Sunday, October 18, 2009

Gumshoe Continuum

I've been a little quiet both here and at Arcana Wiki lately, because I've been prepping a new campaign. I'm running Continuum, which is a setting and concept I love, but which has kinda crappy mechanics. So I converted it over to the Gumshoe system from Trail of Cthulhu and The Essoterrorists.

Gumshoe handles high-level competence very well, which will slip past one major hurdle that Continuum faced in that certain actions were just too unpredictable. I remember a scene in my old campaign where someone fell off a roof, spanned back in mid-fall, fell again and spanned again, fell again and spanned again, and then finally got the roll they needed to stay on the roof. Now, probably that character in that specific instance should have spanned off and taken some mountain-climbing lessons, but I think the anecdote does a good job of illustrating that the Continuum mechanics are a little weird. It had no real tools for fine-tuning difficulties.

By contrast, the only problem with Gumshoe is that various traits refresh at different rates, which makes for a lot of paperwork. Given that Continuum is a setting that already pushes the envelope for paperwork burden, this is not ideal. Plus, since Continuum PCs can always span off for a good-night's rest, this meant that "refreshes in 24 hours" skills were essentially unlimited access, which would be broken.

The easy solution there was to put everything but Health and Stability on the same new refresh scale, which has nothing to do with sleep or the passage of time. Instead, all your skills (investigative and dramatic) refresh at the start of every session - no need to track anything but Health and Stability (and Frag and Yet since it's Continuum) from one session to the next. But of course, that meant the PCs needed fewer points in skills, so I had to really analyze and modify the character creation process.

So, for the past couple of weeks, I've been converting, then editing, game rules. I'm running the campaign via Skype (with players in Seattle, Albuquerque, and Chicago), so I set up a wiki to be our communal Spanbook, rules database, and setting reference document. It's been a lot of work, but feels well worth it already. We've started character creation, and our first actual session is this Wednesday.

No comments: