GUMSHOE One-2-One from a player’s perspective

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.

Leave a Reply