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The Story Now Discussion

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Let me ask you a few questions:

* Do you think what you're responding to is your cognitive orientation toward how this is operationalized (rather than an objective quality...or do you think your cognitive orientation toward how it is being operationalized is you detecting actual signal of an objective quality)?

* Do you think you're responding to your sense (due to the experience you're citing above) that players cannot play skillfully through a mystery and reveal a truth about the "reality" of the shared imagined space that was hitherto unknown?
So, I'm not @JonM but I think I see where he's coming from.

I think it starts with a recognition that the primary (most-frequent) pleasures of whodunits (or, if you want to be more highfalutin, mysteries of ratiocination) are at least somewhat different from those of TRPGs. This is a thought I've expressed before, but briefly the pleasures of a whodunit are A) beating the detective to the solution and/or B) watching the detective figure it out (or, plausibly, following the detective's explanation of how he figured it out). Pleasure "B" above isn't a viable pleasure in TRPGs, and pleasure "A" can possibly be simulated if you have some sort of time constraint in-game--but that still involves "figuring it out."

Whodunits where there's an expectation that the players are going to solve the mystery do not seem as though they are compatible with playing Story Now. What seems as though it would happen more in a Story Now game is that the players would write the mystery's solution. Even the process you went through of filtering the possible (plausible?) solutions and eliminating them one by one, is more the latter than the former, I think.

At least, that's the thinking from people who don't intentionally play Story Now games.
 

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JonM

Explorer
I'm not exactly clear on (a) what you're meaning by "the land" here and (b) how you're contrasting this with "whodunit."

See my post above about operationalizing things.

For instance, after 1.5 hours of play + many player moves + many complications and snowballing + many reveals/stipulations + a lot of conversation play churned out:

It (the disappearance of the dwarf and his forge) was succumbing to old age, entombed by the Ancient Blue Dragon, w/ the Frost Giant refugee turned pupil, in a bygone era.

A "Clue-ish" formulation of "whodunnit" or "what happened."

I'm curious (in both operationalizing and in the output of play) the contrast you're drawing here. I'm not saying there isn't one...but I am not able to see it.
Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Sherlock Holmes, Murder She Wrote, Castle, Columbo, etc. etc. ad nauseum. Honestly, I didn't think I was being that vague....
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Sherlock Holmes, Murder She Wrote, Castle, Columbo, etc. etc. ad nauseum. Honestly, I didn't think I was being that vague....
Columbo is great fun, but the pleasures are not quite those of a more-traditional whodunit, IMO. The question isn't whether you can figure out who did it, it's whether you can figure out how Columbo will solve it.
 

Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Sherlock Holmes, Murder She Wrote, Castle, Columbo, etc. etc. ad nauseum. Honestly, I didn't think I was being that vague....

No I know.

See my last post about Clue and Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective and tell me what you think.
 

So, I'm not @JonM but I think I see where he's coming from.

I think it starts with a recognition that the primary (most-frequent) pleasures of whodunits (or, if you want to be more highfalutin, mysteries of ratiocination) are at least somewhat different from those of TRPGs. This is a thought I've expressed before, but briefly the pleasures of a whodunit are A) beating the detective to the solution and/or B) watching the detective figure it out (or, plausibly, following the detective's explanation of how he figured it out). Pleasure "B" above isn't a viable pleasure in TRPGs, and pleasure "A" can possibly be simulated if you have some sort of time constraint in-game--but that still involves "figuring it out."

Whodunits where there's an expectation that the players are going to solve the mystery do not seem as though they are compatible with playing Story Now. What seems as though it would happen more in a Story Now game is that the players would write the mystery's solution. Even the process you went through of filtering the possible (plausible?) solutions and eliminating them one by one, is more the latter than the former, I think.

At least, that's the thinking from people who don't intentionally play Story Now games.

See my last post on Sherlock Holmes and tell me what you think.

I think this is a result of the cognitive framing effect about the perceived volitional force of the play. Both forms of play have a significant volitional force of play that is "extra-player" but only one has an endstate that is (with certitude) 100 % independent of the player.

What I am saying is how you feel about that bolded is a particular biographical fact of the person playing.

For me, that bolded takes a PROFOUND 2ND SEAT to:

1) Do I feel like this instantiation of "mystery play" felt like Skillful play uncovered the reveal?

2) Do I feel like this instantiation of "mystery play" was visceral in both the play and the results because it was anchored in something with depth and stakes?


Because my priorities of (1) and (2) are paramount AND it is a stubborn fact that instantiations of "Detective Mystery" are absolutely inconsistent in terms of both (1) and (2) above (SHCD is beloved and at its best it is fantastic...but its "best" is not part of the normal distribution of SHCD play), the priority of endstate that is (with certitude) 100 % independent of the player doesn't move the needle for me with much strength.

The hierarchy of the above priorities is a particular autobiographical fact about me just like some other arrangement of them is a particular autobiographical fact about another person. But that isn't an empirical claim about the objective nature of "whodunnit mysteries" and Story Now games. This is why I relate it back to the dissociative mechanics thesis (its a cognitive framing effect around orientation and hierarchical priorities).
 

Campbell

Legend
I generally think the level of myth is separate dimension of play. Some Story Now games are No Myth, but not all. Lady Blackbird, Dogs in the Vineyard and Sorcerer are not really No Myth. The most important distinction to me rather than one on the prep dimension is what is guiding your prep or scene framing.

In Story Now play your number one consideration is being a fan of the players' characters. You present situations because you want to know how they will respond. Once you put the scenario out there or frame the scene the players are supposed to take the lead and play these wonderful and possibly broken things with gusto. The issue with the whodunnit is not that there is a murder or secret backstory, but that the PCs are expected to solve it. Be a curious explorer of the fiction rather than trying to tell a story.

Story Now is a basic inversion of play. Rather than the adventure providing the impetus and the GM being something of a leadership position your job is just to facilitate the story of these characters. Your scenario design is all in service to finding out who they really are and providing honest antagonism. The second play becomes more about the scenario than the PCs in your mind you're back to a more trad orientation. Nothing wrong with that by the way.
 

JonM

Explorer
Let me ask you a few questions:

* Do you think what you're responding to is your cognitive orientation toward how this is operationalized (rather than an objective quality...or do you think your cognitive orientation toward how it is being operationalized is you detecting actual signal of an objective quality)?

* Do you think you're responding to your sense (due to the experience you're citing above) that players cannot play skillfully through a mystery and reveal a truth about the "reality" of the shared imagined space that was hitherto unknown?
Well, I can't answer the first one, because I can't even figure out what you're getting at (the odd use of parentheses may not be helping). BTW, a piece of objective advice from someone who has been reading related posts (which far too often devolve into arguments), on these forums, for a while now: convoluted jargon-heavy paragraphs like that are exactly why the non-Story Now folks keep viewing Story Now people as elitists. (And the second question, calling into question my view of my players' skill, makes it look even worse.) Just saying. If you really want an answer to a question and aren't just trying to look clever, phrase it clearly, so that it makes sense to your reader.

As for the second one, I have great confidence in my players' skill. That's not the issue. As I clearly said, we did have fun. But there was a sense of... layering? that seemed missing. We could assume that there were nuances, if you see what I mean, but we all knew we were making assumptions, like that. It was just less satisfying than the mysteries I had carefully plotted. And, sure, maybe it might go better, another time, but I have no reason to assume that, so far.

BTW, I think Prabe kind of sees what I'm getting at, in this regard. Part of the fun is in the tone a Mystery sets, but that seemed to get lost, in the translation.

BTW, you seem to be assuming that I'm trying to prove some sort of point, e.g. that Story Now is somehow limited or inferior. Not so. My question was an honest one. Hawkeyefan demonstrated, clearly, that Story Now can handle supers and how, which is exactly what I hoped to hear. But can this also work for the Mystery genre? My sense is, "no", but I was hoping to be proven wrong. So far, not so much.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
See my last post on Sherlock Holmes and tell me what you think.

I think this is a result of the cognitive framing effect about the perceived volitional force of the play. Both forms of play have a significant volitional force of play that is "extra-player" but only one has an endstate that is (with certitude) 100 % independent of the player.

What I am saying is how you feel about that bolded is a particular biographical fact of the person playing.

For me, that bolded takes a PROFOUND 2ND SEAT to:

1) Do I feel like this instantiation of "mystery play" felt like Skillful play uncovered the reveal?

2) Do I feel like this instantiation of "mystery play" was visceral in both the play and the results because it was anchored in something with depth and stakes?


Because my priorities of (1) and (2) are paramount AND it is a stubborn fact that instantiations of "Detective Mystery" are absolutely inconsistent in terms of both (1) and (2) above (SHCD is beloved and at its best it is fantastic...but its "best" is not part of the normal distribution of SHCD play), the priority of endstate that is (with certitude) 100 % independent of the player doesn't move the needle for me with much strength.

The hierarchy of the above priorities is a particular autobiographical fact about me just like some other arrangement of them is a particular autobiographical fact about another person. But that isn't an empirical claim about the objective nature of "whodunnit mysteries" and Story Now games. This is why I relate it back to the dissociative mechanics thesis (its a cognitive framing effect around orientation and hierarchical priorities).
I don't think that the GM deciding what the facts of the case are renders either A) the players/characters solving it or B) the method of solution if solved independent of the players. The one and only time I've run a mystery-of-ratiocination adventure in a 5E campaign, the possibility of not solving it always existed; and I never had any set idea of how the PCs would solve it, if they did.

But I don't exactly think we're arguing, here--I've played exactly one session of Story Now, and any opinions I have are, IMO, too preliminary to let out into the world. I don't see how one can run a mystery of ratiocination in that type of game, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. Putting it differently, it seems as though the only way such an adventure would work is if the GM didn't know the facts before framing the story, and I don't think I have the kind of brain to run that type of adventure that way. I might not have the type of brain to run any kind of adventure that way.
 

I don't think that the GM deciding what the facts of the case are renders either A) the players/characters solving it or B) the method of solution if solved independent of the players. The one and only time I've run a mystery-of-ratiocination adventure in a 5E campaign, the possibility of not solving it always existed; and I never had any set idea of how the PCs would solve it, if they did.

But I don't exactly think we're arguing, here--I've played exactly one session of Story Now, and any opinions I have are, IMO, too preliminary to let out into the world. I don't see how one can run a mystery of ratiocination in that type of game, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. Putting it differently, it seems as though the only way such an adventure would work is if the GM didn't know the facts before framing the story, and I don't think I have the kind of brain to run that type of adventure that way. I might not have the type of brain to run any kind of adventure that way.

Quick clarification (because its important) on what I mean by independent.

I don't mean the actual investigation or the order/nature of the final reveal of the mystery is independent of player input.

I mean the prefabricated endstate is 100 % independent of player input (eg a player cannot make a move at any point during play to affect that endstate...the endstate is always going to be something like "Colonel Mustard in the Kitchen with the Knife")
 

JonM

Explorer
Columbo is great fun, but the pleasures are not quite those of a more-traditional whodunit, IMO. The question isn't whether you can figure out who did it, it's whether you can figure out how Columbo will solve it.
Good point. He doesn't quite fit in with the others, in that regard. There is sort of sub-genre of mystery where, as a viewer/reader, you're not trying to figure out a solution (you may even have been given it, already) but how our hero will figure it out. I guess that doesn't really translate into any sort of RPG, not just Story Now.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Quick clarification (because its important) on what I mean by independent.

I don't mean the actual investigation or the order/nature of the final reveal of the mystery is independent of player input.

I mean the prefabricated endstate is 100 % independent of player input (eg a player cannot make a move at any point during play to affect that endstate...the endstate is always going to be something like "Colonel Mustard in the Kitchen with the Knife")
I guess I don't think of the facts of the case as the endstate. I mean, getting to the facts of the game is the players' (characters') goal in any attempt to make a whodunit story with a TRPG, but I don't know that I'd think of them as the "endstate." The one I ran, there were knock-on effects that arguably were more important than solving the mystery, and the characters (and the players) were deeply invested in straightening things out, so it at least seemed to have at least some of the emotional valence you mentioned earlier.

It also seems as though you're presuming the facts of the case are going to be revealed. I agree that's the goal, but I don't think it's mandatory (and I don't think it's mandatory in either Story Now or Story Before).
 

Well, I can't answer the first one, because I can't even figure out what you're getting at (the odd use of parentheses may not be helping). BTW, a piece of objective advice from someone who has been reading related posts (which far too often devolve into arguments), on these forums, for a while now: convoluted jargon-heavy paragraphs like that are exactly why the non-Story Now folks keep viewing Story Now people as elitists. (And the second question, calling into question my view of my players' skill, makes it look even worse.) Just saying. If you really want an answer to a question and aren't just trying to look clever, phrase it clearly, so that it makes sense to your reader.

As for the second one, I have great confidence in my players' skill. That's not the issue. As I clearly said, we did have fun. But there was a sense of... layering? that seemed missing. We could assume that there were nuances, if you see what I mean, but we all knew we were making assumptions, like that. It was just less satisfying than the mysteries I had carefully plotted. And, sure, maybe it might go better, another time, but I have no reason to assume that, so far.

BTW, I think Prabe kind of sees what I'm getting at, in this regard. Part of the fun is in the tone a Mystery sets, but that seemed to get lost, in the translation.

BTW, you seem to be assuming that I'm trying to prove some sort of point, e.g. that Story Now is somehow limited or inferior. Not so. My question was an honest one. Hawkeyefan demonstrated, clearly, that Story Now can handle supers and how, which is exactly what I hoped to hear. But can this also work for the Mystery genre? My sense is, "no", but I was hoping to be proven wrong. So far, not so much.

Can we rewind this and you can back off the escalated hostility? You don't need to apologize for getting hostile and aggressive like you have above. As probably everyone in here has seen this sort of exchange with me before (this is just the freaking way I write...it just is...I'm not an elitist jerk...this is the way I write...I've tried to change it multiple times but it didn't stick), what is happening above is a surprise to no one.

I'm not trying to be clever or elitist and the very last thing in the world I would want to be is opaque.

I'll accept the confusion is my responsibility and try again. Let me start with 2 because you're clearly pissed about your interpretation of what I wrote there (which wasn't what I wanted to relay).

Let me try again:

* Do you think you're responding to your sense (due to the experience you're citing above) that players cannot play skillfully through a mystery and reveal a truth about the "reality" of the shared imagined space that was hitherto unknown?

TRANSLATION

1) This has nothing to do you with you or your players. This is not a statement about JonM. We're talking about general play here.

2) When I say players cannot play skillfully, what I'm saying is "the sort of skillful play that is part and parcel of mystery gaming is not a property of Story Now mysteries."

Does that make more sense?

Let me try again on 1:

* Do you think what you're responding to is your cognitive orientation toward how this is operationalized (rather than an objective quality...or do you think your cognitive orientation toward how it is being operationalized is you detecting actual signal of an objective quality)?

Lets go at this another way. You know how some people feel Hit Points are meat and some people feel Hit Points cannot possibly be meat (eg - they're a game construct to meant for pacing and regulation interactions/collisions between characters and the environment that are some impossible to untangle collage of several different variables)? Do you think your orientation toward Story Now mysteries is more that (see my recent post about priorities and hierarchy for reference as well...or not) or do you think its more "this is an objective truth about mystery gaming."
 

I guess I don't think of the facts of the case as the endstate. I mean, getting to the facts of the game is the players' (characters') goal in any attempt to make a whodunit story with a TRPG, but I don't know that I'd think of them as the "endstate." The one I ran, there were knock-on effects that arguably were more important than solving the mystery, and the characters (and the players) were deeply invested in straightening things out, so it at least seemed to have at least some of the emotional valence you mentioned earlier.

It also seems as though you're presuming the facts of the case are going to be revealed. I agree that's the goal, but I don't think it's mandatory (and I don't think it's mandatory in either Story Now or Story Before).

Let us move away from TTRPGs because it might be clouding what I'm trying to convey.

Go back to boardgames; Clue or Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective.

There is an indisputable prefabricated endstate to the mystery before play begins. It is the analog to "the finish line" if this were a race. Neither the finish line nor the "x killed y under z circumstances" is subject to change based on player input. Player input (the skilled play signal here) derives:

* Is the mystery solved at all?

* Who solves the mystery (if multiple participants)?

* How long/what form does play take (# of turns, types of turns, etc) are taken to get from the beginning state of play to the endstate of play (either the successful reveal or the "crap, I give up.")

Any disagreement on any of that stuff?
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Let us move away from TTRPGs because it might be clouding what I'm trying to convey.

Go back to boardgames; Clue or Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective.

There is an indisputable prefabricated endstate to the mystery before play begins. It is the analog to "the finish line" if this were a race. Neither the finish line nor the "x killed y under z circumstances" is subject to change based on player input. Player input (the skilled play signal here) derives:

* Is the mystery solved at all?

* Who solves the mystery (if multiple participants)?

* How long/what form does play take (# of turns, types of turns, etc) are taken to get from the beginning state of play to the endstate of play (either the successful reveal or the "crap, I give up.")

Any disagreement on any of that stuff?
It's been a while since I've played Clue, and (that I know of) I've never played that Sherlock Holmes game, but I don't see anything to disagree with.
 

Arilyn

Hero
Whodunnits and procedural mysteries have a structure to them that Gumshoe captures really well, but is more challenging in Story Now. The whole joy most players get from these kinds of mysteries is to figure out the GM's secrets and solve the pre - thought out riddle. Doing a whodunit mystery can absolutely be managed in Story Now, but if a group is interested in breaking out the Gumshoe game, "Mutant City Blues," Story Now might not be the style that would fit. It's the difference, I think, between having an occasional mystery evolve and settling into a mystery campaign. In a campaign, players will want the bulk of the sessions to fit the tone. And the tone is uncovering a pre-set series of events by following the clues.

We have a wide variety of games and styles in order to capture certain moods or play procedures. Using a game that's not a great match for a few sessions sprinkled about is fine. But it's important to match the bulk of the tone and procedures to the right game as much as possible. Prince Valiant is a better game for Arthurian legends than DnD. Fate is better at capturing a pulpy narrative than GURPS, etc.
 

JonM

Explorer
Can we rewind this and you can back off the escalated hostility? You don't need to apologize for getting hostile and aggressive like you have above. As probably everyone in here has seen this sort of exchange with me before (this is just the freaking way I write...it just is...I'm not an elitist jerk...this is the way I write...I've tried to change it multiple times but it didn't stick), what is happening above is a surprise to no one.

I'm not trying to be clever or elitist and the very last thing in the world I would want to be is opaque.

I'll accept the confusion is my responsibility and try again. Let me start with 2 because you're clearly pissed about your interpretation of what I wrote there (which wasn't what I wanted to relay).

Let me try again:

* Do you think you're responding to your sense (due to the experience you're citing above) that players cannot play skillfully through a mystery and reveal a truth about the "reality" of the shared imagined space that was hitherto unknown?

TRANSLATION

1) This has nothing to do you with you or your players. This is not a statement about JonM. We're talking about general play here.

2) When I say players cannot play skillfully, what I'm saying is "the sort of skillful play that is part and parcel of mystery gaming is not a property of Story Now mysteries."

Does that make more sense?

Let me try again on 1:

* Do you think what you're responding to is your cognitive orientation toward how this is operationalized (rather than an objective quality...or do you think your cognitive orientation toward how it is being operationalized is you detecting actual signal of an objective quality)?

Lets go at this another way. You know how some people feel Hit Points are meat and some people feel Hit Points cannot possibly be meat (eg - they're a game construct to meant for pacing and regulation interactions/collisions between characters and the environment that are some impossible to untangle collage of several different variables)? Do you think your orientation toward Story Now mysteries is more that (see my recent post about priorities and hierarchy for reference as well...or not) or do you think its more "this is an objective truth about mystery gaming."
Don't worry - there was no apology coming. (Just assuming I'm going to apologize and then nobly absolving me of the need to do it? Wow... just, wow... No, not elitist, at all...)

Right. Second try.

I do think you've made your questions much clearer this time, but I think they demonstrate that you missed the thrust of my posts. Up until today, I had no orientation toward Story Now mysteries. None at all. I wasn't even sure the improv mysteries I had run would be considered Story Now (although, based on your descriptions, I am now inclined to think they would be). As I said earlier, I simply wanted to know if anyone considered it possible to run a traditional Mystery genre story, using the Story Now approach, without sacrificing either one for the other. And, if so, how they'd done it and how it went. Period. No preconceived notions, when I made the first post. No orientation.

Now, to actually answer your questions (given that, at this point, I'm starting to form an opinion), my sense is that part of the atmosphere, if you will, of a traditional Mystery, involves the feeling of "ah! so that's what happened", ideally sweetened by the fact that some earlier assumptions turned out to be wrong. And that might be the problem. Because the "ah!" part can work, in Story Now, with the added bonus that the GM may get to experience it, too. But the "sweetened by the fact that some earlier assumptions turned out to be wrong" part, which adds to the atmosphere, nuance and layering? That I'm less sure about.

I mean, I guess you could throw in some some sort of chance of "oh, here's the answer - no wait, we're wrong - plot twist!" This would then lead to a new round of investigation, to find the real answer, and so on. But I suspect that might feel a bit artificial, to a lot of players. Which damages the atmosphere.

Now, I could be wrong about all of this. But, at this point, your own comments lead me to think, as I said earlier, that Story Now may not exactly be operating from a position of strength, with the Mystery genre. Which is fine. It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with it, in any other context.
 

Don't worry - there was no apology coming. (Just assuming I'm going to apologize and then nobly absolving me of the need to do it? Wow... just, wow... No, not elitist, at all...)

Right. Second try.

I do think you've made your questions much clearer this time, but I think they demonstrate that you missed the thrust of my posts. Up until today, I had no orientation toward Story Now mysteries. None at all. I wasn't even sure the improv mysteries I had run would be considered Story Now (although, based on your descriptions, I am now inclined to think they would be). As I said earlier, I simply wanted to know if anyone considered it possible to run a traditional Mystery genre story, using the Story Now approach, without sacrificing either one for the other. And, if so, how they'd done it and how it went. Period. No preconceived notions, when I made the first post. No orientation.

Now, to actually answer your questions (given that, at this point, I'm starting to form an opinion), my sense is that part of the atmosphere, if you will, of a traditional Mystery, involves the feeling of "ah! so that's what happened", ideally sweetened by the fact that some earlier assumptions turned out to be wrong. And that might be the problem. Because the "ah!" part can work, in Story Now, with the added bonus that the GM may get to experience it, too. But the "sweetened by the fact that some earlier assumptions turned out to be wrong" part, which adds to the atmosphere, nuance and layering? That I'm less sure about.

I mean, I guess you could throw in some some sort of chance of "oh, here's the answer - no wait, we're wrong - plot twist!" This would then lead to a new round of investigation, to find the real answer, and so on. But I suspect that might feel a bit artificial, to a lot of players. Which damages the atmosphere.

Now, I could be wrong about all of this. But, at this point, your own comments lead me to think, as I said earlier, that Story Now may not exactly be operating from a position of strength, with the Mystery genre. Which is fine. It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with it, in any other context.

I’m going to disengage here.

I’m sure other folks have things to say on this stuff that may do a better job of engaging with your thoughts on this.
 

JonM

Explorer
Don't worry - there was no apology coming. (Just assuming I'm going to apologize and then nobly absolving me of the need to do it? Wow... just, wow... No, not elitist, at all...)

Right. Second try.

I do think you've made your questions much clearer this time, but I think they demonstrate that you missed the thrust of my posts. Up until today, I had no orientation toward Story Now mysteries. None at all. I wasn't even sure the improv mysteries I had run would be considered Story Now (although, based on your descriptions, I am now inclined to think they would be). As I said earlier, I simply wanted to know if anyone considered it possible to run a traditional Mystery genre story, using the Story Now approach, without sacrificing either one for the other. And, if so, how they'd done it and how it went. Period. No preconceived notions, when I made the first post. No orientation.

Now, to actually answer your questions (given that, at this point, I'm starting to form an opinion), my sense is that part of the atmosphere, if you will, of a traditional Mystery, involves the feeling of "ah! so that's what happened", ideally sweetened by the fact that some earlier assumptions turned out to be wrong. And that might be the problem. Because the "ah!" part can work, in Story Now, with the added bonus that the GM may get to experience it, too. But the "sweetened by the fact that some earlier assumptions turned out to be wrong" part, which adds to the atmosphere, nuance and layering? That I'm less sure about.

I mean, I guess you could throw in some some sort of chance of "oh, here's the answer - no wait, we're wrong - plot twist!" This would then lead to a new round of investigation, to find the real answer, and so on. But I suspect that might feel a bit artificial, to a lot of players. Which damages the atmosphere.

Now, I could be wrong about all of this. But, at this point, your own comments lead me to think, as I said earlier, that Story Now may not exactly be operating from a position of strength, with the Mystery genre. Which is fine. It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with it, in any other context.
Re-reading what I just wrote, I think I could have been even clearer, as regards how any of this fits in with your questions. In particular, your hitpoint comparison got me to thinking about the actual mechanics involved and how they are interpreted and interact.

In a traditional Mystery, it seems like there ought to be some sort of procedure that creates at least the Illusion of a planned scheme that must be disentangled and brought to light. It is that "brought to light" part that really matters, since it is the "aha!" moment that the players really seem to enjoy.

Now, in a traditional RPG, that procedure is simply the GM coming up with a clever framework that makes logical sense and is convoluted enough to be interesting. But does that work, in Story Now, given that the GM must, instead, allow a convoluted plot to evolve on its own, as the players explore the situation? At first glance, the two seem almost antithetical.

It seems that this could be surmounted by some clever sort of procedural legerdemain, perhaps involving appropriate charts and the like. But, then, the question becomes: is that practical? And will the result actually be worth it? Again, my concern would be that, unless the set up was very clever, something of the atmosphere would be lost in translation. Again, keeping in mind that we want to be appealing to actual Mystery fans, so the bar is a bit higher.

So, to use Manbearcat's terms, it seems to me that the default way Story Now is operationalized may be at odds with the default orientation of the Mystery genre. But I could be wrong. If anyone can demonstrate otherwise, in a practical can-actually-be-played won't-annoy-real-mystery-fans way, I'd love to hear it.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Don't worry - there was no apology coming. (Just assuming I'm going to apologize and then nobly absolving me of the need to do it? Wow... just, wow... No, not elitist, at all...)
He wasn't, he was saying there was nothing to apologize for. However, reading elitism into the statement that your response was not exceptional and required no apology maybe does require an apology.
Right. Second try.

I do think you've made your questions much clearer this time, but I think they demonstrate that you missed the thrust of my posts. Up until today, I had no orientation toward Story Now mysteries. None at all. I wasn't even sure the improv mysteries I had run would be considered Story Now (although, based on your descriptions, I am now inclined to think they would be). As I said earlier, I simply wanted to know if anyone considered it possible to run a traditional Mystery genre story, using the Story Now approach, without sacrificing either one for the other. And, if so, how they'd done it and how it went. Period. No preconceived notions, when I made the first post. No orientation.
I'm pretty sure they wouldn't, largely because I'm pretty sure that you, the GM, were improving things for the players, and not centering those on what the PCs were and were doing. A key way to tell you're not in Story Now is if the players are often asking you questions to find out about the mystery/setting/scene. In Story Now, they declare actions, and those become the focus for evolving the scene, not what the GM thinks is going on.

To give an example, my Blades group was investigating a haunted house, and I described a creepy hallway with a creepy painting (among some other mood setting things). Now, the difference between approaches is that in trad play, the players could ask about the painting and I, as GM, could make up something, maybe that it's possessed, or that it's nothing. The players learn this by asking me about the painting and obliging me to tell them something. In Story Now, however, this is different. One of my players declared that he thought that painting would be a good acquisition for a friend interested in the occult (this PC was trying to switch vices to obligation, and this furthered this). I now had the option of agreeing, and saying that it would, or challenging this assertion -- I cannot, in Blades, refuse this kind of action declaration. So, we rolled a check, which the player failed, and that resulted in me narrating that the painting was indeed haunted, as the player suspected, but now it was trying to suck him into the painting, surely to a horrible fate! Play proceeded. Had the player succeeded, though, the painting would have been worth something to his occult-collecting friend, and the player would have successfully acquired it. In this play, the player isn't asking me questions about the scene/setting/mystery and obliging me to tell them things, but they're making bold action declarations and testing to see if they are true.
Now, to actually answer your questions (given that, at this point, I'm starting to form an opinion), my sense is that part of the atmosphere, if you will, of a traditional Mystery, involves the feeling of "ah! so that's what happened", ideally sweetened by the fact that some earlier assumptions turned out to be wrong. And that might be the problem. Because the "ah!" part can work, in Story Now, with the added bonus that the GM may get to experience it, too. But the "sweetened by the fact that some earlier assumptions turned out to be wrong" part, which adds to the atmosphere, nuance and layering? That I'm less sure about.
Happens all the time, though.
I mean, I guess you could throw in some some sort of chance of "oh, here's the answer - no wait, we're wrong - plot twist!" This would then lead to a new round of investigation, to find the real answer, and so on. But I suspect that might feel a bit artificial, to a lot of players. Which damages the atmosphere.
This would, in fact, be very bad Story Now play, because this is GM Force -- which is when the GM pushes an outcome regardless of the actions/successes of the PCs. GM Force is not a bad thing -- it's actually required if you're running most published modules, for instance -- but it is something anathema to Story Now play.
Now, I could be wrong about all of this. But, at this point, your own comments lead me to think, as I said earlier, that Story Now may not exactly be operating from a position of strength, with the Mystery genre. Which is fine. It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with it, in any other context.
It does mystery awesomely, but it doesn't do pre-planned who-dun-its at all. Clarity about what you mean with "mystery" seems to be the problem here -- you're mixing the whole thing up in a bag, but seem to really mean "do the players learn about my clever mystery," which, yes, Story Now games absolutely do not do at all. It's the opposite of the intent, really. That doesn't mean that you can't have some very nice mysteries, but they're going to be organically grown through play, and plot twists are going to happen the same way.

I provided an example of a mystery as it occurred in my game above, and you seem to have skipped any comment on it at all. Do you see how that mystery occurred -- it ended up asking "who is behind the alchemical formula, what does it do, and how can we stop it?" The answers to that were cultists trying to manifest their god, creates super vessels for ghostly possession by concentrating the field locally creating large instabilities to aid the manifestation, and they didn't, but it didn't go off as intended, either.
 

JonM

Explorer
This would, in fact, be very bad Story Now play, because this is GM Force -- which is when the GM pushes an outcome regardless of the actions/successes of the PCs. GM Force is not a bad thing -- it's actually required if you're running most published modules, for instance -- but it is something anathema to Story Now play.
I should clarify. I didn't mean that the GM would just arbitrarily decide that. I meant that whatever system you were using would have a baked-in "nope, not this time" chance. The GM would just roll with it, like everyone else.

As for your earlier example, I'm sorry if it seemed like I was ignoring it, because I certainly wasn't. It clearly illustrated the Story Now end of things, so thanks for that. But it didn't strike me as an actual whodunnit, which revolves around a mystery that has been deliberately created by the actions of another person, who, in fact, wants very much for it to remain a mystery. Not quite what you described.

Really, though, you've just said what I'm beginning to think, i.e. that Story Now is as suited to any other approach when it comes to delving into mysterious circumstances but, by its very nature, is poorly suited to elaborate whodunnits.
 

Awfully Cheerful Engine!

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