not actually relaxing.
If desperate a player can burn a primary interest or bond to recover more burnout, but will lose that keyword from their character sheet and suffer an appropriate narrative consequence. Contacts can likewise be burned. While you may use your Contact normally to get bonuses to Die rolls or to have someone to try and leverage for your investigation, you can really lean on them and burn them out, destroying that relationship in the process, but significantly boosting what it is you might be trying to do.
That about covers the key parts of the system. It is still very much a work in progress and subject to playtesting, so expect some of this to change. The final stretch
We have 5 days to go and are over 300% funded. I am amazed by the support and thank you all for contributing to making this a success. I am also super stoked with my team and as such want to treat them. That informs this final stretch goal.
If we reach $8500 before the end of the campaign, and I am confident we will, then I will go ahead and split $1000 between the crew as an additional bonus for helping me get here so far. It'll be paid on receipt of funds from KS with the express purpose of thanking them for tolerating me thus far! We are so close now team. Lets close this one out big. See you on the other side!