First attempt at an investigation scenario

The following is a transcript of a one-on-one play-by-post session of my Wolves Upon the Coast campaign, Reavers. Wolves Upon the Coast is a combined fantasy iron-age setting and ruleset based on early D&D (ostensibly OD&D but it bears more resemblance to Basic played only fighters.).

At the time, the campaign had been running for 7 or 8 months. I was playing with one of my two most regular players, Adam. We normally played weekly via discord but we occasionally had one-on-one text-based sessions when players waned to accomplish additional tasks in the downtime between sessions, particularly when these tasks were not very risky or were not amenable to team-based problem solving.

Adam’s character, Lirann, his third in the campaign, had recently become ruler of a town after reconquering it from orcs. He needs resources to rebuild his town and learns of a village in a nearby forest that he thinks he can use to get timber.
As a game structure, we have a deal: solve a problem in an area and you get to exploit its resources. So at the start of the session, Adam knew that he would find some kind of difficulty in the town and he would benefit. I’m sure he could have guessed, or did guess, more about the structure of the problem, from the very fact that I was willing to run it as a one-on-one text-based session.

The prewritten description for the location, from Wolves, is as follows:

02.11 Ogonnelloe
A ruined fort – nothing but an L of stacked stone – pierces the treeline and marks the location of Ogonnelloe, home to 80. They are trappers of game and hewers of wood.
The village was lead by Ailín until recently – he has been missing for three days. Before that, Caoimhe disappeared. All are set to fearfully clutching swords as the night creeps through the village.
For centuries, against the day they are needed again, a Werewolf has dwelt in the village, passing on the curse as they feel time settle against old bones. Before the newest apprentice – Clodagh – could complete her training, the previous Werewolf was killed by his wife – jealous of the time he spent with young Clodagh. As such, she does not know how to control the curse. She was told of others on Albann who share the curse, but no more than that.
The bodies have been devoured. The next attack may not be fatal, and propagate the curse. Both the Druid Cult and the Christians will begin to notice as the bodies stack.
24 skirmishers.

I had never run any kind of mystery game, so this was a pretty experimental, and I’m upfront about that in the text. But I’ll let the transcript speak for itself.

  1. [10:58 AM] Adam (just listening): Oh do you have time to do the Lirann village stuff today?
  2. [10:58 AM] Adam (just listening): Or some other time?
  3. [11:12 AM] Der PigDog: Sure! I think I’ll be free in a little under 2 hours
  4. [11:12 AM] Adam (just listening): Cool beans!
  5. [1:37 PM] Adam (just listening): You good to do this?
  6. [1:40 PM] Der PigDog: I will be in5 minutes
  7. [1:40 PM] Der PigDog: Making a bagel
  8. [1:40 PM] Adam (just listening): Okay
  9. [1:46 PM] Der PigDog: ok
  10. [1:46 PM] Adam (just listening): You wanna do text or voice chat for this?
  11. [1:46 PM] Der PigDog: Let’s do text, I might need to think a bit about some responses
  12. [1:46 PM] Der PigDog: So Lirann is going to the village southeast of Dorbog
  13. [1:47 PM] Der PigDog: Ogonelloe
  14. [1:47 PM] Adam (just listening): Yeah with one retainer probably
  15. [1:47 PM] Der PigDog: Is he going alone or bringing a retinue?
  16. [1:47 PM] Der PigDog: Ok cool
  17. [1:47 PM] Der PigDog: Wearing the oathbreaker’s maille, or some other armor>
  18. [1:47 PM] Adam (just listening): I think he would just go in some fulllength maile
  19. [1:48 PM] Adam (just listening): The Oathbreaker’s Mail makes people uncomfortable
  20. [1:48 PM] Der PigDog: Yeah, a good call, that’s what I was considering
  21. [1:50 PM] Der PigDog: Following the narrow path he comes across a ruined fort piercing the treeline. Behind it squats a small village of round wooden houses. Smoke curls out of chimneys and people mill about the center of town, somewhat subdued
  22. [1:50 PM] Der PigDog: Lirann can see plenty of stacks of good timber as well as tanning racks and hunters returning from the forest carrying game of all sizes
  23. [1:50 PM] Der PigDog: How does he announce his presence?
  24. [1:51 PM] Adam (just listening): Lirann would approach someone who is working and ask to see the towns elderman or someone else who is in charge (he is a native to Ruislip and would probably know the title of small villages like this)
  25. [1:52 PM] Der PigDog: I have generally been calling the leader of these small settlements “big men” or “head men”
  26. [1:53 PM] Adam (just listening): yeah The head men. He will make it known he is from Dorbogh and wishes to speak to the defense of the people.
  27. [1:53 PM] Der PigDog: The woodcutter stiffens and says slowly, “Ailín’s… out… right now.”
  28. [1:54 PM] Der PigDog: “Hunting. No point waiting for him. Do you have a message to relay?”
  29. [1:54 PM] Adam (just listening): “I am willing to wait a bit to see them. How long are they usually out hunting?”
  30. [1:55 PM] Der PigDog: “No doubt he’ll be back by dark, but you’ll want to run home before then. Why not come back later?”
  31. [1:56 PM] Adam (just listening): “Is there something out here beyond the Orcneas to be worried about? I have no problem with a couple of Orcneas.”
  32. [1:59 PM] Der PigDog: The man looks uncomfortable, and he decides to shrug off responsibility. He offers to lead Lirann to Fionola, who would be a better host and guide. As he explains the situation to her, he tells her that he said Ailín was out hunting, and would return at night, but that Lirann had wanted to wait.
  33. [2:00 PM] Der PigDog: Fionola is a middle-aged woman. She was once beautiful, and still a looker. At her side is a younger woman whom she does not introduce.
  34. [2:00 PM] Der PigDog: “And what’s your business here?”
  35. [2:03 PM] Adam (just listening): “I am Lirann. I have come to see to the safety of the people of Ruislip. I have come here to see if the people of Ogonelloe where in need of help. We in Dorbogh and the survivors of Culmenwarden have faced a great many threats from the Orcneas and other transient threats and while we have stone walls to help protect our people we know the people of the forests fields and marshes often do not have that same safety. I have come to offer aid and partnership in these trying times.”
  36. [2:04 PM] Adam (just listening): “Please let me know if there is anything I or my people can do to help you. I promise you this is no trick. My reputation should speak for me. I have silenced the Screaming Rock helping the people of Culmenwarden even though no payment was offered.”
  37. [2:05 PM] Der PigDog: Oh man absolute trash reaction roll
  38. [2:06 PM] Adam (just listening): Am I gonna need my axe?
  39. [2:07 PM] Der PigDog: No, I think they wouldn’t attack
  40. [2:07 PM] Der PigDog: Plus I have been using boasts and visible wealth as a substitute for charisma modifiers informally
  41. [2:08 PM] Der PigDog: So you get a substantial bonus, though she’s still unfavorably inclined towards you
  42. [2:10 PM] Der PigDog: As they talk, she’s been walking to the second-largest hut in the village. A smithy. The forge is cold and no blacksmith is in sight. Next door is the largest hut. No smoke comes from its chimney either
  43. [2:10 PM] Der PigDog: “What kind of aid, and what do you want in return? There’s always a catch.”
  44. [2:13 PM] Adam (just listening): “I am a pretty capable commander and have faced a great many threats that have destroyed villages and towns. I am a friend of the Druids and have the friendship of Echo the Spirit who can heal with a touch. I offer these boons to your village in exchange for mutual aid in defending against the very dangerous threats that do live in this land.
  45. [3:29 PM] Adam (just listening): (also would Lirann know what a werewolf is? You suspiciously mentioned the moon.)
  46. [3:29 PM] Der PigDog: It’s not suspicious! I keep track of the phase of the moon via the calendar
  47. [3:29 PM] Adam (just listening): Anytime a GM mentions the moon I think werewolf instantly
  48. [3:31 PM] Adam (just listening): Lirann would stay up the rest of the night waiting for his thegn to return.
  49. [3:31 PM] Der PigDog: I have always thought that anything you know, your character does too, or at least they suspect
  50. [3:32 PM] Der PigDog: Except for details of modern chemistry
  51. [3:32 PM] Adam (just listening): Alright. I am like 80% sure this girl is a werewolf, her aunt is mean to her because she suspects the girl ate her husband, and the village leader was also a werewolf but he up and died.
  52. [3:33 PM] Adam (just listening): So now they have a single young werewolf in the village who wants to protect the village but can’t
  53. [3:34 PM] Der PigDog: Hmmm, intriguing!
  54. [3:34 PM] Adam (just listening): if Lirann can confirm his suspicions he would offer to send a squad of soldiers down to Ogonelloe to protect the village and she could come to Dorbogh where Slann can act as a guarantee that she won’t go on a rampage due to their hold monster spell.(edited)
  55. [3:34 PM] Adam (just listening): There she could safely learn to control her powers under the tutiledge of a druid and Lirann can earn a powerful ally
  56. [3:35 PM] Der PigDog: To be clear, Slann can only cast hold monster twice more, and then who knows how long until she gets another chance? The component is really, really rare
  57. [3:35 PM] Adam (just listening): I would probably make her a room at the keep with reinforced doors or something too.
  58. [3:36 PM] Der PigDog: The girl slinks back to the village square before dawn. She looks like she spent the night in a ditch
  59. [3:36 PM] Adam (just listening): What was her name?
  60. [3:37 PM] Der PigDog: Clodagh
  61. [3:40 PM] Adam (just listening): ALright once day breaks Lirann will pass out for a chunk of the day and ask that in the afternoon she takes him to the meeting place to see if there is any sign of the remains of these people.
  62. [3:40 PM] Adam (just listening): Even though she probably just spent the night destroying evidence
  63. [3:40 PM] Der PigDog: Lmao
  64. [3:41 PM] Der PigDog: The meeting place is a stump in a clearing a half-mile from town. There’s a small game trail leading back to town
  65. [3:42 PM] Adam (just listening): Does anyone else comewith? Like her aunt or anything when we leave the village?
  66. [3:42 PM] Der PigDog: I don’t think so, Lirann is a lord after all
  67. [3:42 PM] Der PigDog: The aunt probably mutters something under her breath
  68. [3:43 PM] Der PigDog: But it’s more aimed at the Clodagh than Lirann
  69. [3:45 PM] Der PigDog: What exactly are you looking for in terms of clues? Their meeting was supposed to be a month ago
  70. [3:45 PM] Adam (just listening): I think Lirann would just ask her straight up out here if she is a werewolf.
  71. [3:45 PM] Der PigDog: : 0
  72. [3:46 PM] Der PigDog: I think she would probably break down sobbing and say she was
  73. [3:46 PM] Der PigDog: So was Caoimhe, and he sired her and he was supposed to teach her, but he vanished one day
  74. [3:46 PM] Der PigDog: And now Ailin is dead
  75. [3:47 PM] Der PigDog: Caoimhe told Clodagh that there were other werewolves on Albann, but that’s all she knows
  76. [3:49 PM] Der PigDog: Rather than write up discrete clues, I tried to just imagine what the town would be like and how these people might react. Hopefully coming to a conclusion was interesting
  77. [3:50 PM] Adam (just listening): “People die. It is terrible. I have lost men due to my mistakes to. What we need is to learn from them. I wouldn’t trust the people of Albann for this. They follow false druids who lead them to worship terrible things. Even if there are werewolves there they may not offer any real help. I can offer you a safe place to practice and train at the keep in Dorbogh. We can reinforce a room with iron bars to keep you from harming others on full moons and my druid Slann is a capable druid who can help you learn and help control you when you do shift. I can provide men to protect Ogonelloe while you train as well. The people here don’t even need to know the truth. You can come as an apprentice to my city.”
  78. @Der PigDogRather than write up discrete clues, I tried to just imagine what the town would be like and how these people might react. Hopefully coming to a conclusion was interesting[3:50 PM] Adam (just listening): I think this was wonderfully done. Better then any investigation I have run at least.
  79. [3:50 PM] Der PigDog: Yeah, fuck the people of Albann! All my homies hate the people of Albann
  80. [3:50 PM] Adam (just listening): Had an eureka moment when it all clicked and I scoured through the previous stuff to verify it too.
  81. [3:51 PM] Der PigDog: Oh man I’m really glad!
  82. [3:51 PM] Der PigDog: There’s still the question of what happened to Caoimhe, but it isn’t essential
  83. @Der PigDogYeah, fuck the people of Albann! All my homies hate the people of Albann[3:51 PM] Adam (just listening): Just channeling my deep inset American disdain for the Brtsh
  84. [3:52 PM] Der PigDog: She would absolutely take you up on your offer❤️1
  85. @Der PigDogThere’s still the question of what happened to Caoimhe, but it isn’t essential[3:52 PM] Adam (just listening): Oh I assumed she killed him. But yeah if she knows of anything he carried I would cast locate objects to try to find him.
  86. [3:53 PM] Der PigDog: She’ll maintain that she really was going to meet up with him but that he never showed. She remembers enough from the turning to claim that she wouldn’t kill him
  87. [3:54 PM] Der PigDog: But it’s totally ok to not believe her, if you’d already made up your mind that she probably killed him and i only accidentally tipped my hand(edited)
  88. [3:55 PM] Adam (just listening): I assume he ran into Orcneas or the Gargoyles or something in other cases.
  89. [3:56 PM] Adam (just listening): Does Ogonelloe join with Dorbogh in this instance? If they agree to garrisoning Dorbogh troops here and I remove the threat to the village (and the pain in the town elderman’s side of her delinquent niece).
  90. [3:56 PM] Adam (just listening): Or do I still have to convince her?
  91. [3:58 PM] Der PigDog: I think that they won’t join immediately but in a month without their anonymous werewolf protector (there’s a legend but the town doesn’t really believe in it) they’ll suffer a few tentative orc raids and be willing to join
  92. [4:00 PM] Adam (just listening): Alright. Cool. That means that after the village joins me and I complete the school the tower comes back online.
  93. [4:01 PM] Der PigDog: I think that’s right. Also this town has a militia of 20 skirmishers
  94. [4:02 PM] Adam (just listening): I thought that just meant it had a militia muster tbh
  95. 4:02 PM] Adam (just listening): And don’t villages automatically give 2 social and 2 wealth?
  96. [4:03 PM] Der PigDog: Yeah
  97. [4:06 PM] Adam (just listening): So with +2 wealth from the village joining me and +2 wealth from the school I have the 4 wealth for the tower.
  98. [4:06 PM] Der PigDog: Nice!
  99. [4:11 PM] Adam (just listening): Thanks for running this I had fun.
  100. [4:11 PM] Der PigDog: I’m glad! I did too

I hope this was interesting to read. I would be grateful for any thoughts, on any related topic.


15 responses to “First attempt at an investigation scenario”

  1. This ought to have the OSR tag and I’m afraid I’m not sure why it isn’t there. Oh well.

    Also, I forgot to add my objectives for the session. In no particular order: practice a new (to me) game structure, write some passable prose, entertain myself and Adam (obviously), and see if I could portray a mystery scenario without any explicit “clues” but which could still be solved.

  2. This is a very cute little account, PigDog. I love how the player “figured it out” based on a meta-clue (which wasn’t intended as one).

    I think running investigative scenarios is one of the trickier things in RPG play (at least of the things we regularly do, as typical play activities and desired scenarios).

    There are lots of variations on how to do so, and they’re worth pondering. The one key thing is to always preserve the meaningfulness of player choice – sometimes a challenge with any kind of “here’s a mystery; your job is to figure it out, my job is to keep it from you” setup (as is hopefully very obvious from that way of describing it!).

    Thanks for sharing this. (I’m also testing out the new WordPress format – a big upgrade!)

    • “Rather than write up discrete clues, I tried to just imagine what the town would be like and how these people might react.”

      This is key to me. There’s a lot of advice about how to run a mystery (the three-clue rule being pretty well known), and frankly I’ve never really understood any of it. Stuff like that has always felt like levers the GM uses to control pacing and control challenge and control, control, control. Maybe it’s because investigative play of any sort has never interested me and neither have mystery novels.

      That said, I think “play your characters honestly” is a to-the-bone approach in just about any scenario.

    • Yes, it was funny to me! And slightly disappointing. (By the way, I forgot to paste in the bulk of the text, including the part where I actually say the phase of the moon. I’ve contacted Ron for an edit. Ron, if you don’t want me discussing technical site details in the comments, please let me know.)

      The funny thing is, I’m not lying: I really do track the phase of the moon in that game, and I start every normal session by stating the date, weather, and moon phase. (Easier than you might think, because the Germanic calendar is based on the phases of the moon, so if you know the date, you know the phase.) This costs me no effort and it lets me know how bright the nights are and if any werewolves are active as you see here. Also, every night the players are at sea there’s a 1-in-720 chance that the moon will dip low enough on the horizon that they can sail to it, and its size depends on its current phase. And finally, it’s very flavorful; it just feels like something the medievals would keep track of.

      But in this case I forgot to start the session with the date, weather, and moon phase, because the game was so casual. And I thought it would be too obvious if I said, “Whoops, I forgot to say…” so I wove it into the narration instead. With mixed results. Maybe we are so familiar with the connection between werewolves and moon phases that anybody who hears the moon mentioned will always perk up.

      We might distinguish between “tactically relevant scenario information” and “literary detail”. Mystery writers make the same distinction, I think, and often try to confuse the reader with a cloud of literary details. They camouflage the most important clues as mere details. And so when we solve a mystery book we’re reading our most important task is not to explain the presence of this or that fact, but to decide which fact is important. Then we can easily explain things.

      I wanted to blur scenario information with literary detail, even in my own mind, when I was running this session. That is, I didn’t want to start with a list of “clues” for the player to find; I wanted to just picture the scene, as strongly as I could, and simply describe what I was picturing. Is this how people normally run investigations? I’m not sure. It doesn’t seem to jive with advice like the “three clue rule”.

      (Challenge-focused games can also distinguish between scenario information and detail. (How to properly describe this difference? I’m only gesturing at it so far. Must think more on the matter.) I think there though the players have the prerogative and ability to exploit any particular detail, to turn it into scenario information. Kind of the opposite of solving a mystery. The player doesn’t want to figure out which detail was already scenario information, but which detail can be turned into scenario information.)

    • Hans (and anyone else with knowledge of this issue),

      I’m very curious about rule-structures around investigations. I guess I don’t see GM control as necessarily a bad thing — and my knee-jerk negative reaction to it, and similar pacing methods, reminds me of my initial knee-jerk negative reaction to all the tools of narrative play. (When I first encountered these things, I thought that they de-legitimized the stories they generated, and that one could only get good stories in rpgs through blind luck, rule-less skill, and unconscious cooperation.) Do you think you could explain why explicit pacing rules and control mechanisms are OK in narrative games (if you think they are) but not in challenge-focused investigations?

    • This is a reply to pigdog’s question to me–

      The more I play across a variety of games the more I think received categories that get used on the internet as if everyone knows what they mean–like “narrative game”–are worse than meaningless. They actively obscure and damage meaningful discourse.

      I say that not to chide or correct you but just to say that I think we need to be on better footing regarding what we’re actually talking about. Rather, we can safely dump discussion of “narrative” play and mechanisms and just talk about the actual things and how they operate.

      So, for me the real question here is what am I talking about when I’m talking about mechanisms of control? I’m certainly not talking about the GM having authority over the backstory (knowing the clues and the mystery). Maybe I don’t know exactly what I’m talking about in crystal-clear terms I can point to. But when the outcome is set by the GM and play simply consists of which path the players choose to that outcome, that is the kind of control of play I’m talking about. And I don’t really know how else a mystery game can be done (that’s not a “we all come up with pieces of the mystery together”).

      I’m not saying there aren’t different ways of doing it. I’m saying I don’t know what they are. When I first entered the hobby I had a period where in rapid succession I played in a 3.5 game, a GURPS game, and went to a couple local conventions and played a number of games (4e and Call of Cthulhu and Cat stand out in memory) and they ALL involved a group of PCs trying to uncover some sort of mystery or solve an information problem. For that short period of time I really began to think that “guess what the GM’s thinking” was the extent of the activity of roleplaying and I almost quit and never came back.

    • Ron,

      This is useful! I particularly like the question, “Why are you rolling?”. It does make me wonder, though, what if any rules structures would support a genuine investigation. Do these things have to be played as, essentially, free kreigspiels? Do the rules here only support ancillary elements of the investigation? (I know you’re not saying that anywhere, but I think it’s a reasonable view, and question, anyway.)

    • These topics need dissecting. One could ask, what is, in fact, “genuine investigation” as it relates to fiction? How is wargaming (I think you refer to outright competition) relevant?

      However, those questions are too abstract. Good for mining clicks and shares on Reddit, not worth much here.

      To dissect the topics properly, I think we need to talk about play as we’ve experienced it, to look across the relevant posts and their comments, and to post more in the knowledge of that body of work. The slow road.

    • I hope I can limit my comments and questions to things we can immediately resolve based on our own experiences.

      By “genuine investigation” I mean a mystery (whatever that is) where the players don’t know the answer, the referee does, and the “point” is for the players to solve the mystery. They win if they figure out what’s going on, and lose if they don’t. (I’m sure there’s a lot more to say about this. And I don’t think my session was a pure genuine investigation — after all, Adam didn’t solve the murder! Though he did figure out what was going on in town in a general way.)

      By “free kriegspiel” I meant “game with no explicit rules for determining outcomes”. I guess outcomes are determined by drama (as in DFK drama) or some ad-hoc fortune mechanic, at the referee’s pleasure. (I’m probably butchering some or all of the terminology here; my apologies. If something is unclear, please ask.)

      In my example, the “rules” only came into play when I was rolling a reaction check for Fionola. We didn’t have any investigation skills, DCs, whatever. I’m tempted to say that in this session every important question was resolved with drama, and the game’s rules only came into play for ancillary things.

      So I’m curious to hear how people have used traditional/obvious aspects of a game’s rules in what I’ve been calling a genuine investigation. For instance, have you rolled skill checks to see if the players notice a clue, or to see if they interpret it correctly? Did that go well, or poorly? Was it a departure from normal play, or the same as usual? That sort of thing.

      As always, please let me know if I’m still asking impossible questions.

    • Sorry Canyon, I wasn’t very clear. Those were rhetorical questions designed to illustrate that quick-and-reflexive answers wouldn’t be productive. I was trying not to get into the details here. I don’t want to disrespect your effort, so I provide the following strictly as thought material, long-term, without one-on-one back-and-forth in this spot.

      1. Your reply about the genuine investigation is very useful due to its internal contradiction: it’s well and good to say that the players win if they solve it and lose if they don’t, but you also say that if they don’t solve it, then it’s not a genuine investigation. It’s only a “GI” if they can fail to solve it, but not a “GI” if they in fact fail?

      2. Regarding “no explicit rules for outcomes,” there is no such thing. A game’s resolution rules may not be familiar, and the scale or content of the outcomes (what they’re about) may not be what one is used to, but moving from uncertainty to at least some certainty is fundamental to the act of play. I do see what you’re asking, but it’s falling into the long-standing conundrum of wanting players to deduce things but also wanting dice to constrain whether the characters deduce things. Play can’t have both at once as the determining device, and table attempts to resolve it by synchronizing them are agonizing, and have been for decades. The more usual solution, or rather, desperation device is exactly as you describe here, which is to jettison one of the components … which typically leaves the remaining one in an anemic state.

      Again: these are rhetorical. I really don’t want you to reply to them. I’m trying to illustrate that these things swiftly become nonsensical no matter how intuitive they feel, and cannot be discussed with rapid typing. This is going to be a long-term discussion best conducted with ongoing play experiences. The Detective/Mystery category has lots of useful posts to examine as well, and I especially recommend Monday Lab: Roll to know, if you want to check it out.

  3. Hi Der PigDog, thanks for sharing this transcript – it’s very enjoyable to be able to read along with the session. I especially enjoyed seeing Adam’s unprompted, authoritative statements – his pointing out that Lirann would have knowledge of Ogonnelloe’s culture in #24, his setting of a new scene in #61, to name two that especially jumped out at me. I also like the idea of a game taking place both over voice and in chat…my experience of play by post is very limited, but this made it seem fun and easy.

    I’d like to make some further observations, but first, am I correct in assuming that Fionala is Caoimhe’s widow?

    • Great! I wanted to offer a perspective on some things I noticed around #75, where Clodagh reveals to Lirann that she is a werewolf. I bring it up because you specifically call out wanting to “just imagine what the town would be like and how these people might react.” This is a great summation of healthy play, and I think it is a helpful starting-point for thinking about making any fiction – including mystery fiction – in the medium of roleplaying.

      Back to #75. It seems to me that in that moment, where Lirann ‘cracks the case,’ you and Adam stopped attending to dynamic areas of uncertainty and fictional instability in the situation, and moved away from the immediate events of play.

      The big unresolved certainty I see: What is Fionala going to do with the news of Clodagh’s intended departure? She’s already taken violent action related to her niece. She wields considerable social power in Ogonnelloe, and Lirann and his thegn are in a highly vulnerable position if she decides to mobilize the village against him. There’s an extreme Reaction Roll result to work with as material in deciding Fionala’s, Clodagh’s, and the villagers’ actions. To read perhaps too far into it, I could see the villagers viewing a local warlord taking a young woman from their head family back to his fortress as ‘an apprentice’ appearing less like charity and more like tribute/hostage-taking.

      However, once Lirann solves the mystery, all that charged and unstable material is put aside. I am curious about what would have happened if the focus had stayed on “what the town would be like and how these people might react,” instead of stopping where the mystery was ‘solved.’

      I don’t intend to point this out like I’m some expert who knows everything about play mysteries, because I definitely don’t. However, I’ve been trying in my recent play to focus on the bleeding edge of what’s happening in the fiction (where the most impactful events happen), and part of that has been recognizing when my attention wanders from the fiction happening right now, right in front of me.

    • Wow, this is really great! I wish I had had some of these considerations in mind when I was running the scenario. I think you’re right that in my mind the scenario only went as far as “find the werewolf” and the game basically stopped after that happened, bar a little bit of (very nice) role-playing on Adam’s part.

      If I were running a dungeon delve in an extended, I would never imagine saying “Ok, you’ve found the gold, so now you’re good, we end session here!”. I would always ask the players to deal with the complexities of getting the gold out. That’s half the fun! And investigations, and their resolutions, have just as many complexities. If I’m going to do justice to the scenario, I have to play it through to the end.

      Thank you!

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