Tzuppy
 member, 889 posts
 Fate, WoD
 and Indie RPGs
Sat 22 Jul 2017
at 18:14
Need help with planting clues
Situation is this:

Main villain (Handsome Jack) has kidnapped and reprogrammed a robot (Loader Bot). Player characters (vault hunters) have mounted a rescue (infiltration) mission. The main problem is that Jack has not only reprogrammed robot to fight for him (vault hunters can handle that), but has also rigged him to explode should he lose the fight. Now I'd like to place two or three clues along the way so that player characters can discover that the robot's gonna explode, so that they can can try to save him. If it's of any significance the setting is a corporate city (city of Opportunity) withing a post-apocalyptic setting (Borderlands games). System is Eridium Fate (Fate Core hack).
engine
 member, 365 posts
Sat 22 Jul 2017
at 18:20
Need help with planting clues
Tell the players and ask them how their characters might find it out.
Tzuppy
 member, 890 posts
 Fate, WoD
 and Indie RPGs
Sat 22 Jul 2017
at 18:43
Need help with planting clues
The problem is to get them to suspect the explosion without being obvious.
CrazyIvan777
 member, 202 posts
Sat 22 Jul 2017
at 18:46
Need help with planting clues
Have the PC's find plans for bomb-making stuff. Or materials. Or have Jack have built another such trap elsewhere (similar, but not the same) and the PC's hear about it from another victim, or a news story, or whatever. If you want to draw it back further, have them intercept a parts order for the bomb-stuff with Jack's 'fingerprints' all over it.
swordchucks
 member, 1410 posts
Sat 22 Jul 2017
at 18:47
Need help with planting clues
News reports of a different bot exploding when damaged (possibly in an industrial accident).  An audio log from Jack (which seem to crop up everywhere) referring to an "insurance policy" or something else vague.  A workshop where the reprogramming was done that includes some explosives.

Try to put it in multiple places in unrelated ways.  Relying on the players to trip over clues is usually a bad idea (and rarely works as well as you hope).
Bod Man
 member, 316 posts
Sat 22 Jul 2017
at 18:47
Need help with planting clues
The robot could have some underlying self preservation programming that causes it to malfunction with the explosion command being imminent. The glitches would be a subtle clue for the players to run a diagnostic, during which time they could discover the bomb.
aguy777
 member, 207 posts
 Join Date:
 Fri, 29 Nov, 2013
Sat 22 Jul 2017
at 18:48
Need help with planting clues
Have them come across the lab/facility that the bomb was implanted in. If they don't interrogate someone for the information, let them find a file that gives them what they need to know. I haven't played Borderlands 2,  I only played the first game, but audio logs were everywhere.
engine
 member, 366 posts
Sat 22 Jul 2017
at 20:01
Need help with planting clues
In reply to Tzuppy (msg # 3):

I know that, but that's not something you can simply decide to make happen. If you're going to embark on this, you are going to have to anticipate that you will be obvious whether you want to be or not, and you're going to have to be okay with that.

None of us here know your players. You know them best but it's likely that you also don't know them well enough to walk the line you're trying to walk or you wouldn't be asking us. The people who know your players best are your players.

What will be the most enjoyable solution to them is something they come up with, something they agree that their characters should have realized earlier but don't until it really matters. Ask them what that is and help them come up with it and they will be far more astounded (and the eventual scene will be cooler) than if you or we come up with something without them.
LoreGuard
 member, 643 posts
Sat 22 Jul 2017
at 20:04
Need help with planting clues
Introduce a bomb dog that barks when he smells explosives in another scene, either live or in the news, potentially credited with saving people's lives.  Have the dog or similar dog barking at the robot in the fight scene.  Other things like explosives being stolen or test blasts having been going off in other areas, ranging from other suicide drones to simple test blasts in a mostly unoccupied region around city.
Tzuppy
 member, 891 posts
 Fate, WoD
 and Indie RPGs
Sat 22 Jul 2017
at 23:15
Need help with planting clues
Thanks guys for extremely useful clues. I'll check the thread in about 10 hours and another couple of hours later I'll run the game. I'll let y'all know how it went.
horus
 member, 193 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Sun 23 Jul 2017
at 00:07
Need help with planting clues
Have the players tangled with Jack before?  Do they have any knowledge of his psych profile or any of his other exploits?  This sounds like it's a matter of "know your enemy".

If they know the bot has been reprogrammed, the natural question they should ask at some point is:  If Jack reprogrammed the bot to fight, what else did he reprogram it to do?

That, or, as has been suggested, during their intel-gathering efforts they should stumble across plans for a program-controlled detonator or some such.

Good Hunting,
D
Tzuppy
 member, 892 posts
 Fate, WoD
 and Indie RPGs
Sun 23 Jul 2017
at 00:12
Need help with planting clues
In reply to horus (msg # 11):

That's what I'd do. Unfortunately in past they have been missing some significant clues.
LoreGuard
 member, 644 posts
Sun 23 Jul 2017
at 00:28
Need help with planting clues
Well you could drop a heavier hint perhaps if he added a new weapon to the bot it might make them consider, what else did he 'add'?
horus
 member, 194 posts
 Wayfarer of the
 Western Wastes
Sun 23 Jul 2017
at 00:48
Need help with planting clues
You should only whack your players with the "clue-by-four" when no other means will get the job done, and only so hard.

Do any of your players have skills or knowledge related to robotics, computers/programming, or demolitions? (Heck, I don't even know if this is a skills-based game system...)

If they can reasonably access this type of knowledge somewhere, all you really need do is pique their interest a bit, raise their suspicions (hearing of a similar incident somewhere that also involved Jack, maybe?).  Just learning of Jack's propensity for such "scorched earth" tactics might be enough to make them wary and set them to digging.

If all that fails, then they obviously need to learn a difficult lesson.  It doesn't have to be a TPK, or even a kill of a single player, but some or all of them should come away from this encounter with scars to remember it by, at very least.  Major failures should have major consequences.

In the post-mortem on the encounter, politely lay out all the clues and hints that were there along the way.  It will give your players insights that should help them in the next outing.

If I'm remembering, vault hunting requires as much mental gymnastics as physical, so characters should be pretty well-rounded to be survivable at such dangerous sport.  Hopefully, the players behind them are similarly well-rounded.
LoreGuard
 member, 645 posts
Sun 23 Jul 2017
at 01:32
Need help with planting clues
Sometimes asking players to roll a skill roll (not familiar with the specific game in question though for the details) will sometimes prompt them to realize there is something they COULD learn.  Some will withhold their pursuit for meta-game reasons, citing they don't know, but others will likely want to know more, and you'll more likely have the latter than former with newer or less philosophical players, so it might work to help them pry closer.

Even if it is something like have them roll vs. some robotics skill to realize the main 'cabinet' part of the robot has recently been clean up in order to be opened and then closed, maybe a little ajar.

Don't know what value you should expect for such information, or just have them all roll, and only tell the person or people who roll highest.  [if it is important to the plot point, make it happen they see the clue, but use the rules of the game to help you determine who catches the clue]  You could also base how much you let them know on how well the roll gets.
engine
 member, 367 posts
Sun 23 Jul 2017
at 01:52
Need help with planting clues
Is it okay if the ultimately don't catch on?
Tzuppy
 member, 893 posts
 Fate, WoD
 and Indie RPGs
Sun 23 Jul 2017
at 02:22
Need help with planting clues
In reply to CrazyIvan777 (msg # 4):

Your suggestion goes directly into the game.


In reply to swordchucks (msg # 5) and aguy777 (msg # 7):

I have problem explaining myself (and by extension my players) why ECHO recordings are all over the place. It works in computer game only because computer GM cannot answer such questions. Otherwise one thing possibly unmatched outside Borderlands series are the audio logs and I'd love to use them in my game like they're used in computer games.

Also, aguy777, I'll do what I can for giving them someone to interrogate.


In reply to Bod Man (msg # 6):

Sadly I used that one already, during the kidnapping, so at best if a player has a Fate point to burn it will just delay explosion by one round. I do plan to make Loader Bot's final words, if he dies, be: "Tell Gortys that I love her."


In reply to horus (msg # 14) and LoreGuard (msg # 15):

Real good suggestions, but ATM I'm to tired to answer them.


In reply to engine (msg # 16):

Yes. It will be a huge bummer, but I need to establish stakes. That is why I'm going through all this trouble. Still, Handsome Jack is on par with Hannibal Lecter and Darth Vader so he needs to kill someone.


Anyway, I'm too tired right now, but as I said 3 hours ago, I must go to sleep and I'll return to the thread before the game.
engine
 member, 368 posts
Sun 23 Jul 2017
at 02:41
Need help with planting clues
In reply to Tzuppy (msg # 17):

If it's okay for them not to catch on, then don't sweat it. You know the truth, so describe things based on that and don't worry about hiding anything or specifically giving anything away. You'll give things away naturally and they'll notice. Or they won't. If they don't, they'll remember things you said and think it's awesome. Or they won't.
C-h Freese
 member, 260 posts
 Survive - Love - Live
Sun 23 Jul 2017
at 05:33
Need help with planting clues
If a clue is a plot requirement they will find it.
  If They get it, they get credit for it.
   If they have to be told by an NPC they don't.
Hunter
 member, 1372 posts
 Captain Oblivious!
 Lurker
Sun 23 Jul 2017
at 09:12
Need help with planting clues
In reply to engine (msg # 16):

Is the puzzle for the characters or the players?  Important difference.
Ameena
 member, 176 posts
Sun 23 Jul 2017
at 09:58
Need help with planting clues
How big is the planned explosion? Even if the players don't pick up on the hints prior to the fight, if the bot starts beeping ominously right before it "dies" the players might have time to get clear and if the explosion isn't too big then hopefully htey can get far enough that they won't take too much damage if they were standing right next to the bot when they first started running.

Alternatively, is it going to be like a certain fight in Borderlands 2 where Jack is watching the fight remotely and commenting on all the cool things your newly-reprogrammed former friend can now do? Because the first hint you get in that fight that anyone's going to explode is right before they do - Jack, throughout the fight, has been proudly reeling off the damage types the creature can now deal only to apparently have difficuly remembering the last one. Until you defeat said creature and he goes "Ohh yeah...explloooooosiivve!". And I think there is still an ominous beeping noise. And then an explosion and much rage :(.
GamerHandle
 member, 947 posts
 Umm.. yep.
 So, there's this door...
Sun 23 Jul 2017
at 14:57
Need help with planting clues
I know a lot of answers have already been given, however; I would like to provide both a long and a short answer that I hope helps:

The title: Chekov's Gun.

This is known by many other names, but, Cheekov's Gun used to be fairly common.  Especially in "Three Act" plays/screenplays.


The idea is this - if the writing or the screen takes special note that there is a gun mounted on a wall in the second scene of the first Act... it needs to have been fired by the first scene of the Third Act (or some variation - I'm sure the specifics can be googled).


How does this help answer the question?

Well, there are a number of ways to "Expose" something, through various levels of obviousness, that bring value and fun to the story.

1) Show vs Tell.  As some have alluded previously - if it's a required clue, you'd better have someone available to tell it.  That doesn't mean the players get rewarded for being told - but, the opportunity must be available.

Show - Many subtle clues can be used, such as having an encounter where the players discover a hideout, known to belong to Jack or his subordinates; wherein bomb plans are found.

2) Required vs Nice-to-Know.  If it's absolutely vital to the plot that the players know about the bomb/explosion, then they must absolutely discover it as part of the wrap-up to an encounter.

Example: PCs fight-off and destroy a bunch of robots.  At the end, when describing the room - there are usually two methods: one, describe the things the players obviously see, and two, await search-related skill rolls.

- If it's a required clue (such as, the entire region will be vaporized, thus the end of the PCs), then at the end of the fight, you will describe: "Among the refuse of robots, you can plainly see a number of components, now visible thanks to the frayed chassis being blown open.... wiring, blhablahblah bomb bomb bomb"

- If it's not a required clue (the resulting explosion may be lethal, but, more likely to simply be a setback for the PCs) - then, it can be found as a result of a search check.
mox
 member, 103 posts
Sun 23 Jul 2017
at 15:15
Need help with planting clues
THE RULE OF THREE CLUES
For any conclusion you want the PCs to make, include at least three clues.

Why three? Because the PCs might miss/ignore/misinterpret the first and second.  If they  miss/ignore/misinterpret the third, then it's their own fault.
engine
 member, 369 posts
Sun 23 Jul 2017
at 17:43
Need help with planting clues
In reply to Hunter (msg # 20):

Seems as though the puzzle is definitely for the characters, but is also intended for the players. That wouldn't be too unusual. I stand by my advice, though.
Hunter
 member, 1373 posts
 Captain Oblivious!
 Lurker
Sun 23 Jul 2017
at 18:42
Need help with planting clues
In reply to engine (msg # 24):

I'm only making the point because there's a least one story of a GM making a "chess puzzle" which ended up resulting in said GM and one player having a chess match while the rest of the group had nothing to do.

If you really, really want then you can resolve character puzzles as skill checks.   It also reduces the load on GM creativity.