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The Force Is Out There (X-Files-inspired Campaign)

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I'm considering running a campaign (online or otherwise) inspired by the TV show The X-Files. My current thinking is that the PCs are members of a unit of the Imperial Security Bureau tasked with investigating unusual phenomena. This category of events would include rumors of Force use, Outer Rim cultists, attacks by irradiated beasts, rediscovered Rakata technology, etc. This kind of campaign would lend itself to episodic play, inspired by The X-Files, where there are "monster-of-the-week" adventures, as well as a longer story arc of Imperial conspiracies the PCs uncover.

As for the conspiracy arc, I'm thinking their agency is sort of a red-haired stepchild of the ISB, underfunded and underresourced. Their boss is perhaps some high-ranking Imperial (Motti? Tagge?) who has politicked to get the agency created so he can disprove these rumors of paranormal activity. In other words, he thinks that all this Force-user hoopla is pure nonsense, and putting a team of investigators on it will prove him right versus rivals such as Vader. However, over time, of course, the PCs will discover that not only are there Force-users still at large in the galaxy, but also that the Empire itself is capturing them and training them as part of its top-secret Inquisitorius program.

Therein lies the rub: How do you make it interesting for players to uncover a conspiracy that is common knowledge among Star Wars fans? This campaign would require a lot of player buy in to be "surprised" when their characters discover something we fans all know already. Second: Would it make more sense to have the PCs be muggles or to have them be Force users themselves? I can see the appeal of both approaches; maybe Tagge or whoever thinks they must be the only Force users in the galaxy who are left (besides Vader) and wants them to use their special powers to make sure these Force rumors are false.

One final caveat: I'd run this as the PCs starting out as honest, workaday Imperials. As they uncover the horrors of the Empire's Inquisitorius, the PCs face the dilemma of continuing on with their job or fighting the bad guys from within.

Thought and advice welcome!

TL;DR: What kind of PCs would make sense for an X-Files-inspired campaign set during Imperial times? Would they be Force-sensitive or mundanes? Would it be enough to have them "discover" the Inquisitorius and Palpatine's evils, or would a new conspiracy be necessary to keep player interest?

Edited by SavageBob

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Honestly, I feel like this is the kind of situation where the players will either make or break such a campaign.

I've run a few campaigns now, and I've found that matching your players to your game is a huge key element to good storytelling. For example, I have a friend who has been fantastic in my current Clone Wars campaign, because he loves the era and is a great roleplayers. But I'd never invite him to join a campaign I have planned that will lead in to the fall of Luke's new Jedi Order before TFA, because he hates playing Force-sensitives and strongly dislikes the new movies.

For this kind of campaign, you'd be best off finding people who only have a moderate familiarity with Star Wars, but who want to learn more about it. That way some of your twists might hit closer to home. It'd be even better to have players who are big fans of the X-Files, so they understand the kind of feel you're going for. 

Of course, GMs rarely get to carefully hand-pick their players. So barring that, I'd say you should make the main themes of this campaign abundantly clear to your players during session 0. Good enough roleplayers can definitely sell the surprise when a big reveal gets dropped, even if the players knee ahead of time. And of course, even if they know the existing Star Wars story, there's nothing stopping you from throwing in some interesting twists and turns of your own that really shake things up.

Best of luck to you! This sounds like a fantastic campaign, and I look forward to hearing more about it once it gets rolling.

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You could make the adjust the "Big reveal". Have them uncover the truth of the inquisitorious program, but spice up what really goes on there with your own touches. Those new touches could lead to an even better "big reveal".

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Thanks for the feedback from both of you. Yeah, the more I think about it, the more I think the conspiracy has to be more than the existence of the Inquisitorius or the fact that Palpatine is a Sith Lord. In fact, an Inquisitor might even make a good recurring nemesis, just not in the way they are with Jedi. Instead, the Inquisitor keeps showing up after the PCs have done the legwork to claim jurisdiction and get rid of these pesky intelligence agents (like the MIB sometimes do to Mulder and Scully).

The bigger conspiracy might be some project spearheaded by an Inquisitor, a mad Imperial scientist, a crazed politician etc. Take a page from Delta Green, maybe, where the PCs uncover a plan to win the war with esoteric means, but at untold cost to the galaxy.

I'm still not sure whether it would be better to go with an AoR model of spy-type PCs with no Force powers, or to go with a unit of Force-sensitive Imperial spooks.

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On 11/27/2018 at 7:41 PM, SavageBob said:

I'm considering running a campaign (online or otherwise) inspired by the TV show The X-Files. My current thinking is that the PCs are members of a unit of the Imperial Security Bureau tasked with investigating unusual phenomena. This category of events would include rumors of Force use, Outer Rim cultists, attacks by irradiated beasts, rediscovered Rakata technology, etc. This kind of campaign would lend itself to episodic play, inspired by The X-Files, where there are "monster-of-the-week" adventures, as well as a longer story arc of Imperial conspiracies the PCs uncover.

As for the conspiracy arc, I'm thinking their agency is sort of a red-haired stepchild of the ISB, underfunded and underresourced. Their boss is perhaps some high-ranking Imperial (Motti? Tagge?) who has politicked to get the agency created so he can disprove these rumors of paranormal activity. In other words, he thinks that all this Force-user hoopla is pure nonsense, and putting a team of investigators on it will prove him right versus rivals such as Vader. However, over time, of course, the PCs will discover that not only are there Force-users still at large in the galaxy, but also that the Empire itself is capturing them and training them as part of its top-secret Inquisitorius program.

Therein lies the rub: How do you make it interesting for players to uncover a conspiracy that is common knowledge among Star Wars fans? This campaign would require a lot of player buy in to be "surprised" when their characters discover something we fans all know already. Second: Would it make more sense to have the PCs be muggles or to have them be Force users themselves? I can see the appeal of both approaches; maybe Tagge or whoever thinks they must be the only Force users in the galaxy who are left (besides Vader) and wants them to use their special powers to make sure these Force rumors are false.

One final caveat: I'd run this as the PCs starting out as honest, workaday Imperials. As they uncover the horrors of the Empire's Inquisitorius, the PCs face the dilemma of continuing on with their job or fighting the bad guys from within.

Thought and advice welcome!

TL;DR: What kind of PCs would make sense for an X-Files-inspired campaign set during Imperial times? Would they be Force-sensitive or mundanes? Would it be enough to have them "discover" the Inquisitorius and Palpatine's evils, or would a new conspiracy be necessary to keep player interest?

Are you planning this as a pbp irl or over voice campaign?

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6 hours ago, TheShard said:

Are you planning this as a pbp irl or over voice campaign?

Probably PbP at this point. I've got another game running over at the Friends and Nemeses board, so I'd probably run this one there, too. You're more than welcome to join! May be a few weeks before anything is up and running, but my band-based campaign, Hyperlight Echoes, has an opening in the meantime. :)

Edited by SavageBob

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So i was in a pbp called alchemical problems.

Great player group, great dynamic, loads of fun. However the gm had to bow put due to irl issues.

It was basicly exploring the weirder side of the force.

A bit more ghostbusters at the time but with a big splash of horror so not far from x-files. In fact both vibes totally work.

Would you be interested in continuing with this group? We were at a natural stopping point so a soft reset isnt out of place...

 

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The big glitches with your original concept is the era, ours was right after rotj and we were more independent contractor than fbi. However I think with all the sith goodies let loose after palp's death there is plenty to still investigate that may corrupt the republic... 

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On 11/27/2018 at 6:41 PM, SavageBob said:

Therein lies the rub: How do you make it interesting for players to uncover a conspiracy that is common knowledge among Star Wars fans? This campaign would require a lot of player buy in to be "surprised" when their characters discover something we fans all know already. 

This isn't anything unique to your setting.  Players suspending OOC knowledge and having their PC's act accordingly is something they should be doing in any campaign, in any game genre.  If they are good gamers, this shouldn't really be a difficult point to sell them on.  You might want to reiterate it at the start, just so they can put their gaming brains in the right frame of reference, but I don't see this as being a big issue really.   

On 11/27/2018 at 6:41 PM, SavageBob said:

Second: Would it make more sense to have the PCs be muggles or to have them be Force users themselves? I can see the appeal of both approaches; maybe Tagge or whoever thinks they must be the only Force users in the galaxy who are left (besides Vader) and wants them to use their special powers to make sure these Force rumors are false.

I think either/both options could work.  Having one or more of their ranks be a Force Sensitive, that is actively trying to cover up others of their kind, would be a fun angle, though it might cause the PC's to come into friction with each other.   Someone willing to defy Imperial mandate that much, is probably not what you would call a "dyed in the wool" Imperial.  And if some of the other PC's are very much loyal members of the Empire, they might be compelled to arrest/kill the Force Sensitive co-worker.  And while this can be a fun game, in my experience, pitting gamers at the same table, against each other, is a prime opportunity for real world friction to bleed over and cause problems.  So if you go that route, you might want to have another "talk" with the players, to make sure they behave themselves.   And also talk to the FS players, about the real possibility that they might end up being arrested, tortured, killed, by the other players, if they are ever found out.

On 11/27/2018 at 6:41 PM, SavageBob said:

One final caveat: I'd run this as the PCs starting out as honest, workaday Imperials. As they uncover the horrors of the Empire's Inquisitorius, the PCs face the dilemma of continuing on with their job or fighting the bad guys from within.

Thought and advice welcome!

If you want to go this angle, I STRONGLY urge you to have them ALL flesh out a family to some degree or other.  Give each family member a name, familial connection, and a few personal details/traits.   Then, have some of their "suspects" be very similar to their family, to try and pull on those heart strings.   I find, it's VERY easy for players to not give a crap about the ramifications of their actions, and play their PC's in an emotionless, sociopathic manner, if they have no actual ties to react off of.   If they've made a Lone Wolf with zero family, zero ties to anyone, and they just "live the job", then often players will just shrug their shoulders and be like "I don't really care what happens to this family, they have betrayed the glorious Empire, and deserve what they get."   But the key thing, in stories like this, where you have some soldier of an evil/fascist regime, turn on their previous faction, is usually done because of some "turning point".   The village they just helped burn, had a young child who reminds them of a dead sibling when they were young (cue flashback scene if this was a film), only this time they are the ones on the other side of the blaster.  "Or they see a parent shielding a child from abuse, and remember when it was them as that child (cue another flashback scene), and they make the choice to say "No."   It's a LOT easier for a player to justify that choice if they have emotional connections to trigger those reactions.   

So have them have at least 1-2 family, more if possible.  And have those family members interact with them during the course of the campaign, before you threaten them.  They are soldiers in the Imperial Navy, but they still can talk to family and get holo-vids sent to them, like any soldier.  Take some time, during downtime sessions perhaps, to actually roleplay out them having a holo-vid talk with their little sister/brother, get updates from home about how their favorite cousin is enlisting into the Imperial Navy too, something that doesn't surprise anyone, as that child "was always so gifted, and special" (perhaps due to Force Sensitivity, a point that comes up later as it turns out he is the next target of this X-Files crew)

Stuff like that will help I think.

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2 hours ago, KungFuFerret said:

If you want to go this angle, I STRONGLY urge you to have them ALL flesh out a family to some degree or other.  Give each family member a name, familial connection, and a few personal details/traits.   Then, have some of their "suspects" be very similar to their family, to try and pull on those heart strings.   I find, it's VERY easy for players to not give a crap about the ramifications of their actions, and play their PC's in an emotionless, sociopathic manner, if they have no actual ties to react off of.   If they've made a Lone Wolf with zero family, zero ties to anyone, and they just "live the job", then often players will just shrug their shoulders and be like "I don't really care what happens to this family, they have betrayed the glorious Empire, and deserve what they get."   But the key thing, in stories like this, where you have some soldier of an evil/fascist regime, turn on their previous faction, is usually done because of some "turning point".   The village they just helped burn, had a young child who reminds them of a dead sibling when they were young (cue flashback scene if this was a film), only this time they are the ones on the other side of the blaster.  "Or they see a parent shielding a child from abuse, and remember when it was them as that child (cue another flashback scene), and they make the choice to say "No."   It's a LOT easier for a player to justify that choice if they have emotional connections to trigger those reactions.   

So have them have at least 1-2 family, more if possible.  And have those family members interact with them during the course of the campaign, before you threaten them.  They are soldiers in the Imperial Navy, but they still can talk to family and get holo-vids sent to them, like any soldier.  Take some time, during downtime sessions perhaps, to actually roleplay out them having a holo-vid talk with their little sister/brother, get updates from home about how their favorite cousin is enlisting into the Imperial Navy too, something that doesn't surprise anyone, as that child "was always so gifted, and special" (perhaps due to Force Sensitivity, a point that comes up later as it turns out he is the next target of this X-Files crew)

Yeah, thanks for these suggestions. My thought was that these folks would be Imperials, but not outright brainwashed loyalists. I've been rewatching The X-Files, and Mulder and Scully are able to do their investigations because Mulder has important friends in Congress, but what drives them is that Mulder wants to uncover the truth about aliens. So I think I'll mirror that, where the PCs have an important Imperial patron who has his or her own motivations (like embarrassing Vader), but the PCs will need at least a few True Believers who are driven to get to the bottom of strange things afoot in the Empire. Giving them some personal connection is a great way to do that. Maybe, rather than Mulder's sister getting abducted, one of the PCs had a sibling get indoctrinated into the Inquisitorius and they discover this over time. But, yeah, these will be ISB officers, law enforcement essentially, and they'll be at least divorced enough from the atrocity-committing Empire to where they'll be expected NOT to default to "burn the village, torture the Rebel" type behavior. I won't GM for a group of murder hobos, end of story. :)

 

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3 hours ago, TheShard said:

So i was in a pbp called alchemical problems.

Great player group, great dynamic, loads of fun. However the gm had to bow put due to irl issues.

It was basicly exploring the weirder side of the force.

A bit more ghostbusters at the time but with a big splash of horror so not far from x-files. In fact both vibes totally work.

Would you be interested in continuing with this group? We were at a natural stopping point so a soft reset isnt out of place...

 

Here's the link to the IC thread if you wanted to see what we were up to:

 

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3 minutes ago, SavageBob said:

Yeah, thanks for these suggestions. My thought was that these folks would be Imperials, but not outright brainwashed loyalists.

They don't have to be "brainwashed", but it is the social structure/belief system they were raised with, so it's not unreasonable that some of them will just follow the accepted public doctrine.

4 minutes ago, SavageBob said:

The X-Files, and Mulder and Scully are able to do their investigations because Mulder has important friends in Congress, but what drives them is that Mulder wants to uncover the truth about aliens.

You forgot one key element about this though.  It's because he lost his sister.  He's not just trying to find out about aliens for an academic reason, he's doing it because he knows his sister was taken, and is trying to find/rescue her, or at least learn about her fate.  That's the family angle I was talking about earlier.  And for Scully, it was often her faith in her religion, and the conflict it had with what she was investigating, that was the crux of her personal conflict.

10 minutes ago, SavageBob said:

 Maybe, rather than Mulder's sister getting abducted, one of the PCs had a sibling get indoctrinated into the Inquisitorius and they discover this over time. But, yeah, these will be ISB officers, law enforcement essentially, and they'll be at least divorced enough from the atrocity-committing Empire to where they'll be expected NOT to default to "burn the village, torture the Rebel" type behavior. I won't GM for a group of murder hobos, end of story. :)

 

Oh, apparently you didn't forget that part, good.  But yeah having a family member end up one of the test subjects would be a good way, but I would first lay down the knowledge about what happens to those people, and illustrate that they don't really have a good fate if they become an Inquisitor.  To hopefully push the PC to try and keep that fate from happeneing to their family member.

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4 hours ago, TheShard said:

So i was in a pbp called alchemical problems.

Great player group, great dynamic, loads of fun. However the gm had to bow put due to irl issues.

It was basicly exploring the weirder side of the force.

A bit more ghostbusters at the time but with a big splash of horror so not far from x-files. In fact both vibes totally work.

Would you be interested in continuing with this group? We were at a natural stopping point so a soft reset isnt out of place...

 

Ah, I remember seeing that game on here! I can't commit to anything at this point. But I won't say no necessarily. It would be a few weeks before anything started at any rate. Let me glance at the link the Guardian posted.

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45 minutes ago, KungFuFerret said:

They don't have to be "brainwashed", but it is the social structure/belief system they were raised with, so it's not unreasonable that some of them will just follow the accepted public doctrine.

Yeah, exactly. There's an argument that America is an evil empire (it's kind of the point of Homeland), but that was never really the point of The X-Files beyond the idea that the government had lots of potentially devastating secrets it was keeping from the populace. The Rebels–vs.–Empire or Empire–is–Nazi–Germany aspects wouldn't be the focus of this game.

45 minutes ago, KungFuFerret said:

You forgot one key element about this though.  It's because he lost his sister.  He's not just trying to find out about aliens for an academic reason, he's doing it because he knows his sister was taken, and is trying to find/rescue her, or at least learn about her fate.  That's the family angle I was talking about earlier.  And for Scully, it was often her faith in her religion, and the conflict it had with what she was investigating, that was the crux of her personal conflict.

Oh, apparently you didn't forget that part, good.  But yeah having a family member end up one of the test subjects would be a good way, but I would first lay down the knowledge about what happens to those people, and illustrate that they don't really have a good fate if they become an Inquisitor.  To hopefully push the PC to try and keep that fate from happeneing to their family member.

Precisely. I'm thinking it's not even the Inquisitorius per se, but rather a sister project to it. Some other source of paranormal activity that the PCs are digging up and that is bringing the Inquisitors down on them. The Inquisitors become the MIB, but only because they're part of this deeper conspiracy at least peripherally.

Better yet, this is giving me an excuse to rewatch the first few seasons of The X-Files. :D

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44 minutes ago, SavageBob said:

Yeah, exactly. There's an argument that America is an evil empire (it's kind of the point of Homeland), but that was never really the point of The X-Files beyond the idea that the government had lots of potentially devastating secrets it was keeping from the populace. The Rebels–vs.–Empire or Empire–is–Nazi–Germany aspects wouldn't be the focus of this game.

Precisely. I'm thinking it's not even the Inquisitorius per se, but rather a sister project to it. Some other source of paranormal activity that the PCs are digging up and that is bringing the Inquisitors down on them. The Inquisitors become the MIB, but only because they're part of this deeper conspiracy at least peripherally.

Better yet, this is giving me an excuse to rewatch the first few seasons of The X-Files. :D

You could easily have the project be some Dr. Weird kind of project, that does terrible experiments on them, not for the purpose of turning them into Inquisitors, but for "Science".   "Unfortunately, the survival rate of test subjects is....regrettably low, but, we are learning so many things!"  Would be all you really need to galvanize some players and PCs to take part.

As to watching XFiles again, better you than me :D  I was never a huge fan of that show even back when it was popular, but now that I've aged a bit, and embraced my skeptical/athiest mindset, I can't really stomach either of them, in how they are portrayed in the show.   They are both such unrealistic tropes of their concepts, done so badly, that it kind of makes me want to pull my hair out and smash the tv :D  

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On 11/27/2018 at 7:41 PM, SavageBob said:

TL;DR: What kind of PCs would make sense for an X-Files-inspired campaign set during Imperial times? Would they be Force-sensitive or mundanes? Would it be enough to have them "discover" the Inquisitorius and Palpatine's evils, or would a new conspiracy be necessary to keep player interest?

I was in a short lived ISB investigation based campaign with knight level creation. We used SkipTracer, Interrogator, Marshal, and Enforcer specializations starting out. Personally, I'd only drop a minor hints of the Inquisitorius over multiple sessions and have the PCs piece it together over time (keeping with the X-files theme) and just have the PCs chase down other strange anomalies. With that being said, the other strange anomalies could certainly be force theme or tied to an over arching storyline.

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6 hours ago, Vergence said:

I was in a short lived ISB investigation based campaign with knight level creation. We used SkipTracer, Interrogator, Marshal, and Enforcer specializations starting out. Personally, I'd only drop a minor hints of the Inquisitorius over multiple sessions and have the PCs piece it together over time (keeping with the X-files theme) and just have the PCs chase down other strange anomalies. With that being said, the other strange anomalies could certainly be force theme or tied to an over arching storyline.

I made a list of specs that would work for this sort of thing, but I overlooked Enforcer. Thanks! In addition to the ones you list, I figured some of the scholarly specs (Archaeologist, Scholar, Strategist, Analyst, Scientist) would work. And some of the more pure face types (Politico, Ambassador, Figurehead). Probably room for a tracker if the group gets big enough (Survivalist, Scout, Trailblazer). Maybe even Slicer or Thief if there's any sort of emphasis on stealing records they're not supposed to have. And, of course, Scully was a Doctor, so that and Medic would be helpful for when bodies are found with strange bite marks and the like.

And I agree: The premise might be that the agency investigates rumors of Force-use but doesn't yet know that Vader and the Inquisitors are using their legwork to find new acolytes (or experiment subjects). I'm also a fan of Call of Cthulhu, so maybe the bigger conspiracy is in the Things the Galaxy Was Not Meant to Know category.

Was your game in person or online? Do you have any idea how your GM handled clue-giving? That's the other major challenge of this sort of thing: making rolls matter while not withholding the major clues PCs will need to solve the case.

Edited by SavageBob

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6 hours ago, SavageBob said:

Was your game in person or online? Do you have any idea how your GM handled clue-giving? That's the other major challenge of this sort of thing: making rolls matter while not withholding the major clues PCs will need to solve the case.

One thing you might try, to keep the checks being beneficial, without blowing the whole surprise, is to have the various bits of information, just lead to more contacts that have a different kernel.   For example, to use the X-Files model, if an episode ended with Mulder getting a kernel of the "truth", it would usually lead to some underling of another agency that once worked on a secret project, 20 years ago, who only had tangential connection to the events.   

What you might try doing, is actually draw out the web of intrigue/connections, make your own Wall of Crazy, or at least a Diagram of Crazy, and connect the dots of who knows what, at what level of intrigue.  And have some redundancy in the information.   Also, remember that not every kernel of information, means they move UP the web.  They could just as easily end up with a LATERAL move along the conspiracy.   While I don't remember the X-Files much, this premise isn't unique to serial television.  What usually happens, over the course of several seasons, is that knowledge of the size of the web is expanded, without revealing who is at the center of it.  So by the finale of the arc, you realize this is a guy who has his fingers in every conspiracy pie in the government, and has been for decades.  

And don't be afraid to have the people in the web being proactive.  Actively removing information if the PC's don't get to it quickly enough, or a Despair or 2 tips off the wrong people to their investigation, allowing them time to remove the evidence, ending up with no new information.  That happens a lot too.  They find a lead, know it is connected somehow, but the Smoking Man already came through there a week before, and cleared out all evidence.  So all they have is an empty warehouse, or the corpse of an informant, and a dead lead.   

So I would let the dice determine the results of investigations.  I would probably lean heavily on the negative dice results isolating other threads that would lead them to the center, with Threat making the next checks harder, as information is further obfuscated, and Despairs equaling entire web strands being removed, as the result of active work contrary to the PC's objectives.

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I like that idea for the larger web of conspiracy. Say the adventure hook is that a body was found in an Imperial base with strange wounds on his ankle. The wounds match those found on another body at a different base two years ago. The PCs will want to solve this mystery by the end of the adventure, but solving it should open up bigger questions that relate to the larger conspiracy. Like, maybe the wounds are from an experimental Force-attuned beast that the Moff knows an awful lot about. So now they wonder, what else does the moff know? Why is the Empire creating Force-attuned beasts? Etc.

Yet I still worry that players will want resolution on an adventure-to-adventure basis. Within that adventure, the focus is on putting the dots together: Interviewing people, digging through archives, tracking the monster through the woods, analyzing the bodies of its victims, etc. The potential issue is that if the only way to get to the next part of the adventure is to roll a successful Medicine check on a victim's body, that's a bottleneck that can derail the adventure if it's failed.

I've seen two approaches to this sort of thing: 1) Just give out core clues that are necessary to advance the adventure. This is the approach of the Gumshoe RPG. 2) Ensure that any critical piece of information can be obtained at least three different ways (the 3-clue rule). This is the preferred method from the Alexandrian blog. So, if the Medicine check can reveal some crucial detail about the monster, so can interviewing an eyewitness (with Charm?), or digging up details from classified coroner's reports (Knowledge check, or Computers).

I'm curious what others have done in this vein. I'm leaning toward the 3-clue rule, as it still makes dice matter, but it prevents the adventure from bottlenecking.

Edited by SavageBob

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49 minutes ago, SavageBob said:

Yet I still worry that players will want resolution on an adventure-to-adventure basis. Within that adventure, the focus is on putting the dots together: Interviewing people, digging through archives, tracking the monster through the woods, analyzing the bodies of its victims, etc.

That's basically one episode in the X-Files example.  Each episode had a resolution for that plot hook, but there would be a kernel of information hinting at something to lead to next weeks episode.  So have them solve the mystery of Sasquatch in that gaming session, but have that "anomalous reading" tie into something for next session.  They thought it had something to do with Sasquatch, but turns out it was just a coincidence. 

52 minutes ago, SavageBob said:

The potential issue is that if the only way to get to the next part of the adventure is to roll a successful Medicine check on a victim's body, that's a bottleneck that can derail the adventure if it's failed.

I don't think that's as big a problem as you think it is.  For one, don't have everything rely on a single check.  Have redundancy like I mentioned above.  If they fail the Medicine check, that's ok, there is a computer in the next room, that they can slice to try and get a different thread to follow.  That doesn't work either?  One of the NPC's they rescued from the brain-sucking tentacle monster (something that is now apparently Star Wars canon, thanks Rogue One) drops them a hint next session, about something he learned, as a thank you for not letting him die.  They totally fail all avenues related to the "Corpse related information tree", that's ok, because they can follow the hired security firm that they fought through instead, branching off onto a different portion of the web.  

57 minutes ago, SavageBob said:

. 2) Ensure that any critical piece of information can be obtained at least three different ways (the 3-clue rule). This is the preferred method from the Alexandrian blog. So, if the Medicine check can reveal some crucial detail about the monster, so can interviewing an eyewitness (with Charm?), or digging up details from classified coroner's reports (Knowledge check, or Computers).

That, yes, do that :P  Hence why I said have redundancy in the overlap, as well as allowing them ways to move laterally along the web as well.  Sure this session didn't get them closer to the Smoking Man, but it did give them a lead on Nefarious Soldier Guys Inc, and allowed for another way to continue their investigation.

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18 hours ago, SavageBob said:

I made a list of specs that would work for this sort of thing, but I overlooked Enforcer. Thanks! In addition to the ones you list, I figured some of the scholarly specs (Archaeologist, Scholar, Strategist, Analyst, Scientist) would work. And some of the more pure face types (Politico, Ambassador, Figurehead). Probably room for a tracker if the group gets big enough (Survivalist, Scout, Trailblazer). Maybe even Slicer or Thief if there's any sort of emphasis on stealing records they're not supposed to have. And, of course, Scully was a Doctor, so that and Medic would be helpful for when bodies are found with strange bite marks and the like.

And I agree: The premise might be that the agency investigates rumors of Force-use but doesn't yet know that Vader and the Inquisitors are using their legwork to find new acolytes (or experiment subjects). I'm also a fan of Call of Cthulhu, so maybe the bigger conspiracy is in the Things the Galaxy Was Not Meant to Know category.

Was your game in person or online? Do you have any idea how your GM handled clue-giving? That's the other major challenge of this sort of thing: making rolls matter while not withholding the major clues PCs will need to solve the case.

The game was online; I'm not sure if the GM had a formula. I believe the GM was more interested in painting a picture of the scene, leaving up to us PCs to perform perception or knowledge checks, and rewarding us appropriately for each success, advantage or failure etc. In other games, when the GM felt the need to provide a clue being overlooked by the party they'd suggest "Flip a DP" and tie it into the character's background knowledge as to why the character was to piece the clue together. Oh, and for the Inquisitorius, I'd play it from all directions. Sometimes the Inquisitorius use the ISB investigators for recruitment, sometimes they attempt to foil investigations, and others might want the 'truth' to get out there also.

Edited by Vergence

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If you do decide to play this more conspiracy investigation, I'd suggest as the GM you make a large web of the conspiracy. It should include many layers with lines showing how they are related. Occasionally leave a node blank and fill it in as the story progresses.

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