A valued customer asked: how to use GUMSHOE One-2-One, in its Cthulhu Confidential incarnation, to play Fall of DELTA GREEN? Mechanically, the One-2-One system works perfectly for DELTA GREEN play, ably handling the psychological disintegration and physical maiming expected of Agents with Problem cards. The investigative abilities also cross over neatly – I’d suggest the following abilities for the player character:

Agency, Architecture, Cop Talk, Flattery, HUMINT, Inspiration, Interrogation, Intimidation, Military Science, Notice, Streetwise, Survival, Tradecraft and Traffic Analysis, with the other investigative abilities allocated to Sources.

Add Bureaucracy to the list of General Abilities, so our hypothetical Agent has the abilities

Athletics 2, Bureaucracy 1, Conceal 1, Cool 2, Demolitions 1, Disguise 1, Drive 1, Filch 1, Firearms 2, First Aid 1, Heavy Weapons 1, Mechanics 1, Melee Weapons 1, Network 2, Pilot 1, Preparedness 2, Ride 1, Sense Trouble 1, Stealth 2, Unarmed Combat 2. (You could arguably keep Psychotherapy, but as its primary use is helping others, and you’re all alone… it’s probably not worth it.)

Sources & Bonds

Cthulhu Confidential has a supporting cast of recurring Sources who provide both emotional support and investigative abilities; Night’s Black Agents: Solo Ops, with its globetrotting adventures, has a Network ability and Contacts instead. The Fall of DELTA GREEN requires both. You can call up Contacts who’ll help out for one adventure, but you also have two or three emotional Bonds – people you care about. These people can be useful to your investigations – maybe your best buddy knows Chemistry, or your girlfriend has Art – but a Bond doesn’t have to have any Investigative Abilities.

In addition, you have a Bond with your DELTA GREEN Case Office – the recurring character who gives you your assignments.

If you pick up a Mythos Shock problem that would force your character to leave play at the end of the scenario, you can Burn a Bond, destroying your emotional relationship with that character. You can’t burn your Case Officer.

Sudden Death

Cthulhu Confidential recommends that the Gamemaster refrain from killing the protagonist; Langston may get shot, possessed or driven insane, but he’ll generally struggle on to the final scene before expiring, so the player gets to experience a satisfying story. The Fall of DELTA GREEN, though, is all about disappointment, misfortune and the unknowable nature of the Mythos – so more sudden deaths are perfectly in-genre. (After all, the player can always switch to playing another Agent investigating the disappearance of the previous character…)

All Alone Against The Mythos

So, why are you a lone DELTA GREEN Agent, instead of the usual cell of investigators? Some options:

  • Lone Globetrotter: It’s a lot easier for DELTA GREEN to get a single Agent out to a flashpoint than a whole team. You’re the first Agent in to investigate suspected Mythos activity. Your cover role is one that involves lots of travel (AFOSI investigator, CIA Operative, CDC disease hunter, FBN investigator, US Marshal, FBI Special Agent, journalist).
  • The Cleaner: You work directly for one of DELTA GREEN’s steering committee – you’re the trusted right hand of, say, Brigadier General Fairfield or Dr. Warren, and get dispatched to clean up messes or further your patron’s interests against rival factions on the Executive Committee or against the guys over in MAJESTIC.
  • Our Man in Havana: You’re DELTA GREEN’s go-to guy in a particular city or region; maybe you’re a CIA spy attached to the US embassy in Rome, or a Five Eyes SIGINT analyst in New Zealand who takes a lot of trips to isolated mysterious islands in the South Pacific…

The Fall of DELTA GREEN adapts DELTA GREEN: THE ROLE-PLAYING GAME to the GUMSHOE investigative roleplaying system, opening the files on a lost decade of anti-Mythos operations: the 1960s. Players take on the role of DELTA GREEN operatives, assets, and friendlies. Hunt Deep Ones beneath the Atlantic, shut down dangerous artists in San Francisco, and delve into the heart of Vietnam’s darkness. Purchase The Fall of DELTA GREEN in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

In the latest episode of their luminous podcast, Ken and Robin talk Toronto Film Fest (at home edition), Nero Wolfe in GUMSHOE One-2-One, and the Clavllux.

Dice imagePlease email support@pelgranepress.com for instructions on how to take part in this playtest!

 
 
 
Title: The Paragon Blade

System: Fantasy GUMSHOE One-2-One core book

Author: Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan

Deadline: Friday, October 30th 2020

Number of sessions: 1-2 sessions per protagonist character

Description:

Play a hero in a fantastical land, still scarred by the evil of the fallen Hellbound Empire. Mystery and magic collide in tales of conspiratorial wizards, monstrous foes, and arcane intrigue. Featuring an adventure each for three solo protagonist characters:

  • In the wilderness beyond the Gloamwood, barbarian hero Conn the Unslain must race against time to seek a cure for a demonic curse in Heart of the Beast!
  • Magic is considered a crime in the Empire of Tremis – so Aletheia the Scholar must conceal her powers from her father the magistrate while helping him investigate the mystery of The Isle of Death.
  • Mysterious thief Puc is master of the shadows in the great city of Tyros Ashem. In The Thief of Souls, a necromantic cult seeks to unleash a deadly plague and bring about the end of the world. Can Puc steal the jar of doom before it’s opened?

Enter a realm of powers and perils!

In The Paragon Blade, you play a hero in a fantastical land, still scarred by the evil of the fallen Hellbound Empire. Mystery and magic collide in tales of conspiratorial wizards, monstrous foes, and arcane intrigue.

Gather your wits, your allies, and your blade!

You have three key advantages in your quest, three boons that see you through the perils that await.

First, you’re accompanied by a trusty Companion – a wise mentor, a stalwart servant or a cryptic ally. You may fight alone, but your Companion travels with you, offering sage counsel and assistance.

Second, you wield a relic from the dark days of old, a treacherous artefact of terrible power. If your relic falls into the wrong hands, it would be a disaster – but you have the strength and courage to use its powers for good ends.

Third, you’re a hero of great skill and insight. You’ll read the riddle of this broken world and battle evil in all its many forms.

One Game Master, One Player

The Paragon Blade retunes, rebuilds and reenvisions the acclaimed GUMSHOE investigative rules set, as seen in such hit roleplaying games as Swords of the Serpentine and Night’s Black Agents, for one player and one GM. Together you create a story that evokes classic tales of swords and sorcery.

  • Can’t find an entire game group who can play when you can?
  • Want an intense head-to-head gaming experience?
  • Looking for a game to play online which fits superbly with virtual tabletops?

The Paragon Blade includes all the rules you need to play, plus a detailed approach to building your own heroes and quests.

Three Heroes, Three Quests

In the wilderness beyond the Gloamwood, barbarian hero Conn the Unslain must race against time to seek a cure for a demonic curse in Heart of the Beast!

Magic is considered a crime in the Empire of Tremis – so Aletheia the Scholar must conceal her powers from her father the magistrate while helping him investigate the mystery of The Isle of Death.

Mysterious thief Puc is master of the shadows in the great city of Tyros Ashem. In The Thief of Souls, a necromantic cult seeks to unleash a deadly plague and bring about the end of the world. Can Puc steal the jar of doom before it’s opened?

Status: Playtesting now

By Kevin Kulp

Swords of the Serpentine doesn’t use Robin D. Laws’s One-2-One rules (including Edge and Problem cards), but the game is designed to play superbly with only one player and one GM. This type of adventure echoes the model of classic fantasy literature such as Conan or Elric where a main hero tackles their adventures alone, or at most with a companion or sidekick.

For one-Hero play you’ll need to make a small number of changes during character creation, and there’s some specialized advice for both GM and player.

Character Creation

As noted on p. 36 of the Adventurer’s Edition of SotS, if you’re the only player you’ll gain 14 Investigative Build points to create your Hero. That’s 4 more than you’d get with a full 5-person group. You can get an additional bonus point if you keep to only one profession, but that’s not always a good choice for one-Hero play; diversifying gives you more options when looking for leads.

The GM chapter on p. 269 of the Adventurer’s Edition has additional information, including that in one-Hero play the Hero gets an additional Ally point.

Example

Let’s say you want to play a hero patterned after the accomplishments of the real-world Ching Shih the pirate, making your hero a deposed pirate queen who’s fled to Eversink to regain her strength.

Five Players?

Were there five players or more, the Hero might look like this:

Fayne Chaskin, aka Captain Chask, deposed pirate queen of Min

Canny, diplomatic, strong-willed, middle-aged, murderous, loyal

Drives (what is best in life?): Wielding deadly force; following your own course; making an example for others to see

Defenses – Health: Health Threshold 3, Armor 1 (the leather hide of a great kraken), Health 8

Defenses – Morale: Morale Threshold 4, Grit 1 (confidence), Morale 10

Offense – Sway: Sway 5: Damage Modifier +1 (commanding)

Offense – Warfare: Warfare 8: Damage Modifier +1 (rapier)

Investigative abilities: Command 2, Intimidation 1, Nobility 1, Servility 1; Scurrilous Rumors 1, Skullduggery 3

Allegiances: Ally: Ancient Nobility 1, Ally: Outlanders 3; Enemy: Mercanti 1

General abilities: Athletics 4, Burglary 2, Preparedness 8 (Flashback), Stealth 3, Sway 5, Warfare 8 (Cleave)

Gear: A now-lost fleet of 800 ships (and almost 50,000 sailors) stolen from you by the Witch-Queen of Min; international warrants for your arrest and execution; a surprising sense of optimism; a desperate need to lay low; a perverse desire to crash the parties and balls of the nobility; your flagship The Savage Crown, moored unnoticed in a hidden swamp cove a day away; a handful of very important blackmail documents; fond memories of your gambling house and salt trading days; a jeweled hair comb from your mother, looted by her from Eversink nobility while you were still an infant; kraken-hide armor (Armor 1); a rapier whose hilt is fashioned from some kingdom’s stolen royal scepter, you aren’t sure whose (Damage Modifier +1)

One Player?

With only one Hero, though, you might build her Investigative abilities and Allegiances like this with the extra points:

Investigative abilities: Command 3, Intimidation 1, Liar’s Tell 1, Nobility 1, Servility 1; Ridiculous Luck 1, Scurrilous Rumors 1, Skullduggery 4

Allegiances: Ally: Ancient Nobility 1, Outlanders 4; Enemy: Mercanti 1

 

With Flashback from a high Preparedness, and 3 ranks of Ally: Outlanders, Captain Chask in a 5-player game has great narrative flexibility and wields substantial political pressure – and she can spend those points to have her still-loyal pirates show up in almost any circumstance to act as decoys, extra muscle, inside men, and assistants.

When you’re the only player, you have a Hero who is even better at having her commands obeyed; you can tell when someone is lying to you; you have a small amount of ridiculous luck; you’re even better at illegal activities (amongst the best in the city!); and your ties to your still-loyal pirates are remarkably strong. What you can’t do yourself, you can usually get someone else to do for you.

Player Advice

When adventuring you’ll run into the need for useful abilities you don’t have. Think like a fantasy hero: use a different ability creatively or find someone else in the city who might know what you need. If the GM gives you an interesting sidekick with a few abilities, they can help fill in for your weak spots.

You’re probably mighty in a fight, but you’re only one person – and your biggest weakness is facing lots of people at once in combat. If you’re facing a lot of enemies at once, you have a few options. You could surrender (although it’s probably more fun to make them work for it) and fight your way out later; you could spend a point of Taunt to challenge their leader to single combat, completely side-stepping the mooks; or you could spend points of an ability like Intimidation to buy yourself time to talk with your foes instead of fighting them. You could even use Flashback and spend a point of Charm to establish yourself as an old friend of the enemy leader. Consider creative solutions and pick the one that makes for the best or most exciting story.

Still want to fight? That’s solid heroing! If you’re facing Mooks and you have Warfare, Sway or Sorcery at 8+ ranks, spend all your combat ability at the start of the fight in a single amazing attack to try and down as many Mooks as possible as quickly as possible. You’re likely to defeat as many as 4 or 5 in that sudden flurry, and that will get you Refresh tokens AND buy you some time. You can spend Investigative points to briefly boost your defenses (p. 75); in a tough fight, that may well mean the difference between victory and defeat.

Finally, spend your Ally points to draw on your Allies in any situation where you want backup. That’s especially useful if you don’t already have a sidekick; a convenient nearby ally can help heal you, can bolster your Morale, may have knowledge and expertise you lack, and can pitch in during a fight. Intimidating your foe by having a dozen mercenaries or thieves suddenly show themselves is an excellent use of that resource.

GM Advice

GMs will find advice for one-Hero play on pp. 269-270 of the Adventurer’s Edition. Try not to toss the hero into an adventure that they’re particularly ill-suited for; without access to Teamwork, setting a Warfare-based hero against a monstrosity that can only be defeated by reducing their Morale is just going to be frustrating. More fun is an adventure where the Hero’s strengths can shine, and where the foes are not prepared for a single dangerous assailant.

As mentioned above, we like the idea of a sidekick during one-Hero play. It’s particularly useful for offering Investigative abilities that a Hero may lack, for emergency healing that keeps the Hero on their feet, and for giving you someone particularly fun to roleplay.

If converting existing adventures, handwave or eliminate large numbers of Mooks. A single Hero will likely focus on the most dramatically interesting target in the fight, and while they might need to fight their way through some speedbumps to get there, that shouldn’t necessarily be the focus of the scene.

Since your player won’t have any other players to bounce clues off of, don’t be at all shy about summarizing and talking through what they’ve learned, who’ve they’ve talked to, and where they’ve been so far in the adventure. It’ll help make sure they don’t accidentally bump into dead ends.


Kevin Kulp (@kevinkulp) and Emily Dresner (@multiplexer) are the co-authors of Swords of the Serpentine, currently available for pre-order. Kevin previously helped create TimeWatch and Owl Hoot Trail for Pelgrane Press. When he’s not writing games he’s either smoking BBQ or helping 24-hour companies with shiftwork, sleep, and alertness.

A column about roleplaying

by Robin D. Laws

Whether designing for your home game, the GUMSHOE Community Content program, or an independent product using the Open License, the process of designing a scenario for GUMSHOE One-2-One breaks down the same way.

With a few adjustments, detailed here, the process matches that for designing a mystery for standard or QuickShock GUMSHOE.

I built GUMSHOE One-2-One on the assumption that the pressures and focus of running a game for a single player calls for a solid foundation of preparation. When you’re engaged with a player throughout the session, you lack the thinking time to heavily improvise your way through an investigative scenario that holds together in the moment and will make full sense in retrospect. In multiplayer, the group often misses key points in the chaos of discussion and speculation and never looks back. In a solo game the player is much more likely to spot plot holes you inadvertently leave in an on-the-fly session.

Standard GUMSHOE presents two main scenario structures:

* the maze of clues, which presents a flow between established scenes the players can navigate in several directions and to varying outcomes

* the ocean of clues, which lays out a broad situation, relying on player choices to create a narrative by seeking information, with the GM responding to each choice along the way

My scenarios tend to follow the maze model; Ken gravitates to the ocean.

For published One-2-One scenarios, and your own games when getting started, I recommend the tighter maze structure. These allow you to anticipate the Challenges you’ll need to create, described in greater detail below.

If designing a One-2-One scenario based on an existing GUMSHOE game, refer to the GM section of that book, where you’ll find its steps for scenario creation.

Let’s say you want to write a scenario more like the full-on Lovecraftian ones found in Trail of Cthulhu, as opposed to the mythos-noir mashup of Cthulhu Confidential.

Flipping to page 192 of the core book, you see that scenarios consist of:

  • a hook, the initial problem or question drawing the investigators into the mystery
  • the horrible truth, the much worse, Mythos-inflected problem lurking behind the hook
  • the victory condition, a scene or set of circumstances in which the character resolves the central mystery — but perhaps also realizes, in a jolt of cosmic unease, that true and final triumph over gnawing emptiness of the universe is impossible
  • antagonist reactions, scenes that can happen at any time, as the opposing cultists, creatures or other opposition forces of the scenario strike back at the investigator

You then build scenes into a maze of clues, as you would for multiplayer GUMSHOE, making four main adjustments (one of them optional.)

Before doing that, create the character who stars in your scenario.

This allows you to perform the first adjustment, making sure that the plot allows the hero access to Sources whenever she needs information outside her set of investigative abilities. Sources are the Game Master Characters the investigator consults when confronted with areas of knowledge outside her own expertise. So if your final sequence has the investigator plunging down into a Yithian complex buried deep under mysterious Davenport Iowa, write that bit so that she never needs an ability she doesn’t have. Once she lacks the freedom to visit one of her reliable band of experts, she can only rely on her own information-gathering skills.

The second difference between multiplayer and One-2-One scenario construction is that you create structured Challenges instead of the straightforward general ability tests found in Trail.

In a Trail scenario a Difficulty 4 Hypnosis test simply lists what happens when a player succeeds:

A character performing a Difficulty 4 Hypnosis test permits another to remember his

dreams.

For One-2-One, you instead build a Challenge and create its associated Edge and Problem cards, as detailed on p. 44 of Cthulhu Confidential.

Advance 6+: Miles recalls his dream. Also, you are able to implant a suggestion of emotional resilience, protecting him against any further dangers that may lie in wait for him. Gain the Edge card “Power of Suggestion.”

Hold 4-5: Miles recalls his dream.

Setback 3 or less: Miles falls into feverish nightmare, shrieking and groaning for mercy. Gain the Problem card, “Price of Hubris.”

Extra Problem: The process of hypnotizing Miles dredges up your own dread worries of Deep One ancestry. Gain Problem card “Ancestral Glimmerings.”

POWER OF SUGGESTION

Edge

Proposing an outcome that makes story sense, spend this card to allow Miles to extricate himself from any situation.

PRICE OF HUBRIS

Problem

-1 to tests of Mental abilities.

Discard when you fail such a test.

ANCESTRAL GLIMMERINGS

Problem

That fear you suppressed over the family portrait you found in Innsmouth comes back.

Mythos Shock.

Like other Mythos Shock cards, Ancestral Glimmerings might come into play in the Emotional Coda, which brings us to the third adjustment between multiplayer and One-2-One scenario designs. Find places in a standard scenario where a character might die, and instead design that point of suspense into a Problem card that only activates at the end, after the mystery has been solved.

In multiplayer, one investigator might be shot to death in the middle of a session. The player creates a new character while the others continue on, waiting for a moment where the replacement might credibly arrive.

In One-2-One, the character takes a Problem card:

GUNSHOT WOUND

Problem

Discard by Taking Time to get your bullet hole sewn up by a competent doctor or equivalent.

If still in hand at end of scenario, you die.

And finally, preferably during the victory condition scene but maybe earlier, try to write in a scene that emphasizes the character’s aloneness and lack of backup. A particular event at the end of “The Fathomless Sleep” can only happen to a solo character, and plays out as a memorable moment again and again, for multiple GMs and players. I don’t want to spoil it but if you check out the scene you’ll see what I mean. Scenarios don’t absolutely need this element, but they sure pay off when you can fit them in.

To recap, then, scenario design for One-2-One requires XX adjustments from multiplayer:

  1. check access to Sources
  2. create Challenges
  3. move character demise to coda
  4. (optional) find a signature moment that underlines aloneness

GUMSHOE One-2-One retunes, rebuilds and re-envisions the acclaimed GUMSHOE investigative rules set for one player, and one GM. Together, the two of you create a story that evokes the classic solo protagonist mystery format of classic detective fiction. Can’t find a group who can play when you can? Want an intense head-to-head gaming experience? Play face to face with GUMSHOE One-2-One—or take advantage of its superb fit with virtual tabletops and play online. Purchase Cthulhu Confidential and other GUMSHOE One-2-One products in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

Join us on YouTube for the latest Pelgrane Virtual Panel, with tips and tricks for GUMSHOE One-2-One play and design from Robin D. Laws, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan, Ruth Tillman and Cat Tobin.


GUMSHOE One-2-One retunes, rebuilds and re-envisions the acclaimed GUMSHOE investigative rules set for one player, and one GM. Together, the two of you create a story that evokes the classic solo protagonist mystery format of classic detective fiction. Can’t find a group who can play when you can? Want an intense head-to-head gaming experience? Play face to face with GUMSHOE One-2-One—or take advantage of its superb fit with virtual tabletops and play online. Purchase Cthulhu Confidential and future GUMSHOE One-2-One products in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.

By Jason Morgan

In GUMSHOE One-2-One, the player is alone against the Elder Gods in Cthulhu Confidential or the Vampire Conspiracy in Night’s Black Agents: Solo Ops. Previously, we provided advice for how GMs can convert any scenario to the GUMSHOE One-2-One system. Here, long-time One-2-One player, Nick Keller, (a.k.a. Langston Montgomery Wright from a year-and-a-half Cthulhu Confidential campaign that included a scenario from Pelgrane’s Mythos Expeditions and Chaosium’s legendary Mask of Nyarlathotep, and currently playing Jans Whorlman, an ex MI-6 vampire hunter in a Night’s Black Agents: Solo Ops campaign), provides a player’s perspective of the One-2-One table.

The pacing of GUMSHOE One-2-One is much different than playing with a larger group. In my experience, groups spend an awful lot of time deciding and debating the next course of action, but events can happen much quicker in One-2-One. I follow my gut and act. I might follow three, four, five threads in a session. Paradoxically, with One-2-One, I also feel freer to take my time, explore, and dig into the setting.

For example, I remember stirring up some trouble on a side quest when I decided, out of the blue, that my character really, really needed a tranquilizer gun. My GM was willing to roll with that, so off I went to meet an arms dealer living on a ranch a half-day’s drive from all actual objectives. This wound up being a fun encounter that I most definitely would not have pushed on a larger group.

What I enjoy most about tabletop RPGs is collaboratively building a story. From a player’s perspective, I only ask that the GM maintains the illusion that the world exists and has some order to it. I know we are making up much of it together as we go, and I want that. I don’t need to see the sausage factory. It doesn’t matter to me whether charming Suspect A or mugging Suspect B will yield the same intel because narratively, they are very different experiences and are likely to have different repercussions for my character going forward.

I find that a good game will strike a fun balance between 1) your character is seeking something, and 2) something is seeking your character. For example, you heard that a cult leader works at the docks, and at the same time a shadowy organization wants you dead. As a player, you feel like you probably won’t get stuck in an investigation because, at some point, you’re going to fight a goon, and then you’ll be tied to a chair or looting clues off a corpse.

Speaking of dice-rolling encounters–use your Edge cards and Pushes. Remember that they exist to spend, and there will be more. If you are prone to resource hoarding, spending Edges and Pushes can take some getting used to, but over time, you start to develop a sense of the Push/Edge/Problem economy, and it becomes more natural.

Lastly, I think the biggest advantage of a single player campaign is that we are able to sustain a long-running campaign. Regularly gathering a group of four or five is tricky business for some folks, often impossible for others. I’ve watched fun games fall apart after a session or two when it becomes clear that players’ schedules are never going to line up. The option to hop online with one other person for a couple hours on a random Tuesday night is largely how I am able to continue tabletop gaming.

 


Jason Morgan is a writer and default gamemaster for his groups. You can follow him on Twitter @jmarshallmorgan where he shares his game prep and hopes his players aren’t reading.

By Jason Morgan

So you’ve played GUMSHOE One-2-One’s Cthulhu Confidential or Night’s Black Agents: Solo Ops, and now every time you look at your gaming shelf those campaigns and scenarios you’ve always wanted to run but couldn’t pull a group together regularly enough to do it catch your eye. One-2-One makes gaming easy. It’s just you and a friend–one GM and one player. But how do you convert a scenario from Stunning Eldritch Tales or tackle the globe-spanning Eternal Lies?

GM Jason here, along with my player Nick (a.k.a. Langston Montgomery Wright from our year-and-a-half Cthulhu Confidential campaign that included a scenario from Pelgrane’s Mythos Expeditions and Chaosium’s legendary Masks of Nyarlathotep, and currently playing Jans Whorlman, an ex-MI-6 vampire hunter in our Night’s Black Agents: Solo Ops campaign) with tips for how to convert adventures to the GUMSHOE One-2-One system. (If you want to hear how Nick found it, his perspective is here).

The Investigation

Luckily, GUMSHOE investigation ports over nicely to One-2-One. The biggest difference is substituting a Push for a point spend. Note that it’s not a one-to-one conversion (pun intended). GMs should use their judgement asking for Pushes when the standard GUMSHOE scenario asks for a point spend. Remember the core tenet of GUMSHOE: The player always gets the Core Clues. As a One-2-One GM, it’s your job to help get your Player to the next clue.

Which brings us to our first tip:

Sources/Contacts

Both Cthulhu Confidential Sources and Night’s Black Agents: Solo Ops Contacts provide friendly NPCs for the Player to lean on. And lean on them they will. While there are nuances between Cthulhu’s Sources and Night’s Contacts, it’s imperative that you make them helpful. Use them to talk like another player without giving more away than necessary.

In a GUMSHOE One-2-One game, the player will internalize most of the information. To expand on the core books’ advice: Sources allow the player to open up, discuss possibilities, and collaborate on next steps. It also provides you, as the GM, a window into your player’s headspace. Is she frustrated? Confused? Unsure of the next step? Sources can help alleviate the stress of being the only player.

Make the Sources relevant to the Scenario’s setting. For example, in a globe trotting campaign like Eternal Lies, have local Sources available to the player when she reaches a new city. My player started in New York with four Sources. He traveled with two of them to Africa where he met a local tour guide and newspaper editor Sources who could give him the lay of the land and provide setting context.

Night’s Black Agents: Solo Ops Contacts are shiftier than Sources, but remember: how contacts respond can either ratchet up the tension or provide a much needed pressure release valve. The same judgment you used in how the Contacts responded to the player in the core book scenarios will be how you handle them in your converted campaign as well.

Prepping and improvising challenges

You’ll want to try to stay one session ahead of your player when prepping challenges. At the end of a session, ask you player what direction she’ll take the investigation in the next session. This will give you some direction.

Of course, players love to spoil even the best laid plans. You don’t want to railroad your player into your prepped Challenges, so be flexible.

For me, prepping Challenges for upcoming scenes helped me understand how the scene related to the current investigation, the motives of the NPCs, and the opportunities or challenges that would arise if the die fell one way or another. Sometimes I’d get lucky and be able to use the Challenges I prepped as I prepped them, but more often than not, I’d modify them to fit my player’s actions, repurposing Edge and Problem cards as needed.

One thing that didn’t usually change, regardless of the General Skill called for, were the Setback, Hold and Advanced numbers. It’s important to continue to be transparent with these numbers even when you’re making them up on the fly. The Tables in Cthulhu Confidential (p. 291) Night’s Black Agents: Solo Ops (p. 96) do a great job of giving you an idea of where to set these numbers. If you’ve ran through the adventures within the core books, you should also have a good idea of Challenge difficulties.

The Golden Rule when improvising Challenges: Your player will not know what was prepped and what wasn’t. Take comfort in that, and by all means never tell your player what was prepped and what was improvised. The game always according to plan even when you’re making up that plan as you go.

In addition to the designing Edges and Problem advice in Cthulhu Confidential (p. 46) and NBA: Solo Ops (p. 99), here’s a great resource for coming up with Edge and Problem cards on fly:

https://site.pelgranepress.com/index.php/cards-on-the-fly-in-one-2-one/

Most importantly–be creative! Have fun coming up with unique cards. You can even get your player involved. Ask her to come up with the Edge or Problem if you’re stumped.

List of improvised Edges
List of improvised Problems

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which leads me to…

Work with your player.

GUMSHOE One-2-One requires more openness with the PC than other systems because it’s just the two of you. It’s important to maintain the narrative mystery but be open to working together to create the story. To echo both core books: It’s okay to have meta-game discussions. If you sense your player feels lost or frustrated, you should be asking your player meta questions like:

  • “What’s holding you back?”
  • “What are you confused about?”
  • “What’s frustrating?”

As a GM that might be a good time to get a Source or Contact involved to help the player along. Or maybe the player needs to stop the session to take some time to mull over the information.

Here’s what my player, Nick, had to say about investigation obstacles:

“It’s implicit in the genre that there will be times when you don’t have much to go on, particularly in the beginning of new investigation or setting. I think this is okay and fun because it means that you aren’t just riding the rails. As a player, you trust that the GM isn’t going to leave you swinging in the wind forever, that you will find something if you keep looking. If you have a clue or two… follow them.”

GMs, take Nick’s advice–don’t leave your player floundering for long. Give them the time to work through the information, but provide resources like helpful Sources/Contacts to get them to the next scene and clue.

Working together is imperative to running a successful session and a telling a collaborative story.


Jason Morgan is a writer and default gamemaster for his groups. You can follow him on Twitter @jmarshallmorgan where he shares his game prep and hopes his players aren’t reading.

The scenario (S)Entries from the Night’s Black Agents core rulebook is a quick and open-ended intro to the shadowy world of the undead. The players are hired to steal a laptop containing a dossier on the vampiric conspiracy; they steal the laptop, then get doublecrossed, forcing them to track down their former employer and steal the laptop a second time.

Adapting (S)Entries for GUMSHOE One-2-One is relatively simple. All the investigative elements map directly over – clues are clues. The trick is boiling the action sequences down into Challenges. You’ll need a copy of (S)Entries to follow these conversion notes.

 

The Lift

In the first action scene of the adventure, the player needs to sneak into the NATO base at Camp Butmir.

Challenge #1: Getting into the base

The simplest approach is to start with an Infiltration challenge to get in. An Advance means the player gets in easily and gets a bonus Filch die for the next challenge; a Hold means the player just gets in; a Setback means the player still gets in, but the alarm’s been raised and they’ll have to use Evasion to escape the base after grabbing the laptop. Note that the player still gets in even on a Setback – if the plot hinges on the player succeeding, then the player succeeds, but it might be a success with complications.

Challenge #2: Grabbing the Laptop

This is a binary challenge, with only Advance and Hold – steal the laptop undetected, or don’t steal it undetected. If the player’s spotted, run the third challenge. (S)Entries suggests lots of clever things the player might do to hide the theft (spying on the office with Electronic Surveillance, getting Lennart drunk with an Interpersonal Push) – reward clever tactics with bonuses to the roll.

Challenge #3: Escaping the Base

This is an Evasion challenge, with plenty of scope for Stunts. As it’s a challenge that the player only blunders into if they screwed up earlier, you don’t need to be generous with the rewards. An Advance might just mean getting away cleanly, a Hold means you get away with a Heat Problem, and a Setback means you escape but get both Heat and an Injury.

 

The Meet

In this scene, the bad guys ambush the player when she shows up to make the exchange. As written, it takes place out in the countryside, and they’ve got a sniper hidden in the hills. For a Solo Ops, consider switching to a more confined urban location. With only one player, you don’t need plenty of space for a firefight, and a lone player is going to be more cautious and paranoid about going out into the middle of nowhere than a group of players.

Assuming you go with the scene as written…

Challenge #1: Spotting the Sniper

This is a binary Sense Trouble challenge, at a high Difficulty. An Advance means the player spots the sniper and gets the option to flee; a Setback means the player goes right into the Fighting challenge.

Challenge #2: Car Chase

As we want to give the bad guys every chance of getting the laptop, a Hold or a Setback here means the player’s escape attempt is thwarted and the player’s car is knocked off the road or has a tire taken out by the sniper. A Setback means the player picks up an Injury. An Advance means the player gets away with no other benefit. It’s a Driving challenge, but with scope for a Shooting stunt.

Challenge #3: Anton’s Goons

This is a straight-up Fighting challenge; the main complication is that there might be a sniper with a bead on the player. In a multi-player game, that sniper shot might take out one of the player characters, but the rest could keep going. In a single-player game, instant-kills like that must be avoided. Model this by forcing the player to expend a valuable Stunt on countering the threat of the sniper – Evasion to dodge, Shooting to counter-snipe, Athletics to leap into cover.

An Advance means the player keeps the laptop; a Hold means the player loses the laptop, but keeps a goon to interrogate; a Setback has the player left for dead with a Serious Injury.

 

The Trail

This scene’s mostly investigative, and doesn’t require significant conversion. It’s a good scene to introduce the Network rules, letting the player bring in Contacts to help the search for Anton. Optionally, the final Surveillance might give the player an Edge for the final fight – or a Shadow problem on a Setback, penalising her when fighting the paymaster.

 

The Payoff

This is a two-stage or three-stage fight – taking out Anton and his remaining goons, then a battle against the paymaster. The paymaster challenge might use Cool instead of Fighting or Shooting if it’s a supernatural threat instead of a physical one.
The Laptop, when the player finally gets to hold onto it, is obviously a Continuity card.

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